Saturday, February 17, 2018

Birdwatching in Athens: Full day tour, Feb 8 2018.

Philip is an English birdwatcher who came to Athens in February and wanted to go birding along with his wife. They did not want to start very early so the pick up time was set at 08.30. The first destination of the trip was Schinias National Park and we first visited the Olympic Rowing Center where we saw a Red-crested Pochard, lots of Ferruginous Ducks and the Pygmy Cormorant that overwinters in the site. There were also lots of Shovelers, Common Pochards, grebes (Little, Black-necked and Great Crested) and hundreds of Coots.

Red-crested Pochard
We also saw Penduline Tits, lots of finches, pipits and wagtails and other passerines. 

Penduline Tit
We left the rowing center and drove through the central marsh, looking for Moustached Warblers. We managed to find two birds, along with lots of Cetti's Warblers and Reed Buntings. 

On our way back from Schinias, we looked for Chukar Partridges on Mt Penteli. We managed two find two flocks of these rather wary birds. 

Chukar Partridge
The total count was 53 species, seen and heard. Not bad at all, for a February tour! 

Philip, looking for Chukars on Mt Penteli


Red-crested Pochard
Common Pochard
Ferruginous Duck
Tufted Duck
Little Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Pygmy Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Great Egret
Marsh Harrier
Common Buzzard
Water Rail
Black-headed Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Collared Dove
Hooded Crow
Crested Lark
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Penduline Tit
Rock Nuthatch
Cetti's Warbler
Moustached Warbler
Zitting Cisticola
Sardinian Warbler
Black Redstart
Song Thrush
Meadow Pipit
Water Pipit
Reed Bunting
Cirl Bunting
House Sparrow
Tree Sparrow

Monday, February 12, 2018

Birdwatching in Athens: Half-day trip, Feb 4 2018

Jodelle and Dick came from Seattle, USA and had a half day to spend birding with Greece Bird Tours.

Schinias National Park was the place we decided to visit as it always “offers” many different species.
On the way to Schinias NP, we had a brief stop close to Rafina Port where a small stream flows in to the sea and a few species can be seen. Our first bird of the day (apart from the very common Magpie, Eurasian Collared  Dove and House Sparrow), was a White Wagtail, one of the many we saw that day.

A Kingfisher offered us very close views of its characteristic way of fishing and perching on a tree just a few meters from us. A flock of Chaffinches with some Goldfinches were concentrated in another tree nearby. Birds were keep coming and we had very good views of Little Egret, Black-headed Gull, Kestrel etc.

We left Rafina port behind and after another short stop to a bakery for taking some traditional Greek pies, we went straight to Schinias NP. It was clear from the beginning that small birds would . So, dozens of Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Serins, Corn Buntings, Meadow Pipits and a few Greenfinches were everywhere.In the small water pools we saw Eurasian Teals, Mallards and a lone Redshank.
White Wagtail

An impressive spectacle was two Eurasian Marsh Harriers flushing a flock of more than 65 Grey Herons!

Marsh Harrier
One of the highlights of the trip was an overwintering Black-winged Stilt; most likely the same bird we had last year in the area.

Our last stop was at the Olympic Rowing Center where we saw more new species for the day like Cormorant, Water Pipit, Crested Lark, Black-necked Grebe etc. The second highlight for the day was a Pygmy Cormorant, a species we rarely see so south in Greece.

Pygmy Cormorant
At the end, we had seen the impressive (for a half day tour) number of 51 species. Another great day of birding with Greece Bird Tours!


(Eurasian) Wigeon
(Eurasian) Teal
Little Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
Great Cormorant
Pygmy Cormorant
Little Egret
Grey Heron
(Western) Marsh Harrier
Common Buzzard
(Eurasian) Sparrowhawk
(Common) Kestrel
Black-winged Stilt
(Common) Redshank
Black-headed Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Collared Dove
Crested Lark
Meadow Pipit
Water Pipit
White Wagtail
(Winter) Wren
(European) Robin
Black Redstart
(Common) Stonechat
Song Thrush
(Common) Blackbird
Sardinian Warbler
Cetti's Warbler
(Common) Chiffchaf
Great Tit
(Eurasian) Jay
Hooded Crow
(Common) Starling
House Sparrow
(Eurasian) Tree Sparrow
(European) Goldfinch
(European) Greenfinch
(European) Serin
Cirl Bunting
Corn Bunting

Monday, January 15, 2018

Birdwatching in Athens: 1st Record of Northern Gannet in Oropos Lagoon!

