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Northern Greece

   

23 Jun - 7 Jul 2005

Observers: F. Simpson & L. Ketchen

 

 

INTRODUCTION


 

Following several trips to Spain and a couple to Scandinavia in recent years, I decided an obvious destination, providing some quite different species, would be to the other geographical extreme of Europe. Mainland Greece has many specialities whose ranges just creep into this corner of Europe - Spur-winged Lapwing, Isabelline Wheatear and Rüppell's Warbler being just a few of the exciting birds which spring to mind. Late June and early July is not the optimum time to visit for migrant waders and singing passerines and indeed we missed out on some good stuff like Cretzschmar's Bunting and Olive-tree Warbler. Nevertheless, we recorded 186 species of birds, observed a great range of Blakan wildlife, and experienced a fair range of scenic landscapes from the freezing peaks of Mount Olympus to the baking heat of the Evros Delta. If you like birding in Spain, you'll love birding in Northern Greece!

 

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS


 

White Pelican · Dalmatian Pelican · Pygmy Cormorant · Eurasian Black Vulture · Eastern Imperial Eagle

Lesser Spotted Eagle · Golden Eagle · Long-legged Buzzard · Levant Sparrowhawk · Eleonora's Falcon · Lanner Falcon

Spur-winged Lapwing · Slender-billed Gull · White-winged Tern · Black-headed Wagtail · Alpine Accentor

Isabelline Wheatear · Rock Thrush · Rüppell's Warbler · Sombre Tit · Western Rock Nuthatch · Wallcreeper

Masked Shrike · Lesser Grey Shrike ·  Alpine Chough · Black-headed Bunting

 

 

 

LITERATURE, REFERENCES & SITE GUIDES USED


01.     Gosney, D. 1994. Finding Birds in Greece. Gostours Guide. www.birdguides.com.
02.     Hellenic Onithological Society website, Important Bird Areas of Greece.
www.ornithologiki.gr/en/sppe/enper.htm
03.     
Thorneycroft, R. et al. 2003. Trip Report: North East Greece, 8-15 May 2003.
04.     
Kinley, I. et al. 2004. Trip Report: North East Greece, 5-19 May 2004.
05.     
Pedersen, T. et al. 2001. Trip Report: North East Greece, 14-20 June 2001.
06.     
Goldbach, R. et al. 1998. Trip Report: Northern Greece, 2-16 June 1998.
07.     
Svensson, L. et al. 1999. Bird Guide. HarperCollins.
08.     
Tolman, T. & Lewington, R. 1997. Butterflies of Britain & Europe. Collins.
09.     Askew, R.R. 2004. The Dragonflies of Europe. Harley Books.
10.     Arnold, N. & Ovenden, D. 2004. A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain & Europe. Collins.
11.     Willett, D. et al. 2004. Greece. Lonely Planet.
www.lonelyplanet.com
12.     Euromap. Greece & The Islands 1:300000. GeoCenter Euro Country Map.
13.     
Hellenic Army Geographical Service. Thrace 1:250000. Road Editions.
14.     Anavasi Topo 25. Mount Olympus 1:25000 Hiking Map
www.stanfords.co.ukwww.mountains.gr

 

 

 

ITINERARY


 

Day 01       23/06/05     London Gatwick > Macedonia Airport, Thessaloniki > Lake Kerkini (Limni Kerkinis).
Day 02       24/06/05     Siderókastro > Promahónas area > Lake Kerkini > Camping Achilles near Kavála.
Day 03       25/06/05     Camping Achilles > Asprovalta > Nestos Delta > Porto Lagos > Fanari.
Day 04       26/06/05     Fanaria > Porto Lagos > Lake Ismarida > Lake Piela > Cape Kulogrias.
Day 05       27/06/05     Cape Kulogrias > Avantas area > Loutros > Evros Delta > Alexandroupoli.
Day 06       28/06/05     Alexandroupoli Camping > Evros Delta > Dadia Forest Ecolodge.
Day 07       29/06/05     Dadia-Soufli Forest: Dadia Forest Ecolodge > Bird Hide > Pessani area.
Day 08       30/06/05     Dadia Forest > Thessaloniki > Delphi.
Day 09       01/07/05     Delphi.
Day 10       02/07/05     Delphi > Mount Parnassus National Park > Maliakos Kolpos Delta.

Day 11       03/07/05     Maliakos Kolpos Delta > Prionia, Mount Olympus National Park > Litochoro.

Day 12       04/07/05     Alyki Kitros Salt Works.

Day 13       05/07/05     Mount Olympus National Park: Prionia > Skolio.

Day 14       06/07/05     Axios Delta > Epanomi.

Day 15       07/07/05     Epanomi > Macedonia Airport, Thessaloniki > London Gatwick.

 

 

 

THE DIARY


Thursday 23 June 2005
Location/Area: London Gatwick > Macedonia Airport, Thessalonikini > Lithotopus > Lake Kerkini > Siderokastro
Weather: blue sky, max 33.5°C, little wind


Highlights: Pygmy Cormorant, White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Squacco Heron, Booted Eagle, Pallid Swift, Night Heron, & Eastern Olivaceous Warbler.

MACEDONIA AIRPORT, THESSALONIKI
An early morning flight from London Gatwick saw us on the road in Greece at 1230h. Pallid Swift (20+) around the terminal building where many House Sparrows were nesting in the roof. A few House Martins noted on the short shuttle transfer to the car hire car park.

THESSALONIKI > LAKE KERKINI (E-79 via SERES)
Short drive north of around 90 km towards the Bulgarian border. Species noted: Collared Doves abundant all the way to the Serres area, Starling, Kestrel (2), Hoopoe (3), Barn Swallow, Crested Larks common along the road through agricultural area approaching Lake Kerkini, Feral Pigeon (7).

HIMMANOS (HIMAROS) (village near L. Kerkini)
White Stork (4 prs) nesting on the church and surrounding buildings with three commensal sparrow species (Spanish, House & Tree) nesting in the base of the large nests. Spanish Sparrows particularly abundant and noisy. Red-rumped Swallow (2 prs), Barn Swallow, House Martin, Hoopoe, & Collared Dove. Booted Eagle flew overhead. Bee-eater (4) on wires just outside the village.

LITHÓTOPUS
Approaching Lake Kerkini, several egrets and herons were observed circling (this was actually the dam area). Masses of dragonflies, mainly Black-tailed Skimmers, even flying up and down streets in the village. Another Bee-eater over the road. In the village of Lithotopus were several White Stork nests with attendant sparrows, Scarce Swallowtail (2), Common Blue (2), Banded Demoiselle (m), Brimstone (2), Eastern Bath White (common), Magpie and a dead Nightjar on the main road through the village.

LAKE KERKINI (LIMNI KERKINIS) AT LITHÓTOPUS DAM
Masses of herons, egrets and cormorant gathered here: Pygmy Cormorant (100+), Night Heron (20+), Spoonbill (c30), Little Egret (50+), Grey Heron (200+), Great Cormorant (100+) and White Stork (5). Followed some driveable tracks along the southern outlet of the Strimónas River here: Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and Great Reed Warbler singing. Golden Orioles singing from almost every patch of Poplar trees we passed. Group of c80 Hooded Crows observed. Common Tree Frogs vociferous in the area along with cicadas and other insects.

LAKE KERKINI: drive along south western edge towards Kerkini village
Several stops produced good numbers of herons and egrets including many Squacco Herons and several Purple Herons. Many, many Great Crested Grebes with broods. House Martin (c100) on the reservoir side of the dam. Night Herons passing over. Nightingale and Eastern Olivacaeous Warbler regularly encountered and many Golden Orioles were heard, though just a few observed. Dalmatian Pelican (1) flew past close to the shoreline. Later four White Pelicans were encountered swimming c100 m offshore. One of the best vantage points revealled a feeding frenzy of c280 White Pelicans and 1000+ Pygmy Cormorants nearly 800 metres offshore. Cirl Bunting and Turtle Dove singing along the roadside. Several Jays over the road. Woodchat Shrike (m). Black Kite (5) hunting over a lake shore, possibly for amphibians or fish. Common Buzzard (1). Coot noted in an area of marsh with lily pads on both sides of the road along with a few Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Little Egret and Spoonbill. Dead Jay on the road. Collared Pratincole flew over the road near Vironeia. Also a Green or Balkan Green Lizard observed on the road plus a dead snake (not identified). Stayed in the night in Hotel Olympic in Siderókastro (€45 room/night) since there appeared to be no campsites in this area. Goldfinch singing in pines outside the hotel.

Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)  Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)  White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

 

 

Friday 24 June 2005
Location/Area: Siderókastro > Promahónas area > Lake Kerkini > Camping Achilles on the Aegean coast
Weather: blue sky, max 35.0°C, little wind


Highlights: Syrian Woodpecker, Lesser Grey Shrike, Roller, Black-headed Bunting, Pygmy Cormorant, White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Spoonbill, Great Egret, Black-headed Wagtail, & Honey Buzzard.

Drive from Siderókastro (Siderikastri) towards Agaristo (E-79)
Stopped at a supermarket to get some supplies - many House Sparrows nesting in the building. Crested Lark and Common Buzzard noted on the drive. This road became extreme busy with a tail back of three miles of lorries (mainly Bulgarian) stretching back from the border. This resulted in us missing the turn of for Promahónas (Promachónas) and we end up at the customs checkpoint. U-turned and found the junction, crossed over the railway track and headed towards the obvious old quarry/sand cliff on the right-hand side of the road mentioned in Ray Thorneycroft's 2003 report & Ian Kinley's 2004 report (see links above).

PROMAHÓNAS QUARRY
The Rollers were still present with at least three birds observed at three nest holes. Little Owl present at another hole. Kestrel (pr + 2 juvs). Black-headed Bunting in the scrub. Several pairs of Bee-eaters nesting. Rock Dove (12 showing wild-type characteristics). White Stork (overhead). Crested Larks singing. A tortoise was 'scoped at the base of the cliff but we didn't approach it for identification to save anxiety to the nesting birds. A large shed skin of a snake in the dry undergrowth. Also noted: Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Goldfinch, Barn Swallow, House Sparrow and 30+ juvenile Starlings.

PROCOM COMPLEX
Parked the car here and crossed the road to the woodland area. We couldn't find a way into the woodland as the stream was too high to cross. Birded along the road and outskirts of the wood. Grey-headed Woodpecker calling. Roller (1). Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Nightingale, Reed Warbler, Goldfinch and Chaffinch singing. Goldfinch and House Sparrow in scrubby grassland on the woodland edge which was particularly good for butterflies. Some species identified: Southern White Admiral, Eastern Wood White, Spotted Fritillary, Scarce Swallowtail, Eastern Bath White, Grizzled Skipper, Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Mallow Skipper, Speckled Wood, Pearly Heath, Small Heath, Ringlet, Common Blue, and Clouded Yellow. Red-rumped Swallow (2 prs) nesting in the tunnel where the road crosses the stream. Great Spotted and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling. Woodchat Shrike flew along the road. Golden Oriole singing. Turtle Doves purring. Middle Spotted Woodpecker (1). Sparrowhawk calling. Large lizard glanced as it scuttled into cover of undergrowth. Several House Martins overhead. Blackbird, Blue Tit and Robin noted. Starling flew over carrying food for young. Red Squirrel scrambling along branches. Several Bee-eaters hawking insects along the edge of the wood. A few Orthetrum brunneum dragonflies observed here.

DRIVE BACK DOWN TOWARDS LAKE KERKINI
A weasel scurried across the road near junction with the main Bulgarian road. Woodchat Shrike over the road here. Stopped at one of the memorials on the left-hand side of the road by the river. Little Ringed Plover (2 prs) on the shingle shore of the river. Also White Wagtail (4) and Hooded Crow along the river. Red-rumped Swallow (c20). Cirl Bunting singing from the scrub-covered hillside here. Raven overhead. Several of the impressive Poplar Admiral butterflies here. Strangely no raptors even though the habitat looked good, particularly for Short-toed Eagle. Behind a small, white chapel here is a large dry, gully but it was largely birdless. Plague of grasshoppers here. Linnet, Tree Sparrow and House Sparrow noted. Several Bee-eaters overhead. Griffon Vulture (1) (LK only). Little Egret flew downstream. Meadow Brown, Common Blue and Clouded Yellow noted.

LAKE KERKINI
On reaching the Lake Kerkinia area we headed to the village of Megalohori (Megalochori). We checked a small poplar wood approximately 1 km south of the bridge over the Strimónas River, located on the sharp right-handed bend. North of the village, we took the track running west on the north side of the Strimónas River, i.e. on the opposite bank of the river recommend in Gosney's guide. This track runs for just over 6 kilometres to some old huts where it runs out. Definitely worth taking if you have time.

LAKE KERKINI: Poplar wood north of Megalohori, 1 km south of bridge over Strimónas River
Stopped and parked the car here when a woodpecker was heard caling from the car. It turned out to be a pair of Syrian Woodpeckers. The alarm call is similar to Great Spotted but we soon learned to distinguish it - slightly higher pitched and slightly weaker. A pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers in the canopy of the same tree. Pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers at the opposite end of the polar patch. Nightingale calling. Long-tailed Tit (10). Great Tit brood. Cuckoo and Blackbird noted.

LAKE KERKINI: Track running west on north side of Strimónas River
Great area for egrets and herons. Little Egrets regularly passing up and downstream. White Storks on shingle islands in the river. Hoopoe and Tree Sparrow (flock of 50) noted on the track side, not far from the bridge. Observation along first 1 km west from the bridge: Pygmy Cormorants in scrub and branches overhanging the river. Several Grey Herons. Numerous Scarlet Dragonflies noted. Magpie broods common. Several Little Ringed Plovers - one displaying. Banded Demoiselles and Black-tailed Skimmers common. Common Sandpiper on a sandy river island. Lesser Grey Shrike in one of the few trees along the river bank. Great Cormorant, Bee-eated, Yellow-legged Gull and Hooded Crow also noted. Observations at pool on the left after 3.4 km: Spoonbill (6), Squacco Heron (2), Little Egret (9), Pygmy Cormorant (9) and many Hooded Crows. Observations at 3.8 km: Spoonbill (23) with several juveniles on the river, Pygmy Cormorant drying wings, Night Heron (juv), Little Egret (2) and several Bee-eaters. Observations at 4.7 km: White Pelican (210), Spoonbill (46), plus small numbers of Little Egret, Night Heron, Pygmy Cormorant and Squacco Heron. Observations at 5.1 km: Black-headed Gull (15), Yellow-legged Gull (60). Observations at 6.0 km: river starts to widen here as it reach the lake. Great Egret (2). Dozens of Squacco Herons and Pygmy Cormorants Pochard (12), Mallard (2), Spoonbill (11), Coot, Moorhen, Redshank (3), numerous Great Crested Grebes, Purple Heron (4), Night Heron (10), Grey Heron, Great Cormorant, Kingfisher (pr), Little Egret (3 prs).

LAKE KERKINI: Track on south side of Strimónas River running along the eastern edge of lake (see Gosney)
Good numbers of Pygmy Cormorant, Little Egret, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, and Great Cormorant. White Pelican (25), Dalmatian Pelican (5), Black Kite (1), Penduline Tits calling, Bee-eaters common, Great Reed Warblers common, Hoopoe, Great Crested Grebes abundant, Moorhen, Magpie, Grey Heron observed with a Grass Snake, Black-headed Wagtail feeding in the company of a lone grazing cow on the embankment, Lesser Grey Shrike, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Sand Martin (50+) at the water works along with Spoonbill (9), Pygmy Cormorant, Little Egret and Grey Heron. Continuing along the track to Lithótopus: another Lesser Grey Shrike, nice views of a Honey Buzzard, flying over a maize field between two Poplar woods, Woodchat Shrike, Turtle Dove (pr). The track comes out on the opposite side of the dam from the village and S-bends down to the main road opposite the old watch tower.

DRIVE SOUTH TOWARDS THE AEGEAN SEA
Spanish Sparrows noted in White Stork nests along the route. No sign of 'Serres Marsh' mentioned in Gosney - land drained for agriculture. Jackdaws noted in some of the villages. Serres-Drama (road 12): Roller at Km-13. Road to Amphipoli: pairs of Red-backed Shrikes and plenty of sparrows. Sparrowhawk sp. over the road near Amphipoli at 2100h near Km-25. Stayed overnight at Camping Achillies - unfortunately too close to the busy coast road where some dogs barked the whole night long!

