Visit your favourite destinations
|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
North East Greece, 7th-21st September 2006,
Red-backed Shrike, Evros Delta, Ian Kinley
This was essentially a repeat of a trip we’d made in May 2004 (see http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/greece/negreece/ne-gr-may-04.htm )with many of the same sites visited, Dadia Forest being the major omission from our itinerary this time. Obviously, however, the different time of year meant there were big differences in the birds seen, the weather and the water levels at many of the sites. In general, it proved harder work than in Spring but, that said, it was a very enjoyable trip with many highlights including large flocks of pelicans, good views of raptors such as Lesser Spotted Eagle and Goshawk, seven species of woodpecker, four species of shrike in a day, plus Nutcracker and much more. Though wader passage was apparently poor, we did eventually manage to find a good range of species including a Terek Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stints, Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpipers along with the expected but nevertheless attractive Spur-winged Plovers. Equally memorable were the sheer numbers of some of the commoner species: more Spotted Flys in a day than you see in Britain in a decade, more Red-backed Shrikes in a day than in a lifetime back home and gatherings of Sand Martins so huge that at times you thought the entire World population was feeding in front of you.
All birding trips have their disappointments; ours were not major but included a lack of any obvious raptor passage through the mountain passes above Kerkini or on the Evros Delta (perhaps this doesn’t happen or maybe our timing was wrong) and the absence of the flocks of Red-footed Falcons and marsh terns that we’d hoped to see.
After our last trip, we were not surprised by how little information was available on the birds of the area. The only guide we managed to unearth was Gosney’s Finding Birds in Greece and there were just a handful of trip reports from this time of year available on the internet on the Travelling Birder website www.travellingbirder.com
During two weeks visiting some of the prime birding sites in North East Greece, we encountered just four parties of birders and only two of these were British; one was a bird tour company at Kerkini and the other was an English couple who lived on Thassos! We met the English couple twice and they gave us some useful information, including an Eagle Owl site. It remains a mystery why so few British birders visit this area; though neither flights to Thessaloniki nor car hire are particularly cheap, the birding is excellent, the main sites are all within easy driving distance, accommodation, food and drink are all of a good standard and excellent value and the people are genuinely friendly and helpful. Unlike on our previous visit, we had no contact with the police, the military or the Border Police other than when entering or exiting the Military Zone on the Evros Delta where the military personnel were unfailingly courteous and polite.
The Hellenic Ornithological Society have recently formed a rarities committee and the website http://rarities.ornithologiki.gr/en/index.php provides some useful background information. As there are less than 80 active birders in Greece (per Nikos Probonas), visiting birders have every opportunity to make their own discoveries, especially away from the saturated Spring hotspots such as Lesbos and can make a contribution to the knowledge of the country’s birds.
We were eaten alive at times by a variety of biting insects; be sure to take an effective insect repellent!
Almost invariably dry, sunny and hot though with some cool early mornings and evenings later in the trip. There was a strong northeast wind at times, especially on the coast. More cloud and a few showers on the last few days at Kerkini, with a severe thunderstorms there on the evening of 19th though this failed to hamper our birding to any extent. Birding light lasted from about 07.00 to about 20.00 though it was at times too hot to bird comfortably all day; nevertheless, even with an afternoon break, we usually managed 9 or 10 hours’ birding a day.
We flew from Manchester to Thessaloniki with Thomas Cook Airlines (£203 per person return). At Thessaloniki airport, we picked up a hired Seat Leon from Hertz Greece (£403, including £2.50 per day Excess Waiver, booked over the internet with Holiday Autos www.holidayautos.co.uk and very smooth and efficient). Though we had read several comments on the difficulty in navigating around the roads we had no real problems even though some new stretches of motorway did not feature on our maps. Most road signs were in both Cyrillic and English.
We pre-booked our first three nights at Kerkini (probably unnecessarily but it’s always reassuring to know you’ve got a bed for the first night) over the internet. Otherwise, we had no problems just turning up and finding somewhere. There seemed to be ample choice of accommodation in most areas even though the holiday season was obviously nearly at an end.
We stayed at the following: -
Oikoperiigitis at Kerkini www.oikoperiigitis.gr email firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. 2327041450 Three nights at 70 euros per night for a three-bedded room including breakfast at the start of our trip followed by four nights at 65 euros for the same room at the end. Lovely place run by really friendly, welcoming people and located in a pleasant village just a stone’s throw from the lake. Though it had its own restaurant, we mostly ate at the nearby Hotel Morfi, which really was excellent with great food, super value and friendly staff. This would doubtless also be a nice place to stay email email@example.com Having stayed at the Hotel Erodios at Lithotopos on our previous visit, we’d have no hesitation in recommending Oikoperiigitis as superior in every way.
