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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Thassos and North-eastern Greece, May 5th - 12th 2004,
This was an extra holiday picked up at fairly late notice from the Teletext bargain pages. It was JD’s first visit to the area but CC had been to Thassos twice before in 1983 and 1995. We chose Thassos because it was cheap and near to a couple of good birding areas, in particular the Dadia (pron. Thathia with the two ‘ths’ being soft, as in ‘then’) Forest. There are a few reasonable trip reports to the area but Thassos is largely overlooked by birders. From the evidence we saw, both from our own observations and from talking to a couple of other birders on the island, it might deserve a little more attention.
We stayed at the Emerald Apartments in Chrisi Ammoudia,
which is usually called ‘Golden Beach’ by travel companies. Flights are into
Chrissoupoli Airport (aka Kavala) from where a coach or taxi can be taken to
the port of Keramoti, passing some reasonable but degraded habitat for the ferry
The apartments are quite pleasant but the island got decidedly cool every night and a few extra blankets wouldn’t have hurt.
We spent one night at the Dadia Forest Ecolodge on the mainland. This is just west of the Evros valley, near the Turkish border and is an easy drive from Keramoti (a car plus 2 passengers was 12 euros 30 cents one way on the ferry from Limenas, Thassos), mostly along the near deserted N2 motorway (we passed 9 vehicles in 74 kilometres on the way back to Thassos on Saturday afternoon, and two cars passed us). This meant two days birding back to back on the mainland, and then we returned for the last full day to have a look around the Nestos Delta area. The other 4 days were on Thassos. For most of the week we hired a Citroen Saxa, which was fine on Thassian roads and up to Dadia, but for a trip into the mountains and for the delta area we exchanged this for a Suzuki Jimny, which was worth the extra €45. Total car hire prices was about €170.
Chrisi Ammoudia has changed substantially since CC 1st visited in 1983. The area has been heavily developed for tourism and the large numbers of Red-backed Shrikes that were noted here in 1995 have been greatly reduced. I suppose all tourists should recognise that they are in part responsible for this kind of development but there is little evidence in Greece that there is much notice being taken of what is being lost under concrete and tiles. The area is still pretty and there are no buildings over 3 stories high.
Some useful tips
Insects weren’t too bad. Hardly saw any mosquitoes, but we wore repellent whenever we were near wetland areas like the Nestos Delta.
We took one telescope between us, and this proved useful at wetland sites and at Dadia, and Prinos on Thassos.
Left Manchester at about 15:30 and arrived Chrissoupoli about 3½ hours later. It was dark by the time we were out of the airport and had apparently been raining hard before our arrival. The only birds noted were hundreds of Yellow-legged Gulls following the ferry and a couple of Nightingales at the apartment.
CC had an early morning walk around Chrisi Ammoudia and saw the only Cirl Bunting of the trip, and then we went to hire a car. We had a drive around the island, stopping for a while at the pretty headland of Aliki and then later at Megalo Prinos, probably the most lovely of all the villages of Thassos. The main interest from a birdwatchers perspective was the large number of Cory’s Shearwaters streaming by the Aliki headland. These were the only shearwaters we saw during the holiday and there were probably thousands of them. They were passing by in numbers from the time we sat in the beach bar for a quick drink to the time we got back to the bar, heading southwards. We looked at several large flocks but couldn’t find any Yelkouans mixed in with them.
We continued along the coast road, seeing a Hoopoe near the Aeri Hotel just beyond Astris village and hearing, but not seeing European Bee-eaters near Skala Marion. From the village of Skala Prinos we turned inland and followed the road up to the beautiful and very peaceful villages of Mikro and Megalo Prinos. If you’ve never heard Nightingales, then come to these villages in May. Sit at the tables of one of the tavernas in the square in Megalo Prinos in the shade of the venerable Plane trees and see how many you can count.
