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A Report from

Crete in Spring 2000 + 2002,

Geoff and Sylvia Post

Birds amid the ruins:

Crete holds a unique appeal. Its landscape is rugged and tough, alive with wildflowers.  Its people are fiercely independent, warm and friendly. Along its seashores, over its mountains and plains are intriguing remnants of a complex history. The food is good;  there is retsina and raki.  And, it turns out, some pretty good birding in the spring.

In Crete, birds fly amid layers of civilization that are evident everywhere to the inquiring eye: at prehistoric Lato, we saw our first blue rock thrush; at the flooded Minoan ruin in Kato Zakros, Ruppel's and Cetti's warblers; larks, pipits and harriers across the plain at the Venetian castle, Frangokastello; red-rumped swallows at the Turkish bridge near Plakias and lammergeiers soaring over Kourtaliotiko Gorge.

In the spring of 2000, we flew to Iraklion, the capital city of Crete, found ourselves a spot to stay for a couple of nights while we recovered from jet lag, brushed up on our Greek and rented a car (no need to arrange this ahead - there are lots of outfits competing for your business).   We had the car for 2 weeks to get to some of the out of the way places; after that, we stayed put or used the bus for our final 10 days.   We travelled in a very relaxed way, visiting sites, hiking, birding and just taking it easy.  At a less leisurely pace, one could still bird the whole island and see key historical sites in 2 weeks.

Our rough itinerary was planned with the help of the internet, particularly 2 excellent reports from French birder, Georges Olioso.  There is a local bird finding guide, but it is outrageously expensive and is not really necessary if you use the trip reports.  Hotel and pension "rent rooms" accommodation are abundant and inexpensive.  If anything, we were there too early, arriving in late March.  The smell of fresh paint was in the air, many hotels and restaurants were not yet open for the season.  It would be better to go between mid-April and mid-May both for the birding and the amenities

Our basic route from Iraklion took us east to Elounda and Sitia, down the east coast to Kato Zakros, along the south coast to Myrtos and Plakias and then across to Yeoryiopolis on the northwest coast where we ditched the car and stayed for a nearly a week.  From there we travelled by bus to Paleohora in the southwest corner, but we encountered unseasonable downpours so heavy that we headed back up to Hania, our departure point.

The first leg of the trip allowed us to visit a number of historical sites ranging from Mallia, an excellent Minoan site, to Ayios Yeoryios Selinari, site of a beautiful Byzantine church, to Elounda where the salt pans set up by the Venetians attract migrating birds and Lato where we spent an hour and a half wandering alone among the tumbled ruins of the ancient fortified settlement.  All the while we were becoming more familiar with the common birds like the Italian sparrow, chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, corn bunting, blackbird, crested lark, great tit and the ubiquitous Sardinian warbler.  And we were beginning to see new birds: griffon vultures and crag martins at A. Y. Selinari;   stonechat and woodchat shrike; greater flamingo, grey heron and a lone little egret among the few waders and shorebirds at Elounda (we were too early for a major influx).  At the  7th century BC mountain stronghold of Lato, a blue rock thrush gleamed and shimmered in the early afternoon sun. We stayed in the little harbour town of Sitia for a night, visited their archeological museum and later saw collared doves in town, little ringed plovers on the beach and, along a stream at the east end of town, bittern, glossy ibis, a lovely squacco heron and, after persistent tracking, the first reed warbler. Most European warblers are secretive and have drab plumage so identification is a real challenge.  Only the Sylvia warblers are bright and easily seen.

On our way down the east coast, we stopped at Palaikastro, a small seaside archeological site that has evidence of Neolithic building but has now been mostly backfilled for protection. It was a good place for a picnic lunch with a few little stints playing in the standing water behind the beach.  Kato Zakros was our destination for the day, a wonderful spot at the base of a long gorge with only the flooded ruins of a Minoan harbour, 2 or 3 little "rent rooms" and a taverna at the shore.  For the next two days we hiked the gorge, scouted the valley, peered over the fences at the ruins of the Minoan Zakros palace and enjoyed tomates yemistes and raki.  Peregrine falcons, wild rock doves nesting along the walls of the gorge, wheatears, wagtails, and warblers - Cetti's, Ruppel's and whitethroat.  If you like out of the way spots, this is the place.

