Crete Birding

DECEMBER 2008

30th December

One photo added in the Crete Naturale gallery. Three Cattle Egrets seen yesterday just East of Kissamos.

 

                               

23rd December

Lots of snow now seen on the White Mountains following the abated storms, the local beach road is covered in debris washed ashore. With the largest waves washing over the road at night we can only bring you pictures from yesterday afternoon.

 

                  

   The port of Kissamos hidden in the surf, across the bay can be seen Rodopou peninsula

                  

                                 Yellow-legged Gulls swoop over the surf at Kaliviani

 

20th December

We set off to find the Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis at 9am, we eventually found them after a lot of hunting at 12noon. We managed photos as well, two of which are published in the Birds gallery  along with one of a male Tree Sparrow Passer  montanus. We found a nice sized flock of these in with Italian and House Sparrow.

19th December

We sight two Pelican flying east along the coast near Daratsos, possibly the Souda pair. Plus our best sightings of Cattle Egret....Three birds feeding in fields between Gerani and Maleme after we were detoured from the main road due to major road reconstruction. No pictures today as we went on a shopping trip prior to Christmas and left our cameras at home !!! Hopefully they will be around tomorrow and we may get some pictures to publish in the gallery.

Welcome to Viviene our latest new site member.

17th December

Three new pictures of Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis added in Bird Gallery

 

 

16th December

Our first Crete sighting of a Merlin ...Falco columbarius , as one passes within four metres of us whilst we have our breakfast on the balcony overlooking Kissamos Bay. Our Crete species list now 204.

The Red-breasted Merganser is still present near Kissamos. 

 

15th December

Androcymbium rechingeri........The endemic plant found in only three locations on Crete is now in flower at Falasarna.

12th December

Red-breasted Merganser.. Mergus serrator....Σκουφοπρίστης near Kissamos, new photo added in  birds gallery.  Sandwich Tern... Sterna sandvicensis... Χειμωνογλάρονο also added.

 9th December

We visited Lake Agia yesterday...no Bluethroat, but we did at last get to see the elusive     Moustached Warbler.

                         

On route we find the Greater Sand Plover in a slightly different location and east from Kissamos we spot seven Golden Plover.

 

We found the first Anemone coronaria flowering on the 5th, a little later than previous years [27-11-2007..... 29-11-2006 ] 

               

A small amount of  snow was again seen on the Lefki Ori [White Mountains] previous years have seen some larger amounts in the middle of November !

Today.... six species of raptor over the house.

6th December 

New photos have been added to our India trip report from 2007 on http://www.cretewww.com/world/index.htm more may be added at a later date. 

 

4th December

With force 10 beaufort winds from the south today we had given up on birding until a text from Alan and Margaret told of two Pelicans at Agia Lake, we picked up Bob and Dawn found the pelicans and the Bluethroat was still present and showing well. We left as darkness fell and had the great sight of our first Cattle Egret on Crete as it came in to roost .... 202 species to date.

What looked like a bad day for birding gave us a count of 40 species by nightfall with most of those in the last two hours of daylight.

 

 1st December

Our November diary is now online at http://www.cretewww.com/

 

NOVEMBER 2008

29th November

Twelve new pictures added today in "Us and Home", "Garden", "Butterflies and Moths" and archaeology

28th November

Bluethroat ....Luscinia svecica.... Γαλαζολαίμης    giving good views at Lake Agia yesterday and today, thanks to Harry and Pam for the news on this supurb little bird, photo's now added in Birds of Crete gallery. This is another first for us on Crete taking our species list to 201.

23rd November

Eleven bird, eighteen insect and three reptile pictures added today.

22nd November

Our newest find a Cat Snake Telescopus fallax. Seven photos added to the reptile gallery and another picture in 'us n Home' of storm.

20th November

Twenty three pictures added tonight in "Crete Naturale", "Raptors", "Flowers" and "From the Sea"

13th November

We are very busy trying to get our olives harvested before it rains. With no real birding done we were happy to get good sightings yesterday of a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle and a Short-toed Eagle that landed nearby and again today of an adult Bonelli's Eagle ....all before breakfast too !! Then it was down to work, so far ten trees done, should have another twenty eight to do but due to the long dry months some have little fruit and are not worth working on , hopefully we will have the rest that are good done before the forecast rain arrives on Saturday.

11th November

Our Antikythera Gallery is now complete another twentynine pictures added tonight.