Keramoti area, then en route to Dadia Forest
We took the 8 a.m. ferry to Keramoti, where we had breakfast, but we couldn’t find any Spanish Sparrows in the trees around the church and then spent a short time on the wetlands around the airport road. This area is badly in need of conservation. We saw only one Spur-winged Plover and the area in which they have been known to breed has had a large amount of rubble from a marble quarry dumped on it. This looks like a recent event and one person we spoke to suggested that the dumping may have taken place after the birds had established territories and might even have been on top of some nest sites. In general the habitats have degraded around Keramoti and there were far less reeds than in 1995.
For the remainder of the morning we decided to look for the Nestos Visitor Centre, which is signed from the road to the airport and also from the Keramoti to Chrissoupoli road. Some birders have claimed that this place no longer exists and at first we felt that this was the case, although on the second visit, a couple of days later, we found the centre easily. It’s the obvious building along the track, shortly after the track splits around a wood - take the left fork.
We stopped by the obvious bridge on the track from the main road where there were plenty of Bee-eaters and a pair of Cuckoos perching on the telephone wires. CC had a brief view of a Little Bittern that was flushed from the reeds on the left of the bridge whilst JD was photographing the Bee-eaters.
The main road east from this part of Greece is the N2, a new and very quiet motorway. We stopped for a good lunch by the harbour at Makri, a pleasant small town just west of Alexandroupoli. A couple of miles west of Makri is the tiny coastal hamlet of Paraskevi, where we found several Spanish Sparrows in the trees around the church.
After lunch we carried on to Dadia and the Dadia Forest Ecolodge. This lodge allows easy access to the renowned raptor hide and vulture feeding station. It’s easy to get to - probably less than 2½ hours drive from Keramoti on good roads and any birdwatchers in the area should definitely consider staying a night here. The room, with breakfast, for two was 40 euros per night.
When we checked in we were told that the best time to see raptors is about 9 in the morning and that we could go into the restricted area if we wanted but we probably wouldn’t see much this late in the day. We decided that as we had seen a couple of Lesser Spotted Eagles and a pair of Black Storks in the couple of miles before reaching Dadia we would walk up.
The path to the hide is said to be one hours walk. A reasonably fit person could do the walk in an hour with no stops, but the woods that it passes through have breeding Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler and Middle Spotted Woodpecker, so unless you really aren’t interested in anything other than raptors, allow yourself at least 90 minutes. The return path is mostly downhill and we did it in 35 minutes.
When we arrived at the hide we were mildly amused by the signs requesting silence. The Greeks as a nation have many fine qualities (this was CC’s 9th or 10th visit to the country) but quietness on ‘social occasions’ is not one of them. However the hide was empty when we arrived so we settled down to look at - well a few piles of sun-whitened bones draped with some leathery-looking hide.
A quick scan of the carcasses with binoculars (the feeding station is a few hundred metres away, across a steep-sided valley) left us thinking that there were no vultures present, but as we were setting the ‘scope up a pair of adult Egyptian Vultures appeared, drifting slowly rightwards. Over the next 75 minutes about 10 more Egyptian Vultures, 40 Griffon Vultures, 3 Black Vultures, 5 Booted Eagles, one Lesser Spotted Eagle and 20 Black Storks passed by the hide. If this is what it’s like when it’s quiet, then we could hardly wait until morning!
After about 30 minutes a small group of birders arrived with one of the local guides. The noise was incredible. We could barely hear ourselves tut. Three of the group turned out to be English (Mick, Max and Keleigh from Lincoln) and they joined us at the quieter end of the hide. Although the bulk of the large birds had already gone when they arrived they were able to see at least one of each of the interesting species, although the bird that we at first thought was a Lesser Spotted Eagle that had settled by the feeding area was proved by Mick to be a juvenile Egyptian Vulture!
The Lincoln birders were on a two week break taking in many of the best sites in the north-east of Greece and had built up an impressive list in just a couple of days. We decided to have dinner together. The lodge only seemed to serve cold food and Mick lost the toss of the coin and drove us to nearby Souli where we had a rather good meal in a not very touristy restaurant.
We agreed to meet Mick the following morning for the 8 a.m. bus to the hide, whilst Max and Keleigh decide to have a lie-in.
