Crete Trip Report 7th-20th.10.2006
The most interesting bird reported below is Great Spotted Woodpecker possibly a candidate for New to Crete status. I have another reported from Western Crete. So are they incorrect identifications, vagrants (they are irruptive migrants in part of their range) or overlooked residents? Roy Robinson EDITOR

Crete 7th to 20th October, 2006

Almost all of the recording was done in the North East corner of the Island. The base was Sissi which is a few kilometres east of Malia. Various visits were made to other sites in the region but generally confined to the North-east sector of the Island. The 7th October was warm, sunny with light winds, but from then on the weather rapidly deteriorated, with Crete experiencing one of their worst October seasons in their history. The weather was generally overcast, frequent torrential showers or prolonged periods of rain with strong to gale force northerly winds. Temperatures were cool for the period, rarely above 18°C. On the day we left the weather returned to a more traditional phase with temperatures recovering, clear skies and light winds. The twelve days of poor conditions obviously affected observations. Most of the passerine observations took place in the Sissi Campsite, an area c250x 150 metres of Tamarisk Trees next to the sea which provided the only suitable habitat for migrants.

  The source of reference was Coughan’s Bird watching Guide to Crete. This I found to be an ambiguous reference with many mistakes especially the species list description and the systematic list at the end of the publication. At best it is in my opinion poorly edited in the 2005 update with too many errors to provide a bible to the visitor. The Island is also suffering from an onslaught of development which will lead to further habitat loss with marsh/estuary particularly most under threat. Never-the-less the Island must be under watched and for example the sighting of a Great-spotted Woodpecker within one hour of birding (which appears to be new to the Island) gives an indication as to the potential.

Systematic List

Little Grebe: Single Ammoudare Marsh 10/10; Bramiana Reservoir 20 also 10/10

Cory’s Shearwater: Present daily from the 7/10 to the 12/10 when the Fishing Boats were trawling off Sissi with between 200-300 regularly present. With the onslaught of the high winds and no fishing only occasional Cory’s were observed.

Shag: Single Ag Nikolaos Harbour 18/10

Night Heron: 3 Juveniles arrived in bad weather Sissi on 18/10

Little Egret: 30 west Sissi 7/10; Single Spinalonga; 20 coasting South Pahia Ammos 10/10; 30 west Sissi 11/10; 33 west Sissi 12/10; 3 Elounda 18/10;

Grey Heron: Single Bramiana Reservoir 10/10; 31 coasting South Pahia Ammos 10/10; 69 Sissi 12/10; 9 west Sissi 13/10.

Purple Heron: Juvenile in off the sea Milatou 7/10; 1 coasting South with Grey Herons Pahia Ammos 10/10.

Glossy Ibis: 30 flying East Sissi 07/10.

Teal: 50 off Sissi 7/10; 5 Bramiana Reservoir 10/10: 300 offshore Sissi 12/10

Mallard: 50 Bramiana Reservoir 10/10

Red-crested Pochard: 45 off Sissi 10/10

Pochard: 4 Bramiana Reservoir 10/10

Ferruginous Duck: Single Male Bramiana Reservoir 10/10

Lammergeier: Single adult, approx 3 kms south east of Prassies, after passing arched road bridge and just before road junction 15/10.

Griffon Vulture: Commonest bird of prey, with numbers observed at virtually every stopping point in mountains and even coastal areas. Maximum numbers were 50 Lasithi Plateau 8/10, 25+ Prassies 15/10; 40 Noda Plateau 16/10; Sissi Colony 20 daily.

Short-toed Eagle: Single Milatou 07/10

Marsh Harrier: Single Homo Sapiens Museum near Lastithi Plateau 8/10

Hen Harrier: Ring tail Lastithi Plateau 8/10

Sparrow Hawk: Seen most days in ones and twos

Common Buzzard: Seen daily in small numbers(under ten) in all habitats, even Iraklio(7)! Max 20 with a drive to the Nida Plateau from Tilissos

Booted Eagle: Single Lastithi Plateau 8/10

Osprey: Single Bramiana Reservoir 10/10

Kestrel: Small numbers on several days with maximum 11 Lastithi Plateau 8/10

Red-footed Falcon 7 Lastithi Plateau 8/10, 2 on the 11/10 and a single Fourni on the 19/10. All Juveniles.

