IANOYAPIOΣ - January - 2007
2nd: Trip to south coast, at Krapi Basin a few Crag Martins, at Askyfou a pair of Ravens and a Sparrowhawk. We continued south through Imbros village and parked just past the precarious cafe. To the east is Imbros Gorge, to the west a ridge beyond which is the Svakia Gorge.

A single adult Bonelli's Eagle appeared over Imbros Gorge before diving back, and so out of sight. I just had time to identify it, white body and white patch on back. A single Griffon Vulture flew southwards towards us above the ridge before slipping west into Svakia gorge. I set up my telescope just in time to see a second Griffon Vulture take the same route. Shortly after another bird appeared, long wings and a wedge shaped tail, pinkish breast, an adult Bearded Vulture!  Good views through telescope, before it followed the same route into the Svakia Gorge. Excited about this sighting, I did not really see the next bird until too late, a large eagle probably an adult Golden Eagle followed the other birds into Svakia Gorge. Presumably the same Bonelli's Eagle and its mate now appeared over Imbros Gorge, and flew around for a short time before disappearing once again into the gorge below. All this between approx 12.15 - 12.45.

Large clouds now drifted in and other Griffons appeared flying through the clouds and rain, max 3 together. We continued down to the south coast with just sightings of Ravens in the fairly dull conditions. We had a picnic before returning home under brightening skies.

The ridge, and the cafe just visible on right

One of the Bonelli's Eagles

Humming-bird Hawkmoth seen on jasmine in garden. Walk from church stream, pale morph Booted Eagle harried by Crow. Common Darter dragonflies by stream and river, Grey Wagtail on river bank. As we returned to car, perhaps the same pale morph Booted Eagle, and a dark morph together over crag before disappearing high to the south. Flock c.30 Crag Martins at same time, approx 3pm.

Hooded Crow diving to attack the pale morph Booted Eagle

4th: Grey Heron flying towards Kiliaris River. Some wind today (most days lately very still) so more Buzzard sightings. 4 over Mega Horafia, and a Sparrowhawk. Small flock Starlings flying north past balcony. 12.20pm 5 Buzzards and Sparrowhawk over Maheri Gorge, including palefront  (I believe a local youngster Buzzard). 12.50 6 Buzzards over Maheri with display diving. At approx 1pm, while watching the buzzards through telescope, sighted a flock of c15 heron? to south, but as sometimes happens here they did not seem certain which direction to take. They came a little nearer, went away, disappeared a couple of times before disappearing into the approaching mist and rain. Just too far away to identify and were they early migrants?
5th: Just missed a young Hedgehog which was crossing our road. At Kalives Hotel rivermouth spent some time photographing an obliging immature cormorant, see photo below. On the island to the east of Kalives at least 3 more cormorants and a good number of Yellow-legged Gulls. Back home and over Maheri Gorge Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzards and a powerful dark brown falcon, my guess immature Peregrine.

The immature Cormorant

7th: Trip up to the 600m Vothonas Plateau from Tzidzifes. Track was in quite good condition, and with the extra ground clearance of our Suzuki Ignis a safe drive. Several Chukar flew off as we drove up and we also sighted a Sparrowhawk. We parked as track levelled off and had a walk to end off track. Usual small birds in the area with sightings of a max of 3 Griffon Vultures over Korda, above the plateau.

View from Vothonas Plateau, Akrotiri left, Drapano (I call it Table Mountain) right.

2 Griffons high above Kordha 1611m (1 in top left corner)

8th: Another great trip with A&M, joined on this trip with T&S, to the Deliana Gorge. We drove to the north end car park area and walked to just past the southern picnic area. A fairly easy walk which gave excellent views of up to a max of 6 Griffon Vultures, some perched in high caves. Sparrowhawk and party of c.12 Song Thrushes also seen. At Potamida on way back dark morph Booted Eagle