In our little Fiat we poked our way across the dirt road to Xerocambos stopping for a long walk along the beach where we saw black-winged stilts, greenshanks and Kentish plovers.  It's a steep climb up the switchbacks to Ziros but there are short-toed larks, whinchats and ortolan.  And then a couple of hours drive to Ierapetra and, nearby, glistening in the sun, the hundreds of huge plastic greenhouses that provide Europe with fresh tomatoes and other produce throughout the winter - and on to Myrtos, a good resting spot. We went for long walks, enjoyed the waterfront restaurants here and in Ierapetra, and visited Gortys, a site layered with Greek/Roman/Byzantine history.  Phaestos is also nearby.  But for birding, it's the dam lake at Bramiana. On the lake are yellow-legged gulls, garganey and ferruginous ducks, black-necked and little grebes.  Along the rivulet that flows in from the north are yellow and black-headed wagtails, wood sandpipers, wheatears, woodlarks, blackcaps, Sardinian warblers and many other common species.

It's not too far on to Plakias where we planned a longer stay because of the excellent hiking and walking trails, the good restaurants and grocery stores geared to hikers.  Over four genial days here we visited the Byzantine monastery at Moni Preveli, hiked down the precipitous trail to the amazing micro-environment of Palm Beach and, later, out to the overlook from the Turkish Bridge. We trekked across the rugged stony track west from Souda where we ate our packed lunch on the steps of a tiny, newly built Greek Orthodox family chapel with a flock of sheep browsing nearby and saw sub-alpine warblers, tree pipits and nightingales.  We marveled at the afternoon splendor of Kourtaliotiko Gorge.  We walked up to the old mill in the evenings. We saw flights of little egrets and night herons from our balcony; blue tits, wood warblers and red-rumped swallows on our hikes to Palm Beach; spectacular lammergeier, grifffon vultures, golden eagles, buzzards, and kestrels at Kourtaliotiko; an olivaceous warbler and a long-legged buzzard near the old mill.  We made a day trip to the old Venetian fort that squats imposingly on the sea-edge of a narrow plain at Frangocastello.  There were little crake and hoopoe, marsh and Montague's harriers, larks and pipits. 

From Plakias we drove to Yeoryiopolis where we settled in at a nice apartment for the best part of a week.  Again we were attracted by the walking and hiking opportunities and our internet guide, Georges Olioso, had suggested that this would be a good base for birding.  We used our last day with the car to make a trip to lush Agia reservoir and Omalos plateau.It was a stunning day, sunny and clear, a radiant blue day in Greece.  The drive up to Omalos lifted us through orange and olive groves, through churched villages hunched over mountain ridges, along narrow, piney switchbacks to the cool, clear, magical air of Omalos.  We heard Chukar, saw linnet, jay, and Cirl bunting. 

After returning our car, we walked and hiked, seeing a kingfisher from the bridge in Yeoryiopolis; willow, sedge and fan-tailed warblers behind the beach; meadow pipits from our balcony;  wood pigeons in the olive groves;  a sparrow hawk hunting over the fields; a snipe and two Temminck's stints in a slough by a back road.  And at night we could hear the distinctive call of the Scops owl.

Before being drenched in Paleohora, we had a half day of hiking and birding that yielded lots of sightings and 3 new birds: sand martin, little bittern and booted eagle.  We escaped the deluge on a leaky bus to Hania where we spent a couple of days enjoying the ambience of the cafes and restaurants of the Venetian harbour.  A  shag had flown off as we arrived as if to signal that the birding and the holiday were over.

Travel notes: If you are thinking of a birding trip to Greece in the spring, you may think of Lesbos,  which  is a popular spring birding island but it doesn't have the multiple attractions of Crete. Crete is very safe, inexpensive, easy  to get around and it has a marvelous layered history - we haven't even mentioned its amazing exploits in WW II.  Visit the Archeological Museum in Iraklion, see Knossos and some other archeological sites. The Rough Guide to Crete is good.  For more detailed history and archeology, use the Blue Guide to Crete.  For birds, we used our old Heinzel et al Collins Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe; but the new Lars Jonsson is outstanding.  For birdfinding, use the internet.  Search to "Birding Links to the World", then follow the links through to Greece. You should find several Crete trip reports.  If you can find Georges Olioso's detailed reports, print them and use them as your guide. You might also try  On a 2 week trip you should reasonably expect to see well over 100 birds.    