We can confirm that the two Pelicans at Souda Bay are still present. 

10th November

Another twenty eight photos have been entered in the Antikythera gallery. Not much birding today, the weather has turned a little cooler and with some wind and rain the smaller birds have taken to cover. We will be starting our olive harvest tomorrow which will take a week of hard work [dawn to dusk hard labour] ... but as those of you that have tasted our olive oil know, its well worth the effort.

9th November

Thirty six pictures added in the Antikythera gallery with, twenty plus.... Eleonora's Falcon photo's.

6th November

Nine new pictures added tonight in the Antikythera Gallery. Black Stork and Water Rail, three pictures in Birds of Crete Gallery.

No sign of the Greater Sand Plover today.

5th November

"Our Crete Bird List" now completed. Another bird picture in the "Crete Bird Gallery"  White Pelican. 

Today we add another bird to our species list ...Water Pipit, bringing our total to 200 species

We miss our target birds today, Greater Sand Plover and Pelican, but get Lapwing and Black Stork instead.

3rd November

Greater Sand Plover still present. "Our Crete Bird List" now nearly complete a couple more nights should see it finished.

2nd November

Greater Sand Plover......present again and visible from our house. Is this the same bird as last year? it is feeding in exactly the same place and has arrived ten days earlier than its arrival date last November 12th 

        

 02-11-08 at 1210hrs near Kissamos

 We are almost complete with Our Crete Bird List only another 79 to go.

 

1st November 2008

The first 55 pictures added to our new Antikythera Gallery with many more to come. Our trip report and species list is now online at http://www.crete.www.com/ 

 

OCTOBER 2008

31st October

At long last we have internet connection again and are looking to upload some of our Antikythera photos over this coming Saturday and Sunday. Plus new photo of Great Egret in the Birds of Crete Gallery.

2nd October

COMING VERY SOON .....new gallery of birds seen during our three weeks on the nearby island of Antikythera, where we volunteered with the HOS on their Raptor Migration Count.

Initially we had planned a two week stint but stayed on for three, returning home to Kaliviani late this evening. A trip report will be published on http://www.cretewww.com/ in the near future. Our September diary was submitted this evening and should also be online with Roy and Raye soon.

 

SEPTEMBER 2008

22nd September

Updated galleries........Butterflies and Moths 39 new photos. Other Insects 2 new photos. 705 pictures now in the galleries. 

20th September

Updated galleries with new photos in......... Birds 9, Us n Home 1, Insects 14, From the Sea 5, Mammals 1, Reptiles 4.

14th September

Three new insects added to INSECT GALLERY

12th September

On a trip to Elafonisi we catch another sighting of a Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii  brilliant close up views of a single bird along with four Turnstone Arenaria interpres

           

8th September

Following an invite from ISKA at Kissamos and Archelon  http://www.archelon.gr/index_eng.php  we watched a Loggerhead Turtle Caretta caretta nest site being surveyed and cleared. One baby turtle was still present and we followed its progress to the sea . A picture is in the reptile gallery along with a short report.

 4th September

Updated galleries......

Birds of Crete 26 new pictures.....Insects 7...Butterflies and Moths 13, Flowers of Crete 8, Our garden 3.

Birds of Crete Gallery  now has three pages. Total number of photos in the galleries now 547

New Gallery  WHITE STORK  Ciconia ciconia   with 80 photos added

3rd September

On the evening of 31st August, friends Terry and Paula [non birders] informed us of a couple of white and black birds at the army camp at Malaeme. With their description and after consulting our books with them we concluded they were WHITE STORK Ciconia ciconia. It was too late that evening to check this out so we set off at 0630 next morning in the hope they were still there. After our half hour journey we arrived to a fantastic sight. Initially we found 8, but over the day these increased to 22, with a further 5 at Kolymbari. We managed to get hold of Bob and Andy, it was pleasing that they also got to see them. We believe that after letting Roy know in UK, he contacted Nikos Samaritakis in Chania, who also supplies pictures for http://www.cretewww.com/ who thankfully, also got to see them, via our long link.

Over the next few days more were sighted with reports of 120 seen near Heraklion on the 2nd. We have not seen this species here before and were delighted when on the evening of the 2nd,  94 birds flew in and landed a few hundred metres from our house. They stayed in the fields overnight and we were awake to the sun rising on the 3rd to find them still present and we watched and managed some fantastic views and pictures before they all rose into the skies at 1056am and minutes later after spiralling onto the air disappeared over the ridges southeast, to continue on their migration to Africa. A few photos can be seen below and we think as we have a lot of other reasonable shots we will do a seperate gallery soon on this species alone.