2 of the Griffon Vultures

10th: Trip to Petres Gorge, as we arrived approx 1pm there were 8 Griffons circling above the gorge before setting off, presumably to hunt. On a walk to get nearer the gorge we recorded Small Copper and Painted Lady butterflies. A pair of Griffons flew into the area and circled before both landed in one off the caves. They did not stay there long and flew up to be joined by another 2 Griffons. A pair of Peregrine joined in the fly round. Other birds observed in the area were a pair of Raven, several Kestrels, Chukar and just as we were leaving at around 4pm a pale morph Booted Eagle.
11th: Trip to area east of Imbros. We took the road east just before Imbros and parked at the second bend high over Imbros village. There were several Griffons to the south, over the western ridge, then a party of 4 crossed over Imbros, before heading towards us, almost passing overhead.  Another group of Griffons did the same with one individual staying to the south. I was watching this bird when another appeared, long wings glinting silver in the sunlight and wedge tail, yes Bearded Vulture. Unfortunately, unlike most of the other birds it disappeared fairly quickly to the east. We travelled on to park, by the roadside, under the radar/aerial station. We then walked south along a track which gave great views of the area. Kestrel, Buzzard and a pair of Ravens only sightings. After returning to the car and a picnic we then went back to our original parking area above Imbros. After a while, at approx 3.15, a pair of Bonelli's Eagles appeared over the ridge to west and flew south - unfortunately lost to view in bright sunlight.

It is interesting to note we have now seen a Bearded Vulture, probably loosely following Griffons, in roughly the same area and approx the same time 12.15-12.30pm on the 2nd & 11th off this month!
Also great news that a pair of Bonelli's are present in one of their traditional areas.

"almost passing overhead"

Great views from the walk

12th: From balcony 4.30pm pale morph Booted Eagle. Immature Peregrine over Maheri Gorge? Hooded Crow gathering/roost to NE 80+ birds, roost to SE 150+ birds.

15th: 8 Buzzards over Maheri Gorge with Raven, Kestrel and Peregrine also appearing. Went to visit R&R and N&D at Xerosterni, the wildlife highlight was an adult male Hen Harrier flying over their land.

17th: Trip with A&M through Gerani to south of Rethyimno. A fortuitous photo opportunity stop, landed us in view of a large group of resting Vultures. A flock of about twenty birds flew past us over the low ridge behind us, our best views to date of a flock of these imposing birds. We also sighted a Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk Kestrel and Buzzard in the area.

Some of the Griffons above their resting ledge

Some of the Griffon Vultures, probably c.40 in the area

The Hen Harrier

19th: Took the road east just before Imbros Village and parked at the second bend above Imbros Village 12.45 Raven, Kestrel and 4 Griffon Vultures sighted. Back down and south to just past the Precarious Cafe 2 pairs of Ravens, a flock of c.15 Chough sp. and Kestrel seen with several Griffon Vultures passing over. One came to inspect us, hence photo below.

My best photo of Griffon to date, an adult - Above Imbros Gorge 19.1.2007

21st: Visit to the church stream and along river to irrigation channel/river pond area. Several Common Darter dragonflies along stream with one tandem pair egg laying. Grey Wagtail along river and Buzzard versus Hooded Crow encounter overhead. Blue-winged Grasshoppers, Lizards and Hummingbird Hawkmoth recorded. Four species of butterfly on the wing: Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Clouded Yellow and Painted Lady.

Above 2 Hooded Crows versus a Buzzard

The Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding on Bermuda Buttercup

24th: Trip to Samaria and Aghia Irini Gorges. Omalos Plateau  was bathed in sun, but unfortunately clouds were filling both gorges. Undaunted, well just a little we drove to the Samaria entrance area through the cloud. Looking into the usually breathtaking gorge you could see cloud! Agia Irini was a little clearer, but no birds. Omalos Plateau was still sunny so a picnic was consumed in fairly cool conditions. A pair of Ravens and Black Redstart did show themselves.
We called into Ayia Reservoir on way home. Good variety of ducks present including: Pochard, Teal, Gadwell, Ferruginous, Mallard, Shoveler, Wigeon and Tufted. Also Marsh Harrier in area. Highlight was the large flock of Starlings arriving to presumably roost in the reedbed: see below

26th: Moronis Reserve: 2 Redshank, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Little Egret, 1 Great White Egret, 1 Grey Plover, c.20 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Mediterranean Gulls and several Starlings. 1 Common Darter Dragonfly. Onward to the Akritiri Peninsular and at Agi Triad Monastry another few Starlings, one imitating a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Above the Grey Plover

With R&R to the Petres Gorge, it had been calm at home but was windy at Petres and hence the Griffons had flown off early. Luckily one returned, flying in under us on the gorge viewpoint before turning into the wind and the giving us a slow flypast into the prevailing wind. As it flew towards one of the opposite caves it was followed by a Peregrine.
30th: From balcony 4 Griffon Vultures high to the south past Maheri Gorge, lots of Buzzard activity including display yomps, Sparrowhawk and Raven.
At Aptera we found 2 species of orchid already in flower. see below:

Close-up of Batlia robertiana
Giant Orchid - plant 2446

Orchid: Orchis collina - Fan-Lipped  Orchid
plant 2413

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