Dadia Forest, then return to Thassos via Porto Lagos
It is likely that most of the staff at the Ecolodge are local people, which is great because it demonstrates that caring for the environment can have economic value as well as ecological significance, but it probably means that many of them don’t understand the needs of birders or other tourists who have an interest in the natural world. After dinner on the previous evening we returned to the lodge for a few nightcaps and sat at tables outside the café. Sadly there was taped music playing through speakers outside the bar and a television turned up to full volume inside. It was possible to hear both at once most of the time. Contrast this to lodges we have visited in Costa Rica or The Gambia, where the night is allowed to speak for itself and you’ll begin to see what we mean.
This lack of understanding extended to the following morning, when the three of us were waiting in the car park at 7:45. The bus arrived at about 8:20, dropping off a guided group of British birdwatchers but drove off immediately. We finally gave up hope and joined the queue for breakfast, eventually taking the 10 a.m. bus up the hill. With considerable anticipation we headed for the hide to find - nothing. No birds at all. After a while we began to pick up birds of prey over distant hillsides but all were much too distant for us to identify successfully. Some were probably eagles, others were most likely vultures, but apart from a pair of Hoopoes, a few Bee-eaters, a Long-legged Buzzard and a single Egyptian Vulture we didn’t really identify much for an hour. By this time Max and Keleigh had joined us, so we left the three of them to it and headed off down the hill.
The walk back was a little more interesting, with a pair of Short-toed Eagles and several tortoises, but pride of place went to the Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler that obligingly confirmed for us that the song we’d heard several times, that we’d decided was probably Bonelli’s was exactly that. After the Lesser Spotted Eagles, the second new bird for us of the trip.
We stopped on the road back from Dadia to the main road at the point where we’d seen the eagles and storks the afternoon before and added Stonechat and Black-headed Bunting to the trip list.
The drive back was easy and fast so we decided to stop in Porto Lagos for lunch and some birding. We’d rather carelessly left our printed trip reports at home, so after a good lunch on the road alongside the harbour in Porto Lagos we had a look for some suitable birding sites. We eventually found our way down to the lakeside and there were a few birds around, including some Squacco Herons on the marshy area, but to be honest nothing really exciting.
We had a couple of hours to go before the 8:30 p.m. ferry to Thassos, so we drove around some of the minor roads between Porto Lagos and Xanthi for a while. We found an occupied Storks nest just outside the village of Sidini which allowed us to get a few decent photos, and a European Roller near the junction of the Sidini road with the main road.
We spent most of the day around the town, with the highlights being meeting a resident Thassos birdwatcher, Dave at the ‘Cheers’ bar near the car-parking area between the ferry boat stop and the old harbour and some rather unusual Yellow Wagtails. We found these in the small children play area towards the end of the town beach - four in total that we at first thought might be Grey Wagtails but through the binoculars, with the field guide to hand it was apparent that these birds showed all the characteristics of the ‘beema’ subspecies. We saw another the following day at the Archangelou Monastery were another group of British birdwatchers had their telescope set up. We all had a good look at this bird through the ‘scope and were agreed that it was a ‘beema’. Presumably this ssp. passes through Thassos in good numbers.
If you’re in Thassos, go and see Dave in ‘Cheers’. He’s a keen birder but doesn’t get much opportunity to get out during the summer, because of the demands of the job. If enough of us go and buy a pint or two there perhaps he’ll set up a ‘recent sightings’ bulletin board there. The full English breakfasts in ‘Cheers’ were just about the best we had and exactly what you need if you’re planning a long day out.
We had hoped to see a few birds by walking up the path to the classical theatre that starts at the boatyard beyond the old harbour, but were disappointed. There really wasn’t much about. Even more disappointing was the way the old (Roman) theatre has been treated. On CC’s two previous visits this had been a truly beautiful and peaceful site, with pine trees growing amongst the tiers of seats making this a memorably cool and shady spot, especially after the exertion of the climb. The trees are all gone and most of the seating has been concreted over, presumably to make the site a venue for outdoor performances. To CC this seems an act of cultural vandalism that is hard to justify.
Continuing on from the theatre the walk becomes more interesting and less spoiled, with a mediaeval castle and then the ancient acropolis. There were birds around here in 1995, but we didn’t see much this time. A steep but interesting route down is via the so called ‘secret steps’ which descend from the summit of the acropolis to the back of Thassos Town.
