| September 2008 Report
REPORT FROM KISSAMOS BAY AREA
The following listed birds were seen daily throughout September and are not listed in the daily reports.
Hooded Crow…… Italian Sparrow…… Buzzard…… Collared Dove
Rock Dove……Crested Lark…… Blackbird……Goldfinch….Chaffinch
Sardinian Warbler…… Raven.
A brilliant start to the month with friends Terry and Paula over from UK informing us late on 31st August of large black and white birds at Malaeme airfield. See reports for 1st - 3rd.
Glossy Ibis was still present on the river at Kissamos until the 8th
Small flocks of Little Egret along the coast, the smallest 8 the largest 50+.
On the 6th a pair of Bonelli’s Eagle.
We get lucky again on the 9th finding two Lammergeier in the mountains west of Omalos along with large numbers of Chough and 100+ Bee-eaters.
Another Lammergeier on the 11th & 16th
Visits to Elafonisi 12th&15th
Moronis River and Agia Lake 16th
Greater Sand Plover on the 12th
Agia Lake on the 13th.. Very little water, only a few small pools visible, we manage 25 species.
Lammergeier…..16th also a large group of Marsh Harriers
First autumn arrival Booted Eagle 18th
First heavy rains on 20th bring migrants in.
Large numbers of Shrike and Wryneck on 23rd
Golden Oriole on the 24th
A brilliant start to the month with friends Terry and Paula over from UK informing us late on 31st August of two large black and white birds at Malaeme airfield. They not being birders we got the books out and with their great description we concluded they were White Stork. We set of early on the 1st and arrived to find 8 birds present. So a big thank you T&P for alerting us to them. Numbers increased throughout the day and a total of 22 were seen by the end of the day, along with 5 more at Kolymbari.
We informed Bob and Andy, keen birders here… who also got to see them as did Nikos Samaritakis from Chania who was informed by Roy in UK !!. Nikos although we have not met him has supplied Roy and Raye with some brilliant photos for this site.
At home….. We set off just before light, a Kingfisher flew over our heads as we are getting in the car and headed up into the hills, this is a first… Kingfisher, near the house ! and heading up from the sea into the mountains, September certainly bodes well. Other birds throughout the day here, 2 Griffon vulture, Chaffinch, Swallow and as darkness fell a flock of around 30 Little Egret flew low over the sea heading towards the harbour.
On our way to and from Malaeme/Tavronitis and Kolymbari… 30+ Purple Heron, 1 Grey Heron, Lesser Grey Shrike, Spotted Flycatcher, Collared Dove, 200+ Yellow Wagtail in a freshly cut grass field near Kolymbari.
Italian Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, several Common Buzzard, Hooded Crow, Raven, Blackbird, Sardinian warbler, 2 Whinchat, 1 Hoopoe, Moorhen, Kingfisher, Swallow. and Kestrel 2.
Today we had to travel to Chania airport to pick up Lucy and Chris and as yesterday we have another great birding day.
Woodlark, Red-rumped Swallow, Swallow, Turtle Dove, Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Griffon Vulture, Kestrel, Northern Wheatear, Chaffinch, Stonechat, Yellow-legged Gull.
At Souda Bay , a Great White Egret, a single Yellow-legged Gull.
At Gerani, 18 Purple Heron.
At Malaeme/ Tavronitis, 11 White Stork on the ground and 6 flying.
At Kolymbari 2 Hoopoe fed in the cut meadows and looking into one of the two turtle nest sites at Kolymbari we notice several trails of hatched turtle heading down through the fenced off area towards the sea , we hope to find out how many have hatched soon.
At home again the sight of 90+ White Stork as they flew over the nearby mountain was something else, as they landed in the hills nearby we could only wonder that these were the first we had seen in several years and now we are seeing large numbers. They continued to rise and land for the next half hour before finally landing in the fields near the Balos Beach Hotel, we drove down and got a few pictures before dark and hoped they would still be there in the morning. Late evening a Barn Owl flew over the garden.