Geoff and Sylvia Post, 115 Blueberry Point Lane, Box 526, Barry's Bay, On, K0J 1B0


Little Grebe                                                                 4/ 6/2000            4                                        Crete:  Bramiana Dam
I was able to get a good close look from down near the stream entry. Very small with a little chesnut on its cheeks.  Generally brownish.   Also called dabchick.

Eared Grebe                                                                4/ 6/2000            2                                        Crete:  Bramiana Dam
Also called black-necked grebe.  Typical long grebe neck, black with light ear-tufts.

European Shag                                                           4/19/2000            1                                        Crete: Hania
Just as we were arriving at the harbour looking for the Meltemi and Chris's friends,  a shag took oof and flew away.  It was our last new bird for this trip.

Green-winged Teal                                                    4/18/2000            1                                        Crete: Georgiopolis
Female.  This is such a common teal in Europe that they don't bother with the green winged and just call it "teal".  Mind you,  it was the only one I saw  here.

Mallard                                                                       4/13/2000            1                                        Crete: Agia reservoir
Surprised to see these but I guess they're everywhere.  This is considered a separate sub-species, however - Anas platyrynchos platyrhynchos.  The N. A. is just A. p.

Garganey                                                                     4/ 6/2000            2                                        Crete:  Bramiana Dam
We were able to get a little closer  to these ducks .  The shape, colouring and distinctive white eye stripe.

Ferruginous Pochard                                                 4/ 6/2000            2                                        Crete:  Bramiana Dam
Referred to as F. duck.  Took a long time to identify at quite a distance above the water. A scope would have been very useful here.  The sunlight was just right on a few occasions and we were able to see the definite ferruginous colouring.

Greater Flamingo                                                      3/31/2000            2                                        Crete: Elounda
On the salt pans.

Little Egret                                                                 3/31/2000            1                                        Crete: Elounda
At the salt pans.

Gray Heron                                                                 4/ 1/2000            1                                        Crete: Elounda
All alone on the salt pans.

Squacco Heron                                                            4/ 2/2000            1                                        Crete: Sitia
On a lovely evening  walk along the little stream east of town.  Very pretty bird.

Black-crowned Night-Heron                            4/ 8/2000        20           Crete: Plakias
As we sat on our balcony at Big Blue having our morning coffee in the sun, a flight of night herons headed east along the water front.  In the evening we saw them again as we walked on the waterfront in town, heading west.  There's a roost out there somewhere.

Great Bittern                                               4/ 2/2000         1                 Crete: Sitia
Another late evening wader  that was at the stream at the east end of town. 

Glossy Ibis                                                  4/ 2/2000         1                 Crete: Sitia
Scared it up and it flew around and over the stream at the east edge of town. 

Lammergeier                                               4/ 8/2000         2                Crete: Plakias  Kourtiliatiko
Spectacular.  We thought we would take a quick look on our way back to town from Palm Beach and there they were, a pair of them with their deep wedged tails soaring high above the cliffs among the griffon vultures, the occasional buzzard and kestrel and perhaps a pair of golden eagles heading away, too far in the distance.  One alighted in outline at the top of the cliffs.  Could just make out pale colouring on its front - an adult. This is one of the two or  three times when a scope would have been great - but not enough to justify lugging it around.

Eurasian Griffon                                          3/31/2000         1                 Crete: A. Geo. Selinaris
This was our first sighting of Griffon Vultures and there were lots of them soaring and roosting up in the cliffs,  we did also see them on other occasions most notably at Kourtiliatiko Gorge.

Western Marsh-Harrier                                 4/10/2000         1                 Crete: Frangokastello
Patrolling then perching overlooking the flat farm fields between the castle and the mountains.  Female - white underparts,  pale head.

Montagu's Harrier                                        4/10/2000         1                 Crete: Frangokastello
Male,  smaller  than marsh h., and  with gray mantle and breast but streaked belly.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk                                  4/18/2000         1                 Crete: Georgiopolis area
An accipiter in Europe,  a falcon at home.  Distinctive shape is key.

