OCTOBER  2009

REPORT FROM KISSAMOS BAY AREA

1st        A trip to Omalos and Agia lake

2nd       Another trip to Agia lake

4th        A trip to Omalos and Agia lake

5th        Elafonisi & Topolia

11th      A trip to Omalos and Agia lake

13th      Maronis

19th      Agia lake

21st-23rd Frangokastello, Kourtaliotis Gorge,Spili areas

24-27th Thunderstorms and heavy rain

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH

Big groups of Raven and Grey Heron throughout the month.

Eleonora’s Falcon seen in pairs and singly through the month

Nice groups of Little Egret

2nd     Short-toed Eagle

4th     Lammergeier up close, Golden Eagle

7th     Rescue a Barn Owl

9th     Release Barn Owl

10th   Booted Eagle at Agia lake [Nikos] at home, Black stork and

          Sparrowhawk

11th   More close up Lammergeier, Black Kite…. 2 Booted

          Eagle at Agia lake[Nikos]

12th   2 Bonelli’s Eagle over Gramvousa

13th   Maronis being restored to wetland!! + Black Kite

15th   Blue Rock Thrush roosting on our light fitting again

          And the first autumn Robin heard

19th   A Weasel

22nd   Two Lammergeier,60+ Griffon Vulture soaring together

          with 3 Bonelli’s Eagle.

24th   First Robins seen as the bad weather brings a fall of

          Migrants.

27th   Cat Snake and 100+ Raven

30th   A lapwing

31st   The first snowfall seen on the White Mountains

1st

Today’s trip was a follow up to yesterdays in the hope of getting more raptors with a trip to Agia included.

We took a quick look into Agia on route to see if would be worth

a late afternoon visit and were pleased to get close Kingfisher and Little Crake views. Omalos was calling so we hastily set off. We headed up the rough track to Kalergi hut and then onto the plateau and the viewing area at the entrance to Samaria Gorge.

Late afternoon we headed off to the lake to finish the days birding.

It was a poor day for raptors, our sightings for the day included…  


Colchicum cretense
- photo by and © C&S


Kingfisher…Alcedo atthis
- photo by and © C&S


Little Grebe…Tachybaptus ruficollis
- photo by and © C&S


Little Bittern…Ixobrychus minutus
- photo by and © C&S


Little Egret… Egretta garzetta
- photo by and © C&S


Lammergeier hunters on tour
- photo by and © C&S

2nd

Another visit to Agia before leaving we had good views of a Short-toed Eagle which was as usual harassed by Hooded Crows


Short-toed Eagle…Circaetus gallicus
- photo by and © C&S

At the lake a fly past by a Little Bittern and as usual the kingfishers were very obliging.


Little Bittern…Ixobrychus minutus
- photo by and © C&S


Kingfisher…Alcedo atthis
- photo by and © C&S

4th

We again head to the mountains taking an Italian we met on Antikythera doing raptor watch. We collected him from the ferry at Kissamos at 7am on the way back home we found a nice group of Grey Herons in the earl morning sunlight.


Early morning Grey Herons… Ardea cinerea
- photo by and © C&S

We really wanted to see the vultures and were not to be disappointed, we also meet up with Nikos later in the morning.

Having lunch at the kafenion near the entrance to Samaria gorge an adult Lammergeier was spotted by Sue as it flew not many metres above our heads almost following the road to the ticket office the closest we have come to this species of vulture the sight as it flew by was amazing. Another great view, Diego’s first sighting of the species, he could not have been luckier. Other nice mountain species were also seen today with several large flocks of Chough, Raven, Griffon Vulture …..


Lammergeier/Bearded Vulture…Gypaetus barbatus
- photo by and © C&S


Chough…Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
- photo by and © C&S


Hooded Crow…Corvus corone cornix
- photo by and © C&S

5th

We take Diego to Elafonisi he wanted to see the beach there and maybe some more large raptors!

On route we spot griffons soaring close to the road and stop for lunch as they circle nearby.

On the way home we stop and get good views of Griffons coming in to roost at the cave of Agios Sofia near Topolia.

Not too much to photograph today, but lots of nice Silver-washed Fritillary


Silver-washed Fritillary…Argynnis paphia
- photo by and © C&S

7th-9th…….

Whilst out walking Mia Sue spotted a Barn owl looking rather sorry for itself in a nearby field, returning home we set of with the car to see if it was OK. We found it hunched up and it offered no resistance as it was picked up.


Barn Owl …Tito alba, where we found it
- photo by and © C&S    

We took it home gave it a good look over and finding no apparent injuries, placed it in Mia’s carry box. After the last barn owl rescue we made sure we gave it plenty of fluids, we think it was either exhausted or suffering from secondary poisoning.