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)  White Pelicans on the Strimónas River  Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

 

 

Saturday 25 June 2005
Location/Area: Camping Achillies, nr Kavála, Asprovalta > Nestos Delta > Porto Lagos > Fanari
Weather: blue sky, max 35.0°C, little wind


Highlights: Spur-winged Lapwing, Long-legged Buzzard, Great Egret, Dalmatian Pelican, Eleonora's Falcon, Mediterannean Gull, & Black-necked Grebe.

CAMPING ACHILLIES, nr KAVÁLA
Great Spotted Woodpeckers calling and several Red-rumped Swallows overhead as we packed the tent away.

STAVROS, south of ASPROVALTA
Swift sp. (5) overhead as we drove through.

RENTINA GORGE, STAVROS
This area, mentioned in Dave Gosney's Finding Birds in Greece guide, appeared to be birdless and the track just led to a rubbish dump - many scavenging Yellow-legged Gull, Hooded Crows and Jackdaws. A few Red-rumped Swallows.

Drive: ASPROVALTA > KAVÁLA
Crested Larks common along the road, Serin (2) over the road, House Martin, White Stork (4 nests) in Pontolivado, Little Egret in small roadside pool at Piges, Cuckoo.

NESTOS DELTA: Tracks to Nestos Delta Visitor Center
At the village of Piges we observed some large, new signs for "Nestos Delta Visitor Centre". At this point I should have remembered Ray Thorneycroft's experience of driving for 10 miles without ever finding the centre! But the signs were good and regular - until after about five miles we found ourselves driving some tracks through a mainly maize-growing landscape. Species noted: Red-backed Shrike, Bee-eater, Nightingale, Turtle Dove, Common Buzzard and House Sparrow. Several Large Whip Snakes Coluber caspius observed on the tracks. After the last sign the track forked and after trying both for about an hour we found no wetlands, signs, or visitor centre. We then headed straight to the Spur-winged Lapwing/Plover site after wasting nearly half the day faffing around some crap sites - we were already missing Lake Kerkini and wished we had stayed there longer.

NESTOS DELTA: Spur-winged Lapwing site
Following the directions mention in Gosney and the other trip reports we were using, we soon found the the birds after driving through the gypsy camp on the track opposite the warehouses to the northeast of Keramoti town. The salt flat/grassland here was very dry and the Spur-winged Lapwings were much further away. It was not until we got out of the car that some ever-vigilent stilts came over follow by the Spur-wings. At least five Spur-winged Lapwings were found by driving the tracks in the area here. Several pairs of Black-winged Stilts, Little Egret, Short-toed Larks singing, Quail singing, Yellow-legged Gull, Crested Lark, Bee-eaters in small sand banks, Marsh Harrier (2-3), Spoonbill, Oystercatcher, Ascalaphid (Libelluloides sp.) and Poplar Admiral.

Drive to PORTO LAGOS area
Long-legged Buzzard mobbed by Hooded Crow over the road c10 km from Porto Lagos.

FANARI: EOT Campsite
Checked in and pitched the tent to the sight of Mediterranean Gulls passing overhead. Great Egret (4) on the lake at Arogi. Crested Larks common in the area.

PORTO LAGOS: Byzantine Church
Lesser Grey Shrike on roadside wires c500 metres from the church entrance. Walked out along the boardwalks to the church. Nice views of 63 Dalmatian Pelicans along with Little Tern (3), Common Tern (50+), Spoobill, Little Egret, Great Cormorant (21), Grey Heron, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Bee-eater, Barn Swallow, Collared Dove and House Sparrow. Crossed over the road here to the shore of Lake Vistonida - Common Tern (200+) and several Great Crested Grebes.

PORTO LAGOS: Lake Vistonida/Vistonas
About 1 km drive east back towards Fanari there is a layby on the right with a track leading into the lagoons here. Checked out the lake (Vistonida) across the road where there is a nice shingle shore. Many terns in this area with many resting on about 50 posts in the shallow bay. Common Tern (50+), Sandwich Tern (10+), Little Tern (6+) and Black Tern (1).  Little Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher sitting on eggs. Common Sandpiper (pr), Black-necked Grebe (1), Dalmatian Pelican overhead, Little Egret, Pochard, Great Reed Warblers singing in the reedy corners, Barn Swallows passing, Black-winged Stilt overhead, Jackdaw (26 o/h at 2030h), Corn Buntings singing in the distance, Cetti's Warbler began singing towards dusk, and Hummingbird Hawk Moths along the verge. Took the track for on the other side and over the bridge for about 100 metres. Eleornora's Falcon (3 singles) passed overhead, Several Mediterranean Gulls passing overhead, Redshank calling, Great Reed Warblers singing, Coot (4), Dalmatian Pelican (14), Mallard (c30), and Shelduck (2).

FANARI
Near the harbour/marina we found a great restaurant with a Little Owl on a lamp post nearby.

 Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus)  Terns on Lake Vistonida  Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

 

 

Sunday 26 June 2005
Location/Area: Fanaria > Porto Lagoa > Lake Ismarida > Lake Piela > Cape Kulogrias


Highlights: Dalmatian Pelican, Syrian Woodpecker, Long-legged Buzzard, Pygmy Cormorant, Marsh Sandpiper, Black-headed Bunting, Greater Flamingo, Slender-billed Gull, Stone Curlew, Ferruginous Duck, Masked Shrike, Little Bittern, Collared Pratincole, Gull-billed Tern, & White-winged Tern.

FANARI: EOT Campsite
Collared Dove and Goldfinches singing. Hundreds of gulls offshore around a few fishing boats. Starlings nesting.

FANARI > PORTO LAGOS
Drove about three quarters of the way around the track around Lake Xirolimnii at Fanari. Species noted: Short-toed Lark singing, Marsh Harrier (1), Kestrel (1), Grey Heron, Yellow-legged Gull, Barn Swallow, Magpie and Crested Lark. Drive to Lagos area: Black-headed Bunting on roadside wire, Crested Larks common, White Stork and a dead Eastern Hedgehog noted at the roadside.

PORTO LAGOS
Large lagoon in Vistonia Bay referred to as the 'Pelican Pool' in the Gosney guide: Common Tern (a few hundred), Whiskered Tern, Black-headed Wagtail, Red-rumped Swallow, Dalmatian Pelican (47), Shelduck (25), Redshank (200+), Spotted Redshank (1), Avocet (6+), Black-winged Stilt (several pairs), Curlew (8+), Little Tern, Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern, Little Egret, Great Cormorant, Great Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Bee-eater (common), Kestrel, Oystercatcher (4), Barn Swallow, House Martin, Marsh Harrier, Short-toed Lark, and White Stork. Driving back towards the main road there is a track goes off to the left towards a fish rearing area: Dalmatian Pelican (14), Common Tern (c35), Hoopoe (2), Whitethroat singing, Little Egret (7), Little Tern (2), Grey Heron (2), and Red-rumped Swallows nesting in the small, brick huts.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)  Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)  Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus)

PORTO LAGOS: Flamingo Taverna
This area may be good at other times of the year but on our visit it was rather disappointing. Species noted while sipping a Greek coffee: Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, Common Tern, Grey Heron, Great Cormorant, Yellow-legged Gull, Great Reed Warbler, Barn Swallow, House Martin and House Sparrow.

PORTO LAGOS: Pine & Poplar woods to the west of Lagos
Chaffinches singing here had a woodpecker-like 'keek' motif and the end of each song phrase - similar to birds noted in Finland a couple of years ago. It was weaker and higher pitched though and not so reminiscent of a Great Spotted Woodpecker call.  Poplar Admiral (20+), Syrian Woodpecker (Ad + juv), Wall Brown, Long-legged Buzzard overhead mobbed by Hooded Crows, Collared Dove, Kestrel, Subalpine Warbler in foreshore scrub, Greenfinch, Kestrel, Easter Olivaceous Warblers common, Magpie, Skylark singing, Hoopoe flew over the pine wood from the beach, and Feral Pigeon (7) overhead.

PORTO LAGOS: 'Wader Lagoon' between the main road & Lake Vistonida
Good area for larks with Calandra (single pr), Short-toed, Crested (numerous) and Skylark found. Marsh Sandpiper (2), Black-winged Stilt (2 prs), Kentish Plover (several pairs), Oystercatcher (pr), Redshank (5), Yellow-legged Gull, Marsh Harrier, White Stork, Sand Martin (5), Common Tern, Shelduck, Barn Swallow, Corn Bunting and Brown Argus.

