October 2008 Report


Our report starts midway into October after our fantastic extended stay at Antikythira where we volunteered for the raptor migration monitoring. Originally a two week project we decided to stay an extra week and returned late on Wednesday 15th

We saw twenty eight different species of raptor with a few firsts for us and a total of 92 bird species. See our separate report in the Antikythira section

Black Redstart arrive, again roosting on the rear pergola on 19th

Two new species to add to our Crete list on the 20th

A Great Egret at Agia also on the 20th.


Chaffinch, Italian Sparrow, House Sparrow, Stonechat, Goldfinch, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Woodlark and Robin. Great Tit, Blackcap, Hooded Crow, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Buzzard and Sardinian Warbler. A Juv Short-toed Eagle and a dark morph Booted Eagle interacted above the house before parting with the Shot-toed staying around to hunt. 

Short-toed and Booted Eagle disputing the skies, photo by and
© C&S

A possible Hobby tore through the olive grove giving only the briefest view. A Shag was seen sat on a rock near Balos Beach Hotel. White Wagtail, Raven, Cetti’s Warbler, a distant Scops Owl was heard late in the evening.

A quiet day as we had to get in some food supplies after our three weeks on Antikythira.

We had great views of another juv. Short-toed Eagle, this was seen low over the highway at the small fishing harbour just outside Kissamos , we pulled over and watched as it flew only a few metres above us before soaring up and out over the bay. At home we had Hooded Crow, Goldfinch, Stonechat, Woodlark, Buzzard, Blackbird, Raven, Robin, Crested Lark, Grey Wagtail, Northern Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler.

Very little about today, Goldfinch, Cetti’s Warbler, a single Griffon Vulture, Stonechat, Shag, Chaffinch, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Buzzard, Robin and Blackbird.

Robin, Hooded Crow, Goldfinch, Kestrel, Woodlark, Crested Lark, Cetti’s Warbler, Stonechat, Chaffinch. 9 Griffon Vulture flew off Gramvousa at 10.35 and twenty minutes later returned circling nearby for ten minutes, as we watched a lone Eleonora’s Falcon flew past. Raven, House Sparrow, Short-toed Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Redstart, Italian Sparrow. We found Black Redstart  at night roosting once again under the eaves of the pergola with a male again claiming the small electric junction box, the same bird from last autumn ?

Two new species to add to our list of birds on Crete today after a phone call around midday from Alan and Margaret.

We awoke to the calls of Robin, Hooded Crow and Woodlark. Later as we sorted out our gear for a trip to Chania shops, we once again heard the harsh calls of the Hooded Crow that tells us of an intruder in their territory and found a dark morph Booted Eagle being harassed by ten birds it circled several times nearby dodging the crows attacks. Suddenly it went into a stoop and grabbed at probably a Crested Lark in the fields to the front of the house and flew low into the nearby olive trees. We never got to see it emerge as at that moment the phone rang.

Margaret called to tell us of two juv White Pelicans at Georgioupolis water. This site is over an hour away east of Chania but as we have not seen Pelican here we decided the trip would be worth it.

At Georgioupolis water there was no sign of the Pelican, Alan told us before we arrived that they had gone into the reeds, we saw, 1 Kingfisher, 5 Snipe [ the first of our new species on Crete ] 1 Little Stint, many Moorhen and Coot along with Little Grebe.

Snipe, Little Stint and Moorhen, photo by and
© C&S

We then saw our second new species White Pelican, as single juv. was spotted swimming near the pump station, it only stayed in view for half a minute then disappeared from view. A female Marsh Harrier flew low in from our left by the main highway and later another younger bird was spotted on the other side of the lake. A single Purple Heron flew to the far side of the lake and also disappeared behind the pump station. Hooded Crow, Goldfinch, Italian and House Sparrow were quickly added to the list. One of the Pelicans flew from the pump station and landed nearby, the sight of this large bird approaching scattered all the coot , domestic duck and smaller birds which all took flight into the reeds nearby, the Pelican landed and swam in our direction coming to within metres of us.

White Pelican, photo by and
© C&S

A fantastic view, later the other bird a little older, flew in and they joined up and came in very close.

White Pelicans, photo by and
© C&S

Alan and Margaret arrived and a few others on holiday, we were all treated to excellent views of these fantastic and all too rare birds.

White Pelican, photo by and
© C&S

We stayed for nearly three hours here also getting Serin, Grey wagtail,  Swallow, Greenfinch, 3 Common Buzzard, Cetti’s Warbler. A pale morph Booted Eagle hunted a few hundred metres away also giving great views. Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. As we left we spotted a Sparrowhawk, we stopped to watch as it hunted and found a wing of a bird in the road which we think was from either a Ferruginus or Tufted Duck. We stopped overlooking Souda Bay, where we spotted several Yellow-legged Gulls.