The Northern Gannet is still a very rare bird in Greece as records are extremely few and confined to western Greece (mainly in the island of Corfu) and Crete.

Oropos Lagoon lies at South Evvoikos Gulf, a closed sea area that doesn't look like the ideal place for a Gannet.

Nevertheless, an adult bird was recorded fishing and being constanly mobbed by Yellow-legged Gulls on January 14, 2018. The bird showed up again on the 15th and birdwatchers from all over Athens are swarming to the lagoon to try their luck on this handsome bird!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Birdwatching in Greece: Birding in Kastoria, NW Greece

Kastoria is a very beautiful town in the region of Western Macedonia, in NW Greece. The adjacent lake holds large numbers of Pygmy Cormorants, Dalmatian Pelicans and lots of waterfowl in the winter, while the surrounding areas are very rich in birds and large mammals, including wolves and bears.

Teals and other ducks can be seen from a really close distance
Pygmy Cormorants are common residents 

Close to Kastoria, the Wallcreeper can be found in the winter

Monday, December 18, 2017

Birdwatching in Athens: Full day trip, November 9 2017

Bill Tweit is a veteran birder and eBird reviewer for the state of Washington in the United States.

He came to Greece with his wife Lucy and had a full day to spend birding with Greece Bird Tours.

We started just before dawn so as to find Scops Owls, a lifer; Lycabettus Hill is one of the best sites in Athens to see them and we did!

Next stop would be Mt Hymettus, where we enjoyed dozens of passerines (Chaffinches, Hawfinches, Siskins, Great, Blue and Coal Tits, Short-toed Treecreepers, Firecrests etc).


Short-toed Treecreeper

We drove north and reached Oropos Lagoon, where we found some 100 herons (Gray Heron, Little and Great Egret), lots of Pintails and Mallards, a couple of Great Flamingos, 9 Slender-billed Gulls, more than 100 Mediterranean Gulls and a nice collection of waders: Black-bellied, Kentish and Common Ringed Plovers, Sanderlings, Dunlins, Greenshanks and Redshanks. 
Passerines were also plentiful; Reed Buntings, Penduline Tits and Cetti's Warblers being the most widespread. 

Mediterranean Gull

Slender-blled Gull

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Leaving Oropos, we drove southeast in order to reach Schinias National Park. On the way, we found Sombre Tits, another lifer for Bill. 

Sombre Tit
Schinias was also full of birds, including a group of Barn Swallows and a single House Martin! 

Barn Swallows and House Martin (center)
Other interesting sightings included Ferruginous Ducks, a Garganey and Pygmy Cormorants. A distant Osprey was seen heading northeast, while lots of pipits, finches and buntings were all around.

Ferruginous Duck
At the end, we had seen the impressive number of 83 species. Another great day of birding with Greece Bird Tours!

Bill and Lucy@Oropos Lagoon

Mute Swan - Cygnus olor
Garganey - Spatula querquedula
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Northern Pintail - Anas acuta
Green-winged Teal - Anas crecca
Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Eared Grebe - Podiceps nigricollis
Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus roseus
Pygmy Cormorant - Microcarbo pygmeus
Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo
European Shag - Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Gray Heron - Ardea cinerea
Great Egret - Ardea alba
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
Eurasian Marsh-Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
Hen Harrier - Circus cyaneus
Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Eurasian Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Black-bellied Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus
Common Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula
Sanderling - Calidris alba
Dunlin - Calidris alpina
Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago
Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
Common Redshank - Tringa totanus
Slender-billed Gull - Chroicocephalus genei
Black-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Mediterranean Gull - Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Sandwich Tern - Thalasseus sandvicensis
Eurasian Collared-Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
European Scops-Owl - Otus scops
Little Owl - Athene noctua
Common Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis
Eurasian Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Eurasian Jay - Garrulus glandarius
Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Wood Lark - Lullula arborea
Eurasian Skylark - Alauda arvensis
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Common House-Martin - Delichon urbicum
Coal Tit - Periparus ater
Sombre Tit - Poecile lugubris
Eurasian Blue Tit - Cyanistes caeruleus
Great Tit - Parus major
Eurasian Penduline-Tit - Remiz pendulinus
Short-toed Treecreeper - Certhia brachydactyla
Eurasian Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes
Firecrest - Regulus ignicapilla
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Common Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Eurasian Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
Black Redstart - Phoenicurus ochruros
European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
Song Thrush - Turdus philomelos
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Dunnock - Prunella modularis
White Wagtail - Motacilla alba
Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis
Water Pipit - Anthus spinoletta
Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
Reed Bunting - Emberiza schoeniclus
Corn Bunting - Emberiza calandra
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
Hawfinch - Coccothraustes coccothraustes
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
Eurasian Linnet - Linaria cannabina
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
European Serin - Serinus serinus
Eurasian Siskin - Spinus spinus
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Birdwatching in Western Greece: Top 5 Reasons to visit Messolonghi in winter

