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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Yialova, Western Peloponnese, 16-30 September 2007,
In need of a relaxing mixture of beaching and birding, we spent the last two weeks of September in the delightful village of Yialova, just north of Pylos. This has the twin attractions of the beautiful horseshoe-shaped beach of Voidokilia a few kilometres up the coast and the wetland nature reserve of Divari Pilou lagoon on the way to the beach. Having visited the resort in late spring 2002 and seen a good variety of birds during our walks to and from the beach, we were interested to see what it was like in autumn. There are three hides in the reserve, one relatively near Yialova, one close to Voidokilia and an observation tower in the centre.
Little Egret from first hide
After arriving at Yialova in time for lunch we walked as far as the first hide to see what was about. On the way we saw a couple of Common Buzzards circling overhead. The hide windows overlook a mixture of ponds, islands and bushes which are a haven for waterbirds. We saw Little and Great White Egrets, Grey Herons, Little Ringed Plovers and a Curlew Sandpiper. A Crested Lark was the first of many seen during the trip. Kingfishers were also very noticeable, and proved to be widespread for the whole fortnight.
The pattern for the trip was set with a walk along the coast road to Voidokilia. From breakfast time there was a notable passage of Swallows and Sand Martins heading south down the coast. This continued intermittently throughout our stay. Birds in the bushes during our walk included Stonechat, Fan-tailed Warbler, White Wagtail, Sardinian Warbler and Willow Warbler. Nearer Voidokilia the lagoon is mainly open water, and a small flock of Greater Flamingos could be seen feeding on the far side, rather distant from where we were. On our return in the afternoon a few Northern Wheatears could be seen feeding in fields where cattle were grazing.
This morning’s walk produced our first Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher and Common Sandpiper as the area’s attraction for migrants became increasingly evident. Near the first hide we had good views of a Lesser Grey Shrike, which stayed for three days before moving on and further on there was a juvenile Red-backed Shrike. There are cliffs near the beach topped by the ruins of a castle. This area is good for birds and we saw Sparrowhawk, Ravens and Blue Rock Thrushes here today
The only new birds for the trip today were a Grey Wagtail at the mouth of a little stream and a Spotted Redshank in one of the brackish pools off the main lagoon.
Today we decided to take the meandering path through the lagoon, taking in the tower hide. Many waders were feeding along the edge of the main water, including Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Little Stint, Ringed Plover and Redshank. From up in the tower we looked down on Water Rails occasionally scurrying between reed thickets and then saw both Hobby and Osprey hunting, the latter making a successful plunge and catch. In a drier area nearer to Voidokilia we found a small group of Kentish Plovers.
From the first hide we saw several waders this morning including our first Ruff of the trip. In the bushes past the hide feeding birds included Blackcaps and Cetti’s Warblers, the latter as usual much easier to hear than see. On our return journey a Lesser Whitethroat had joined the feeders while a single Red-rumped Swallow could be seen in the hirundine passage.
Today for a change we walked inland following a Sunflower Guide route to a waterfall (dry at this time of year but still worth getting to). As we were enjoying the peace of the glade we suddenly saw what turned out to be the bird of the trip, an Eagle Owl that perched on a branch at the top of the clearing and gave prolonged views before flying off. On our way back down to the coast a Peregrine flew over while in the evening we saw a couple of Little Owls on the roofs in the village.
We were back to beaching today, seeing a Curlew at the first hide and a Western Rock Nuthatch on a bush below the cliffs. In the afternoon three Pintail were swimming in front of the first hide, forerunners of the huge numbers of waterbirds that apparently gather in winter.
For a bit of variety to today we walked to the beach by the track on the inland side of the lagoon. Some agricultural fields held a number of Yellow Wagtails, which were abundant all day. A bird that flew up from the reeds on to a wire proved to be a Penduline Tit. Several Wigeon were on the water in the afternoon, when two Ospreys flew overhead. A juvenile Sanderling was on the beach near Yialova.
On our walk up the coast this morning we flushed a Hen Harrier which then flew directly out to sea. Continuing this theme, we saw two female Marsh Harriers over the lagoon when we came back in the afternoon.
We again took the path through the lagoon this morning, adding Wood Sandpiper and Grey Plover to the list of waders seen, while from the tower we could see no fewer than four Marsh Harriers (3F,1M) circling and hunting.
The only new bird seen today was a Corn Bunting calling from bushes near the first hide. This was a species that had been very abundant on our previous trip and we had been surprised not to see any until now.
We decided to take a final trip through the lagoon today and added Marsh Sandpiper to the wader list. We were also able to get close enough to the Greater Flamingos to count them properly, the total being seventy-one.
Greater Flamingos feeding
The only new species we added on our last two days was Robin, which brought our trip list to seventy-seven. There were several species that we had seen in 2002 which were not noted this time, for example the Black-winged Stilts that had been nesting in front of the hide window, and this area clearly rewards visiting at different times of the year.
John and Jo Tallon, 2007