We decided to pay a visit to Agia Lake as it was only a short way off our route home. A short visit was planned as we still had to get some food stocks in from Chania. Well we ended up here for over one and a half hours.

The first birds seen a flock of 60+ Starling, 8 Grey Heron were sat at various points around the still very low waters. A Sparrowhawk flew low over our heads, whilst Hooded Crow fed along the mud edges on the far side of the lake. Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe were there in their usual large numbers, Swallow and Crag Martin flew overhead whilst on the exposed mud banks there were…Mallard 4, Gadwall 3, Ferruginous duck 19, Pochard 13,Teal 24 and Shoveler 6. Cetti’s Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Great Tit, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Robin were calling from the trees and shrub behind us. 2 Water Rail were spotted on the northern bank and 3 Little Egret appeared from the eastern side. A Great White Egret was spotted as it emerged from behind an old building that is usually partially submerged. A pair of Common Buzzard circled to the south. Whilst at least 8 Kingfisher were seen as they fished and disputed their winter quarters.

We eventually returned home well after 7pm on a day that was initially designated for a food shopping trip… We found our Black Redstart were still here, the numbers should increase and they will use the pergola for their winter roost…..What could be better!

A late start this morning we did not venture into daylight until nearly 11am. 6 Griffon Vultures came in low and circled 200metres behind the house trying to land just out of sight, one rose up again with several Hooded Crow and Raven chasing it off , they continued circling for some minutes before gliding low over the house and disappearing onto Gramvousa.

A single Buzzard and large flocks of Goldfinch flew in the same area. Chaffinch, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Yellow-legged Gull, Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler and Robin. Our two Black Redstart at nightfall.

Only a few birds seen today as we had some jobs to catch up on.

Crested Lark, Hooded Crow, at 09.10hrs, 4 Griffon Vulture  followed by several more, these were seen throughout the day as they soared over the ridges of the peninsula. Goldfinch.

Goldfinch, photo by and
© C&S

Peregrine Falcon, Robin, Serin, Raven, Common Buzzard 3, Stonechat and Black Redstart.

We did not do much birding today, Robin, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Raven, Common Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, Goldfinch, a single Eleonora’s Falcon, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler and Black Redstart we seen.

Woodlark, Robin, Hooded Crow, Goldfinch, Crested Lark, Great Tit, Stonechat, 5 Common Buzzard soared overhead. 8 Griffon Vulture flew onto Gramvousa at 10.00am and a Sparrowhawk hunted nearby from 10.07am. Chaffinch, Sardinian Warbler, Rock Dove and Raven. 12.20 a dark morph Booted Eagle hunted with two unsuccessful stoops before it moved off north onto the peninsula followed by a Kestrel and three more Griffon Vultures. Black Redstart.

Stonechat, Great Tit, Sardinian Warbler, Hooded Crow, Common Buzzard and at 10.30 a pair of Griffon Vulture were the only birds seen at home so we took a trip to Falasarna where we had a good view of 3 Ortolan Bunting as they fed near the hills to the rear of the beach. Crested Lark, Italian and Spanish Sparrow, Blackbird, Stonechat, Common Buzzard 3, Griffon Vulture 2, Great Tit, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch and Greenfinch.

Strong northerly winds greeted us this morning and many smaller birds could not be seen or heard…..Raven, Cetti’s Warbler, Goldfinch, Lesser Kestrel 2, Sparrowhawk 1, Robin, Sardinian Warbler, Rock Dove, Hooded Crow. At 09.45 a pale morph Booted Eagle and Common Buzzard. Greenfinch, Crested Lark, Italian Sparrow and Great Tit. 11.00am 2 Griffon Vultures flew very low over the garden , the lowest yet at perhaps 20 metres flying almost directly into the northerly wind the they came by very slowly giving superb views. At 12.26 a Peregrine was seen just above the small chapel near the house. At 15.50 perhaps the same 2 Griffon Vultures were seen flying north along the Gramvousa ridges, later 4 more were seen as they headed south east towards Deliana Gorge area. Also not forgetting our roosting Black Redstart.

Cetti’s Warbler, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Hooded Crow, Italian Sparrow, Chaffinch.  At 08.10 a Sparrowhawk, followed two minutes later by a Peregrine Falcon. Robin, Buzzard, Rock Dove, 09.20 a pale morph Booted Eagle, and a Kestrel, Raven, Stonechat, Crested Lark and Greenfinch, Black Redstart and Greenfinch.

Cetti’s Warbler, Robin, Great Tit, Woodlark, Hooded Crow, Goldfinch, Black Redstart, Blue Tit, Greenfinch and Blackbird. Three Buzzard circled overhead, Crested Lark, Yellow-legged Gull, Kestrel, 19 Raven, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Chaffinch. At 10.30 Griffon Vulture 2, Blue Rock Thrush, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, 11.45 a Short-toed Eagle and at 13.15 a Sparrowhawk. At night a Barn Owl was heard.