Eleonora’s Falcon: Single playing with Red foots Lastithi Plateau 8/10; 2 Spinalonga 9/10; 9 Bramiana Reservoir 10/10; Single hunting migrants offshore Sissi 12/10

Peregrine: Frequently seen at the following localities Sissi, Milatou, and Spinalonga, appears to be a fairly commonly observed species. Single inland at Prassies on the 15/10

Chukar: Frequently heard at a number of sites but not observed.

Water Rail: Single heard Ammoudare Marsh 10/10

Moorhen: 3 Bramiana Reservoir

Coot: 70 Bramiana Reservoir 10/10

Stone Curlew: 4 Sissi 13/10; single Milatou 13/10

Little Stint: Single Bramiana Reservoir 10/10

Dunlin: 2 Elounda Salt pans 18/10

Ruff: 2 Bramiana Reservoir 10/10

Greenshank: One heard 09/10 Sissi

Green Sandpiper: Singles (heard only) Sissi 07/10; 14/10

Wood Sandpiper: Single heard Sissi 07/10

Common Sandpiper: 2 Ammoudare Marsh 10/10; Single Sissi 13/10; Elounda 18/10; 2 Sissi 20/10

Turnstone: 8 on breakwater Lerapetra 10/10

Pallas’s Gull: First winter Sissi 07/10

Black-headed Gull: Scarce with singles at Sissi,  Elounda, Lerapetra and Ag Nikolaos

Audouin’s Gull: 2nd Year bird 10kms east of Ierapetra 17/10; 3(2 Adults, 1 2nd Year) Elounda 19/10

Lesser-black backed Gull: Scare with a few offshore Sissi and harbour of Ag Nikolaos

Yellow-legged Gull: Not particularly common with numbers following the fishing boats and c50 around the harbours of Ag Nikolaos & Ierapetra

Rock Dove: Presumably mostly feral but all birds in the mountains showing the true characteristics of Rock Doves

Wood Pigeon: Single Males* 10/10 (*locality not sex!)

Collared Dove: Common in all urban areas

Turtle Dove: Juvenile Sissi 12/10

Cuckoo: Single Sissi 13/10

Nightjar: 2 juveniles Sissi 16/10

Alpine Swift:  1000+ Mesa Potami 8/10; Heraklian Power station single 15/10; 2 Nida Plateau 16/10

Kingfisher: Present in all coastal localities in small numbers

Great spotted Woodpecker: 1 seen well and calling Sissi 7/10

Crested Lark: Present in small numbers in both coastal and mountainous habitat. Most birds appearing in pairs or perhaps family parties with max flock size of 6 at Elounda 18/10

Wood Lark: Local but regular from coastal to hillsides habitat. Seen on a daily basis. Many birds still in song.

Sky Lark: Scarce with 15, 10km east of Ierapetra on 17/10; 3 Elounda on 18/10 and 15 Sissi 20/10

Crag Martin: Single record of c50 in mountains around Mali following thunder storms 10/10

Swallow: Generally scare with rarely more than 30 moving in any one day at Sissi. Exception being Mesa Potami with 150 on the 8/10. Odd birds observed throughout the areas visited. Still a few birds around by 20/10

Red-rumped Swallow: Single Sissi 13/10

House Martin: Only 2 at Mesa Potami 8/10

Tree Pipit: 3 Sissi 7/10; 2 Spinalonga 12/10; 2 Sissi 17/10; 2 Sissi 18/10; 4 Sissi 20/10

Meadow Pipit: Single  Elounda 19/10

Red-throated Pipit. Widespread and found in all habitats, from Mountain sides, Rocky shores, High Altitude plateaus etc. 1 Sissi 7/10; 19 mostly west Sissi 12/10; 4 Sissi 13/10; 4 Sissi 14/10; 3 Sissi 16/10; 4 Nida Plateau 16/10; 1 Sissi 17/10; 6 Sissi 18/10; 4 Elounda 18/10; 7 Elounda 19/10; 6 Sissi 20/10

Yellow Wagtail:  Daily at Sissi in small number to the 12/10(max 7 on 12th), Single at Sissi on the 20/10

Grey Wagtail: Small numbers moving west (up to 7) at Sissi till 10/10. Then occasional singles at Coastal sites. Upon weather improvement on the 20th 3 moving West at Sissi

White Wagtail: Small numbers at Coastal Localities. Max Sissi 7 on 8/10.