We had had some correspondence with Adrian P. Fowles who maintains the excellent “Natural History of Thasos” (http://thasos.users.btopenworld.com/index.htm) website. He had told us that there was a road to the summit of the islands highest peak, Ipsarion, which is well over 3000’ high. We swapped our Citroen Saxa for a jeep and set off.
The road is actually pretty good, although there are one or two places where a car without a high wheel base might struggle and there are even signposts along the way. To get to it, follow the road to Maries and bear right when you get to the village. You will first pass a small reservoir and soon after that a u-bend where there is a small chapel. Just carry on from here. This would seem an essential trip for any birdwatcher visiting the island. We saw several interesting species along this road, including two ‘lifers’, both of which where birds that we had long wanted to see and one of which, Firecrest is perhaps the commonest British bird that we hadn’t seen (we don’t spend much time birdwatching in the south of England and always seem to miss ‘local’ ones). The second species, Rock Thrush, was also CC’s 400 species seen in the Western Palaearctic.
At the reservoir in an obvious Plane tree at the edge of the path there was a male Subalpine Warbler singing and collecting food, so presumably breeding in the area. The Firecrests seemed quite numerous in the valley below the small chapel. To find the Rock Thrush site, continue for several kilometres past the chapel, passing a junction signposted for Dio Kephalos. There is a narrow, eroded spot on the road (the narrowest part of the whole route) and about a kilometre or so beyond this a spring comes out of a pipe in the hillside, with a small brick-built surround. Park about 150 metres on from this spring and the Rock Thrush was seen at the right-hand edge of the angular crags above the road, at the back of the wide bend in the road. There were several Cretzschmar’s Buntings singing from the tops of shrubs in the more open hillside at this spot as well.
At the summit itself there were a few Black Redstarts and Common and Alpine Swifts but we were quite surprised to see a Crag Martin which seemed to be heading north, perhaps on passage.
We finished the day at the scrubby area behind the beach at just south of the Prinos ferry port (follow the road to the port, turn left when you get there and follow your instincts - when you run out of buildings, you’re there). We had been told that this spot was worth a look by the British birders that we’d met earlier in the day. They had seen, amongst other species both Masked and Woodchat Shrikes here and it did not disappoint, providing, in two Tawny Pipits our third lifer of the day. We really hadn’t expected to see three new birds on the island. The birders we spoke to were in their 2nd week on the island and they had seen some really good birds. There have probably been very few birdwatchers on the island in late-April/early-May and it might just be that the island gets a better passage than most people think. It might never rival Lesvos as a magnet for wildlife enthusiasts, but there is probably scope for more exploration.
Nestos Forest and delta
We stopped off at ‘Cheers’ for breakfast and then took the ferry across to Keramoti, thinking that we’d just have a day within 50 miles of the port and go more or less where luck took us. We found a few Black-winged Stilts on the marsh at Keramoti and then drove down the road towards the airport, looking for any likely pools. There were lots of fields that had been flooded and on one we spotted a small group of waders that turned out to be Curlew Sandpipers, some of which were in full breeding plumage.
We drove on to the track to the Nestos visitor centre and this time turned left at the woodland. We got good views of a Hoopoe in a roadside bush and after driving for some distance went through a gate and into a flat meadow. There were hundreds of Bee-eaters here, apparently nesting in holes in the ground. We stopped for a picnic (sandwiches provided by ‘Cheers’ - recommended) and tried to get further along the track but had to turn back when it became too muddy. We did notice that several of the meadows that the Bee-eaters were using were being planted with Poplar trees. We spoke to one of the staff at the visitor centre and were told that new Poplar plantations were no longer allowed within the conservation area. These meadows were definitely in the area, probably less than a mile from the centre. It would be a shame if they became unusable for such a large colony of Bee-eaters.
Heading back through the gate we got a brief view of
a Syrian Woodpecker that flew up from the field and settled on a nearby tree.