The lagoon complex of Messolonghi in western Greece is one of the most important wetlands of Greece; it is a Ramsar site, a National Park and a Special Protection Area. Every season has many things to offer to birdwatchers, no matter their skill or experience.

Here's a list of the Top 5 birds that are found in Messolonghi in the winter.

5) Greater Flamingo

Messolonghi is, perhaps, the only place in Greece that you don't even need to leave the town to see Greater Flamingos right next to you, as groups of them can be seen at close range while driving the coast avenue of Messolonghi!

4) Slender-billed Gull 

Winter is the best period to see large numbers of this beautiful gull as it is very widespread and common. You can get very close views (and photos) and Messolonghi is the best practice field to see the differences between this and the Black-headed Gull.

3) Pygmy Cormorant 

A rather recent arrival at the area, the Pygmy Cormorant has become very common in just a few years; over 100 birds can be seen close to the town of Messolonghi, easily identified by their smaller size - compared to Great Cormorants -, the rather long tail and the dark brown plumage.

2) Dalmatian Pelican

1) Greater Sand Plover

Messolonghi has the privilege of hosting one or more Greater Sand Plover every winter. It is not very easy to find it as it blends in with the hundreds of Kentish Plovers but the constant birder will eventually find it.

There are, of course, many more reasons to visit Messolonghi: Spoonbills, Avocets, herons, waders, terns and gulls, waterfowl, raptors and lots of passerines will make a birding trip to Messolonghi a very memorable experience! Its proximity to Athens (less than 2.5 hours' drive) makes it ideal even for daily excursions.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Birding in Athens: Full day trip, Oct 10, 2017

Alexander Yates is an American writer and nature lover who has travelled around the world since his early childhood. He and his wife Terhi decided to spend a few days in Greece and see as many birds as possible around Athens.

As his experience on Balkan birds was rather limited, he had a long 'wish list' so the itinerary included as many different habitats and sites as possible.

We started before dawn and headed to Lycabettus Hill, dowtown Athens, to look for Scops Owls, one of Alex's lifers. We saw a couple of birds, along with Blackbirds, Robins and Alpine Swifts, in less than half an hour.

Leaving Lycabettus, we drove north and reached Oropos Lagoon, the most important brackish wetlands of the area. The first wintering gulls had arrived; Slender-billed, Mediterranean and Black-headed. Sandwich Terns were also present, along with lots of waders; Dunlins, Sanderlings, Kentish, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers included. Flamingos, lots of Egrets and ducks had also arrived. Passerines of interest included Sardinian Warblers and Penduline Tits. Migrants like Pallid Swifts and Red-rumped Swallows were still present, flying low enough to give us wonderful views.

Pallid Swift

Sardinian Warbler

Birding in Oropos Lagoon

Great Egrets and Flamingos in the background

We left Oropos and drove southeast towards Schinias National Park. We stopped on the way to look for Sombre Tits and we managed to see a couple of these low-profile birds.

Sombre Tit
Schinias National Park, the most important freshwater wetland of Athens, is the best place to see Ferruginous Ducks. More than 20 were seen, along with Garganeys, Shovelers, Common Pochards and a couple of Pygmy Cormorants, a rare bird in Athens. 

