1st: Trip towards the Tavri Mountain Refuge from the Askifou Plateau. We drove to the end of the tarmac, which I believe has recently been extended and walked to a point where we looked over the whole of the Apokoronas. Raye spotted a Griffon Vulture first, it was soon joined by another. More arrived some disappearing then reappearing in the clouds. At one point we could see 9 Griffon Vultures in the air together. Then some of them landed on one of the small peaks we could see, they  were joined by a pair of Ravens.

7 of the 9 Griffon Vultures

We walked back towards the car, over the ridge to the south we saw several other Griffon Vultures and what was almost certainly a Golden Eagle. Back at the car and coffee break we recorded Jays, Wood Pigeon, Buzzards including young calling and a Kestrel. We stopped above the Krapi Basin, two Sparrowhawks were sparring later joined by 3 Buzzards and a fly-by Eleanora's Falcon.

Report from C&S c.100 Mediterranean Shearwaters, Kissamos Bay

6th: Ayia Crete W.W.W. meeting, over twenty people attended, thanks for coming along. Roy
Birds recorded at Ayia included Kingfisher, Little Egret, Snipe, Grey Heron and Marsh Harrier. Ferruginous, Shoveler and Teal Duck, and for an early few a Lesser Spotted Eagle.
Most of us travelled on to Lakki hopefully for sightings of Vultures, but they did not oblige when we stopped for a while at a busy viewpoint. We ended the meeting in Lakki as people wanted to do different things. We travelled on with John & Patti for lunch at Omalos then to the Samaria Gorge entrance. Here a large flock of Crag Martins were feeding and a party of c.80 Chough were flying around the peaks. On the Omalos plain we recorded just 1 Griffon Vulture, Cirl Bunting and Willow Warbler. We just had to call in to Ayia on the way back and were rewarded with a flock of 12 Night Heron flying in.

Strange lights above Samaria

12 Night Herons flew in

Ayia at dusk, with many Swallows preparing to roost in the reeds

7th: After yesterdays travelling decided to have a day on the beach and swimming at Kalives. 12.30pm C.18 Little Egret flew low over the sea flying east. An hour later a larger flock of around 50 Little Egret flew west, on the far side of Souda Bay. At around 4.30pm a mixed flock of c.100 Herons seemed uncertain which direction to take, but eventually disappeared east. Home on the back balcony and a Sparrowhawk had to ward off one, then two, Hooded Crows.

c. 100 Herons

8th: I had opened an email late last night inviting me to help with bird identification etc. at a Birdwatching/Ecology day at Ayia. Fortunately with no prior commitments we were able to attend. We arrived under a very dark sky, but after a few light showers it turned into quite a nice day. We were pleased to meet staff from the Crete Natural History Museum, Technical University of Crete and members of a Chania Ecology group. With elections soon some politicians and TV cameras arrived, we may even have appeared on local TV.  A good number of people arrived including a group on bicycles. There were a few birdwatchers and we handed out quite a few cretewww cards, so hi to any new viewers! There was a petition asking for support to ensure that the environmental laws are observed, including the lake area. There is a similar event in a fortnights time, at Georgiopolis Water.  We will have a Cretewww meeting there, all welcome.

Birds included: 2 Marsh Harriers, Kingfishers, I Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Little Stint, c.7 Snipe, 2 Little Egret, 2 Grey Herons, Ferruginous Ducks

TV interview


10th: 1.50pm c.50 Alpine Swifts feeding over our area. 2.30 to the south a distant Griffon Vulture and then over Maheri Gorge what turned out to be a dark phase Booted Eagle. It hung over the gorge area for a some time once descending into the valley below. It then flew towards the coast before turning back after a confrontation with a Sparrowhawk. Whether it was the light or this individual, its headlights really showed up, in fact just like headlights! (headlights: the markings at front of wings each side of body) See below:

Σταυραετός - Hieraaetus pennatus - Booted Eagle, headlights blazing

A cloudy wet day, a few swallows were around and c.50 Alpine Swifts appeared at times. Above Maheri Gorge: Jackdaws, Crows, Ravens, Sparrowhawk, Kestrels and Buzzards.

Ayia report from John & Patti J&P:
1 Great White Heron
1 Purple Heron
50+ Grey Herons
30+ Little Egrets
1 Squacco Heron
2 Ospreys
Marsh Harrier
Yellow Wagtails
and an albino Swallow
The wet, stormy weather has probably forced some migrants down on Crete.
What have you seen?

From the back balcony: Unusually 14 Jackdaws visited our area, down from the Gorge. Then 11.20am, presumably as Apokoronas was relatively bright and cloud free, c.500 Alpine Swifts appeared along the coastal area. They spent most of the day in the wider area. Looking north I briefly sighted a Sparrowhawk in very close pursuit of what looked like a Swallow, they disappeared from view but a few seconds later a Sparrowhawk appeared without prey, presumably there was a very relieved Swallow. Long distance views of first, what was probably a Peregrine then probably an Eleanora's Falcon. Far to the south a Griffon Vulture was seen in a clear area of sky. A Sparrowhawk seemed to relish taking on allcomers above the Gorge. In one particular incident after circling gently up for some time it dived at great speed straight down at what must have been a very alert Kestrel. 

Above the Sparrowhawk in action

Above just a few of the Alpine Swifts

14th: Wet and windy so did a little sea watch at Kalives, Yellow-legged Gulls and a Sandwich Tern. The tern caught a small fish on its 10th dive. At the mouth of the River Kiliaris at Kalami, juvenile Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper. In a nearby field juvenile Red-backed Shrike.