Golden Sands Hotel at Keramoti Email firstname.lastname@example.org Tel.2591051509 Fax.2591051044 One night at 55 euros for a three-bedded room including breakfast. Comfortable in a quiet location away from the town centre.
Enoikiazomena. Tel. 2535031317 A small establishment on the seafront at Fanari with a “Rooms to Let” sign Three nights at 50 euros per night for an apartment with three beds (it would have been 40 euros for three nights or more). We’d stayed here on our last trip and again it proved comfortable and cheap in a nice location overlooking the seafront with several restaurants nearby.
Hotel Park at Alexandroupolis Tel. 05510 28607 Fax 05510 31002 Four nights at 60 euros per night for a three-bedded room including breakfast. We’d also stayed here in 2004 and though we ended up in a very cramped room (good job we didn’t want to swing any cats!) it was still comfortable and good value with friendly staff and a handy location. Though there was a bar there was no restaurant in the hotel but plenty nearby.
Main Sites Visited in chronological order
Though, unsurprisingly, water levels were much lower than in Spring, this is a huge lake, easily accessible for much of its circumference by either tarmac roads or driveable tracks on raised embankments, that holds large numbers of birds at any time of year so it’s just a case of finding the most productive areas at the time. Some of the areas that had held most birds in May 2004 – such as the narrow spit with the lake on one side and a marshy area on the other accessed from Vironeia - were dry and largely birdless and the best areas we found on this trip were on the northeast shore accessed from Vironeia (this was the best wader area), the Lithotopos area (especially the River Strymnon just below the dam), the western shore near Kerkini village and the Mandraki area. In general, Gosney’s directions remain accurate.
Sunrise at Lake Kerkini, Ian Kinley Dalmation Pelicans at Lake Kerkini, Ian Kinley
Species seen on or close to the lake included Pygmy Cormorant, White and Dalmatian Pelicans, Great White Egret, Night and Squacco Herons, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo, Garganey, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Hobby, Marsh Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Little Gull, Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Caspian Tern, Eagle Owl, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Nightjar, Black-eared Wheatear, Rock Thrush, Icterine Warbler, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Penduline Tit, Lesser Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike and Masked Shrike.
Lailas Ski resort
Rock Thrush near Lailas, Ian Kinley
Whilst ‘ski resort’ is a somewhat flattering description for a collection of huts and a grassy slope, the real advantage to birders is that it means there is a decent tarmac road enabling easy access to high altitude. The road from Serres to Lailas (once you find the right road out of Serres - it’s at the last set of traffic lights as you leave the city centre heading east - Lailas is signposted) winds its way through bare, rocky areas and into extensive mixed woodland and pine forest. Birds seen included Long-legged Buzzard, Chukar, Nutcracker, Black Woodpecker, Collared Flycatcher, Black Redstart and Rock Thrush.
These archaeological ruins about eight miles northwest of Kavala are, it seems, a virtually guaranteed site for Rock Nuthatch. Other species seen here included Levant Sparrowhawk, Alpine Swift, Syrian Woodpecker, Black-eared Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush. There’s an entrance fee of three Euros and the site gets very busy at weekends. Bizarrely, you are not allowed to take a camera mounted on a tripod in with you though you can take a scope on a tripod or a camera not on a tripod!
Sunset over Nestos, Ian Kinley
Our main objective here was to visit the wader lagoons. We’d missed out on them on our last trip and, after reading details in a couple of trip reports and hearing mouth-watering tales of flocks of 200 Marsh Sandpipers this time last year from the Thassos-based English couple we’d met, we were eagerly anticipating our visit. The lagoons are easy enough to find - from Keramoti, take the airport road and go through the village of Piges to Agiasmo. In Agiasmo take the left turn at the traffic lights by the Aghios Nicholaos church. This is an exceptionally wide road for a Greek village though it suddenly narrows into a dusty track but just keep going - do not take any turns – until you reach a wetland with the sea to your left. Sadly, the site proved a huge disappointment; water levels were too high and there were virtually no passage waders. When we met up with the English couple again later in our trip, we discovered that they had found the same scenario, something they’d never come across here before. Hopefully, the high water levels are temporary. That said, it was by no means a total waste of time and we did see Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Greater Flamingo, Ferruginous Duck, Short-toed Eagle, Spur-winged Plover, Wood Sandpiper and Balearic Shearwaters offshore.