Robin, Sardinian Warbler, Hooded Crow, Buzzard, Great Tit, Sparrowhawk, Greenfinch, Crested Lark, Goldfinch and Italian Sparrow. Stonechat, 2 Raven, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, Chaffinch, Willow Warbler, Woodlark, Blue Rock Thrush, 10 Barn Swallow, Griffon Vulture 3 sat on a nearby crag later four flew over, south. Black Redstart ssp. Gibraltariensis + 3 roosting. 

A pale morph Booted Eagle, a Marsh Harrier with 3 common Buzzard circled overhead before exiting south. Kestrel, Blackbird, Red-rumped Swallow 6 and 1 Shag.

A trip to Agia Lake and the White Mountains….

AT HOME we saw……  Hooded Crow, Black Redstart, Robin, Willow Warbler, Italian Sparrow, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackbird, Goldfinch and Great Tit.

WE SET OFF  at 08.00 heading for Agia, on route within 2km of the house we saw….

Along the beach road, White Wagtail, Kingfisher, 1 Common Sandpiper, Stonechat, Cetti’s Warbler. In the space of 1 km we saw 3 Blue Rock Thrush, Collared Dove, Common Buzzard, Corn Bunting, Great Tit, Italian Sparrow, Crested Lark and Goldfinch.


2 Little Egret, 7 Grey Heron, 1 Common Buzzard, 2 Yellow-legged Gull, 50+ Little Grebe, 14 Shoveler.

Shoveler, photo by and
© C&S

48 Teal, 23 Ferruginous Duck, 1 Garganey, 1 Mallard, 9 Pochard, 300+ Coot, 5 Water Rail, 1 Little Bittern, 1 Little Stint, 10 Snipe…. We have never seen Snipe at Agia before and ten was really a nice sight. 1 Barn Swallow, 9 possibly more Kingfisher.

Kingfisher, photo by and
© C&S

Sedge Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Great Tit, Robin, Stonechat, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail and Grey Wagtail. Italian Sparrow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Hooded Crow, Goldfinch, Moorhen and 1 Great Egret.

Great Egret, photo by and
© C&S

Great Egret, photo by and
© C&S

OMALOS AND ONROUTE 11.00-18.00hrs…….

A pale morph Booted Eagle, 3 Sparrowhawk, 15 Griffon Vulture, 3 Common Buzzard, 20 then 60+ Raven in two groups…the 60+ birds were seen on route home as darkness fell, they all lifted off from the roadside and circled noisily before splitting and heading into the hills, A very noisy and thrilling experience having never seen so many of these together before I think groups of Raven are called a “Conspiracy” .

A Conspiracy of Raven, photo by and
© C&S

Chough, photo by and
© C&S

11 Chough fed in a recently ploughed field on Omalos plateau, whilst Jays, Woodlark and Crested Lark could be seen and heard all around. A few Linnet and Goldfinch drank from the ever diminishing pools on the plateau.

Wren, 1 Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Cirl Bunting and Chaffinch. Great Tit, Robin, Hooded Crow, Grey Wagtail and Stonechat. Crag Martin and Swallow were seen frequently in small groups.

A long  and rewarding day and if our maths are correct  fifty one bird species, unfortunately we missed out on our target birds Golden Eagle and Lammergeier. We found several nice species of flower and of course the fantastic mountain scenery.

We think this may be Colchicum cretense, endemic to Crete and found in the Mountains,
photo by and
© C&S

Crocus laevigatus,
photo by and
© C&S

Later that night as we  set the moth trap a new moth species for us a Striped Hawkmoth Hyles lineate ssp. Livornica.

Striped Hawkmoth, photo by and
© C&S

A quiet day today…. as the UK struggled with snow and hail we experienced temperatures nearing 30oC and little was to be seen after 11am.

Robin, Stonechat, Italian Sparrow, Hooded Crow, 2 Shag, 20+ Yellow-legged Gull, Black Redstart, Blackcap, Goldfinch, Cetti’s Warbler, Blue rock Thrush, 4 Tree Pipit, Crested Lark, Great Tit and in the early evening a Barn Owl.

After our trip to Antikythera we were delighted to still see the odd Booted and Short-toed Eagles around for the rest of the month.

We experienced problems with the internet that were not resolved until the last day of this month which hindered us getting our trip report and photos online. We can now get on with sorting a few more to put on our own blogg.

Big thanks to Alan and Margaret for calling our attention to the White Pelicans along with the Snipe and a great few hours spent in their company.

So this month ends with high temperatures and a slowing down of migration. With little rain now for several months in this area of Crete, we noticed on the 31st that many Olive trees are suffering with the crops shrivelled and small. We though are lucky, our 38 trees have reasonable crops of a good size. We can but hope for a moderate harvest which we will start in the second week of November when we can expect a week of hard work and little or no birding…….

Our Crete species list now stands at 199

Colin and Sue 
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