Common Buzzard                                        3/31/2000        20                 Crete: A. Geo. Selinaris
This is the most common raptor on the island.

Long-legged Buzzard                                     4/ 8/2000         2                 Crete: Plakias - Old Mill
Just a quick glimpse in the late evening sun up by the old mill but its white wing patch was very much in evidence -pale rump, unmarked tail, brownish to rufous  - adult.   A   good one.  Only one other seen and not for sure.

Eurasian Kestrel                                          4/ 2/2000         6                 Crete: Gournia
Gournia was full of goldfinches then we saw the first of several kestrels on the island.

Peregrine Falcon                                          4/ 3/2000         1                 Crete: Kato Zakros
Soaring near the bottom of the farangi.  Seen again the next day soaring and roosting.  A scope would have been helpful.

Chukar                                                      4/13/2000         1                  Crete: Omalos Plateau
Heard only but who could miss.  It says "Chukar, chukar!" Right near the entrance to Samaria Gorge as we were leaving.

Little Crake                                                4/10/2000         4                 Crete: Frangokastello
As i was checking into a little marshy section behind the beach west of the castle, there he was, out of the grass right at my feet.  3  seen later at Agia reservoir.

Common Moorhen                                       4/13/2000        11                 Crete: Agia reservoir
Many seen swimming at this beautiful spot.

Eurasian Coot                                              4/ 3/2000         1                 Crete: Kato Zakros
Hiding in the grasses of the creek - close to the road.

Common Snipe                                            4/18/2000         3                 Crete: Georgiopolis area
Seen along the shore in the evening.  Another on the  next day in a wet field across the road.  Could be the same bird.  Only other on was seen in Paleohora.

Common Greenshank                                    4/ 5/2000         1                 Crete: Xerocambos
Just one in  the shallow water behind the beach.

Green Sandpiper                                          4/ 1/2000         1                 Crete: Elounda
The distinctive white rump contrasting with a dark back helped me zero in on this one.

Wood Sandpiper                                           4/ 6/2000         1                 Crete:  Bramiana Dam
Seen along the stream.  Distinguished from the green s. by its yellow legs.

Common Sandpiper                                      3/31/2000         1                 Crete: Elounda
On the saltpans.

Little Stint                                                  4/ 3/2000         6                 Crete: Palaikastro
It took quite a while to figure this one out.  Similar to sanderling but grayish with a distinct rufous tinge to tips of primaries.  Flies when approached - sanderling runs.  This was a nice spot - a few shorebirds and then common landbirds as we explored the little ruin.  Alone.

Temminck's Stint                                        4/18/2000         2                 Crete: Georgiopolis area
On a walk to Kavros and back on the far side of the road.  In a wet field with some other shore birds and a Squacco heron.  Took some time to figure out that it was not a little stint but it had pale legs and white outer tail feathers and a fairly short bill.  Temminck's!

Black-winged Stilt                                        4/ 5/2000         2                 Crete: Xerocambos
Across the shallow water behind the beach.  Elegant.

Little Ringed Plover                                      4/ 2/2000         2                 Crete: Sitia
Pretty exciting to see 2 of these little guys on the beach in the afternoon.

Snowy Plover                                               4/ 5/2000         1             Crete: Xerocambos
This was a real find by Syl who noticed a different one among the little ringed plovers and stints.  Just one but a neat one.  Referred to as a Kentish plover but it is the same bird as our snowy plover.

Yellow-legged Gull                                       3/30/2000         1               Crete: Iraklion
This was the first of many, many of these gulls that we saw anywhere near water.  The only gulls we saw in Crete.

Rock Dove                                                  3/30/2000         1               Crete: Iraklion
This was the urban variety but we saw the real thing in Kato Zakros and Kourtiliatiko Gorge.

Common Wood Pigeon                                  4/18/2000         4           Crete: Georgiopolis area
On a hike up to Kalamitsi, NW of G. in a well forested area.  Bold white markings on wings.

Eurasian Collared-Dove                                 4/ 2/2000         1                 Crete: Sitia
They were around towns here.  We saw more in Rethymnon but that was it.  They seem to have adapted to town life.