Porto Lagos beach, Ian Kinley Porto Lagos saltpans, Ian Kinley
This extensive area of lagoons, saltpans and shoreline is still pretty much as outlined in Gosney. Areas of the saltpans are now being worked again though access is unaffected. The nearby beach described in Gosney proved the best area for small waders including our only Broad-billed Sandpipers of the trip whilst the saltpans themselves, though often appearing rather birdless at first glance, did repay persistence, eventually producing a Terek Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpipers, Greater Flamingos, Caspian Terns and Slender-billed Gulls. We also spent some time at the eastern end of Lake Vistonidis and what Gosney calls Church Marshes and the West Wood; additional species seen in this area included Black-necked Grebe, Dalmatian Pelican, Eagle Owl, Black and Whiskered Tern, Roller, Icterine Warbler, Woodchat and Lesser Grey Shrike.
Lake Ismarida (formerly known as Lake Mitrikou)
Lake Ismarida, Ian Kinley
The villages are all named and as shown on the map and the lake itself is signposted from Pagouri. The main approach track referred to by Gosney is now a tarmac road. Views from this road do tend to be a bit distant however. Reduced autumn water levels resulted in fewer suitable viewing points than on our spring trip even though the “track to the left” referred to by Gosney and shown on his map gets you right into the heart of the area; since our last visit this track has been improved considerably and is now easily accessible from both ends and driveable for its entire length. The viewpoint marked on Gosney’s map provided the best view of the lake itself. We were a bit disappointed at the lack of passage waders but still recorded Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian and White Pelicans, Great White Egret, Greater Flamingo, Purple Heron, White-tailed Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Whiskered, Black and White-winged Black Tern, Tawny Pipit, Penduline Tit and Lesser Grey Shrike amongst others. Continuing south past the lake on the west side takes you down to the shore past Lake Ptelia which held both pelicans and good numbers of Greater Flamingos.
Potamos Railway Station and Avas Gorge
A single evening visit here, though not especially rewarding, did bring Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Alpine Swift and Cirl Bunting. Having already had Eagle Owl this trip, we did not stay till dusk.
The channel from the sea to the Drana lagoon has now been unblocked as part of the efforts that are being made to raise water levels and, hopefully, restore this tremendous birding area to its former glory. Though some areas that had been wet on our spring trip were dry (notably the lagoon where we’d found 20 Broad-billed Sandpipers), there were plenty of lagoons and good wader habitat, especially inside the Military Zone. Gosney’s map gives a good idea of the site though some of the signposts he mentions no longer exist. The Military Zone proved by far the most bird-rich part of the delta and we would strongly recommend getting a permit (there’s no chance of entering this area without one). Permits can be obtained free of charge from the Evros Visitor Centre by emailing email@example.com You will need to supply passport details for everyone requiring access and we suggest you give at least six weeks’ notice if possible, permits can then be picked up at the Visitor Centre on arrival. Open access areas held only small numbers of birds and, without the necessary permit, the delta would scarcely have merited a visit. Incidentally, we were very surprised to be challenged by two uniformed ‘conservation wardens’ in a marked vehicle and asked if we had permission to be in what was public access land well outside the Military Zone; not the way to encourage more visitors to the area!
Pelicans on the Evros Delta, Ian Kinley Marsh Sandpiper on the Evros Delta, Ian Kinley
In the course of several visits, birds seen on the Evros included Pygmy Cormorant, White and Dalmatian Pelicans, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Black Stork, Garganey, Osprey, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Goshawk, Spur-winged Plover, Temminck’s Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Collared Pratincole, Gull-billed, Black, and Caspian Terns, Roller, Calandra Lark, Tawny Pipit, Penduline Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Masked Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike.
The track to the top is steep and very rutted in places and is now barely driveable unless you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Species recorded here included Black Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Sardinian Warbler and Blue Rock Thrush.
The trip report by Ray Thorneycroft http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/greece/mainland5/NE-may03.htm originally put us onto this area northeast of Lake Kerkini prior to our 2004 trip. The Roller quarry, not unexpectedly, was unoccupied but the woodland near the well-signposted ‘BIG’ shopping centre again proved excellent with Lesser Spotted, Middle Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Hawfinch and a range of commoner species. Perhaps many other woods would prove equally rewarding but this was easily accessible and well worthwhile. Travelling further on beyond the village of Angistio produced Rock Bunting and Masked Shrike.