On the 8th the bird looked a little stronger and offered a little resistance to being handled, we set a perch in its temporary home and it took to this instead of sitting on the bottom of the box.


Barn Owl… Tito alba, looking slightly better
- photo by and © C&S

Day three the 9th, we were reluctant to keep the bird for any longer than necessary and finding in the afternoon that it was in fighting mood and did not want to be fed with sugar water via a syringe, and, very reluctant to be handled we made the decision to release it that evening.

Just as darkness set in we took Tito from his box, making sure he was still strong enough and would be able to fly we set him on a section of Bougainvillea where he watched us for some minutes before strongly taking to the air, he made a circle over the house and disappeared towards the hills to the rear.

……..For several days after we heard a barn owl calling and hope it was our recovered bird. We are not sure whether this bird was moving south or a local. Towards the end of the month the weather got pretty bad and we had no opportunity to sit out and hear if it’s still around, we can but hope…  


Barn Owl… Tito alba, just after release
- photo by and © C&S

10th

A couple of Sparrowhawk dispute the air space and late afternoon two juvenile Black Storks flew in to roost a few hundred metres away.


Sparrowhawks…Accipiter nisus
- photo by and © C&S


Black Storks …Ciconia nigra
- photo by and © C&S

11th

We head for Omalos yet again, we have really got the bug for close ups of the Lammergeier now and agree at the last minute to meet up with Nikos again who texted from Agia with a report of two Booted Eagle there.

On route we get nice a nice sighting and pictures of a low flying Black Kite just west of Kissamos.


Black Kite…Milvus migrans
- photo by and © C&S

At Omalos we watch for some time for our target bird but decide after some time that we would do spot of birding on the plateau instead.

Leaving Nikos car in the car park we head off and as we are in our 4x4 take a track we had not noticed before that heads off into the hills….the track goes for some distance and we got good views of birds as they came to a trough of water for the goats and sheep, a Jay came and we clicked away, the area to the north was hidden by trees so our view in this direction was limited. The Jay flew off and moments later there was our bird again, this time overhead, it approached from our blind side and the three of us leap from our mobile hide and watched as the adult Lammergeier slowly circled nearby gradually moving off towards the Gigilos  mountain area.


Lammergeier/Bearded Vulture…Gypaetus barbatus
- photo by and © C&S


Lammergeier/Bearded Vulture…Gypaetus barbatus
- photo by and © C&S

Celebrating our sighting once more we moved off and later back at the car park Nikos saw the bird lift off and fly southeast, two nice views again. We head off to the lake at Agia again where we find Grey Heron, partly hidden in the bushes and bamboo it never moved and remained perfectly still, we assumed that it was exhausted and left it to rest.


The sickly Grey Heron…Ardea cinerea
- photo by and © C&S

Nice views of Spotted Redshank and Ferruginous Duck.


Spotted Redshank….Tringa erythropus
- photo by and © C&S


Ferruginous Duck…Aythya nyroca
- photo by and © C&S

13th

Our car had to be serviced today and as the garage is near Souda Bay we take a look at Moronis reserve. Only a few species there, Kingfisher,

Common Sandpiper, Little Egret and Little Ringed Plover. This was probably due to the work going on there as Souda Council are giving the place a tidy up and trying to restore the saltmarsh area. At the moment its bulldozers and muck everywhere …but, the whole idea and concept is great and the potential for this area now looks a whole lot better.

19th

After meeting Nikos and Angeliki in Chania we again make the short trip to Agia lake.

We meet several UK holidaymakers there one reporting a single Bee-eater in the morning.

We notice more Ferruginous Duck today with fourteen counted; this is the greatest number we have seen here.

6 Kingfisher, 1 Snipe, Blackcap, Booted Eagle, 6 Kingfisher, 5 or 6 Little Crake, Eleonora’s Falcon, Sparrowhawk and Goshawk. A 2cy male Marsh Harrier, Night Heron, Squacco Heron. In all 36 species seen here today

21st – 23rd

We venture off to Frangokastello and the south coast for a few days.

A pleasant trip down with little in the way of birding we turn off the main road at Imbros going by the way of Asfendou then via the Kalikratis gorge a lovely quiet and steep twisty road.

Stopping for the night at Frangokastello we set off mid morning to wards Koutaliotis Gorge a little east of Asomatos. We sight a few griffons on the way then stopped at the gorge for lunch where we get great views of 60+ Griffons circling together, 3 Bonelli’s Eagle up there with them, then two sightings of two different Lammergeier one wearing a red wing tag and harnessed with a radio transmitter.