Wren: Only found at attitudes of approx 300-400 metres. Not seen or heard in coastal sites. Scare, highest altitude record at Nida Plateau c1500 metres

Robin: Reasonable numbers in the altitude range of 300m+. Some influx at Sissi in the second week of bad weather with many holding winter territory.

Black Redstart: Single in dry river bed at Milatou on 13/10

Redstart: Single Spinalonga 9/10; Singles Sissi 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 18th

Whinchat: Single Sissi 13/10, 3 Elounda 18/10, single Sissi 20/10

Stonechat: Common in costal localities with fewer numbers with increasing altitude although present at the Nida Plateau

Black eared Wheatear: Single present Sissi from 13th to 20th October

Blue Rock Thrush: Immature male present daily in Sissi throughout the period. Other sea level records were a male at Milatou on 20/10. Occasional birds in all  mountains ranges visited

Blackbird: Locally common but very wary compared with UK birds!

Song Thrush: Single Sissi 15/10 & 17/10

Cetti’s Warbler: 2 heard Heraklion Power Station(only passerines there!)

Sardinian Warbler: Commonest passerine, present at all attitudes & habitats visited

Garden warbler: 1 singing near Lasithi Plateau 9/10

Blackcap: Small numbers in sub-song in foothills of mountains on several dates.  Only obvious migrants were 3 males Sissi on the 16/10 and several singling on the 20/10

Wood Warbler: 3 Sissi 12/10; and a Single present in the Camp site from the 13/10 to 20/10.

Chiffchaff: 10 Sissi 12/10; 25 Sissi 16/10; 10 Sissi 17th & 18th; 5 Sissi 19th and 20 on the improving weather of the 20th.

Willow Warbler: 12 Lastithi Plateau 11/10; 19 Sissi 12/10; 10 Sissi 16/10; Single Sissi 18/10 and 4 Sissi 20/10.

Spotted Flycatcher: Small fall of 10 birds late afternoon Milatou 9/10; 6 Sissi 12/10; 2 Sissi 15/10 to 20/10.

Red-breasted Flycatcher: Single Sissi late afternoon of the 12/10.

Blue Tit: Scare with only a few sightings in the foothills of the mountains.

Great Tit: Fairly common and widespread with sighting up to the Nida Plateau

Red-backed Shrike: Single Males(locality) 10/10; Spinalonga 12/10; 6 Milatou 13/10; Elounda 18/10; 2 Sissi 20/10

Chough: 40 feeding in field of Lastithi Plateau 8/10;

Jackdaw: Single sighting of 30 birds in sheep pens Lastithi Plateau 11/10

Hooded Crow: Daily in small numbers and second commonest Corvid

Raven: Commonest Corvid and seen daily in all habitats from Sea level to high mountains. Highest counts: c75 Lastithi Plateau  8/10; Homo Sapiens Museum 40 11/10; 120+ Psiloritis Mountains 16/10; 20 Sissi 20/10.

Starling: First records not till 15/10 when a flock of 40 near Heraklian. 4 Sissi 16/10; 5 Sissi 18/10; 6 Elounda 18/10; 20 Sissi 20/10

House Sparrow: Fairly common but not abundant and no sightings of Spanish/Italian. Mostly in coastal localities.

Tree Sparrow: Scarce with generally a few daily, never more than 9

Chaffinch: Very common at sea level and mid mountain range. Signs of movement daily at Sissi with a pronounced westerly movement on the 20th when the weather finally cleared & over 700 moved west in little over an hour.

Serin: Single west on 20/10

Greenfinch: Common at sea level with a pronounced westerly movement on the 20/10 with c400.

Goldfinch: Very common with large flocks feeding on thistles at sea level. Commonest finch but no westerly movement on the 20/10. Largest flock 125 birds on the 13/10

Linnet: Regularly seen in small flocks near the coast where the habitat has not been destroyed. Westerly movement of c200 on the 20/10

Cirl Bunting: Fairly common in the foothills and middle height mountains. Many still in song with max of 15 at Lastithi Plateau  on 11/10

Corn Bunting: Scarce with first two at Elounda on the 18/10; 20 at Sissi on the 20/10

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