Other areas near Lake Kerkini
On our last trip we’d spent a little time venturing up into the hills north of Lake Kerkini, stopping at sites mentioned in trip reports or just wherever we spotted something or an area that looked worthwhile. These included the War Memorial alongside the road up to the Bulgarian Border between Loutra and Promachonas but this road is undergoing extensive improvement work and we were unable to find any suitable stopping places this time; perhaps things will settle down once the work is completed. The road up from Sidirokastro, including the gorge near Fea Petra, did however prove rewarding again. Birds included Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Rock Nuthatch, Sardinian Warbler and Semi-collared Flycatcher.
For details and directions to all the main sites we visited we used Gosney’s Finding Birds in Greece. As with most of the Gosney guides, the bird information is often very dated but the directions remain largely accurate. Extra information was gleaned from trip reports available on the internet.
We used 1:250,000 ROAD Editions maps of Thrace and Macedonia. Since publication a number of new roads have been built, not necessarily where proposed new routes are indicated on the map!
7th September. Thessaloniki Airport to Kerkini. A few hours’ birding at Lake Kerkini. Highlights: Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, White Pelican, Great White Egret, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Penduline Tit. Daily total 52 species. Overnight at Kerkini.
8th September. Birding at Lake Kerkini. Highlights: Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, White Pelican, Great White Egret, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Greater Flamingo, Black Stork, Glossy Ibis, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Goshawk, Eagle Owl, Nightjar, Marsh Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Woodchat Shrike, Masked Shrike, Rock Thrush. Daily total 89 species. Overnight at Kerkini.
9th September. Birding from Serres to Lailas and at Lake Kerkini. Highlights: Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Egret, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Spoonbill, Chukar, Levant Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Eagle Owl, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Nutcracker, Woodchat Shrike, Collared Flycatcher, Black-eared Wheatear, Rock Thrush. Daily total 84 species. Overnight at Kerkini.
10th September. Moved from Kerkini to Keramoti. Birding near Alistrati and at Philippi, Keramoti and Nestos. Highlights: Balearic Shearwater, Greater Flamingo, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Ferruginous Duck, Honey Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Spur-winged Plover, Alpine Swift, Syrian Woodpecker, Rock Nuthatch, Woodchat Shrike, Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush Daily total 64 species. Overnight at Keramoti.
11th September. Keramoti to Fanari. Birding at Keramoti, Nestos and Porto Lagos. Highlights: Black-necked Grebe, Dalmatian Pelican, Ferruginous Duck, Short-toed Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Spur-winged Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Penduline Tit , Icterine Warbler. Daily total 78 species. Overnight at Fanari.
12th September. Birding at Lake Ismarida and Porto Lagos. Highlights: Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, White Pelican, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Greater Flamingo, White-tailed Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Tawny Pipit, Penduline Tit, Lesser Grey Shrike. Daily total 76 species. Overnight at Fanari.
13th September. Moved from Fanari to Alexandroupolis. Birding at Porto Lagos and the Avas Gorge. Highlights: Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Egret, Greater Flamingo, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite, Long-legged Buzzard, Eagle Owl, Alpine Swift, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Arctic Skua, Slender-billed Gull, Roller, Syrian Woodpecker. Daily total 88 species. Overnight at Alexandroupolis.
14th September. Birding on the Evros Delta and Loutros Hill. Highlights: Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, White Pelican, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Spoonbill, Ruddy Shelduck, Egyptian Vulture, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Temminck’s Stint, Pallid Swift, Roller, Calandra Lark, Tawny Pipit, Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush. Daily total 82 species. Overnight at Alexandroupolis.
15th September. Birding on the Evros Delta and Loutros Hill. Highlights: Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, White Pelican, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Spoonbill, Black Stork, Greater Flamingo, Egyptian Vulture, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Spur-winged Plover, Temminck’s Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Pallid Swift, Roller, Calandra Lark, Tawny Pipit, Masked Shrike. Daily total 89 species. Overnight at Alexandroupolis.
16th September. Birding on the Evros Delta. Highlights: Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Osprey, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Goshawk, Temminck’s Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Collared Pratincole, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Pallid Swift, Calandra Lark, Tawny Pipit, Penduline Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Masked Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike. Daily total 87 species. Overnight at Alexandroupolis.
17th September. Moved from Alexandroupolis to Kerkini. Birding at Porto Lagos, near Alistrati and at Lake Kerkini, Highlights: Black-necked Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Egret, Night Heron, Greater Flamingo, Ferruginous Duck, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Arctic Skua, Slender-billed Gull, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Roller, Tawny Pipit, Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike. Daily total 87 species. Overnight at Kerkini.
18th September. Birding at Lake Kerkini and the Promachonas area. Highlights: Dalmatian Pelican, White Pelican, Great White Egret, Night Heron, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Goshawk, Hobby, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Woodlark, Black-eared Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike, Masked Shrike, Rock Bunting. Daily total 92 species. Overnight at Kerkini.