Χειμωνογλάρονο - Sterna sandvicensis - Sandwich Tern

15th: At 10.30am a Sparrowhawk rose from the trees north of Stylos and circled gradually upwards and southwards. I had watched it for some time before another Sparrowhawk appeared and there was some interaction, seemingly fairly amicable. They separated and I watched one of the bird as it virtually disappeared. My attention was then diverted by 3 Griffon Vultures moving east through my telescope view and then 2 going west. Later at 11.45  4 Griffon Vultures could be seen south of Maheri Gorge, this is the greatest number of Griffon sightings from my balcony in a day, no doubt influenced by the cloudy weather. On the way back from a shopping  trip to Kalives we stopped at the church stream area, where 3 Buzzards and a pale phase Booted Eagle appeared. 4 species of Dragonfly in stream.

Alpine Swift counts for Aporkoronas area: am.c150. / pm. c.400

16th: At 11.15 as yesterday a Sparrowhawk rose from north of Stylos gained considerable height, but then did a terrific dive at another Sparrowhawk, they then had a sparring match before heading off in different direction. Hundreds of Alpine Swifts in the area again. At 1pm. a Buzzard did a close inspection of the balcony and later a pale phase Booted Eagle and Sparrowhawk flew over.

Buzzard inspecting balcony

Photo above - Sparrowhawk top and Booted Eagle bottom (compare shapes)

18th: In a brief break in the weather at 2pm, there were 3 Sparrowhawks above Maheri Gorge. Later a Sparrowhawk took on a pair of Ravens.
20th: Trip to Petres Gorge. We first looked at the river mouth, but the area was deserted apart from beachcombers sorting through the vast amount of debris dumped by the recent storms. As we neared the upper gorge approach 4 Griffon Vultures soared up and away. We walked up to the Gorge Church and lookout gallery. We recorded Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Raven, Buzzard and Jackdaw. But all vultures had left the area. On the way down we also saw Chucker and Blue Rock Thrush.
We decided to have a picnic where we could look back at the gorge, a good decision as it turned out. At about 3pm. about a dozen Griffon Vultures appeared over the gorge area and soared around. Griffons now flew in from several directions until 27 soared above the gorge for awhile before drifting off in various directions. Later, until we left at about 5pm, Griffons drifted back and into the gorge, presumably to roost.

15 of the 27 Griffons

Tiny delicate flower photographed in gorge lookout

In the garden a Wood Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher and male Blackcap. Things started to happen at about 1.15pm when a Marsh Harrier appeared with a Buzzard in close attendance. At 1.30pm a dark phase Booted Eagle put on a good display. Also during the day 9 Starlings flew NW and 100+ Alpine Swifts appeared. A flock of House Martins fed in our area, and Swallows seemed to be moving south. A Grey Heron flew south, changed its mind and flew back to the Stilos area. Just along our road a Red-backed Shrike was along a field boundary.

The dark phase Σταυραετός - Hieraaetus pennatus - Booted Eagle

22nd: Crete W.W.W. attended the Euro Birdwatching and Ecology Day at Georgiuopolis Marsh. See Raye's Diary.

Birds seen included pale phase Σταυραετός - Hieraaetus pennatus - Booted Eagle, Little Egret, Yellow Wagtail and Kingfisher.

23rd: From balcony a.m. 15 Starlings flew N.W.
Moronis River Reserve and Souda Bay, 2 Great White Egrets, 3 Little Egrets, 1 Grey Heron, 7 Coot, 2 Redshank, 1 Whimbrel, 3 Common Sandpipers, Kingfishers and Willow/Chiffs. An Emperor (late?), and Migrant Hawker Dragonflies.
From balcony 3.15pm 2 Booted Eagles one a pale phase, other? 4.15pm Black Kite hunting to north. From 5.00-6.15 3 Short-toed Eagles hovering over opposite ridge. They seemed at ease together, a family perhaps?

One of the Αργυροτσικνιάς - Egretta alba - Great White Egrets

Raye took some great photos of the 2 Great White Egrets in conflict, now an animation

24th: Driving back from Kalives south of Stilos 3pm we sighted some larger birds, by the time we had parked one had already disappeared but a Buzzard and Booted Eagle were still in sight. Then from the south east 2 even larger birds drifted into view, 2 Short-toed Eagles. Two of last nights birds perhaps, if so where was the third bird?
From the balcony at 4pm perhaps the third of last nights Short-toed Eagles over the opposite ridge as last night. At 5pm 5 White Storks appeared over Megali Horafia to the north and disappeared heading south west. c.250 Alpine Swifts swept into our area. Over Maheri gorge 2 Sparrowhawks, Peregrine and Kestrel.

Swimming at Kalives, pale phase Booted Eagle flew west and a Sparrowhawk upset the town pigeons. Over the harbour headland Buzzard and Kestrel.
26th: Kournas Lake, 2 Marsh Harriers, pale phase Booted Eagle, Ravens, 1 Little Egret, Kingfishers. Many Red-veined Darter dragonflies and some Eastern Willow Spreadwings.
Petres River Mouth, 1 Great White Egret.

Lestes parvidens - Eastern Willow Spreadwing

28th: Omalos plateau, hundreds of Chough feeding in the fields, later they flew off into the mountains, after first gathering in spectacular spiralling flights. At the Samaria Gorge entrance a few Crag Martins and 5 Griffon Vultures flew past.
Ayia Reservoir water level high. Bird species present included Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Kingfisher and 14 Ferruginous Duck.

Chough above

A pair of Ravens (which are larger than Buzzards) with a Griffon Vulture

29th: Sparrowhawk in hunting dive over coastal ridge and Buzzards V Crows over Maheri Gorge highlights of the day.

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