Crete Birding

22-29th October George Watola, UK

This was a very late autumn holiday to Kato Gouves in Crete for a sunshine break. Kato Gouves is a few miles to the east of the capital, Iraklio (Heraklion). We stayed in the all-inclusive family-run Kalia Beach hotel (very good) by the seaside, during the last week it was open. Bird-wise it was rather quiet, Eleanora’s Falcon being the best bird locally (200 pairs nest on the nearby island of Nissos Dia a few miles offshore). Sardinian Warbler was ubiquitous, found in any scrubby area or patch of vegetation, no matter how small. Black Redstart and Stonechat were the other common urban birds, along with Buzzard.

 

The nearest birding hotspot was the Aposelemis River, about a mile east of where we stayed. I couldn’t find the Gouves lagoon, nor the Creta Sun Hotel it is located near. I walked to the river several times. Crested Lark was common on the saltpans. The best bird was a very late Black-eared Wheatear; a Little Crake I found predated not really counting. Kingfisher was seen every time, and were also often along the seashore. A Grey Heron took a Balkan Whip Snake on one visit. Striped-necked Terrapin were in the river and pools. Dragonflies such as Broad Scarlet, Violet Dropwing and Lesser Emperor were present, and a few butterflies (Swallowtail, Plain Tiger, Mallow Skipper, Eastern Bath White) feeding on a common late-flowering shrubby yellow daisy (Stinking Inula).

 

We also did a couple of bus tours in the local area. Visiting a pottery up in the hills at Anopolis I saw four Booted Eagles soaring above a ridge. Two Woodlark were also found here. East of Malia, we went past the monastery of St George Selanaris, in a deep gorge. Griffon Vultures were easily seen here above the cliffs. On Spinalonga, an island off Elounda, a Blue Rock Thrush perched on a boulder while we had our guided walk around this former leper island. This tour was very good, with a swim in the sea off Kolkitha and a bbq also included. An Audouin’s Gull visited the boat, along with numerous fish, to feed on scraps. 42 species in a week, a relaxing holiday in the sunshine, and still warm enough to go swimming in the sea!

 

Feral Pigeon                    Gouves                  23-Oct

Collared Dove                 Gouves                  23-Oct

Stonechat                       Gouves                  23-Oct

Hooded Crow                  Gouves                  23-Oct

Sardinian Warbler          Gouves                  23-Oct

Great Tit                          Gouves                  23-Oct

Yellow-legged Gull        Gouves                  23-Oct

Eleanora's Falcon          Gouves                  23-Oct

House Sparrow              Gouves                  23-Oct

Starling                           Gouves                  23-Oct

Grey Heron                      Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Little Egret                       Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Buzzard                            Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Swallow                            Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Black-eared Wheatear   Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Chiffchaff                          Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Blackbird                           Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Crested Lark                     Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Redshank                           Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Snipe                                  Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Moorhen                             Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Coot                                    Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Goldfinch                            Aposemelis River           23-Oct

White Wagtail                    Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Kingfisher                            Aposemelis River           23-Oct

Great Black-backed Gull    Gouves                  24-Oct

Greenfinch                            Gouves                  24-Oct

Chaffinch                              Gouves                  24-Oct

Black Redstart                     Gouves                  24-Oct

Kestrel                                  Gouves                  24-Oct

Booted Eagle                       Anopolis                 24-Oct

Woodlark                              Anopolis                24-Oct

Linnet                                    Gouves                25-Oct

Blackcap                               Gouves                 25-Oct

Mallard                                  Aposemelis River   25-Oct

Sparrowhawk                       Iraklios                 26-Oct

Raven                                    Iraklios                 26-Oct

Griffon Vulture                     Selenari Gorge      27-Oct

Shag                                      Spinalonga            27-Oct

Blue Rock Thrush                 Spinalonga            27-Oct

Audouin's Gull                       Kolokitha              27-Oct

Black-headed Gull                Agios Nikolas        27-Oct

 

Butterflies

 

Swallowtail

Large White

Small White

Eastern Bath White

Plain Tiger

Clouded Yellow

Long-tailed Blue

Common Blue

Mallow Skipper

Brown Argus

Red Admiral

Painted Lady

 

Dragonflies

 

Small Bluetail

Lesser Emperor

Emperor

Red-veined Darter

Broad Scarlet

Violet Dropwing

 

Ocellated Skink

Balkan Whip Snake

Striped-necked Terrapin

 

Cheers

George

27/10- 03/11/2013 Bo Eriksson, Sweden

28.10

Agia Lake,  Marsh Harrier 1 female

Georgioupoli Dam , Ferruginous Duck 1 male

 

29.10

Georgioupoli Dam, Pygmy Cormorant 1, Ferruginous Duck 2 males

Armeni  (S Rethimno)  Short-toed Eagle 1

Kourtikalioti Gorge (S. Koxare)

Griffon Vulture >= 5 , Crag Martin 2

Moronis. Common Sandpiper 1, Little Ringed Plover 1 juv

 

30.10

Agia Lake. Mute Swan 1 male, Ferruginous Duck 8 (4 males), Spotted Eagle 1

Samarias Gorge entrance

Chough (?) 30-40 circling higher and higher, all of them with Yellow beaks (not so long), sound more like Chough than Alpine Chough (as described in the book) New to me! Do you think it could have been Choughs? {Bo, Alpine Chough are present in Crete its a possibility ....Colin} Crag Martin 5-10

 

31.10

Agia Lake. Ferruginous Ducks, Pochard 2 males, Tufted Duck 1 pair, Pintail 1 female, Spotted Eagle 1

Falassarna. Kingfisher 1

Agia Lake, Gadwall 1 male

 

1.11

Moronis. Great white Egret 1, Little Egret 1, Little Ringed Plover 1 juv, Redshank 1

Kingfisher 1

Georgioupoli Dam. Pygmy Cormorant 1

Frangokaselli. Starling 6

2.11

Moronis

Great white Egret 1

Little Egret 1

Grey Heron 1

Greenshank 1 (on my photo the beak is to thick to be a Marsh sandpiper but it had no ”tju-tju-tju” sound as they usually have) Little Ringed Plover 1 juv

Kourtikalioti Gorge. Griffon Vulture >= 5, Raven 1

Georgioupoli Dam. Pygmy Cormorant 1

 

3.11

Moronis. Little Egret 1, Grey Heron 1

Greenshank 1 (on my photo the beak is to thick to be a Marsh sandpiper but it had no ”tju-tju-tju” sound as they usually have, but it hadn’t  the neat “cap” that marsh sandpiper have in winter) Little Ringed Plover 1 juv, Kingfisher 1      Common Snipe 2, Common sandpiper 1, Redshank 1, Little Ringed Plover 1 juv