PORTO LAGOS: 'Costal Lagoo' between the main road & sea, near the salt works
Very strong heat haze hampered observations here. Black-headed Wagtail, Little Tern (2), Corn Buntings (common), Curlew (2), Redshank (80+), Little Egret (several), Bee-eater and Barn Swallow. Walked up the rise here, where the salt works become visible. Counted 320 Greater Flamingo and Dalmatian Pelican (2).

PORTO LAGOS: Salt Works
Slender-billed Gull (2), Mediterranean Gull (6 o/h), Stone Curlew (2), Greater Flamingo (320 inc many juveniles), Avocet (2 prs), Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Kentish Plover (several pairs), Oystercatcher (2), Redshank (several), Spoonbill, White Stork, Little Egret and several Black-winged Stilts.

LAKE ISMARIDA, south of PAGOURIA: woodland patch on the north western side
Black-headed Buntings fairly common along the roadside drive south from the village. Hoopoe (3 singing mm) in the open, deciduous woodland, Bee-eaters common, Cetti's Warbler and Nightingale singing, Red-backed Shrike (pr) in scrub on the edge of the wood, many Spanish Sparrows and Corn Buntings, Ferruginous Duck flew over, Masked Shrike (pr) in a scrubby clearing inside the wood, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler singing, Cuckoo mobbed by Spanish Sparrows, Serin singing, Golden Oriole singing and a female glimpsed, Camberwell Beauty soaring over bramble scrub was nearly lunch for an active Bee-eater, Banded Demoiselle, Black-tailed Skimmer, Clouded Yellow, Holly Blue, Magpie, Kestrel, Barn Swallow, House Martin, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Starling, Crested Lark, Greenfinch and Black-headed Wagtail (2).

LAKE ISMARIDA: southern shoreline
Found tracks off to the left (when driving south from Pagouria) which led to the farm building on raised ground mentioned in Gosney. Spanish Sparrow (300+) & Starling (1000+ juvs) in the grassland & scrub. Lots of crazy, barking dogs in this area! Black-headed Wagtail (7), Black Tern (250+), White-winged Tern (2), Gull-billed Tern (2), Little Bittern (1), Pygmy Cormorant (1), Bearded Reedling (11), Ferruginous Duck (pr), Collared Pratincole (10+), Black-necked Grebe (32), Dalmatian Pelican (2), Purple Heron, Hoopoe singing, Whiskered Tern, Little Tern, Marsh Harrier, Great Crested Grebe (many birds with chicks), Mute Swan (pr), another Ferruginous Duck flew past, Crested Lark (common), Bee-eater, Great Reed Warbler, Pochard (200+), Great Cormorant, Reed Warbler, and Yellow-legged Gull. While driving back towards to the road I spotted an animal, clearly not one of the goat-guarding dogs, running up a slope and into cover - a Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) !

LAKE PTELIA & CAPE KALOGIROS
Black-headed Buntings and Corn Buntings common in this area. Dalmatian Pelican observed drifting out on the Aegean Sea like a smal boat. Numerous Mediterranean Gulls, Sandwich Terns and Common Terns flying back and forth between the sea and breeding colonies around the lagoons and old salt pans here. Also noted: Marsh Harrier, Short-toed Lark, Little Egret, Kentish Plover, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Oystercatcher (2), Yellow-legged Gull, Barn Swallow, Grey Heron, Redshank and Common Sandpiper. Stoat ran across one of the tracks here.

Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala)  Greater Flamingo (Pheonicopterus ruber)  White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

 

 

Monday 27 June 2005
Location/Area: Cape Kulogrias > Avantas area > Loutros > Evros Delta > Alexandroupoli


Highlights: Isabelline Wheatear, Sombre Tit, Roller, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Short-toed Eagle, Golden Oriole, Black-headed Bunting, Slender-billed Gull, Black Stork, Broad-billed Sandpiper, & Scops Owl.

LAKE PTELIA & CAPE KALOGIROS
Shag (3) 'scoped on the rocky islet offshore. Avocet (4) flew past. Mediterranean Gull (150+), Common Tern (150+) and Sandwich Tern (30+) counted in the colonies this morning. Black-headed Bunting, Crested Lark and Skylark singing. Also noted before we hit the road: Kentish Plover, Little Egret, Yellow-legged Gull, Hooded Crow, Grey Heron, Cormorant, and Kestrel.

DRIVE NORTH TO PAGOURIA
Bee-eaters (8) following a combine harvester for the invertebrates disturbed, Roller and a further 12 Bee-eaters near yesterday's wood, Red-rumped Swallow, Crested Lark, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, and White Stork nests with Spanish Sparrows in Pagouria.

DRIVE TO ALEXANDROUPOLI/ALEXANDROPOLIS
Hoopoe over the road about 10 km west of Alexandroupoli. Also several Swifts sp.

ROAD TO AVAS/AVANTAS GORGE AREA
Took a left turn, just after passing the obvious castle, to the abandoned railway station. The single track road carried on past the ghost station. We followed it over two fords to an obvious open area of good grassland vegetation by the railway tracks, surrounded by nice, forested hills. Woodlarks displaying, Turtle Dove (4 singing mm), Woodchat Shrike (2 prs + b/2), Red-backed Shrike (pr), Syrian Woodpecker calling, & Red-rumped Swallow (20+). Great views of a pair of Sombre Tits in low bushes/scrub - one briefly landed on a support wire for a telelgraph pole from where it caught an insect, flycatcher style! Grey Wagtail (2) on the stream, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Blackbird, Jay, Nightingale, Cetti's Warbler, House Sparrow and Great Tit. Grassland rich in butterflies. Some species noted: Spotted Fritillary, Lesser Fiery Copper, Swallowtail, Amanda's Blue, Clouded Yellow, Powdered Brimstone, Dingly Skipper, Chapman's Blue, Lulworth Skipper and also a Banded Demoiselle noted. Area around the second ford: Checked the olive groves here for Olive-tree Warbler without any luck. Several Marsh Frogs around the stream. Black-tailed Skimmers abundant. A pair of Orthetrum coerulescens egg-laying in tandem in the stream close to the bank. Also two gomphid dragonflies, Gomphus flavipes & Onychogomphus forcipatus. Several Cercion lindeni damselflies and a Mallow Skipper. Area around the abandoned railway station: Golden Oriole (m) flying around, Syrian Woodpecker calling, Black-headed Bunting singing, Turtle Doves singing, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Jay (4+), Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, House Sparrow and Great Tit. Searched the olive grove here for Olive-tree Warbler without any luck. Castle area: Common Buzzard (o/h), Eastern Orphean Warbler, Golden Oriole, Hoopoe, Red-rumped Swallow, Nightingale, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Syrian Woodpecker calling, Jay, Bee-eater, Turtle Dove, Greenfinch, Barn Swallow, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Camberwell Beauty, Scarce Swallowtail, Hummingbird Hawk Moth, and Wall Brown.

AVANDAS/AVANTAS
White Storks nesting in the village and Black-headed Bunting in one of the main streets!

AVANTAS GORGE
There was no sign of any raptor activity and no Rock Nuthatches were heard calling. Blue Rock Thrush (3), Kestrels nesting, Eastern Olivaceous Warblers and Turtle Doves singing, Red-backed Shrike (pr), Blue Rock Thrush observed with a large centipede, Southern White Admiral, Chiffchaff singing, Grey Wagtail (2), Red Admiral, Short-toed Eagle passed quickly over, Cirl Bunting singing, Blue Tit, Jay (2), Red-rumped Swallow (20+), Brimstone, Turtle Dove, and Raven (2).

Drive back to ALEXANDROUPOLI
Woodchat Shrike (2), Black-headed Bunting (2), and a Marsh Harrier along the edge of the airport.

EVROS DELTA VISITOR CENTRE/LOUTROS STREAM
Over the road, just north of the visitor centre: single Black Stork circling and a further 20 birds in the stream along with several White Storks and Little Egrets. A Long-legged Buzzard circling overhead, Black-headed Buntings singing, Goldfinches calling, Turtle Doves along the bank. Also Inky Skipper & Scarce Swallowtail along the verge.

HILL OF ST GEORGE/LOUTROS HILL 
Drove up the obvious hill on the east side of Loutros village. Black Stork (4) on crags on the track up, Ortolan Buntings singing, Black-eared Wheatear (f), & Common Swift (2). Inky Skipper, Swallowtail, Painted Lady, Scarce Swallowtail, & Small Tortoiseshell around the chapel.