European Scops-Owl                                     4/18/2000         1           Crete: Georgiopolis area
Heard only and again in Paleohora in the rain but it has a very distinctive call: a monotonous "piu, piu piu piu...."

Alpine Swift                                                4/ 4/2000         6            Crete: Kato Zakros
Saw several on our hike through the farangi.

Common Swift                                            3/30/2000         1               Crete: Iraklion
Seen in the evening from our tiny balcony overlooking the harbour as we sipped ouzo. They were, however, not that common elsewhere on the island.

Common Kingfisher                                     4/12/2000         1           Crete: Georgiopolis area
What a treat to be greeted by this beautiful bird on our first evening in Georgiopolis.  As I was standing on the bridge, it flew downstream under me and lit on the rail of a boat nearby where I watched it for several minutes.

European Bee-eater                                       4/ 5/2000         1               Crete: Mirtos
Although seen at a distance in the evening light on a walk up the dry river bed, it was unmistakable.  Saw only a couple of new birds in the Mirtos area but it was a good place - lots of birds seen.

Eurasian Hoopoe                                          4/ 6/2000         1           Crete:  Bramiana Dam
Seen on walk up the dry river bed.  At a distance but completely distinctive.

Eurasian Jay                                               4/13/2000         2           Crete: Omalos Plateau
Seen while walking along the eastern edge of the plateau.  A big,striking looking bird.

Common Raven                                            4/ 1/2000         1                 Crete: Lato
Lato was a magic place high up in the mountains close to the sea.  We did not see a lot of birds but it was our first raven.

Woodchat Shrike                                         3/31/2000         1               Crete: Elounda
A very striking bird, widespread but not common.

Blue Rock-Thrush                                        4/ 1/2000         1                 Crete: Lato
Lato was a perfect setting for our first ever look at this beautiful deep blue bird.  A magic place - all to ourselves.

Eurasian Blackbird                                       3/30/2000         1               Crete: Iraklion
Common nearly everywhere.

European Pied Flycatcher                               4/13/2000         1           Crete: Omalos Plateau
Seen while walking along the western edge of the plateau.

Common Nightingale                                    4/ 9/2000         1           Crete: Plakias - Souda & W.
I went back to the Souda area in the evening and there was quite a bit of activity.  But this was the highlight, my first sight of the famous nightingale.  But I did not hear it sing!  Where is Keats when I need him?  Plain thrush-like with a rufous tail which it cocked regularly.  Actually in the European robin family.

Whinchat                                                    4/ 5/2000         1             Crete: Ziros area
Widespread but not common.  Seen only one other time at Georgiopolis.

Stonechat                                                   3/31/2000         1                Crete: Malia
First seen here but seen regularly after.

Northern Wheatear                                       4/ 1/2000         1               Crete: Elounda
Our first wheatear of the trip. We saw several later in a variety of locations but they were not common.

Black-eared Wheatear                                   4/11/2000         1           Crete: Plakias - Preveli
The blackthroated form. Not common but seen in several different places.

Eurasian Crag-Martin                                   3/31/2000         1           Crete: A. Geo. Selinaris
Also sen at Kourtiliatiko and Omolos.

Barn Swallow                                              4/ 4/2000         1            Crete: Kato Zakros
Common and widspread.

Red-rumped Swallow                                    4/11/2000         3           Crete: Plakias - Preveli
Red rump is readily seen and is diagnostic difference from barn swallow.

Common House-Martin                                 4/ 5/2000        11           Crete: Mirtos
Many around town as we sat out on our balcony in the evening.  White underparts and white rump.

Cetti's Warbler                                            4/ 4/2000         1            Crete: Kato Zakros
This is one of the sectretive ones that only give you a quick look.  Tail cocked.  Dark rufous brown.

Grasshopper Warbler                                    4/11/2000         1           Crete: Plakias - Preveli
90%  Although I had a pretty good look, these locustellas are hard - streaked head and back and streaked throat make it a       pretty sure thing.

Sedge Warbler     4/18/2000                                 1               Crete: Georgiopolis area                                      On a walk on backroads to Kavros and Mathes.  Another of these difficult reed warblers but with enough distinctive features to make it relatively easy to identify:  white eye stripe, streaked back, rufous rump.