19th September. Birding at Lake Kerkini. Highlights: Black-necked Grebe, Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Egret, Night Heron, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Black Stork, Goshawk, Temminck’s Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, Icterine Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Woodchat Shrike. Daily total 97 species. Overnight at Kerkini.
20th September. Birding in the Sidirokastro area and at Lake Kerkini. Highlights: Dalmatian Pelican, Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Hobby, Roller, Rock Nuthatch, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Masked Shrike. Daily total 59 species. Overnight at Kerkini.
21st September. Journey from Kerkini to Thessaloniki airport. No birding done though we still managed to see Dalmatian Pelicans whilst driving past Lake Kerkini on the way to the airport.
We recorded a total of 194 species, listed below. The figures in brackets represent the number of days each species was recorded e.g. (4/14) means that a species was seen on four days during our 14 day trip (bearing in mind that the first day involved just a few hours birding and disregarding the last day when no birding at all was done) and gives a crude indication of how easy each species was to see. More details are given of the rarer or more interesting species.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis (14/14)
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus (10/14)
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis (5/14) Ones and twos at Lake Kerkini and up to 20 at Lake Vistonidis. Porto Lagos.
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus (1/14) c50 seen from Nestos on 10th as they passed between Thassos and the mainland.
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo (14/14)
Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus (8/14) Up to c30 at Lake Kerkini, several at Lake Ismarida and up to 20 on the Evros Delta.
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis (3/14) Common around Keramoti.
White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus (7/14) 100+ at Lake Kerkini; 6 at Lake Ismarida and five with about fifty Dalmatians on nearby Lake Ptelia; at least 10 on the Evros Delta
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus (14/14) Present in good numbers (250+) at Lake Kerkini and often seen at close range; smaller numbers (c50) at Porto Lagos; c100 at Lake Ismarida and up to 200 on the Evros Delta.
Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax (8/14) Seen regularly at Lake Kerkini, mostly in small numbers but most notably c150 that had been flushed from a daytime roost alongside the River Strymnon just below the dam on 17th. Also up to 50 roosting on the Evros Delta.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides (3/14) Most had evidently departed as we saw no more than 10 at Lake Kerkini together on 9th at Lithotopos
Little Egret Egretta garzetta (13/14) Widespread, Most numerous at Lake Kerkini, including 100+ on the River Strymnon below the dam at Lithotopos on 7th.
Great White Egret Ardea alba (11/14) 10+ at Lake Kerkini; two at Nestos, two at Porto Lagos; 10+ at Lake Ismarida and up to 100 on the Evros Delta including an impressive 31 in a mixed flock with Little Egrets and Spoonbills in a feeding frenzy on a small pool on 14th.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea (14/14)
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea (4/14) Scarce with just three at Nestos, one at Lake Ismarida and two on the Evros Delta.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra (4/14) Nine on the river near Lake Kerkini on 8th; three in flight on the Evros Delta on 14th; three over Loutros Hill on 15th and one at Lake Kerkini on 19th.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia (3/14) Very scarce with the vast majority obviously long gone. Seen only on the Evros Delta where there were no more than four at a time.
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus (2/14) Three at Lake Kerkini on 8th and 11 there on 19th.
Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia (6/14) Good numbers - including a count of 317 on 19th - at Lake Kerkini and up to 25 on the Evros Delta
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus (12/14) Found at most wetland sites with counts including 600+ at Lake Kerkini, 116 at Porto Lagos saltpans, several hundred at Lake Ismarida and 20 on the Evros Delta.
Mute Swan Cygnus olor (5/14)
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea (1/14) One on the Evros Delta on 14th.
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna (5/14)
Wigeon Anas Penelope (4/14)
Gadwall Anas strepera (3/14) Seen in small numbers at Lake Ismarida and Lake Kerkini
Teal Anas crecca (14/14)
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (14/14)
Pintail Anas acuta (6/14)
Garganey Anas querquedula (7/14) Records included 50+ on the Evros Delta and 200+ on the River Strymnon just below the dam at Lake Kerkini on 17th.
Shoveler Anas clypeata (9/14)
Pochard Aythea farina (6/14)
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca (3/14) Two at Nestos on 10th, seven at Nestos on 11th and nine on the River Strymnon just below the dam at Lake Kerkini on 17th.
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula (3/14)
Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus (1/14) One near Alistrati on 10th.
Black Kite Milvus migrans (1/14) Just one near Alexandroupolis on 13th.
White-tailed Eagle Haliaetus albicilla (1/14) Two adults at Lake Ismarida on 12th. We’d hoped to see more of this species.