EVROS DELTA: DRANA LAGOON area 
Took the farm track just east of the Loutros junction, running south towards the sea. Came to an apparently abandoned field centre looking over the lagoon here. Shelduck (30+), Spotted Redshank (10 feeding and another 17 flew by), Broad-billed Sandpiper (3), Green Sandpiper (1), Marsh Sandpiper (5), Kentish Plover (2), Oytercatcher (2), Redshank (40+), Ruff (1), Black-winged Stilt (several pairs), Avocet (6+), Little Grebe (1), Slender-billed Gull (1), Calandra Lark (2 o/h), Ringed Plover (1), Black-headed Wagtail (fairly common), Nightingale, Cetti's Warbler, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, House Sparrow, Barn Swallow, Great Reed Warbler, Corn Bunting, Grey Heron, and Poplar Admiral. Followed the main track running east from here: Brief but close views of a Golden Jackal on the track, followed soon after by a Stoat scampering over the track. Purple Heron in the large, reed ditch running parallel to the track. Several flocks of Spanish Sparrows, Short-toed Lark, White Wagtail, and Turtle Dove.

EVROS DELTA: MONASTERAKI area Isabelline Wheatear site
South of the village, the track crosses the railway line and the wheatear is regularly recorded in this area. Most of the area looked too cultivated with, albeit, low-intensive cereal fields. Tried a 200 metre trail running east, immediately north of the railway line. This passes a weedy, tilled field lying adjacent to a fenced-in olive grove - this looked the most promising area. Several Crested Larks, Skylarks and Calandra Larks. Black-headed Bunting (4-5 singing mm), Linnet, Eastern Orphean Warbler and a Migrant Hawker. After walking this we turned back. Checked the weedy field again and finally picked up an Isabelline Wheatear in one of the furrows.

ALEXANDROUPOLI CAMPING
Scops Owl calling as we pitched the tent and had some Ouzo.......

 Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)  Loutros area  Hermann's Tortoise (Testudo hermanni)

 

 

Tuesday 28 June 2005
Location/Area: Alexandroupoli Camping > Evros Delta > Dadia Forest Ecolodge


Highlights: Isabelline Wheatear, Eleonora's Falcon, Dalmatian Pelican, Long-legged Buzzard, Egyptian Vulture, Black Stork, Tawny Pipit, Syrian Woodpecker, Lesser Grey Shrike, White-backed Woodpecker, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler & Short-toed Eagle.

ALEXANDROUPOLI CAMPING
Singing birds at dawn: Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Hoopoe, Goldfinch, Collared Dove, Blue Tit, and Barn Swallow. Yellow-legged Gull and Hooded Crow over the campsite. On leaving town, two woodpckers flew over the road (Syrian or Great Spotted).

EVROS DELTA VISITOR CENTRE/LOUTROS STREAM
Black Stork (19) in the stream at the visitor centre.

EVROS DELTA: DRANA LAGOON area 
Took the farm track just east of the Loutros junction again, running south towards the sea. Species noted along this track: Marsh Harrier, Black-headed Bunting, Spanish Sparrow, Crested Lark, Hooded Crow, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Barn Swallow, Magpie, and House Sparrow. Counts from the abandoned visitor centre: Spotted Redshank (54), Dalmatian Pelican (4), Eleonora's Falcon (o/h), Avocet (10), Marsh Sandpiper (9), Greenshank (3), Green Sandpiper (2), Common Sandpiper (1). Redshank (50+), Lapwing (1), Shelduck (50 ads, pr + b/2, creche of 11 mixed-age juvs), Night Heron (5), Black-headed Wagtail (10+), White Wagtail (5+), Black-winged Stilt (several pairs), Little Egret (c20), Marsh Harrier (4), White Stork (o/h), Oystercatcher, Common Tern, Black-headed Gull (c40), many Corn Buntings singing, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Starling, Barn Swallow, Kentish Plover (2), Bee-eater (4), Marsh Harrier flew in and spooked the waders revealling more then actually counted, pair of Shelduck mobbing a Grey Heron in flight, Yellow-legged Gull (c20) and a single Hobby.

EVROS DELTA: Drive east towards MONASTERAKI area - Isabelline Wheatear site
Hermann's Tortoise crossing the track. Black-headed Bunting (4). An Isabelline Wheatear on the track c4 km east  along the track. Flew down the embankment covered in sparse vegetation and settled back on the track c50 metres behind the car. This was just before the first brdige (with rusty fence) on the left. Great Reed Warblers common along the channel/irrigation canal. Marsh Harrier (2), Turtle Dove (several), Short-toed Lark (1), Great Cormorant (2) in trees along the channel, Cetti's Warbler singing, Tawny Pipit flushed of the track, Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Goldfinch, Black-headed Wagtail, White Stork and Barn Swallow. Spur-thighed Tortoise at last night's Isabelline Wheatear site. Turned south again towards the military post and on reaching this we turned right, heading west, continuing along the public road. After c2 km, a Souslik (Spermophilus cetellus) appeared on the track before disappearing down its hole. Black-headed Bunting (2), Red-backed Shrike (female carrying food for young), Marsh Harrier (4), Purple Heron (2), Turtle Dove (numerous), Bee-eater (50+), Greenshank (2), Collared Pratincole (1), Corn Bunting, Little Egret (common inc. flock 14 + 9 o/h), Black-headed Wagtail, Short-toed Lark, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Yellow-legged Gull, Grey heron, Redshank, Oystercatcher (9), distant Pelican sp., Shelduck (4), Curlew (3), and Redshank (200+). Approaching the north turn of the track back towards Loutros: Spoonbill (242), Little Egret (84) and Grey Heron (10+) in marshes close to the sea. Another 36 Spoonbills flew overhead, Dalmatian Pelican (6), Curlew, Shelduck and two distant unidentified pelicans in the heat haze. Approaching the Drana Lagoon, another Isabelline Wheatear was found - again, typically shy and unapproachable. Sand Martin and Common Swift also noted.

Drive to DADIA
White Stork (3), Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike noted. After turning off the main road onto the minor road leading to Dadia village we stopped on the left after a White-backed Woodpecker flew over the road. A Golden Oriole (m) then flew over the road. Explored the grassy strip along the edge of the deciduous woodland here. Lesser Fiery Copper, Nightingale, Spotted Fritillary, Green Woodpecker calling, Large Skipper, Turtle Dove, Bee-eater, Wall, Hummingbird Hawk Moth, White-legged Damselfly, and a brood of Jays.

DADIA FOREST ECOLODGE (www.ecoclub.com/dadia)
Just as we arrived, a Black-eared Wheatear feeding a fledgeling in the grounds. Also Barn Swallow, House Martin, House Sparrow and Goldfinch. Later found five Black-eared Wheatears (rest of the family) frequenting the rocky slope across from the cafe.

DADIA FOREST ECOLODGE: Walk to the hide
After about 250 metres there are some crags visible out to the left. Scoped an Egyptian Vulture on its nest at a cave entrance. At least one small chick visible. Long-legged Buzzard overhead. Impressive Cordulegaster picta dragonfly along the track. Turtle Doves (common) singing. Pair of Broad-bodied Chasers around a dried-out gully. Crossbill overhead. Eastern Bonelli's Warbler singing. Chiffchaff singing - different from British birds, more a single, repeated tone... "chiff-chiff, chiff-chiff". Common Buzzard calling. Egyptian Vulture overhead. Goldfinch (2). Chaffinch (a few).

DADIA FOREST ECOLODGE: Hide
Nothing in view for the first 20 minutes, then four Egyptian Vultures and a Short-toed Eagle appeared. No interest shown in the carcasses though. Red-rumped Swallow (8+) and a pair appeared to have recently nested in the hide. Cirl Buntings singing, Green Woodpecker, Great Tit, Turtle Dove singing, Red-backed and Woodchat Shrikes around the vulture feeding site. Walk back down: Robin (3 singing mm), Firecrest calling, flock of Long-tailed Tits, Cirl Bunting (3 singing mm), and a Mistle Thrush calling. Late evening, after returning from dinner, a striking Green Toad was found outside the ecolodge at 2300h. It had disappeared by the time I returned with the camera!

