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A Report from

North East Greece, April 30th - May 11th 2007 ,

Christian Dortu


Flight from Luxemburg to Thessaloniki via Zurich found on and booked on  (216 Euro.)
Hired car booked on (300 Euro plus 20 Euro for late pickup.)
Fuel costs from 0.989 to 1.1 Euro.
Accommodations were easy to find in that low season period of the year in main villages and towns. Food was available everywhere at nearly any time.


Despite the fact that it can snow in winter (two ski stations in the mountains) and that other reports mentioned rainy days, there was very little rain during the winter and the spring. The level of water in the rivers, pools and lagoons was very low. And, therefore, the amount of birds was in consequence. Added to that dry start of year, the migration period: one month earlier (confirmed by a friend birding at Levos in the first week of May).

Most of the time, the weather was sunny with two days at 30°C and only half a day rain.

Itinerary.  (2600km)

30th April: Thessaloniki airport (02h45 local time). Pick up the car. Night in the car between Lake Koronia and Lake Volvi. Woken up by Scops owl, Nightingales and frogs. Lake Volvi, woods and hills before Asprovalta. Night in Asprovalta.
1st May: Strimonas delta, Mount Pangeo. Night in Kavala.
2nd May: Keramoti, Nestos delta, Porto Lagos, Fanari. Night in Fanari.
3th May: Lake Ismarida, link to the Evros delta by the highway, Evros delta. Night in Loutros.
4th May: Avas gorges, Loutros hill. Night in Soufli.
5th May: Dadia hide, Lefkimi, Kapsalo. Night in Dadia.
6th May:  Diavolorema River valley, link to the Evros delta, Evros delta. Night in Loutros.
7th May: Link to Lake Ismarida by the highway, Lake Ismarida, Porto Lagos, Fanari, Keramoti. Night in Keramoti.
8th May: Ferry to Thassos Island, Nestos delta, link to Asprovalta. Night in Asprovalta.
9th May: Lake Volvi, link to Lake Kerkini, Lake Kerkini. Night in Kerkini.
10th May: Promachonas, Fea Petra. Night in Kerkini.
11th May: Lake Kerkini and surroundings. Night in Kerkini.
12th May: Link to Thessaloniki airport by night. Take off at 04h45 (local time)

Lake Volvi

Most of the birds are present at both ends of the lake. The road along the north shore gives good views and easy access. Some birds present are: Night Heron, Purple Heron, Pygmy Cormorant, Savi’s Warbler, Squacco Heron, Glossy Ibis and pelicans.

Strimonas Delta

Track on left side (maybe also right) of the river leads you to the sea. Common Tern, Sandwish Tern, Little Tern and Wood Sandpiper could be seen at the mouth or along the banks.

Nestos Delta

This place does not seem to exist. If you follow the signpost “Nestos delta visitor center reception”, you will arrive (if you turn right where there is no signpost and some kind of barbecue place) at the “Riparian forest center”. Follow a small track to the sea. Nothing which looks like a delta. This place is not worthwhile without a good preparation to find your way.


The pools and lagoons of the Fanari-Mesi area are much more interesting and easier to find. Few birds were present except a large number of Curlew Sandpiper: Slender-billed Gull, Grey Plover, and Avocet.

Lake Ismarida

This lake is surrounded by reeds which prevent you to have close views of the lake. There is an embankment on the east side which separates the lake itself from pools. You can walk it and listen to the Water Rail, Cetti’s Warbler, Penduline Tit, Great reed Warbler. Other birds: Collared Practincoles, Black, Whiskered and White-winged Black Terns, Marsh Harrier.

Evros Delta

Very disappointing place due to the lack of water. Few birds on the Drana Lagoon. The best places were the pools in the shrimp farm and Almires areas. And the dry lands when you turn left arriving at Drana Lagoon. Spotted Redshank, Great White Egret, Tawny Pipit, Isabelline Wheatear, Stone Curlew.

Avas Gorge

If you don’t want to enter Alexandroupoli to reach the gorges, drive the main road east of the town to the highway, follow the “Industrial area” signposts and turn left to Avantas. Few raptors were present that day so I decided to walk in the woods: Chiffchaff, Robin, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eastern Bonnelli’s Warbler, Ortolan Bunting and a Grey Wagtail along a river.