We then gave the right-hand track another try and having made a note of the Greek name for the visitors centre found it easily (it’s the only building that could be a visitor centre) and decided to stop and have a look around. The member of staff we spoke to was very helpful and she talked us through the history of the delta and its different habitats and most usefully gave us directions on how to get to the river mouth itself. The trick is to follow the track beyond the visitor centre until you come to the bank built to contain the river, which is not visible at this point and drive along the top of this bank until it comes to an end. Then simply follow the track to the beach, where there is a handful of fishermen’s shacks built on stilts.
We saw a few birds along the route, including Bearded Tits at the point where the bank comes to an end and the track drops down to the ground level again.
The river mouth itself was not as good for birds as we’d hoped, although there were hundreds of Yellow-legged Gulls about. Access on foot is not great and the highlight was finding a large snake in the process of swallowing a substantial fish that it had caught. The fish was perhaps 3 times as wide as the reptile. There were plenty of terns off-shore so we walked up the beach alongside the lagoon, where many of them were roosting on sandbanks. Common and Little Terns were easiest to find and identify but there were also a couple of hundred Black Terns and half a dozen Caspians.
As we returned to the main track back to the road we saw a large raptor fly in to the top of a tree. This was at the point where the track splits to go either side of the wood. We pulled off the track but were unable to identify the bird before it flew down from the tree and away from us. We were about to return to the track when we noticed another car parked in front of us with a telescope next to the door. The occupant was watching something in a nearby tree and when we checked where he was looking we quickly found a Middle-spotted Woodpecker
Around Golden Beach and Chrisi Ammoudia
Our return flight was quite late, but we were due to return the car in the morning. We did so and then wandered around tracks in the Chrisi Ammoudia area, starting from the hotel and eventually reaching the beach, which we walked along as far as Skala Potamia, before eventually returning for the coach to the airport. We saw the only Hobby of the trip, a handful of nice butterflies and watched Red-rumped Swallows and House Martins collecting mud from a small pool. It seems likely that the ongoing development for tourism between Skala Potamia and Chrisi Ammoudia will eventually join up, which would be a shame because the area still has the potential to support a reasonable amount of wildlife.
In the following list, the birds English and scientific names are used. The details in brackets indicate the order in which the birds were seen, where possible the number of days on which it was recorded. Thus, Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis (63,1) was the 63rd bird seen and was seen on only one day.
LITTLE GREBE - Tachybaptus ruficollis (63,1) - several
on the lake on the approach to Porto Lagos.
GREAT-CRESTED GREBE - Podiceps cristatus (64,1) - as above.
CORY’S SHEARWATER - Calonectris diomedea (11,1) - hundreds offshore on 6th May, along eastern coast of Thassos.
SHAG - Phalacracorax aristotelis (13,4) - several seen along Thassian coasts and also noted from the ferry crossings.
LITTLE BITTERN - Ixobrychus minutus (37,1) - one seen briefly by CC only on the approach road to the Nestos Visitor Centre
SQUACCO HERON - Ardeola ralloides (69,1) - several in the marshy area near the Porto Lagos lagoon.
LITTLE EGRET - Egretta garzetta (22,4) - Several seen from the ferry, flying towards Thassos from the mainland, and seen in other likely areas (Porto Lagos, Nestos delta).
GREY HERON - Ardea cinerea (23,4) - very common at Keramoti and Porto Lagos.
WHITE STORK - Ciconia ciconia (34,3) - seen around Keramoti and in several villages west of Porto Lagos and along the roads north and east of Keramoti.
BLACK STORK - Ciconia nigra (44,2) - surprisingly easy to see in Dadia area with about 30 birds seen in total.
MALLARD - Anas platyrhynchos (29,2) - Keramoti.
SHELDUCK - Tadorna tadorna (70,1) - Porto Lagos.
SHORT-TOED EAGLE - Circaetus gallicus (57,1) - a pair seen from the path from the Dadia Forest hide to the Ecolodge.
EGYPTIAN VULTURE - Neophron percnopterus (50,2) - at least 11 seen from Dadia Forest Hide and the only vulture seen on the ground.
BLACK VULTURE - Aegypius monachus (53,2) - three seen from Dadia Forest Hide on the first day and another from the Ecolodge on the second morning.