 

              

  Ciconia ciconia...... in the fields near Balos Beach Hotel , Gramvousa peninsula. 03-09-08

                

                     Ciconia ciconia......Flying into the old airfield at Malaeme. 01-09-08         

               

              Ciconia ciconia...... in the fields near Balos Beach Hotel , Gramvousa peninsula.

                      The small chapel above our house can be seen in the background.

                                    At rest having just arrived at 1855. 02-09-08

               

            Ciconia ciconia...... in the fields near Balos Beach Hotel , Gramvousa peninsula.

                Flying in from an adjacent field just prior to their departure. 03-09-08

            

              Ciconia ciconia...... in the fields near Balos Beach Hotel , Gramvousa peninsula.

                                           Shortly after arriving at 1855. 02-09-08

                

 

                Ciconia ciconia...... in the fields near Balos Beach Hotel , Gramvousa peninsula.

                                       Shortly after arriving at 1855. 02-09-08

 

AUGUST 2008

26th August

Well the fire is almost out, still one or two small areas where flames can be seen and areas where smoke is still coming from as you could see from yesterdays pictures this was one big blaze. The following is an extract from Ekathimerini news.

"Twelve firemen manning five fire engines were yesterday battling to extinguish a large blaze that broke out at a wood processing factory in Kissamos, northwestern Crete. It was unclear what provoked the blaze which did not cause any injuries"

Hard to believe that  was the total number of personnel available to fight a fire of this magnitude.

25th August

We awoke to the smell of smoke this morning, checking that all was OK near the house we spotted a column of black smoke rising a few thousand feet into the sky. The Varxil furniture factory and wood store was on fire.

It has now been burning for over twelve hours as the fire service protected the houses around the factory, which itself was seemingly allowed to burn. There was no way we think that anyone could get inside. From our house [one kilomtere away] the inside looked an inferno and we watched as the fire spread from left to right in four hours. We saw the whole building totally ingulfed and the building is now reduced to a pile of twisted metal and crumbling concrete. The largest employer in the area ,Varxil employed about 150 personel.                                              

The column of smoke rises high into the sky, luckily the predicted force 5/6 B winds did not materialise.  The fire is just starting to take hold of the larger part of the factory.[0830hrs]

 

              

The building stretches from the left to the right of the picture , there is a low unit attached to the right hand large building which also burnt down. [1000hrs]                                                                       

                

The fire at its most fierce in the larger part of the factory, whilst to the left a low building still burns and will continue to do so, still seen burning  after 7pm                                                        

                

                                       The main unit is now well alight at 1130am

               

Over twenty four hours later the twisted roof  and the smoke covered walls are all that remains of the factory, the wind has picked up and from the west the fire has taken hold again [8pm]

                

The fire started at this northern end. Where the flames can be seen has been burning fiercely all day, whatever is stored here looks as if it may burn for some time. [8pm] 

 

              

 Its now dark and several areas can still be seen burning, the area to the left is where the fire broke out, what looks like lights in the windows to the right is the glow from the flames inside, this blaze looks to continue for some time.  

23rd August

Thirteen new pictures added in three galleries, 8 Crete Naturale/3 Reptiles/1 mammals and 1 Archaeological.  Antikythera autumn migration and ringing now underway blogg up and running see.... www.ornithologiki.gr/en/osa/   

Don't not forget to see our latest wildlife diaries on http://www.cretewww.com/ now with 2500 photos on site.

Another set of pictures will be added next weekend . To date 476 pictures in twelve galleries

Have a good week .... Colin and Sue

17th August

               In the early hours of this morning a partial lunar eclipse took place.

             Visible from Crete we stayed awake to get a picture, taken at 0130hrs. 

             

                

                         To compare....a picture of tonight's full moon at 2315hrs.

            

            A Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia reginae   flower opened in our garden today.

                            

                             This plant has got four buds on, the most we have had.

 

Report from Angelos at Antikythera bird observatory that ten Honey Buzzard were seen yesterday heading our way, some warblers and Hoopoe also seen.

Antikythera is within sight of Crete and a two hour ferry trip away.