The first Lammergeier
- photo by and © C&S


Three Bonelli’s Eagle … Hieraaetus fasciatus
- photo by and © C&S

Later sending off the details, this bird turns out to be…. "Aetia" born in Agios Dikaios area in 2006 tagged (red) and harnessed with a GPS transmitter.


"Aetia" showing red tag - photo by and © C&S


"Aetia" with Griffon vulture - photo by and © C&S


"Aetia" another view - photo by and © C&S


A number of the circling 60+ Griffons
- photo by and © C&S

We leave here late in the afternoon after a really great few hours and head for Spili and the area east of there…. Ghious Kabos, where we will spend our second night near Kisos.

The next morning the 23rd, we decide to head for home as the weather forecast for the next week was sounding pretty bad.

We had our first real autumn sightings of Corn Bunting and some nice close views of Woodlark.


Corn Bunting…Milaria calandra
- photo by and © C&S


Woodlark….Lullula arborea
- photo by and © C&S

Twenty plus griffons circled nearby and a Goshawk made an appearance. Sue found a few nice flowers here just as we were about to set off towards Kissano gorge and a nice wooded area where we heard lots of Robins singing their hearts out.


One of the Griffons
- photo by and © C&S


Crocus laevigatus
- photo by and © C&S

We took virtually the same route home, only changing the route to tackle the hill up to Imbros gorge and then back onto the same route to Kissamos.

A nice few days away which we hope to repeat soon, there are many Vultures in this area and the scenery is fantastic too.

From the 24th-27th we had very high winds and storms, thunder/lightning, along with so much rain, that all ran off into the sea which turned chocolate brown contrasting nicely with the turquoise blue.


One of a group of 28
Grey Herons… Ardea cinerea - photo by and © C&S

We saw a female Rock Thrush on the ridge above the church on the 24th it stayed for a while, bad light and distance for any pictures.

The male Blue Rock Thrush returns to roost on the light above the back bedroom door…the same bird from last autumn maybe?

Four Kestrel hunt together nearby, we hoped they would be Lesser’s but it turned out they were not.

Eleonora’s Falcon continue to pass right up until the 30th

On the 25th& 30th a dark morph booted Eagle and on the 26th a pale morph. Grey Herons still passing through, we saw 32 with a couple of Little Egrets, three Kingfishers and a Grey Wagtail between Kissamos and home.

29th

A short trip to Falasarna where we found large numbers of White Wagtail, Italian Sparrow, [the hybrid between Spanish and House Sparrow] and Crested Lark. Also a strange bee type insect that turned out to be, Philanthus triangulum or Bee-killer


White Wagtail…Motacilla alba - photo by and © C&S


Bee-killer…Philanthus triangulum - photo by and © C&S


Italian Sparrow… Passer hispaniolensis [italia] - photo by and © C&S


Crested Lark…Galerida cristata - photo by and © C&S

As we headed off home Sue spotted high above the ridge a raptor being harassed by another bird, this turned out to be a Short-toed Eagle and a Kestrel. We managed a distant record shot hoping the bird would head towards us but we lost sight of it along the ridge.


Short-toed Eagle…
Circaetus gallicus - photo by and © C&S

At home we found a Little Owl sat in a tree nearby, the first of this species we have seen; we have heard a couple in the past so this was really a great sighting.

30th

We noticed a larger bird in the fields below the house and getting the scope found a lone Lapwing, it was really nervous out there in the open and before long it lifted up and flew out over the bay, still uncertain it headed north then circled and headed towards Falasarna, we again managed a distant record shot.


Lapwing…Vanellus vanellus - photo by and © C&S

A little later in the morning a dark morph Booted Eagle was spotted hunting, it made several stoops into the crested lark, we saw it had success on only one swoop amongst them.

 


Booted Eagle on a stoop onto crested lark - photo by and © C&S

The last few days of the month we had Sparrowhawk and Peregrine Falcon hunting nearby for most mornings along with the Booted and Short-toed eagles, we have had less of the latter two than in previous years hopefully the next two or three months will again have them in the area.

Our local resident juvenile Common Buzzard continues to scream for food, this buzzard surpasses all previous juveniles here with such a high pitched call it would make a good whistle at a football match!

With only a handful of Robins arriving mid in the month the numbers increased towards the latter end, although we think there may be fewer here than in previous years.

Also only a few Black Redstarts heard, none as in the past few years roosting on the pergolas hopefully they will show in the early part of November. Everything seems to be arriving later this autumn and we hope for a good Novembers birding.

We leave October with this strange weevil type insect that we have been unable to name, nearly 2cms in length it made very slow progress as it climbed our courtyard garden wall.

Colin and Sue


Weevil?
- photo by and © C&S
 
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