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus (2/14) A juvenile on the Evros Delta on 14th and an adult at Loutros Hill on 15th.
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus (8/14) Seen in ones and twos at Lake Kerkini, Nestos, Porto Lagos, near Alexandroupolis, the Avas Gorge, Loutros Hill, the Promachonas and Sidirokastro areas and in slightly greater numbers on the Evros Delta where a small passage produced six on 14th and 15th and four on 16th.
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus (11/14) Widespread and common, especially on the Evros Delta.
Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus (1/14) A single juvenile at Porto Lagos on 11th provided our only sighting.
Goshawk Accipiter gentiles (4/14) Superb views of perched juveniles at Lake Kerkini on 8th, 18th and 19th and one in flight on the Evros Delta on 16th.
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus (6/14)
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes (3/14) A juvenile at Lake Kerkini on 9th, a male at Philippi on 10th and a male at Lake Ismarida on 12th. In addition, a juvenile found dead on the Evros Delta on 15th.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo (14/14)
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus (2/14) Two between Serres and Lailas on 9th and one in the Avas Gorge on 13th.
Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina (6/14) Good views of an adult perched in a dead tree at Lake Kerkini on 8th; at least two at Lake Kerkini on 9th; four or five over the Evros Delta on 14th; one over the Evros Delta on 15th; four over the Evros Delta on 16th; an adult seen perched in a dead tree and in flight at Lake Kerkini on 18th.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos (1/14) Two, an adult and an immature, near Sidirokastro on 20th.
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus (2/14) Single pale phase birds at Lake Kerkini on 9th and near Alexandroupolis on 13th.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus (2/14) Two on the Evros Delta on 16th and one at Lake Kerkini on 19th.
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus (11/14)
Hobby Falco subbuteo (3/14) One in off the sea at Keramoti on 10th; one near Promachonas and two near Kerkini village on 18th; a total of four near Sidirokastro on 20th.
Peregrine Falco peregrinus (4/14) Ones and twos at several sites.
Chukar Alectoris chukar (1/14) One by the roadside between Serres and Lailas on 9th. There seems to be some disagreement over whether the birds that occur in this part of Greece are Chukars or Rock Partridges but this individual was seen at close range and we were confident of the ID.
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus (6/14) Heard at Lake Kerkini, Lake Ismarida and the Evros Delta.
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus (9/14)
Coot Fulica atra (14/14)
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus (3/14)
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (6/14) Just low single figures at Lake Kerkini, Porto Lagos, Lake Ismarida and the Evros Delta.
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta (7/14) Records included several hundred at Lake Kerkini, 50+ at Porto Lagos and c100 on the Evros Delta.
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola (1/14) Super views of a juvenile a few yards in front of the car on a track on the Evros Delta on 16th.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius (12/14) Widespread and common, including flocks of up to 75 at Lake Kerkini.
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula (6/14)
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus (3/14) Small numbers at several sites.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola (4/14) Records included 20+ at Porto Lagos beach.
Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus (3/14) Four on the Nestos Delta on 10th; three flying about close to the road near Keramoti and seven on the Nestos Delta on 11th; three on the Evros Delta on 15th.
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus (4/14)
Knot Calidris canutus (2/14) c12 at Porto Lagos beach.
Sanderling Calidris alba (1/14) One at Lake Kerkini on 8th.
Little Stint Calidris minuta (10/14) Widespread and numerous. Records included 200+ at Lake Kerkini and 100+ both at Porto Lagos beach and on the Evros Delta
Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii (4/14) On the Evros Delta there were six on 14th, five on 15th and nine on 16th with three at Lake Kerkini on 19th.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea (4/14) Just single figures at several sites.
Dunlin Calidris alpina (7/14)
Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus (2/14) Five at Porto Lagos beach on 13th and one there on 17th.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax (8/14) Just small numbers at several sites.
Snipe Gallinago gallinago (6/14)
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa (4/14) Small numbers only.
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica (1/14) A single on the beach at Porto Lagos on 13th.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus (1/14) One heard at Porto Lagos on 17th was our only record.
Curlew Numenius arquata (7/14)
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythopus (9/14) Most numerous on the Evros Delta where 200+, including a flock of 150, were seen.
Redshank Tringa tetanus (11/14)
Greenshank Tringa nebularia (12/14) Sightings included 50+ at Lake Kerkini.
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis (5/14) Three at Lake Kerkini on 8th, c40 on the Evros Delta on 15th, five on the Evros Delta on 16th, 13 at Porto Lagos saltpans on 17th and four at Lake Kerkini on 19th. Though initially disappointed not to encounter the flocks we’d hoped for, we did eventually get super views of decent numbers of these elegant waders.