GRIFFON VULTURE - Gyps fulvus (51,2) - at least 40 seen from Dadia Forest Hide.
MARSH HARRIER - Circus aeruginosus (31,2) - Keramoti.
LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD - Buteo rufinus (56,1) - one seen from Dadia Forest Hide on the second day.
COMMON BUZZARD - Buteo buteo (55,1) - one seen from the Dadia Ecolodge on the second morning and several over the hillside behind Golden Beach on the final day.
BOOTED EAGLE - Hieraeetus pennatus (52,2) - five seen from Dadia Forest Hide on the first day and another from the Ecolodge on the second morning.
LESSER-SPOTTED EAGLE - Aquila pomarina (45,2) - at least four seen in total around Dadia, but several distant eagle species were probably Lesser Spotted.
KESTREL - Falco tinnunculus (65,1) - one only at Porto Lagos.
HOBBY - Falco subbuteo (101,1) - the last ‘tick’ of the trip was seen from the dirt track near Hotel Panorama, Golden Beach.
COOT - Fulica atra (62,2) - seen at Porto Lagos and Keramoti. Strangely Moorhen was not recorded although we have a feeling that some were seen at Porto Lagos, so this may have been an oversight.
OYSTERCATCHER - Hematopus ostralegus (71,2) - only recorded at Porto Lagos and Nestos River mouth.
BLACK-WINGED STILT - Himantopus himantopus (94,1) - several seen during second visit to Keramoti but not noted on first visit. Seemingly rather reduced in numbers since 1995.
LITTLE-RINGED PLOVER - Charadrius dubius (89,2) - possibly two pairs in the scrubby area south of Prinos, Thassos seemed to be defending territory. Several on the beach at the Nestos River mouth.
SPUR-WINGED PLOVER - Hoplopterus spinosus (28,2) - seen on both visits to Keramoti, but possibly only two or three birds. Degradation of habitat and lack of suitable protection probably means that this species’ days are numbered at this site.
CURLEW SANDPIPER - Calidris ferruginea (95,1) - a small flock was on a flooded field outside Keramoti.
REDSHANK - Tringa totanus (30,1) - present around Keramoti.
COMMON SANDPIPER - Actitis hypoleucos (73,1) - a few, Porto Lagos.
BLACK-HEADED GULL - Larus ridibundus (54,2) - seen at Keramoti and Porto Lagos.
MEDITERRANEAN GULL - Larus melanocephalus (40,3) - seen at Keramoti and around Porto Lagos where rather common.
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL - Larus cachinnans (1,6) - by far the most common gull, probably seen daily but rarely recorded. Large numbers follow the ferries between Keramoti and Thassos, even well after dark.
CASPIAN TERN - Sterna caspia (99,1) - half a dozen, with much larger numbers of Common and Little Terns about 1 km north of the Nestos River mouth.
COMMON TERN - Sterna hirundo (67,2) - Porto Lagos and Nestos River mouth, where numerous.
LITTLE TERN - Sterna albifrons (61,2) - as for Common Tern.
BLACK TERN - Chlidonias niger (98,1) - hundreds around the Nestos River mouth.
WHISKERED TERN - Chlidonias hybridus (39,2) - single birds seen on flooded fields near Nestos Visitor Centre and near Porto Lagos.
COLLARED DOVE - Streptopelia decaocto (20,5+) - present on Thassos. Under recorded.
TURTLE DOVE - Streptopelia turtur (38,2) - common around Nestos Visitor Centre.
CUCKOO - Cuculus canoris (39,5) - a pair seen by the sluice near Nestos Visitor Centre. Heard several times on Thassos.
ALPINE SWIFT - Apus melba (78,2) - not noted on Thassos before 10th May, after which large numbers seen in several coastal areas and near Ipsarion summit.
COMMON SWIFT - Apus apus (77,2) - not common on Thassos, where only seen around Megalo Prinos (distantly) and near Ipsarion summit.
HOOPOE - Upupa epops (16,4) - several on Thassos, near Aliki (Hotel Aeri) and around the chapel up hill from Maries and also around the hide at Dadia Forest and in the Nestos Forest.