Eurasian Reed-Warbler                                  4/ 2/2000         1            Crete: Sitia
The first of these little guys, non-descript and hard to identify.  I knew it was there only from the movement of the reeds, then up he hopped, long enough to get a fix in the evening light. A good one!

Great Reed-Warbler                                      4/13/2000         1           Crete: Agia reservoir
Good look at this large warbler. Fairly conspicuous pale eye stripe. Round tail of all the reed warblers.

Olivaceous Warbler                                       4/ 8/2000         1           Crete: Plakias - Old Mill
In the olive grove, appropriately enough, on the way up to the old mill in the evening.

Willow Warbler                                           4/13/2000         1           Crete: Agia reservoir
A very common warbler throughout Europe but the only one I saw on this trip.  Tiny greenish bird with yellow eye stripe and pale yellow  underparts.

Wood Warbler                                             4/11/2000         1           Crete: Plakias - Preveli
Good looks - yellow breast, white underparts, strong yellow eye stripe - quite greenish and a good size.

Blackcap                                                     4/ 6/2000         1           Crete:  Bramiana Dam
The only one seen on the trip.  Crown distinctly black.

Greater Whitethroat                                      4/ 3/2000         1            Crete: Kato Zakros
Kato Zakros is a great spot - this is just one of the warblers that I was able to identify - enough time and opportunity to do so with these less secretive ones.

Rueppell's Warbler                                       4/ 4/2000         1            Crete: Kato Zakros
This is a good one.  The only one seen on the trip.    The sylvia warblers are easier to identify because their markings are more distinctive and they tend to sit out where you can get a glimpse of them for a few seconds .Lots of time to see the distinctive white moustache stripe and black throat.

Sardinian Warbler                                       3/31/2000         1                Crete: Malia
First seen here but proved to be the most common warbler seen.

Subalpine Warbler                                        4/ 9/2000         2           Crete: Plakias - Souda & W.
A good one!  A male and a female seen in a small coniferous tree by the road fairly close to the small, new shepherd's church.  Male hasconcpicuous white moustache stripe and and rufous throat & breast.

Great Tit                                                    3/31/2000         1               Crete: Elounda
On the island.  This was the common tit of Crete.

Blue Tit                                                      4/ 8/2000         1           Crete: Plakias - Kourtiliatiko
Not at all common as expected.  Great tit was the common one.

Lesser Short-toed Lark                                  4/ 5/2000         1             Crete: Ziros area
A flock seen at the top of the mountains above Xerocambos on our way to Ziros.

Crested Lark                                               3/31/2000         1                Crete: Malia
This was the lark most commonly seen on the island.

Wood Lark                                                  3/31/2000         1               Crete: Elounda
This may have been the first sighting.  If not it was seen several times later for sure.

House Sparrow                                            3/31/2000         1                Crete: Malia
The Italian model was everywhere.

Spanish Sparrow                                          3/30/2000         1               Crete: Iraklion
Seen only here and perhaps one other time.  Sparrows are Italian in Crete.

White Wagtail                                             3/31/2000         1               Crete: Elounda
First sighting on Crete but seen regularly near water.

Yellow Wagtail                                             4/ 6/2000        12           Crete:  Bramiana Dam
M. f. flav and M. f. feldegg in a mixed flock in the low fiels near the lake.

Tree Pipit                                                   4/ 9/2000         1           Crete: Plakias - Souda & W.
As we walked back from the little church about 3 km along the track west from Souda - up in a goat meadow.

Meadow Pipit                                              4/18/2000                      Crete: Georgiopolis area
As I sat having coffee on our balcony, they were moving about in the field.  Pipits but meadow! with their flesh coloured legs.

Common Chaffinch                                      3/31/2000         1               Crete: Elounda
Singing its heart out.  The was the song that I recognized most frequently.  It was widespread and common.

European Greenfinch                                    3/31/2000         1                Crete: Malia
Although they were seen in a variety of places on the island and are considered common, they were not seen frequently.

European Goldfinch                                      3/31/2000         1                Crete: Malia
This pretty bird was seen in most locations where there was suitable habitat.