 Grasshopper sp.  Wetland in the Evros Delta  Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

 

 

Wednesday 29 June 2005
Location/Area: Dadia Forest Ecolodge > Bird Hide > Pessani Bridge > Pessani observation point


Highlights: Lesser Spotted Eagle, Eurasian Black Vulture, Sombre Tit, Long-legged Buzzard, Hawfinch, Griffon Vulture, Wood Nuthatch, Booted Eagle, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, & Nightjar.

DADIA FOREST ECOLODGE: Walk to the hide
Hoopoe singing in the distance near Dadia village, Black-eared Wheatear and House Martin around the ecocentre, Subalpine Warbler singing in pine woodland about 500 metres up the track, several Turtle Doves singing, Cirl Bunting singing, and Coal Tit noted.

DADIA FOREST ECOLODGE: Hide
Didn't arrive at the hide until 0915h - too late to view the vultures. Over the next 30 minutes the raptors began to show. Lesser Spotted Eagle (1), Short-toed Eagle (3), Long-legged Buzzard (1), Black Stork (2), Egyptian Vulture (1) and Griffon Vulture (1). Golden Oriole singing plus usual passerines. Hoopoe flew and started feeding on the slope below the hide at 1025h. Flock of eight Long-tailed Tits passed the hide.

DADIA FOREST ECOLODGE: Walk back down, taking one of the small trails (marked by yellow squares) through the forest
Ravens (6) circling overhead at 1045h. Spotted Flycatcher on the trail from the hide to the main track. Emperor Dragonfly, Cordulegaster picta and Onychogomphus forcipatus meridionalis. Jay, Crossbill, Short-toed Treecreeper (3), Robin and Green Woodpecker observed. Lezah flushed a Middle Spotted Woodpecker fledgling off the side of the track - just seconds after I had walked right past it! Located another three Middle Spotted Woodpeckers nearby (rest of the family). The trail through the forest was quite interesting for reptiles. An impressive European Glass Lizard (probably 1.5 metres long) was disturbed from small patch of scrub and I initially thought it was a snake as it made a very quick getaway. Also a Balkan Wall Lizard (juv), Balkan Green Lizard and a Spur-thighed Tortoise. Found a large, unoccupied raptors nest, possibly a Honey Buzzard.

DADIA: Village
Black-eared Wheatear (m) in a garden, Banded Demoiselle and Common Swift (2) overhead. Drive out of the village towards Pessam Bridge area: Long-legged Buzzard, Woodchat Shrike and Bee-eater (3).

DADIA FOREST: Pessani Bridge
A small, slow-flowing stream with luxuriant vegetaion. Eastern Bonelli's Warbler (4+) flitting around the scrub under the bridge, Black Stork (o/h), Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Turtle Dove, Jay, Lesser Fiery Copper, Emperor Dragonfly, Banded Demoiselle, Balkan Pond Terrapin/European Pond Terrapin (10+), Hummingbird Hawk Moth (3+) on Cistus, Golden Oriole singing, Green Woodpecker, Nightingale, Broad-bodied Chaser, Common Toad (50+ toadlets), Marsh Frog, Lestes viridis, Southern White Admiral, White-legged Damselfly, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Balkan Wall Lizard, Grey Wagtail, and Powdered Brimstone.

DADIA FOREST: Pessani observation point
Several Red-backed & Woodchat Shrikes in the area, Golden Oriole singing, Green/Balkan Green Lizard, Song Thrush (2-3), Short-toed Eagle (1), Crossbill (3 o/h), Long-legged Buzzard, Black-eared Wheatear, Jay, Chaffinch, and a single distant Eurasian Black Vulture near the antenna.

DADIA FOREST: Treis Vrysses
Driving up this high road, we stopped at an interesting area on the hillside (at a long stretch of crash barrier) with panoramic views over the forest. Sombre Tit (3 prs), Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Cirl Bunting (pr), family of Woodchat Shrikes, Common Buzzard, Linnet, family of Black-eared Wheatears, Common Swift, Chaffinch singing, Peacock, Clouded Yellow, Golden Oriole singing. This road ended at a T-junction of rough tracks with a series of buildings on the left (possibly a research centre): c30 Common Swifts, tree buzzing with hairstreaks, and a male Red-backed Shrike. Further back down the road we came across a Lesser Spotted Eagle perched in a small tree by the roadside. It soon flew off along with a second bird and briefly soared out over the valley. Corn Buntings singing lower down.

DADIA FOREST: Main road back to Dadia village
Hermann's Tortoise attempting to cross the road, several Robins singing. Stopped at a large track off to the left after a large group of Chaffinches and a few Hawfinches flew up of the road (coming from the Dadia direction, this is the first track to the right after the large open area with sheep/goat ranch). Chaffinch (40+), Hawfinch (10+), Golden Oriole (2-3 singing mm, male over the track), Nuthatch, Jay calling, Great Spotted Woodpecker (2+), Turtle Dove singing, Long-tailed Tit (12+), Barn Swallow, Short-toed Treecreeper singing, Greenfinch, pale morph Booted Eagle, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Red-backed Shrike (m), Holly Blue and Song Thrush.

DADIA FOREST: Drive back to Dadia
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler (3), Red-rumped Swallow, Bee-eater, Chaffinch (several flocks of 20-30), White Wagtail (2), Nightingale over the road, Crested Lark, Hooded Crow, Turtle Dove and Starling.

DADIA FOREST: Dadia Ecolodge
Observations while chilling on the balcony, early evening: Red-backed Shrike (m), Hoopoe & Golden Oriole calling, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler singing & Cirl Bunting singing, Barn Swallow (20+) mobbing a cat from the village, Black-eared Wheatear, Red-rumped Swallow, Spotted Flycatcher, Starling flying over with food for young, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, House Martin, House Sparrow, and Common Swift (3). Walk back from the village at 2300h: Nightjar churring and displaying over the rocky slope to the right of the centre.

 White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes)  Trail to Dadia Forest Bird Hide  Shieldbug sp.

 

 

Thursday 30 June 2005
Location/Area: Dadia Forest > Thessaloniki > Delphi


Highlights: Eastern Imperial Eagle, Eurasian Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Roller, Hawfinch, Scops Owl, Pygmy Cormorant, & Lesser Kestrel.

DADIA FOREST ECOLODGE: Walk to the hide
0630-0710h. Black-eared Wheatear, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Woodlark, Short-toed Treecreeper, Turtle Dove, Cirl Bunting, Black Stork, Chaffinch, Robin, Common Buzzard, Eastern Bonelii's Warbler, Red-rumped Swallow, Great Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker noted.

DADIA FOREST ECOLODGE: Hide
Arrived at 0710h. This morning was definitely better, probably because we had made the effort to get here a bit earlier. However, numbers were not that impressive: Eurasian Black Vulture (10), Griffon Vulture (10) and Egyptian Vulture (6) feeding on the carrion. The highlight was the Eastern Imperial Eagle which perched nearby on a dead tree for entire period we were there. Black Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel and Short-toed Eagle present from time-to-time. Camberwell Beauty, Comma, Glanville Fritillary, Queen of Spain Fritillary and Large Tortoiseshell observed on the walk back down.

Big drive (770 km) across Greece to DELPHI via THESSALONIKI
After an excellent breakfast at the Dadia lodge, most of the day was spent getting to the other side of Greece with the hope of finding specialities of the southern mainland, climnbing a few hills and visiting the archaeological site at Delphi. Species noted on the drive: Black Stork, White Stork, Common Buzzard, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Blackbird, Black-eared Wheatear, White Stork, Crested Lark, Kestrel, Mallard, Little Egret, Spanish Sparrow, House Sparrow, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, and Roller. A brief stop at Lake Korónia produced Pygmy Cormorant, Night Heron, Purple Heron, Black Kite and Green Sandpiper noted among the more common species. South of Lárissa we found at least 35 Lesser Kestrels in the open plains here.

DELPHI: Camping Apollon
After an exhausting day on the road we tried to pitch the tent on rock solid ground - the campsite is on the lower slopes of the Mount Parnassus massif. Found a Kotschy's Gecko and observed its weird toes lacking the sticky pads of the other European species. A few kilometres before the campsite, a brief stop on the hillside revealled a few Nightjars flying around and evocative backdrop of a fine sunset.

 Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus)  Vultures at feeding site in Dadia Forest  Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)

 

 

Friday 1 July 2005
Location/Area: Delphi


Highlights: Western Rock Nuthatch, Rüppell's Warbler, Black-eared Wheatear, Alpine Swift, Crag martin & Short-toed Eagle.