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus (7/14)
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola (8/14) Widespread. Most numerous on the Evros Delta where c50 were seen.
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus (1/14) A juvenile at Porto Lagos saltpans on 17th was a nice find.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos (9/14)
Turnstone Arenaria interpres (3/14)
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus (2/14) One off Porto Lagos beach on 13th and two there on 17th.
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus (4/14) Found at several coastal locations though in fairly small numbers with no double figure flocks.
Little Gull Larus minutus (1/14) Four 1st-winter birds at Lake Kerkini on 7th.
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus (14/14)
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei (3/14) At Porto Lagos saltpans there were 60 on 11th, 135 on 13th and at least 150 on 17th.
Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans (13/14)
Little Tern Sternula albifrons (5/14)
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica (1/14) A single adult on the Evros Delta on 15th.
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia (8/14) Lots of sightings and some impressive gatherings with one at Lake Kerkini on 8th, five at Keramoti and one at Porto Lagos on 11th, one at Porto Lagos on 12th, one on the Evros Delta on 15th and three there on 16th, a roosting flock of 42 at Porto Lagos saltpans on 17th, five at Lake Kerkini on 18th and 20 there on 19th.
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida (4/14) Small numbers of both adults and juveniles at Lake Kerkini and Lake Ismarida.
Black Tern Chlidonias niger (7/14) Up to a dozen at Lake Kerkini, Porto Lagos, Lake Ismarida and on the Evros Delta.
White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus (2/14) Single juveniles at Lake Kerkini on 8th and Lake Ismarida on 12th.
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis (7/14)
Common Tern Sterna hirundo (6/14)
Feral Pigeon Columba livia (14/14)
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto (14/14)
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (5/14)
Little Owl Athene noctua (1/14)
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo (3/14) One of the bonus birds of the trip. The Thassos-based English couple that we met at Lake Kerkini told us of a site close to the lake shore near Kerkini village where a pair of Eagle Owls had nested earlier in the year. Not knowing whether the birds would be calling in September, we nevertheless went that night (8th) and sure enough at 20.10 there was a brief burst of unmistakeable hooting. The next night, we went again but waited at a slightly different spot in the hope of a sighting and, when the bird began calling again at the same time, it was clearly visible as a huge silhouette, ear tufts and all, for more than 10 minutes before taking off and giving us good flight views. Brilliant! Even more surprisingly, we then flushed one from a small roadside bush near Fanari on the early morning of 13th and yet another an hour or so later from the West Wood at Porto Lagos – juveniles dispersing after the breeding season perhaps?
Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus (1/14) One seen in flight at the Eagle Owl site near Kerkini at dusk on 8th.
Common Swift Apus apus (2/14) Some seen with Pallid Swifts at the Hotel Park, Alexandroupolis.
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus (4/14) The only birds we saw were at the Hotel Park, Alexandroupolis, where up to 50 were present in the early mornings.
Alpine Swift Apus melba (3/14) Small numbers seen at Philippi, the Avas Gorge and near Promachonas.
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis (12/14)
Bee-eater Merops apiaster (12/14) Widespread and numerous. Often in migrating flocks overhead.
Roller Coracias garrulus (5/14) Two at Porto Lagos on 13th; one at the Evros Delta on 14th and two there on 15th; one at Porto Lagos on 17th and one near Sidirokastro on 20th.
Hoopoe Upupa epops (4/14) Just small numbers seen.
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus (2/14) One seen and heard on west side of Lake Kerkini on 9th and one heard in same area on 18th.
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis (4/14) Heard at several sites.
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martiuso (1/14) Two singles seen well in flight near Lailas on 9th.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major (3/14)
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopus syriacus (3/14) Singles seen well at Philippi on 10th and the Evros Delta Visitor Centre on 13th plus one in woodland near Promachonas on 18th.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus medius (1/14) At least two in woodland near Promachonas on 18th.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus minor (1/14) At least one in woodland near Promachonas on 18th.
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra (3/14) Flocks of up to 50 around the Evros Delta.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata (14/14)
Woodlark Lullula arborea (1/14) Seen and heard in small numbers at Lake Kerkini and in the Promachonas area on 18th.
Sand Martin Riparia riparia (14/14) Some huge concentrations of feeding birds seen at sites such as Lake Kerkini and Lake Vistonidis.
Swallow Hirundo rustica (14/14)
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica (11/14) Widespread and common – probably more numerous than Swallow.