Loutros Hill

I didn’t stay for a long time to avoid being roasted searching for prey birds. A Sombre Tit was flying around the white chapel from bushes to bushes.


If you want to be sure to see vultures, walk to the hide. But they can also be seen spontaneously in the surroundings. The three vultures at the hide with a Raven and a Short-toed Eagle passing by. A Booted Eagle at Lefkimi and the Black and Griffon Vultures at Kapsalo. A pair of Blue Rock Thrush at Kapsalo. A Tawny Owl at the ecotourist lodge.

Diavolorema valley

I spent half a day watching the raptors in the valley. Lots of Black Storks and good views of a Lesser Spotted Eagle. Along the river: Kingfisher, Olivaceous Warbler, Quail and a Syrian Woodpecker.

Porto Lagos

A little stop at Porto Lagos to watch the Mediterranean Gulls.


The surroundings are disgusting. Waste and rubbish everywhere, just like most of visited spots. But the birds are there. Thanks to a Marsh Harrier flying over the place where the Spur-winged Plovers were hiding. In Keramoti, in the evening, the silhouette of a Little Owl on a roof and a young Long-eared Owl calling in the night.

Thassos Island

Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Crag Martin.

Lake Kerkini

The pelicans can be seen here very well from the road on the west side of the lake. The herons are abundant just as the Little Egret. On the other side, from the embankment, the photographers will enjoy the close view to the birds. The Great Crested Grebes are numerous. I have found a nest of Penduline Tit but I could hear it many more times. The White Stork is nesting in the village.

Promahonas and Fea Petra

The quarry face keeps all its promises. The Rollers, a Little Owl and a Kestrel were present. But the number of holes supposes there could be more birds. In the woodlands between Promahonas and Angistro: Masked Shrike, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Enjoy the landscape of Fea Petra. Some Jackdaws were playing in the air circling around the rocks. Two Alpine Swifts.

The amazing show of the Cormorants fishing all together on the Lake Kerkini.

Thanks to Ray Thorneycroft and Ian Kinley. Their reports were very helpful to prepare this trip.

Species list

163 species have been recorded. At nearly each stop, a Corn Bunting, a Nightingale, and a Golden Oriole could be heard. Those birds are really abundant but their numbers decrease going north to Lake Kerkini. 20 Red-footed Falcons resting at Lake Volvi before migrating further. 50 White Storks circling near the Turkish border.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus       
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus
White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus

Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus
Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Great White Egret  Egretta alba   
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Black Stork Ciconia nigra
White Stork Ciconia ciconia
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Gadwall Anas strepera
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Garganey Anas querquedula
Shoveler Anas clypeata
Pochard Aythya ferina 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca
Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus
Black Kite Milvus migrans    
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus    
Black Vulture Aegypius monachus      
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni
Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus
Hobby Falco subbuteo
Quail Coturnix coturnix
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Coot Fulica atra
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Spur-winged Plover Hoplopterus spinosus
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Little Stint Calidris minuta
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Ruff Philomachus pugnax
Curlew Numenius arquata
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Redshank Tringa totanus
Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei
Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Little Tern Sterna albifrons
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
Black Tern Chlidonias niger
White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Scops Owl Otus scops
Little Owl Athene noctua
Long-eared Owl Asio otus
Tawny Owl Strix aluco
Common Swift Apus apus
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus
Alpine Swift Apus melba
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis  
Bee-eater Merops apiaster
Roller Coracias garrulus
Hoopoe Upupa epops
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopus syriacus
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus minor
Sky Lark Alauda arvensis
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra
Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
Crested Lark Galerida cristata
Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris
Swallow Hirundo rustica
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
House Martin Delichon urbica
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
White Wagtail Motacilla alba  
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Blackbird Turdus merula
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti
Savi’s Warbler Locustella luscinioides
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus  
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais pallida
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans
Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus orientalis
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Sombre Tit Parus lugubris
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Great Tit Parus major
Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla
Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus
Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus
Jay Garrulus glandarius
Magpie Pica pica
Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix
Raven Corvus corax
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina
European Serin Serinus serinus
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana
Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra


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