DELPHI: Camping Apollon
Camped here at the most touristy (and expensive) area we came across on our travels. Woke up early to the sounds of a few Western Rock Nuthatches calling loudly around the campsite. I stretched my neck out the tent and observed one on the small wall surrounding the pool - certainly the easiest life-tick I've ever head! Red-rumped Swallow, Kestrel, Greenfinch, Starling and House Sparrow also noted.

DELPHI: Archaeological site
It is worth coming here for the dramatic setting of the old remains but there is the added attraction of Western Rock Nuthatch all over the site. We even found a domed nest of mud set in a stone wall in the site. Counted at least 15 Nuthatches from the entrance to the top of the slope above the ruins. Alpine Swift (8) and Crag Martin (1) overhead. Sombre Tit (2 prs), Common Kestrel (brood), Firecrest, Blue Rock Thrush (4) and Goldfinch (abundant). At the top of the site above the stadium it possible to clamber up onto the hot, dry scrub. Found a pair of Rüppell's Warbler carrying food for young. Balkan Wall Lizard, Southern Comma, Scarce Swallowtail,

Delphi  Western Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer)  Delphi

DELPHI: Arid slopes to the north west of the town
Found very few birds with only a Woodchat Shirke of note. Searched some suitable looking habitat for Cretzschmar's Bunting without any luck and in fact we found none on the whole trip. Oh well, one to pick up in Turkey at a later date! In the valley below, stretching for miles to the Gulf of Corinth, was not an olive grove but an olive forest. As we had dipped on Olive-tree Warbler we though it looked likely but the area wasa  highly industrialised operation with no ground cover at all on the floor and generally lacking in the wildlife typical of small olive groves in Spain.

ITÉA: Gulf of Corinth
Sandwich Tern, Kentish Plover, Little Egret, Red-rumped Swallow, Pallid Swift noted on a brief visit to the coast.

DELPHI: Slopes above Camping Apollon
Balkan Marbled White, Cirl Bunting, Scarce Swallowtail, Western Rock Nuthatch, Painted Lady, Lattice Brown, Scarce Swallowtail, Clouded Yellow, Common Blue,

Delphi  Delphi  Delphi

 

 

Saturday 2 July 2005
Location/Area: Delphi > Mount Parnassus National Park > Maliakos Kolpos Delta


Highlights: Western Rock Nuthatch, Rock Thrush, Horned Lark, Alpine Chough, Golden Eagle & Tawny Pipit.

DELPHI: Camping Apollon
Watched the Western Rock Nuthatches around the campsite before packing up and heading into the mountains.

MOUNT PARNASSUS NATIONAL PARK
Drove from Delphi to Arachova then took the road to the first ski station/lifts above the tree line - as far as is possible to drive. From here it was a couple of hours walk (birding) to the summit. Particularly good for butterflies: Greek Clouded Yellow, Clouded Apollo, Cardinal Fritillary, Mallow Skipper, Common Blue, Levantine Skipper, Andrachne telephiodes, Northern Brown Argus, Eastern Bath White, Peacock, Blue Argus, Amanda's Blue, Red Admiral, and Small Tortoiseshells which were still being found above 2000 metres. At the car park there is an obvious gully to the left of the rough track - climbed up here to the next ski station. A pair of Rock Thrushes were carrying food for young still in the nest here. Black Redstarts the most abundant species here along with many pairs and small parties of Linnets. Several Tawny Pipits and Northern Wheatears. The habitat looked probable for Rock Partridge but none were heard or seen. Above the second ski station a Horned (Shore) Lark was found- this bird apparently of the balcanica race with large black face mask continuous with black upper breast. Also at least six Alpine Chough wheeling around. Northern Wheatear, Black Redstart and Linnet common here. Below the summit there is an impressive corrie (or cirque) with small glacier patches. A pair of Kestrels were nesting high on the cliff here and went absolutely crazy when an immature Golden Eagle cruised leisurely over. Several Black Redstarts singing and a pair of Alpine Choughs overhead.

 Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)  Mount Parnassus National Park  Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis)

 

 

Sunday 3 July 2005
Location/Area: Maliakos Kolpos Delta > Prionia, Mount Olympus National Park > Litochoro


Highlights: Squacco Heron, Purple Heron. Gull-billed Tern, Penduline Tit, & Crested Tit.

MALIAKOS KOLPOS DELTA, ANTHILI
Driving east through Anthili, we explored the tracks through rice fields to the sea and what was probably once a significant wetland habitat. Species noted: Purple Heron, White Stork, Grey Heron, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Kestrel, Collared Pratincole, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Mediterranean Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Black-headed Wagtail, Penduline Tit, Goldfinch, Linnet, House Sparrow, Hooded Crow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin and Magpie. 

MOUNT OLYMPUS NATIONAL PARK: Prionia
Drove to the car park here which is the highest point on the mountain where a car can be taken. Grey Wagtail (2-3) around the stream, Blackbird, Firecrest, Robin, Chiffchaff, and Crested Tit. Walked the first kilometre of the track to the refuge until the rain came down. Crested Tit, Coal Tit and Goldcrest found.

MOUNT OLYMPUS NATIONAL PARK: Mixed woodland on slopes below Prionia
Found a productive area of pine mixed with few deciduous species which provided Crested Tit, Nuthatch, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Firecrest, Short-toed Treecreeper, Golden Oriole, Spotted Flycatcher, and surprisingly a Lesser Whitethroat.

 

 

Monday 4 July 2005
Location/Area: Alyki Kitros Salt Works


Highlights: Greater Flamingo, Slender-billed Gull, Collared Pratincole, & Tawny Pipit.

ALYKI KITROS SALT WORKS: Salt pans next to the harbour
As we arrived a Mediterranean Gull and Slender-billed Gull flew in front of the car at the harbour at Pidna. Slender-billed Gull (30+), Mediterranean Gull (100+), Greater Flamingo (c450), Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Kentish Plover, and Collared Pratincole.

ALYKI KITROS SALT WORKS: Lagoons and pans near the yellow crane structure
Slender-billed Gull (120+), Avocet, Spotted Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank, Mediterranean Gull, Shelduck, Black-winged Stilt, Redshank, Curlew, Kentish Plover, Stone Curlew, Little Tern, Common tern, Gull-billed Tern, Mallard, Bee-eater, Black-headed Wagtail, Hoopoe, Green Sandpiper, Woodchat Shrike, Little Egret, Grey Heron and Red-rumped Swallow.

ALYKI KITROS SALT WORKS: Salt flats and marshes to the east
About 1.5 km further along the road past the yellow crane there is a large, dusty tracks to the left which we fol lowed for several kilometres along the coastal dunes. Little Owl on one of the buildings on the right at the start of the track: see a phonescoped image of the Little Owl by clicking here. Collared Pratincoles particularly abundant. Also found: Marsh Harrier, White Stork, Common Buzzard, Sardinian Warbler, Kentish Plover, Tawny Pipit, Whitethroat, Yellow-legged Gull, Little Egret, Hooded Crow, Common Tern.

ALYKI KITROS SALT WORKS: Low dunes/foreshore next to the salt works
A couple of Hoopoes, several Crested Lark plus Linnet, House Sparrow and Greenfinch. At dusk we had excellent views of a Nightjar as it churred from a bush, in flight and on a telegraph wire at the salt work. Feeding on moths over the beach.

 Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)  Salt Works  White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

 

 

Tuesday 5 July 2005
Location/Area: Mount Olympus National Park: Prionia > Skolio


Highlights: Lanner Falcon, Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor, Alpine Chough, Rock Bunting, & Eastern Bonelli's Warbler.

ALYKI KITROS SALT WORKS: Low dunes/foreshore next to the salt works
Woke up at 0330h - Nightjar still churring.

KATERINI
Tawny Owl calling at dawn.

MOUNT OLYMPUS NATIONAL PARK: Prionia to Refuge A
Set of at 0635h for the long walk to the top of Mount Olympus. Grey Wagtail, Short-toed Treecreeper, Robin, Blackbird, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Coal, Tit, Chaffinch, Long-tailed Tit (20+) Bullfinch, Crossbill (several small parties), Chiffchaff, Wren, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, After about 30 minutes walking, a Grey-headed Woodpecker was heard calling a mixed area of beech and pine. In higher areas of forest after 45 minutes walking, Eurasian Treecreeper and Goldcrest were encountered from here to near the tree line - replacing Short-toed Treecreeper and Firecrest on the lower slopes. Up to a dozen Rock Buntings heard in the large gorge below the refuge and in the area around the refuge. Dunnock singing just below the refuge where dozens of Small Blues were flying. Alpine Accentor (2) in light, shrubby woodland near the refuge.