Up with the larks [Wood & Crested] again, we were scanning the fields before light and found the White Stork in three groups, as it grew light the birds started to disperse and feed, several birds could be seen standing alone away from the main group, not feeding these looked like they were on sentry duty and watching for danger. We stayed on our balcony watching until a shepherd drove along the track near them, they were reluctant to move, but eventually flew a few metres into a field. Seeing this, we drove down and managed to park fairly near without causing them any distress. They continued to feed and several flew from behind us and joined this now larger flock of 70+, several were so low the disturbed air could be felt as they passed overhead and we got some great pictures, they continued to fly in until 94 were present on the ground. They then all moved in a downhill direction and lifted off at 10.56hrs. Standing under 94 Stork as they circled low overhead was a fantastic experience.
They circled higher and higher moving to the eastern face of the hills before soaring high and headed off in a south eastern direction. A truly awesome sight, reminding us of a day we had near Chambal in India when 70+ Painted Stork circled overhead…..
Returning home we spot, 6 Common Buzzard, Woodlark continued to sing all day, Swallow, Red-backed Shrike, Stonechat, Red-rumped Swallow, Blue Rock Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Grey heron flew into the bay heading towards Kissamos. Turtle Dove, Kestrel. At 16.40 a single Griffon Vulture flew south off Gramvousa, whilst at 20.00hrs an Eleonora’s Falcon headed north along the coast and as we ate dinner in the garden a Barn Owl flew past.
A quiet day today with only Hoopoe 1, Stonechat 1, Blue Rock Thrush 1 and Woodlark to add to the usual species.
Woodlark, Kingfisher, Eleonora’s Falcon, 1 Skylark, 1 Hoopoe, Blue Tit, 22 Little Egret flew around the bay for most of the day. 1 Turtle Dove, 1 Spotted Flycatcher another Eleonora’s Falcon flew by at 5.25pm.
Birds at Home throughout the day
Northern Wheatear, Northern Wheatear. At 13.20hrs single Griffon Vulture was spotted through the kitchen window it landed on a rock about 100 metres away and almost immediately lifted off and flew 10 metres closer. Eventually flying off to the south.
The camera was on the wrong setting at 16.00 ISO so the pictures turned out very grainy.
Trip onto Gramvousa… We set off early to beat the heat driving as far as we can on a rough track, then onto a rough gulley following goat tracks. We see Red-backed Shrike 10, Woodchat Shrike 2, Lesser grey Shrike 1, Raven 1, a pair of Bonelli’s Eagle gave an all to brief view as they appeared momentarily over a ridge to drop some seconds later back out of view. An Eleonora’s Falcon, Great Tit, Italian Sparrow, Northern Wheatear, 8 Spotted Flycatcher, Sardinian Warbler. An Icterine Warbler and 10 Blue Rock Thrush. A good four hours walking before it got too hot. Raptors were all to few and we hope for better in the next few weeks. As the weather cools we hope to spend more of the day hiking the hills of Gramvousa seeing more of the raptors passing through.
A report from Terry and Paula that the Glossy Ibis is still present in the river mouth at Kissamos.
From home…… Spotted Flycatcher, Woodlark, Eleonora’s Falcon, Kestrel, Red-backed Shrike, Common Buzzard 5, circled above the house for most of the morning. 9 Griffon Vulture flew onto Gramvousa.
At 07.40hrs a lone Griffon Vulture landed above the small church until several of the now large flock of Hooded Crow chased it off. Two male and a female Blue Rock Thrush settled on the rocks just after the vulture departed, Red-Backed Shrike. Over two hours 31 Griffon Vultures flew in landing just over the closest ridge 300 hundred metre away where we believe they found food before lifting up and settling on the rocks another 400 metres off. At 08.15 an Eleonora’s Falcon. At 08.50 a single Bonelli’s Eagle. Woodlark called throughout the day, whilst a single Peregrine took on a flight of four Kestrel, some fantastic flying with one kestrel giving the peregrine a real hard time.
In Chania 18 Little Egret flew past the harbour, Bob spotted a single at Kissamos.