The observatory see's  the start of the raptor count on the 20th and bird ringing starts on the 26th, see their blogg starting next week, http://www.ornithologiki.gr/en/osa/ 

 We now have 465 photos published on site.

16th August

Ten new pictures on raptor gallery ....4 Eleonora's Falcon,1 Egyptian Vulture, 2 Marsh harrier , 1 Honey Buzzard, 1 Lesser Spotted Eagle and 1 Common Buzzard.

8th August

Migration is definately underway with the first Hoopoe seen for some time arriving in our olive grove.

 

JULY 2008

 29th July

Site updated with two new galleries ....Flowers of our Garden and Raptors.

Lots of photos added  to other galleries tonight. 444 pictures now onsite

28th July

We were hoping to add two new galleries today. Unfortunately due to problems yesterday we had no internet service and today this site will not let us add any photos . We have 70+ pictures pending and the new galleries "Flowers in our Garden", and "Raptors ". We are going to break the Birds of Crete Gallery into smaller bird sections as this one gallery is getting to large.

So please bear with us and hopefully the problem will be rectified soon.

On the Bird front our friend Bob kindly called us to tell us there were a few hundred waders that he could not identify. Not having seen any waders for a while.....usually they over winter or migrate through ... we tore off through Kissamos to see what these birds were. On arrival we found Bob watching about 350+ Wood Sandpipers. We know of no large influx of any waders in the month of July and this is certainly the most we have seen of this species. A marvelous spot by Bob and our thanks to him for informing us.

Having checked our diary for July 07 we found that on the 31st there were 20+ Green Sandpipers at Agia Lake.

20th July

Today we have had a hill fire to the south of us, with a helicopter passing close by a number of times with large bucket for scooping seawater slung underneath. Lucky for us the wind was fom the north and after a couple of hours then fire was extinguished.

                    

The fire service eventually left the area at about 9pm.

We have  uploaded numerous photos into some of the galleries.

The first grapes on our vine are ripening , our first decent crop  off our four year old vine.
Temperatures still hover around 30oC

 

16th July

We have today added a guest book. Also at the bottom of the "home" page are  "send to a friend", "bookmark" and "subscribe to my site"  boxes.

We will update the Picture Gallery every Monday.

14th July

Today we managed to rid the site of advertising. We have also added more photos.  Look out for more additions tomorrow.

11th July

More photos added from our trip to the White Mountains yesterday, 4 birds, 10 crete naturale, 1 insect, and a new photo gallery coming soon with archaeology.

7th July

We will be trying to add photos over the next few days , however due to the speed our service provider.....OTE GREECE.....is giving us [about as slow as a snail trying to go through the eye of a needle] we are you experiencing great difficulties, so please bear with us.

Temperatures are also due to climb, today was 33oC, tomorrow 38oC is predicted, but we have a nice breeze giving us a little respite, and the fan at night helps. Power cuts are also predicted due to the mass turning on of thousands of air conditioner units.

 

JUNE 2008

 

30th June

As June comes to a close we add several more new pictures to most of the galleries, 32 new photos in all, mostly insects but seven new birds and some nice butterflies. We would have had a new mammal to add tonight, a Badger, was first heard having a fight with something that we could not see in the dark, it then appeared metres in front of the house. By the time we had the camera  it had gone. Labelling still has to be done on the species added tonight.

Look out for lots more bird pictures over the next few days.

23rd June

A new flower , eight insects and a moth added and some of the entries of 22nd are named

22nd June

 

 

Fifty eight photos added today. Lots of flowers, insects, a reptile,a few pictures in Crete Naturale. We have not been able to label any due to the slow speed from our service provider, but hope to do so over the next few days.  

10th June

Some new photos in ,..... Insects, Us n Home , Buttterflies and Moths, Crete Naturale. Darren here on holiday. Very quiet birding with migration just about over, Insect spotting has taken over.

3rd June

Updates on the galleries ...more pictures in most galleries plus some flowers now identified.

 

 

MAY 2008

31st May 2008....... The fuel crisis continues.

29th May

The thermometer touched 32.2oC today and that was at 0945 as we walked Mia along the beach road on the way back from taking a car to put on the ferry to Antikythera. A quiet day for most of the wildlife no reptiles seen today but lots of Great Tit young visiting our two little artificial pools. No raptors apart from the resident breeding Common Buzzard and along the beach earlier in the day an Eleonora's Falcon.