Eurasian Linnet                                           4/13/2000         2           Crete: Omalos Plateau
Seen on both sides of the plateau and several more seen near Paleohora.

Cirl Bunting                                               4/13/2000         1           Crete: Omalos Plateau
Just as we were leaving beautiful Omalos (we loved this place), we stopped so I could have one last look along the eastern edge.  It produced  the Cirl - only sighting on the trip.                                                                                               

Ortolan Bunting                                         4/5/2000                       1                       Crete: Ziros area
Seen just on the outskirts of Ziros from the stopped car window.

Corn Bunting                                              4/ 3/2000         1            Crete: Kato Zakros
Although this bird is described as common, I did not see many of them

Greece: Crete, April 14 - May 6, 2002                 

This second birding report for Crete is a supplement to the much more complete 2000 report.  I am making only a quick record of each species seen, with brief notes.  Only where the species is a lifer or important sighting  do I record the date.  Itinerary:  Apr 15-16, Hania; Apr17-21, Kissamou (Apr17,Diktina; Apr 18, Falassarna; Apr 19, Polirhinia; Apr 20, Rodopos;   Apr 21, Topolia/Enya Hora/Milia);Apr 22, Omalos; Apr 23, Agia Marina (Agia);Apr 24-28, Paleohora; Apr 29-May 2, Sougia (Apr 29, Lissos; Apr 30, Agia Irini/Panagia; May 2, Paleohora/Lissos);   May 3, Iraklio (Sfakia); May 3, Lasithi/Agios Georgios Selinari; May 4-6, Iraklio.

Little Grebe  
12 - Agia

4 - Agia

Northern Pintail     
m & f Agia, m Paleohora

Northern Shoveler  
2 - m & f Agia, Apr 23

Little Egret 
1 - Hania Harbour; 3 - Agia lake;   2 -Paleohora

Gray Heron 
1 - Paleohora; 10 - flying off beach at  Sougia

Purple Heron   
2 - Sougia; May 1; 1 - Sougia, May 3

Black-crowned Night-Heron
Flying flock of 25 at Sougia; 1 - rocks, Paleohora  

Glossy Ibis   
3 - Agia, Apr 23

1 - Omalos, Apr 22

Eurasian Griffon      
Fairly common: 1 - Polirhinia; 2 - Diktina;      6 - Agios Georgos Selinari;   2 - Lasithi

Western Marsh-Harrier
1 - Agia, Apr 23
Common Buzzard    
Confusing. Every time I thought I had a new raptor, just another buzzard!    1 - Diktina;  2 - Falassarna;     2 - Polirhinia; 1 - Kissamou; 4 - Paleohora etc

Bonelli's Eagle  
2 - Falassarna; Apr 18

Eurasian Kestrel      
2 - Diktina; 1 attacking buzz - Topolia

Red-footed Falcon   
14 - Both male & female hunting insects on a field just off  beach at Kissamou, Apr 22.  TRIP HIGHLIGHT!

Eleonora's Falcon    
1 - Falassarna, Apr 18;  ?3 Kissamou, Apr 20

Eurasian Hobby
1 - Falassarna, Apr 18; 1 - Lasithi, May 4


Peregrine Falcon     
1 - Diktina, Apr 17

Little Crake
1 - Agia, Apr 23

Common Moorhen 
Several - Agia

Eurasian Coot  
Several - Agia

Spotted Redshank    
1 - Omalos, Apr 22; 1 - Agia, Apr 23

Common Redshank 
1 - lame, Agia, Apr 23

Common Greenshank   
1 - Agia, Apr 23

Green Sandpiper      
6 - Agia; 6 - Omalos; 1 - Paleohora

Wood Sandpiper      
2 - Agia; 1 - Omalos

Common Sandpiper 
Fairly common & widespread

Little Stint  
1 - Agia; 1 - Sfakia

Curlew Sandpiper     
1 - Paleohora, May 1

Eurasian Thick-knee (Stone Curlew)    
Distinctive flying close over the beach - Sougia, May 2

Black-winged Stilt   
1 - Agia

Little Ringed Plover
2 - Agia

Yellow-legged Gull   
Common, even far inland

Whiskered Tern      
1 - Agia, Apr 23

Rock Dove  
Common;  some wild birds, breeding in rocky gorges. 

