December 2005
1st: c.600 Yellow-legged Gulls in Kalives Bay
2nd: Trip with A&M to Aradena Gorge. Great views of six patrolling Griffons near the South Coast.  Ravens, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were other sightings.

Griffon Vulture (photo above)

7th: Booted Eagle (pale phase) photographed from our front balcony (Provarma) 11.15am. (see photo below)

9th: At 11.30am a good breeze, after several still days, seemed to stimulate Buzzards and other birds into action. From the back balcony there were six buzzards in the air. Four eventually ended up over OUR gorge and some display dives took place. A Kestrel kept his distance, but a pair of Ravens soon joined in the fun! The airspace over the gorge emptied and a Peregrine Falcon entered centre stage, soaring around for a while before departing in a spectacular stoop. A female Sparrowhawk then soared around over our house before moving off and disappearing into a copse of trees.

Female Sparrowhawk (photo above)

13th: Short visit to Lake Kournas in the afternoon. Good numbers of Coot and Little Grebe as usual. 6 Pochard, 8 Mallard, 30 Teal? (to distant to be certain), I Little Egret and 1 Grey Heron were recorded. The highlight though was the tightly packed raft of c. 150 Black-necked Grebe, and their co-ordinated dives (see photo below).


16th: Kalives centre river mouth, several Chiffchaffs feeding in the area (photo right).
Near the west Kalives river mouth a kingfisher flashed past over the sea (see below).


17th: Around noon Alan of A&M phoned as he had seen two, pale phase, Booted Eagles from his house near Georgioupolis. These had perhaps arrived over Georgioupolis Bay, and appeared to be heading in my direction. I had  just had a stint of birdwatching, coming in to cool off, as it was hot out there. However, duty called and I returned to see a dark phase Booted Eagle, headlights blazing (a white patch near the body on the leading edge of each wing). I had not seen a dark phase this autumn, had they just arrived on Crete or ?

Melidoni. Highlight: flock of thrushes landed in tree, unfortunately I was looking into the light and saw no colours, and a noisy motor scared them off, so could not hear the call of what must have been Fieldfares! These large, rare, winter visitor thrushes might be under recorded, have you seen any recently?

We decided to visit OUR gorge, quiet at first then a Raven announced its arrival, flying over the gorge to join its mate. A male Kestrel put in a short appearance, as did a female Sparrowhawk shortly after that. One of the Ravens flew back over the gorge and a Peregrine flew in the opposite direction. We stopped again a little further along the gorge and tried to photograph some Crag Martins as a Buzzard put in an appearance. We drove on and then walked back to look over the east side of the gorge. There seemed to be more of the common small birds, probably lower down because of snow on higher areas. On the way back we stopped to look northwards at the gorge mouth. A scan round, and looking roughly south west I noticed a bird being mobbed. The pair of birds mobbing were Ravens and the much larger bird was an immature Golden Eagle which then landed on a rock. The first Golden Eagle I have seen in the north of Crete. In the photo below you can just see the bird with gold head sitting on the rock (arrowed).

29th: A&M reported pale phase Booted Eagle in the Almirida to Kalives area
30th: Rodopos peninsular, 2 sightings of Griffon Vulture, 2 female Hen Harriers seen together. Looking for plants near the road on a rocky hillside I flushed one bird then another, both of of which landed at no great distance. My initial reaction was it must be a Chucker but visual impression was wrong. Unfortunately again I only got an impression of the second bird, Woodcock? Checking in Coghlan that evening only two records and both over twenty years ago. Oh for a better view, distribution map suggests this rather secretive bird could be under recorded! any comments?

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