We went to Kolymbari to watch the excavation of a Loggerhead Turtle nest [ the same one we had visited on the 2nd] with a local group ISKA who sponsor some nest sites with the Archelon Turtle Society of Greece.
We watched as three volunteers excavated the nest, removing some 80+ broken shells and 8 that had a fungus which had a couple of under developed turtles in them. The really nice bit was seeing one little loggerhead that would have been too weak to make it from the nest , that was then assisted out, placed in a shallow depression where it gained some strength before setting of some 30 metres to the sea.
After only three attempts through the surf it eventually was lost from our sight and maybe, just maybe, it will make it through to become the one out of a thousand that grows to maturity. We hope so; it did after all have twenty odd people wishing it well. Just after the successful launch of our turtle a flock of 50+ Little Egret flew lazily first east then west a few hundred metres offshore.
Today we took our visiting family to Omalos as they wanted to walk Samaria Gorge. The plan to head to Paleochora to pick them up instead of the usual Chora Sfakion, giving us the chance to explore the eastern area of the Omalos plateau through to Kambanos >Sougia > Paleochora.
Dropping them off at 1000 with an estimated pick up from the ferry at 7pm gave us plenty of time for birding along the way, we were not to be disappointed.
Again we had the lucky Kingfisher fly over us just as we passed the small fishing port at Kissamos. A few of the regular birds were seen on route.
Just before Lakki village a large flock of birds were seen circling nearby, which turned out to be 100+ Bee-eater, things look good for today !
Just after Lucy and Chris set off into the gorge we spotted around 50 Chough overhead of the canteen area. Leaving the area we see even more with several small groups from 4 up to 60+ on the plateau area , these are the most we have seen.
A short way down we were again assailed by the call of Bee-eater and can only assume it was the same 100+ flock we had seen lower down as they noisily migrated south, up over the mountains and the entrance to Samaria presumably to follow it through to the end and their journey across the Libyan Sea to Africa. Upward of 20 Jay throughout the plateau area again more than we have seen before. Hooded Crow, 2 Wren, Chaffinches were everywhere, we see only odd ones at home and most seem to spend the summer months higher in the hills. Goldfinch, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, a few Linnet and Blackbird. Two Griffon Vulture were sat on the high vertical face above the entrance to the gorge and along the plateau we saw two more flying. Blue Tit, 5 Buzzard, Swallow, Rock Dove, Great Tit, Sardinian Warbler, Raven, Woodlark, Greenfinch, Whinchat 2, Stonechat 3 and 2 Kestrel. We head off road near Erini Gorge passing higher into the hills.
At 12.20 we stopped to look into a clearing and got the thrill of a Lammergeier as it drifted in low , perhaps 600 metres off. We caught sight of it landing and getting a fix got the scope out and were able to see the orange breast of an adult as it sat between a couple of fir trees. We again managed some heat hazed pictures .
It stayed in this location for about five minutes before lifting off to be immediately mobbed by a pair of Raven. Traversing the ridge higher up it several times appeared above the skyline before taking off at high speed into Irini Gorge . As this one disappeared so another came into view almost where we had seen the first, this one was more fortunate, with no Ravens it circled a few times before taking off after the other bird. The second bird did not have the deep chest colouration of the other but was also an adult bird.
We stopped off at the roadside and brewed up a coffee, a Weasel hurried across the road in front of us.
Blue Rock Thrush and a couple of Yellow Wagtail followed and a probable Hobby shot through the trees but will have to remain as…. unidentified due to the all to brief view.
Whilst waiting for the boat at Paleochora we saw 2 Common Sandpiper feeding on and offshore rock.
Later after a terrific Lamb Kleftiko at Barry and Jenny’s Taverna Calypso
[ our first visit to this superb find….but certainly not our last ]…..we get a Barn Owl fly alongside the car and all the way home several species of Bat.
We were woken at 03.30 by a Barn Owl that had settled on our bedroom balcony wall, noisy, but who could complain!