 Mount Olympus  Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris)  Mount Olympus

MOUNT OLYMPUS NATIONAL PARK: Refuge A to Skala and Skolio
Several family parties of Alpine Accentors - generally fairly tame. Seven Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) observed trotting over a glacier, one appeared to loosing its footing as it slid several metres downhill. Raven (4). Black Redstart and Northern Wheatear fairly common. Walked along the ridge to Skolio where a strong and biting wind was crossing. The visibility was down to a few metres at times, providing only intermittent views of cliff face on Mitikas. During an exciting ten minute period when the cloud cleared, a Wallcreeper was observed flying from the face below us to the cliffs on Mitikas, a Lanner Falcon flew by, and two Alpine Chough passed overhead. Another Chamois racing across the mountain on the way back down. After a long day exposed to the elements we finally returned to Prionia at 1955h.

Mount Olympus  Mount Olympus  Area where Wallcreeper was found

 

 

Wednesday 6 July 2005
Location/Area: Axios Delta > Epanomi


Highlights: Eleonora's Falcon, White-winged Tern, Squacco Heron, Gull-billed Tern, Purple Heron, Pygmy Cormorant & Scops Owl.

MOUNT OLYMPUS NATIONAL PARK: Prionia
Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Chaffinch, Coal Tit and Blackbird noted early morning.

AXIOS DELTA
Eastern Olivaceous Warblers abundant, Nightingale, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Mediterranean Gull (c300), Collared Pratincole, White-winged Tern (3), Little Egret, Collared Dove, Marsh Harrier, Night Heron, Grey Heron, Great Cormorant, Green Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Bee-eater (50+), Mallard, Shelduck, Yellow-legged Gull, Hooded Crow (100+), Pygmy Cormorant (1), Sand Martin (200+),

EPANOMI LAGOON
Kentish Plover (25+), Black-winged Stilt (2 prs), Greenshank (2), Mediterranean Gull (64), Avocet, Crested Lark, Little Egret and Green Sandpiper.

CAMPING EPANOMI
Red-backed Shrike (pr + b/2), Swallow & House Martin (100+), Greenfinch, Linnet, Hoopoe. Two Scops Owls calling at dusk - one observed flying out of the tree above our tent.

 

 

Thursday 7 July 2005
Location/Area: Epanomi > Macedonia Airport, Thessaloniki > London Gatwick


Highlights: Syrian Woodpecker, Hoopoe, Golden Oriole, Red-rumped Swallow, & Collared Pratincole.

CAMPING EPANOMI
Woke up around 0600h and noted a few things around the tent on the edge of the campsite: Syrian Woodpecker, Turtle Dove, Hoopoe, Red-backed Shrike, Collared Pratincole (2 o/h), Golden Oriole singing, Kestrel, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow and House Sparrow.

SHORT DRIVE TO THE AIRPORT
Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Crested Lark and Kestrel noted. Pallid Swifts around the airport.

 

 

SPECIES LIST - GREECE - 23 Jun > 7 Jul 2005


 Black-necked Grebe

 Little Grebe

 Great Crested Grebe

 White Pelican

 Dalmatian Pelican

 Great Cormorant

 Shag

 Pygmy Cormorant

 Little Bittern

 Night Heron

 Squacco Heron

 Little Egret

 Great Egret

 Grey Heron

 Purple Heron

 White Stork

 Black Stork

 Spoonbill

 Greater Flamingo

 Mute Swan

 Shelduck

 Mallard

 Ferruginous Duck

 Pochard

 Griffon Vulture

 Black Vulture

 Egyptian Vulture

 Golden Eagle

 Eastern Imperial Eagle

 Lesser Spotted Eagle

 Short-toed Eagle

 Booted Eagle

 Black Kite

 Long-legged Buzzard

 Common Buzzard

 Honey Buzzard

 Eurasian Sparrowhawk

 Common Kestrel

 Lesser Kestrel

 Hobby

 Eleonora's Falcon

 Lanner Falcon

 Quail

 Pheasant

 Moorhen

 Coot

 Oystercatcher

 Avocet

 Black-winged Stilt

 Stone Curlew

 Collared Pratincole

 Little Ringed Plover

 Ringed Plover

 Kentish Plover

 Lapwing

 Spur-winged Lapwing

 Dunlin

 Broad-billed Sandpiper

 Green Sandpiper

 Common Sandpiper

 Redshank

 Spotted Redshank

 Greenshank

 Marsh Sandpiper

 Curlew

 Ruff

 Black-headed Gull

 Slender-billed Gull

 Mediterranean Gull

 Yellow-legged Gull

 Audouin's Gull

 Little Tern

 Gull-billed Gull

 Common Tern

 Black Tern

 White-winged Tern

 Whiskered Tern

 Rock Dove

 Collared Dove

 Turtle Dove

 Cuckoo

 Tawny Owl

 Little Owl

 Scops Owl

 Nightjar

 Common Swift

 Pallid Swift

 Alpine Swift

 Hoopoe

 Kingfisher

 Bee-eater

 Roller

 Green Woodpecker

 Grey-headed Woodpecker

 Great Spotted Woodpecker

 Syrian Woodpecker

 Middle Spotted Woodpecker

 White-backed Woodpecker

 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

 Skylark

 Crested Lark

 Woodlark

 Short-toed Lark

 Calandra Lark

 Horned Lark

 Sand Martin

 Crag Martin

 Barn Swallow

 Red-rumped Swallow

 House Martin

 Tawny Pipit

 White Wagtail

 Black-headed Wagtail

 Grey Wagtail

 Wren

 Dunnock

 Alpine Accentor

 Robin

 Nightingale

 Black Redstart

 Northern Wheatear

 Isabelline Wheatear

 Black-eared Wheatear

 Stonechat

 Blue Rock Thrush

 Rock Thrush

 Song Thrush

 Mistle Thrush

 Blackbird

 Blackcap

 Eastern Orphean Warbler

 Lesser Whitethroat

 Sardinian Warbler

 Rüppell's Warbler

 Subalpine Warbler

 Cetti's Warbler

 Reed Warbler

 Great Reed Warbler

 Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

 Eastern Bonelli's Warbler

 Chiffchaff

 Goldcrest

 Firecrest

 Spotted Flycatcher

 Great Tit

 Coal Tit

 Blue Tit

 Crested Tit

 Sombre Tit

 Long-tailed Tit

 Bearded Reedling

 Penduline Tit

 Nuthatch

 Western Rock Nuthatch

 Short-toed Treecreeper

 Eurasian Treecreeper

 Red-backed Shrike

 Woodchat Shrike

 Masked Shrike

 Lesser Grey Shrike

 Magpie

 Jay

 Jackdaw

 Alpine Chough

 Hooded Crow

 Raven

 Starling

 Golden Oriole

 House Sparrow

 Spanish Sparrow

 Tree Sparrow

 Chaffinch

 Linnet

 Goldfinch

 Greenfinch

 Serin

 Bullfinch

 Hawfinch

 Common Crossbill

 Ortolan Bunting

 Black-headed Bunting

 Corn Bunting

 Rock Bunting

 

 

AMPHIBIAN & REPTILE LIST - GREECE - 23 Jun > 7 Jul 2005   Casual observations while birding


• Common Toad

Bufo bufo

• Green Toad

Bufo viridis

• Common Tree Frog

Hyla arborea

• Balkan Stream Frog

Rana graeca

• Marsh Frog

Rana ridibunda

• Hermann's Tortoise

Testudo hermanni

• Spur-thighed Tortoise

Testudo marginata

• European Pond Terrapin

Emys orbicularis

• Balkan Terrapin

Mauremys rivulata

• Turkish Gecko

Hemidactylus turcicus

• Kotschy's Gecko

Cyrtopodion kotschyi

• Green Lizard

Lacerta viridis

• Balkan Green Lizard

Lacerta trilineata

• Common Wall Lizard

Podarcis muralis

• Balkan Wall Lizard

Podarcus taurica

• European Glass Lizard

Ophisaurus apodus

• Large Whip Snake

Coluber caspius

• Grass Snake

Natrix natrix

 

 All photographs © 2005  F. S. Simpson & L. Ketchen

     

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