House Martin Delichon urbicum (12/14)
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris (6/14) Two at Lake Ismarida on 12th; singles at Porto Lagos saltpans on 13th and 17th; one on the Evros Delta on 14th with four there on 15th and three on 16th.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis (6/14)
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava (14/14) Widespread and numerous with some sizeable flocks often to be found following herds of sheep or goats. All the birds that we positively identified were of the Grey-headed race thunbergi.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea (5/14)
White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba (6/14)
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes (1/14)
Robin Erithacus rubecula (1/14)
Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos (3/14) Difficult to find in the absence of any song.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros (1/14) One at Lailas on 9th.
Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus (4/14)
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra (14/14)
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (13/14)
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica (4/14) Single males on the west side of Lake Kerkini on 9th and 18th; several at Philippi on 10th and one near War Memorial in the Strymon Valley on 18th.
Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis (2/14) A male above the west shore of Lake Kerkini on 8th was a surprise while a fem/imm on a telegraph pole between Serres and Lailas on 9th was more expected.
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius (2/14) Singles at Philippi on 10th and Loutros Hill on 14th.
Blackbird Turdus merula (9/14)
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti (9/14)
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus (2/14)
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus (1/14) One seen alongside Lake Kerkini on 19th.
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais pallida (3/14) Widespread and quite numerous initially but becoming much less so later in the trip.
Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina (2/14) One seen in the West Wood at Porto Lagos on 11th and another alongside lake Kerkini on 19th.
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla (5/14)
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin (4/14)
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca (4/14)
Whitethroat Sylvia communis (8/14)
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala (3/14) Found in small numbers near Sidirokastro, near Alexandroupolis and on Loutros Hill.
Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus orientalis (1/14) One seen and another heard singing alongside Lake Kerkini on 19th.
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix (5/14)
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita (14/14)
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus (7/14) Records included an influx of at least fifty birds feeding in low vegetation at Lake Kerkini on 19th.
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa sriata (14/14) Incredibly abundant.
Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis (1/14) One between Serres and Lailas on 9th.
Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata (1/14) Two obliging birds near Sidirokastro on 20th. Both these and our only Collared Fly were in woodland at altitude so perhaps we should have put more time and effort into searching such habitat.
Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus (2/14) Heard at Lake Ismarida and on the Evros Delta.
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatos (2/14)
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus (1/14)
Great Tit Parus major (8/14)
Coal Tit Parus ater (1/14)
Marsh Tit Parus palustris (2/14)
Nuthatch Sitta europaea (2/14)
Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer (2/14) At least one seen well at Philippi on 10th and one heard near Sidirokastro on 20th.
Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus (6/14) Heard at Lake Kerkini, Lake Vistonidis, Lake Ismarida and on the Evros Delta but, surprisingly and disappointingly, none seen.
Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus (5/14) Frequent sightings mainly in the first week
Red-backed Shrike Lanius colluria (14/14) Amazingly numerous; at times, every bird we stopped to look at seemed to be either a Spotted Flycatcher or a Red-backed Shrike.
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor (4/14) One at Lake Ismarida on 12th; one on the Evros Delta on 14th and 16th; two at Porto Lagos on 17th.
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (8/14) Singles at Lake Kerkini on 8th and 9th; two near Alistrati on 10th; singles on the Evros Delta on 14th and 16th; one at Porto Lagos on 17th, one near Promachonas on 18th and one at Lake Kerkini on 19th. Almost all were juveniles.
Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus (5/14) One at Lake Kerkini on 8th; singles on the Evros Delta on 15th and 16th; two near Promachonas on 18th; one at Lake Kerkini on 20th. All were juveniles.
Jay Garrulus glandarius (10/14)
Magpie Pica pica (/14)
Nutcracker Nucifringa caryacatactes (1/14) Lovely close views of one in a treetop at the roadside near Lailas on 9th.
Jackdaw Corvus monedula (9/14)
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix (14/14)
Raven Corvus corax (6/14)
Common Starling Sternus vulgaris (13/14)
House Sparrow Passer domesticus (14/14)
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis (2/14) Just small numbers seen due mainly to the fact that we could rarely be bothered to check through flocks of sparrows.
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus (6/14)
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs (5/14)
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris (3/14)
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis (6/14)
Linnet Carduelis cannabina (2/14)
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes (1/14) At least three near Promachonas on 18th.
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirius (6/14) Seen and heard in small numbers on the west side of Lake Kerkini, in the Avas Gorge, above Promachonas and near Sidirokastro.
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia (1/14) One near Angistio above Promachonas on 18th.
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra (13/14)