Pygmy Cormorants and Garganey

We left Schinias and drove back to Athens with a few stops at Rafina Stream, Artemis Lagoon and Spata Fields. We enjoyed very good views of Water Rails at Artemis Lagoon, while a Yellow-browed Warbler was briefly seen at Spata Fields.

Before going back to the hotel, we had a last stop at the Aesthetic Forest of Kaisariani where we saw Hawfinches, Coal and Blue Tits, Spotted and Red-breasted Flycatchers, Firecrests and Short-toed Treecreepers. 

A total of 89 birds were recorded on the trip. A full day indeed!


Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Garganey (Spatula querquedula)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmeus)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
Eurasian Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
European Scops-Owl (Otus scops)
Alpine Swift (Apus melba)
Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)
Coal Tit (Periparus ater)
Sombre Tit (Poecile lugubris)
Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit (Parus major)
Eurasian Penduline-Tit (Remiz pendulinus)
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Western Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer)
Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla)
Firecrest (Regulus ignicapilla)
Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti)
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)
Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)
Gray Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)
Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
Eurasian Linnet (Linaria cannabina)
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
European Serin (Serinus serinus)
Eurasian Siskin (Spinus spinus)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Birdwatching in Athens: Two day trip, October 4-5, 2017

Todd Katz is an American biologist who came to Greece for the first time and wanted to take the most of the Athenian birdlife. That's why he contacted us and asked for a two-day trip that would include most of the birding hot spots. 

We picked him up from the airport on October 4. We drove directly to Oropos Lagoon, Athens' most important brackish wetland. Birds seen there included Flamingoes, Mediterranean Shags, lots of Grey Herons, Great and Little Egrets, Kentish Plovers etc. We also saw Slender-billed and Mediterranean Gulls, along with Sandwich Terns. 

Our next stop was Schinias National Park. We reached it through the mountains of NE Athens, stopping on the way to look for the Sombre Tit, which we found close to the village of Grammatiko. 

Little Stint@Oropos Lagoon

Sombre Tit@Grammatiko

Reaching Schinias, we first visited the Olympic Rowing Center. The lakes were full of Coots but there were also a lot of Ferruginous Ducks, Garganeys and two Pygmy Cormorants. 

Ferruginous Duck@Schinias NP

Pygmy Cormorant, Garganeys and Coots@Schinias NP

Apart from the rowing center, we walked through the central marsh which is almost dry at this time of year but still interesting due to the number of passerines. 

After Schinias we headed back to Athens and called it a day as it was late afternoon. 

The next day, we drove to Cape Sounio, we first walked around the temple of Poseidon and found lots of Chukars, a Hobby, a Turtle Dove, Tree Pipits, Blue Rock Thrushes and Alpine Swifts, among others. A single Scopoli's Shearwater was spotted off coast, along with Yellow-legged Gulls and Shags. 



Next stop was the small Artemis Lagoon. We had very good views of Water Rails, a Black-tailed Godwit. 

Black-tailed Godwit@Artemis Lagoon

It was time to look for woodland dwellers. We drove to Athens and stopped at the Aesthetic Forest of Kaisariani, on Mt Hymettus. There we found several warblers, flycatchers, tits, robins and blackbirds, and Short-toed Treecreepers. 

Short-toed Treecreeper@Mt Hymettus

On our way to the hotel, we stopped at Lycabettus Hill, where we saw some late departing Barn Swallows, and the small stream of Pikrodafni, where we found Grey Wagtails and Rose-ringed Parakeets, both target species of Todd. 

Two days of intense birding were over. We managed to find some 78 species overall, 65 of which were new to Todd. A very productive trip indeed! 

Todd scanning the coast for shearwaters


Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Garganey Anas querquedula
Green-winged Teal Anas crecca
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca
Chukar Alectoris chukar
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
Scopoli's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmeus
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Great Egret Ardea alba
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Coot Fulica atra
Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Sanderling Calidris alba
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Little Stint Calidris minuta
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Little Owl Athene noctua
Alpine Swift Apus melba
Common Swift Apus apus
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Hobby Falco subbuteo
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio
Jay Garrulus glandarius
Magpie Pica pica
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix
Crested Lark Galerida cristata
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Sombre Tit Parus lugubris
Great Tit Parus major
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus
Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Blackbird Turdus merula
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri

Related Posts with Thumbnails