Our resident Hooded Crow population seems to be on the increase with over 60 now in this noisy and annoying group patrolling the area … disturbing any raptor that dares to enter the area.
Kestrel, Woodlark and a lone Griffon Vulture.
At Falasarna beach a single Little Ringed Plover.
Very few sightings today, Woodlark, 1 Red-backed Shrike, 6 Griffon Vulture, Kestrel, a Lammergeier flew into view but only a brief sighting today. A single Bonelli’s Eagle flew low over the ridges also giving a very short sighting. Blue Rock Thrush 1 male sat on the rocks above the church and 6 Little Egret flew along the shoreline, whilst a Kingfisher flew in a small cove.
Blue Rock Thrush, Woodlark, Red-backed Shrike and Kestrel .
We took a trip to Elafonisi in the late morning….2 Griffon Vultures soaring over Topolia Gorge, a few Buzzard also seen on route.
At Elafonisi a walk along the beach to the west of the touristy area, a possible Glossy Ibis flew from the island onto the mainland , but proved impossible to find. 3 Turnstone flew low over the water eastwards and 2 others flew west, following the 2 west we found them in a rocky area and on closer inspection one turned out to be a Greater Sand Plover we spent a good while observing before it and the other Turnstone flew a short way off into a more rocky area.
Yellow-legged Gull, Crested Lark, Red-backed Shrike, Northern Wheatear, Goldfinch and Spotted Flycatcher were our only other sightings.
Blue Rock Thrush, Turtle Dove 1, Willow Warbler, Woodlark. A Wryneck called nearby and we managed to trace it to a small almond tree just before it flew, we heard it call from different locations in the gulley to the rear of the house but did not manage further sightings. Stonechat, Woodchat Shrike, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Griffon Vulture 1615 hrs and 2 more twenty five minutes later.
Late afternoon we decide on a late trip to Agia lake.
We are disappointed to find the water levels lower than we have seen them before with a few small pools crammed with birds …mostly Coot… we find a few duck spread about in other pools …4 Mallard, Shoveler 7, Ferruginous 3, Pochard 2, Teal 31. Little Grebe 70+, Coot 150+, Moorhen 50+, Little Egret 2, Grey Heron 3, Purple Heron 1, Kingfisher at least 8. 1 Water Rail, 9 Wood Sandpiper. Collared Dove, Buzzard, Eleonora’s Falcon 2, Peregrine Falcon 1 did a few flyovers before heading for the White Mountains. Hooded Crow 50+, Chaffinch, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Swallow, Sardinian warbler and Collared Dove. Dice Snake.
Some nice sightings anyway considering the state of water levels, we can only hope that the present levels do not sink lower like three years ago when it dried completely and everything disappeared for a while.
At 08.35 we were greeted with the sight of a Marsh Harrier that made its way southeast, Blue Rock Thrush, Woodlark. 08.10 an Eleonora’s Falcon with another distant at 10.00. A Wryneck was again heard but this time would not show itself. A juvenile Woodchat Shrike and at 10.00hrs a lone Griffon Vulture. A juv. Red-backed Shrike, 1 Kestrel and 1 Shag.
Another trip to Elafonisi planned for today. We spot at home 1 Hoopoe in the olive grove, heard 1 Wryneck nearby, several Woodlark, 4 Blue Rock Thrush, and the regulars.
Elafonisi and onroute…. Raven 3, Swallow 20, Yellow-legged Gull 4, Rock Dove 6, Crag Martin 6, Blackbird, Marsh Harrier1, Buzzard 2, Great Tit and Crested Lark. Present on the beach were 4 Turnstone wandering within metres of the bathers.
Lucy and Chris return to England today so we stop in at Moronis River and Agia Lake on our return from the airport.
Whilst at home, we record….three groups of Grey Heron 11+8+37 in the bay.