EUROPEAN BEE-EATER - Merops apiaster (21,4) - heard near Skala Maries on Thassos but not seen. Several over the marshes at Keramoti, a dozen or so by the sluice near Nestos Visitor Centre, a flock over the hide at Dadia Forest and hundreds on the edge of the Nestos Forest.
EUROPEAN ROLLER - Coriacias garrulus (41,2) - a pair seen in flight from the car, west of Alexandropoulis and a single bird on wires outside Sidini village near Porto Lagos.
SYRIAN WOODPECKER - Dendrocops syriacus (96,1) - a single bird seen near the Bee-eater site on the edge of the Nestos Forest.
MIDDLE-SPOTTED WOODPECKER - Dendrocops medius (100,1) - a single bird a short distance from the Nestos Visitor Centre.
CRESTED LARK - Galerida cristata (26,2) - not recorded on Thassos but quite common around Keramoti.
SAND MARTIN - Riparia riparia (24,1) - present in good numbers around Keramoti on first visit, but not noted on second visit.
CRAG MARTIN - Ptyonoprogne rupestris (86,1) - the single bird seen near the summit of Ipsarion, Thassos was the only Crag Martin noted, but Dave in ‘Cheers’ told us that the species breeds on the island.
HOUSE MARTIN - Delichon urbica (27,5) - common and widespread.
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW - Hirundo daurica (7,6) - seen most days. Evidence of nesting around Chrisi Ammoudia and seen from the hide in Dadia Forest. Quite common.
BARN SWALLOW - Hirundo rustica (6,7) - common and widespread.
TAWNY PIPIT - Anthus campestris (91,1) - two birds in the scrubby area near the beach, south of Prinos port were a bonus for us.
WHITE WAGTAIL - Motacilla alba (66,5) - fairly common.
YELLOW WAGTAIL - Motacilla flava ssp (33,4) - representatives of the feldegg race were seen around Keramoti but all the Thassos birds seemed to be of the beema race.
NIGHTINGALE - Luscinia megarhynchos (2,7) - seen or heard daily. Rather common on Thassos.
EUROPEAN ROBIN - Erithacus rubecula (83,1) - several near the chapel on the Ipsarion road.
STONECHAT - Saxicola torquata (59,1) - surprisingly only seen in fields outside Dadia village.
WHINCHAT - Saxicola rubetra (90,1) - a single bird in the scrubby area near the beach, south of Prinos port.
BLACK REDSTART - Phoenicurus ochruros (85,1) - quite common higher up on Ipsarion, Thassos.
BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR - Oenanthe hispanica (12,4) - seen in several locations on Thassos. Frequent along the road south of Potamias, especially where there are cliffs.
NORTHERN WHEATEAR - Oenanthe oenanthe (17,1) - only one seen, on first visit to Megalo Prinos, Thassos.
ROCK THRUSH - Monticola saxatalis (88,1) - the bird seen on Ipsarion was our first Rock Thrush and a species we had wanted to see for a long time and had looked for in many locations. Well worth the long drive without other the good birds seen on the trip.
BLUE ROCK THRUSH - Monticola solitarius (79,1) - a bird near the Archangelou Monastery, Thassos was, surprisingly, the only bird of this species recorded. CC has the impression that they were more numerous during his 1995 visit.
BLACKBIRD - Turdus merula (18,4) - fairly common inland on Thassos but not common on the coast.
SONG THRUSH - Turdus philomelus (93,1) - a young, recently fledged bird was seen next to the path to the hide in Dadia Forest but missed from notes, hence incorrectly numbered.
MISTLE THRUSH - Turdus viscivorus (48,1) - several, Dadia Forest.
GREAT REED WARBLER - Acrocephalus arundinaceus (35,2) - seen at Porto Lagos and at Keramoti where apparently greatly reduced in numbers since 1995.
CETTI’S WARBLER - Cettia cetti (25,2) - fairly common around Keramoti but neither seen nor heard at Porto Lagos.
OLIVACEOUS WARBLER - Hippolais pallidus (14,6) - common and widespread.