Last night we had a lovely Barn Owl sat 15 metres away on our boundary fence, where only hours earlier were sat 6 Bee-eaters and later Mia disturbed a Badger as it foraged near the olive trees.

27th May

Intermittent internet has left us with a few days of no updates but then nothing much has been happening.

Today we have seen Bee-eaters on the fence behind our small flower garden. Closest views yet ...perched just 15 metres away and swooping over our heads coming within 2 metres. The sun straight in our faces making it near impossible to get that good shot,a little editing and we can share with you.

Mia had a set to with a Balkan Whip snake which reared up in front of her in the olive grove, she dislikes snakes so backed off and the snake set of in the opposite direction, towards the house ! thankfully these metre long snakes are not poisonous but will bite. 

With hot weather expected, temps in the 30s tomorrow  we will possibly see more as they like to bask in the sun.

A few more photos entered in the galleries. moths, birds, insects and views.

21st May

We finished getting our olive grove ready for the watering system to be laid, all the spring grass is cut , the suckers on the olive trees pruned, all is ready for our local shepherd Yannis to take away for his sheep.

Updates on this web ...a new picture folder... "Us and Home".  New pics on Crete Naturale, Mammals, Birds and Flowers.

20 th May

A trip to Lake Agia, we found it very quiet a few Squacco Heron, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Little Bittern,  3 Little Egret and  4 Little crake amongst the usual species.

In the afternoon we sat having coffee on the front balcony at home when we noticed a disturbance in the undergrowth. We were then treated to an amazing sight as two Balkan Whip Snakes emerged and started mating on the gravel right in front of us, an awesome display as they danced and entwined several times before breaking off and heading in opposite directions back into cover. Three photographs are in the Reptile gallery.

18th May 

A very hot day today, we spent sometime watching two baby Great Tits as they bathed and watched their reflections in one of the artifical pools we have set up around the place.

            

We spent  the rest of the day photographing insects and butterflies, birding was very quiet.

 

17th May 

Lammergeier today with a six minute sighting, we saw the same immature bird we last saw on the 9th [see photo in birds gallery]. 16 griffon Vultures soar overhead  and a rarity for this area of Crete 6 Jackdaw.

Temperatures are on the up..... 26oC today with 32oC for the next few days and winds from the south bringing sand from Lybia.

16th May

We never did get our trip out so stayed home and along with some work we spotted no less than ten different species of raptor.

A distant sat Aquilla, 1 Marsh Harrier, 4 Red-footed Falcon, 2 Buzzard, 1 pale morph Booted Eagle, 6 Griffon Vulture, 1 Bonelli's Eagle, 2 Kestrel, 1 Eleonora's Falcon,1 imm. +1 ad. Peregrine Falcon.

Not a bad days birding from home we also saw Golden Oriole flitting from tree to tree nearby with their lovely flutey call. A total of thirty bird species . A Balkan Green Lizard and a Balkan Whip Snake.

15th May

The fuel crisis is at an end and as deliveries start to trickle into the garages we start to plan our next trips.Tomorrow its off to the lake at Agia then if we manage to refill the car we wil take a trip up to Kalergi Hut refuge near Omalos to see if we can see Lammergeier.

14th May 2008

You know when you wake on one of those cold winter mornings after a heavy night of snowfall, no traffic can get about, no cars are to be seen on the streets, the silence is complete, well its like that except with the sunshine.

Yesterday we saw a young lad out on his moped, arrive at a recently dumped car near the beach, in his desperation for fuel he severed the cars fuel line in his quest to keep his bike running, whether he managed to obtain anything is anyone's guess.

What little fuel we have in our car is saved for any emergency that may arise. So its getting on with the jobs around the house and birding from home .

Bird wise there is not too much about, Marsh Harriers are to be seen daily as they hunt in the fields two hundred metres away from the house, they are always a delight to watch as they swoop down into the long grass. A few days ago the farmers had started to get the grasses cut but rain has put a stop to that [and the fuel shortage] so the Harriers still have their hunting grounds for the time being. 

11th May 2008

Three female Marsh harriers hunting in the grass fields 200 metres from our house. Brilliant views as they floated effortlessly metres above the grass dropping down to take food and occasional rest.

Any trips out will have to be suspended due to a fuel truck drivers strike. Crete petrol stations are out of fuel so we are doing local walks only until further notice.