Also with the group of 11 there are 6 Little Egret and 4 Squacco Heron. Woodlark, Blue Rock Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher. Northern Wheatear, Swallow, Yellow-legged Gull 1, Wryneck 1, Kestrel 1. For ten minutes we have distant views of 1 Lammergeier gliding over the ridges of Gramvousa…. All too rare Gramvousa sightings this year, so it was very nice that L&C get to see this one. We are now due to leave for the airport , and as usual it’s the time the raptors choose to appear…. 4 Griffon Vultures fly over, 8 Marsh Harrier then another group of 15 head south across the nearby hills gaining height they quickly disappear from view. Alpine swift and a Hoopoe are the last birds as we leave home.
MORONIS RIVER……What a shock, it’s a while since we have visited this ONCE, lovely little reserve….now with piles of rubbish, fencing torn down, excreta all along the now very overgrown path, The large rubbish bin surrounded by the trash that should have gone inside. A small dog has made its home under this bin, someone has put food and water for it. Birding….. we see only, 2 Kingfisher, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Temmincks Stint, 2 Little Stint, 1 Cormorant and a quick dash of an unidentified warbler.
At Agia…… We notice straight away that since our visit on the 13th the water levels had risen. Also a nice sight, was the separate small groups of people birding ,13 others stopped and chatted with us at this great site that normally only has us there, if any of you do read this thank you for your company it was nice to meet you….. We never did a proper count today and logged 25 species of bird. Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, in the usual large numbers. 2 Little Egret, 3 Grey Heron, 1 Purple Heron, 4 Shoveler, 24 teal, 10 Ferruginus and 4 Mallard. Crag Martin, Swallow, 6 Eleonora’s Falcon took on the local populace of Hooded Crow as they hawked over the lake snapping up dragonflies. There were 19 Wood Sandpiper and a single Ruff on the eastern mud flat. A Water Rail warily coming and going from amongst the reeds on the northern edge. Buzzard 2, Kingfisher 8+. The first Marsh Harrier at the lake for a few months appeared over the tall bamboo with several White Wagtail chattering away as they hunted along the waters edge that follows the footpath. Sardinian Warbler, Italian and House Sparrow, Goldfinch and Blackbird.
A quiet day at home, we quickly accumulate all the regulars and most birds came before mid morning. Blue Rock Thrush, 1 Eleonora’s Falcon, 2 Little Egret, 4 Buzzard, 3Alpine Swift and 2 Stonechat. 20+ Grey Heron. Yellow Wagtail 4, 20+ House Martin, Swallow, Rock Dove and Spotted Flycatcher. Raven 5, Griffon Vulture 6 and flying very high heading south, what we think were 2 Marsh Harrier.
Early today we spot, 8 Griffon Vulture, 2 Eleonora’s Falcon, 3 Honey Buzzard and a pale morph Booted Eagle our first this autumn hopefully paving the way for many more and also the long awaited other raptors.
Other birds ….Great Tit, Blackbird, Woodlark, Italian Sparrow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Sardinian Warbler, 6 Sand Martin, Swallow, Goldfinch, Crested Lark, Hooded Crow upward of 50 in the vicinity. Raven 4, Buzzard 2, Spotted Flycatcher [numbers increasing]. Kestrel 1, 12 Red-rumped Swallow, Collared Dove, Blue Rock Thrush, Blue Tit, Rock Dove, Yellow wagtail and 1 Yellow-legged Gull.
Hooded Crow 40+, Raven, Great Tit, Crested Lark, Woodlark, Italian and House Sparrow, Stonechat 2, Sardinian warbler and Spotted Flycatcher.
3 Woodchat Shrike, Whitethroat, 50+ little Egret flew around over the middle of the bay, later landing near the Balos Beach Hotel. A large V formation flew southeast high over the southern ridges we took these to be 70+ Grey Heron, but as the sighting was so brief we could not be sure. 3 Blue Rock Thrush, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Rock Dove, Greenfinch and 3 Buzzard. We have never heard or seen as many Wryneck as we have this month they can be heard all around and a few easily seen.
Swallow, Willow Warbler. 3 Griffon Vulture, 1 dark morph Booted Eagle was briefly seen in the distance 1 Kestrel and 4 Honey Buzzard.