European Turtle-Dove 
1 - Paleohora; 2 - Diktina;  2 - Paleohora/Sougia trail

Eurasian Collared-Dove
Common in towns.

Common Cuckoo    
1 - Kissamou, Apr 20; 1 - Sfakia, May 3

Alpine Swift
Fairly common in Kissamou & Paleohora

Common Swift 
Pretty common everywhere

Pallid Swift  
6 - Paleohora,  Apr 26

Common Kingfisher
1 - Kissamou, Apr 18

Eurasian Hoopoe     
1 -Paleohora, Apr 27

Red-billed Chough   
2 - Lasithi, May 4

Carrion Crow   
Hooded crow very common

Common Raven      
Though not common, seen in a variety of highland, rocky places: Diktina, Falassarna, Topolia, Lasithi, etc

Eurasian Golden-Oriole
2 - Enya Hora, Apr 22; 1 - Agia; 1 - Sougia

Woodchat Shrike    
1 - Paleohora; 2 - Lissos/Sougia trail plateau

Blue Rock-Thrush   
1 - Falassarna; 1 - Kissamou; 1 - Paleohora;      1 - Sougia

Eurasian Blackbird   
Fairly common & widespread
Spotted Flycatcher
4 - Diktina; 2 - Omalos; 8 - Paleohora

European Pied Flycatcher   
Fairly common & widespread

Collared Flycatcher 
2 - m & f near Panagia church back up the valley from Sougia, Apr 30

4 - Diktina; 4 - Omalos; 4 - Paleohora

2 - Diktina; 2 - Kissamou; 6 - Omalos; 2 - Lasithi


Northern Wheatear 
2 - Omalos

Black-eared Wheatear  
1 - Diktina; 2 - Paleohora,    2 - Black-throated, Paleohora

Winter Wren   
1 - Omalos, Apr 22

Bank Swallow (Sand Martin)
 6 - Paleo; 4 - Lissos

Eurasian Crag-Martin   
6 - Topolia, Apr 21

Barn Swallow    
Common at Agia & a few other spots

Red-rumped Swallow
4 - Agia, Apr 23

Common House-Martin      
Common at Agia & a few other spots

Zitting Cisticola      
1 - Polirhinia, Apr 21

Cetti's Warbler 
1 - Paleohora, Apr 23

Moustached Warbler    
1 - Agia, Apr 23

Sedge Warbler  
1 - Agia, Apr 23

Eurasian Reed-Warbler 
1 - Agia, Apr 23

Olive-tree Warbler  
1 - Falassarna, Apr 18

Icterine Warbler      
1 - Paleo, Apr 27; 1 - Agia Irini, Apr 30

Willow Warbler
2 - Paleohora Apr 25, 1 - Lissos,  May 2

Greater Whitethroat    
2 - Omalos, Apr 22

Ruppell's Warbler  
1 - Paleohora/Sougia trail, May 2.  Neat!

Sardinian Warbler    
Most common warbler

Great Tit     
Fairly common

Blue Tit      
1 - Polirhinia

Crested Lark    
Fairly common at Kissamou & Diktina

Wood Lark 
1 - Lasithi

House Sparrow 
"Italian" sparrows very common everywhere

Spanish Sparrow      
1 - Sougia

White Wagtail 
1 - empty swimming pool west of harbour in Hania

Yellow Wagtail
6 - Both feldegg & flava

Tawny Pipit
6 - Omalos

Red-throated Pipit  
6 - m & f  Omalos Apr 22;  2 - Agia, Apr 23

Common Chaffinch
Common everywhere

European Greenfinch   
Common everywhere

European Goldfinch
Common everywhere

Eurasian Linnet
10 - Omalos, Apr 22

Cirl Bunting
4 - m & f Omalos, Apr 22

Ortolan Bunting      
1 - Polirhinia, Apr 19

Corn Bunting   
1 - Falassarna; 4 - Lasithi

Interesting sidelight:  saw a group of 5 Helmeted Guinea-fowl wandering near the archeological site at Falassarna. Not obviously domesticated but they must be;  the only remaining native population is in Morocco.

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