COMMON WHITETHROAT - Sylvia communis (92,1) - a single bird in the scrubby area near the beach, south of Prinos port.
LESSER WHITETHROAT - Sylvia curruca (76,1) - a single female seen near the Silenos Supermarket on the edge of Limenas.
BLACKCAP - Sylvia atricapilla (81,1) - several near the chapel on the Ipsarion road.
SARDINIAN WARBLER - Sylvia melanocephala (15,5) - common and widespread in suitable habitat.
SUBALPINE WARBLER - Sylvia cantillans (80,1) - a male carrying food showed well at the small reservoir above Maries.
EASTERN BONELLI’S WARBLER - Phylloscopus orientalis (58,1) - several birds of this species were heard during our two days in the Dadia Forest, but it took a while to actually see one to confirm our expectations.
CHIFFCHAFF - Phylloscopus collybita (49,3) - seen and heard in the Dadia Forest and on Ipsarion.
FIRECREST - Regulus ignicappillus (84,1) - several near the chapel on the Ipsarion road.
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER - Muscicapa striata (102,6) - very common around Chrisi Ammoudia - so common, in fact that this species was omitted from our notes, but it was seen every day on Thassos.
BEARDED TIT - Panurus biarmicus (97,1) - several seen near the mouth of the Nestos River.
GREAT TIT - Parus major (4,7) - common and widespread.
BLUE TIT - Parus caeruleus (103,?) - first recorded from the area near the chapel above Maries, but not given a number, so presumably seen before that date.
SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER - Certhia brachydactyla (82,1) - a few in the area near the chapel above Maries.
RED-BACKED SHRIKE - Lanius collurio (10,4+) - seen in several places on Thassos and on the mainland. Not uncommon.
EURASIAN JAY - Garrulus glandarius (47,1) - Dadia Forest.
MAGPIE - Pica pica (32,3) - not seen on Thassos, but fairly common on the mainland.
HOODED CROW - Corvus corone cornix (72,1) - seen around Porto Lagos but surprisingly nowhere else.
JACKDAW - Corvus monedula (66,1) - another corvid only recorded at Porto Lagos.
RAVEN - Corvus corax (75,2) - several seen over the hills behind Chrisi Ammoudia.
STARLING - Sturnus vulgaris (43,1) - quite numerous around Agia Paraskevi on the mainland, but not seen elsewhere. A long search through the common Starlings for a Rose-coloured Starling proved fruitless.
SPANISH SPARROW - Passer hispaniolensis (78,1) - only seen around Agia Paraskevi where there were also plenty of House Sparrows.
HOUSE SPARROW - Passer domesticus (5,7) - very common.
CHAFFINCH - Fringilla coelebs (3,7) - common and widespread.
SERIN - Serinus serinus (8,6) - common and widespread, although often rather elusive. One or two pairs seemed to have territories in the grounds of Emerald Apartments.
GOLDFINCH - Carduelis carduelis (54,1) - several birds around the Dadia Ecolodge were the only Goldfinches we saw.
GREENFINCH - Carduelis chloris (46,2) - seen at the Dadia Ecolodge and around the chapel above Maries.
CORN BUNTING - Milaria calandra (68,2) - common at Porto Lagos and also seen in the scrubby area near the beach, south of Prinos port.
CIRL BUNTING - Emberiza cirlus (9,1) - only seen around Chrisi Ammoudia.
BLACK-HEADED BUNTING - Emberiza melanocephalus (60,2) - several in fields near Dadia village and also in the scrubby area near the beach, south of Prinos port.
CRETZSCHMAR’S BUNTING - Emberiza caesia (87,1) - several near the Rock Thrush site on the Ipsarion road.
We were quite pleased to record 103 species in one week, particularly given the 6 species that we had not seen before. Despite the disappointing morning session in the hide, the Dadia Forest is well worth a visit and we would recommend any birdwatchers visiting the area to spend some time on the mainland if they want to increase the number and variety of species seen. From our own evidence and from talking to the other birdwatchers we met, late April might be the right time to visit Thassos, to see the best of the spring migration. Maybe in 10 years time!
Chris Cameron - e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org - October 2004