Today saw our first proper rain of the autumn with steady rain to start, turning into a several hour long downpour with thunder and lightning midway through the afternoon that left our road even more trashed and turned for some hours into a river.
Huge numbers of Spotted Flycatcher could be seen all around as they joined many other migrants that literally fell from the skies to join the local birds in finding shelter. 20-30 Yellow Wagtail took cover in the herb bushes whilst a large flock of 40 or more Raven flew south ahead of the approaching storm. Whitethroat, a single Eleonora’s Falcon, Buzzard, Rock Dove, Stonechat, Red-rumped Swallow, Crested Lark, Hooded Crow, Great Tit 20+, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Swallow.
Woodlark in very large numbers covered the hillside with their calls now taken over from the Cicadas, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Swallow, large numbers of Red-rumped Swallow were a delight as they swooped everywhere, Cetti’s Warbler again occupy the gulley to the rear and could be heard throughout the day. Buzzard and 2 juv Woodchat Shrike. The large influx of Spotted Flycatcher is still present, Crested Lark, Goldfinch, House Martin, 2 Griffon Vulture flew low, east to west across the valley and another single circled high at perhaps 300 metres over the house. Italian and House Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrush, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, a single Shag flew low across the sea, and a Turtle Dove sat in an old Almond tree. Northern Wheatear and Wryneck fed in the olive grove and 2 rather bedraggled Eleonora’s Falcon flew through harassed by a couple of bored Hooded Crow. Blue Tit, Blackbird, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Stonechat, Raven 3, Little Egret 22 flew along the coastline. The birdsong after the storm of yesterday was fantastic throughout the morning with most of the small birds having their say.
Swallow, Hooded Crow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Whitethroat, Blackbird, Woodlark, Crested Lark, Great Tit, Red-rumped Swallow, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Grey Heron, Greenfinch, Spotted Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Cetti’s Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush, Stonechat, 19 Little Egret, Collared Dove and Northern Wheatear.
Out early with the dog we rushed to the rear of the property with scope camera and bins as Wryneck called all around , we managed to locate 5 which we watched for around and hour but we could not see the many more that seemed to be around. 7 Red-backed Shrike we also seen during this time and although a few Spotted Flycatcher were seen there were not the numbers of the last few days. Italian, House Sparrow, Hooded Crow, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Greenfinch. Woodlark, Crested Lark, Buzzard, Stonechat, Swallow and 6 Griffon Vulture circling high over the highest ridges of Gramvousa. At 10pm a Barn Owl flew low aver the front balcony.
A run into Kissamos…..Collared Dove, Chaffinch, Buzzard, 2 Griffon Vulture, Blue Rock Thrush. A lovely sighting in the river mouth 1 Redshank.
2 Kingfisher. Greenfinch, Swallow, Goldfinch, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, only 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Kestrel…. also along the river many Damsel and Dragonflies along with lots of Marsh Frog.
Yesterday we found a baby rat with its eyes still closed on one of the balconies
Today we found 2 more where they came from was a mystery they were all in different locations.
Hoopoe 2, Spotted Flycatcher were very few today, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Italian and House Sparrow, Great Tit and Hooded Crow 40+. Griffon Vulture 4, Swallow, Chaffinch, Sardinian Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush, Red-backed Shrike 2, Buzzard and Wryneck. Wheatear, 7 Little Egret, 1 Golden Oriole the first we have seen here in the autumn. Yellow Wagtail, Collared Dove, Willow Warbler, Eleonora’s Falcon, Peregrine Falcon and Kestrel.
Along the beach, Yellow Wagtail and 2 Ruff.
Collared Dove and 9 Little Egret.
Once again September did not disappoint with another rarity [Greater Sand Plover] to report to the HOS, along with our first sightings of White Stork on the island and multiple Wryneck sightings to the rear of the house.
Our diary for this month in the Kissamos area ends here as tomorrow we are off to Antikythera with the Greek Ornithological Society to help with the Raptor Migration monitoring at their Observatory there for a two week stint.
See separate report. COMING SOONColin and Sue
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