Crete Birding

December 2007

The following listed birds were seen daily throughout October and are not listed in the daily reports: Hooded Crow…. Italian Sparrow……Buzzard,

Collared Dove…. Rock Dove…..Crested Lark

Stonechat…….Goldfinch…….Sardinian Warbler,

Raven……Yellow-legged Gull……Great Tit,

Chaffinch….. Greenfinch………Robin. Also our resident bats.

On the 4th we found that the Greater Sand Plover was still in the vicinity although we have searched hard amongst the rocks since then we had not seen it since the 18th November, so it was a nice surprise as it could not have chosen a worse spot along this coast to stay due to the few who hunt only this area. Also 3 Golden Plover present on the 3rd.

Several late migrating Honey Buzzard.

A Hen Harrier on the 6th/8th/ 12th/27th and 29th.

Another rarity for Crete turned up on the 10th  …. common to others but a nice sighting for here a  f. Shelduck. Only sighted for 30 seconds with a few blurred photos. In the rock pools close to the road we were on, she flew from our location as we arrived and straight into the sights of a gun. Again we had to witness the senseless killing of another rare bird to these shores.

Lammergeier only seen once on the 23rd due to low cloud and bad weather.

 

1st December

Linnet, Corn Bunting, Woodlark, White Wagtail.

2nd

Black Redstart, Bonelli’s Eagle 1, Griffon Vulture 3, Peregrine Falcon 2, Kestrel 1, Sparrowhawk 1.

3rd

Black Redstart, Sparrowhawk 1, Shag 1, White Wagtail,  Blue Rock Thrush, Blue Tit, Chiffchaff, Griffon Vulture 7, Linnet.

Along Viglia coastline ……Kingfisher 1, Yellow-legged Gull 2, Golden Plover 3, Meadow Pipit 1, 8 White Wagtail, Stonechat, Collared Dove, Linnet, Common Sandpiper 1, Crested lark, Blue Rock Thrush 1.

And on Gramvousa Peninsula  ….Another Kingfisher, Shag, Bonelli’s Eagle 1 gave good views for a couple of minutes along with a Sparrowhawk as darkness fell. Also small numbers of crested Lark and Black Redstart.

4th

After a very bad start to the day weather wise with torrential rain the skies brightened apart from the regular  species we had……..Blue Tit , Black Redstart and a Peregrine Falcon again hunted from the nearby crags putting in a few stoops into the Olive groves. Scanning along the beach from the balcony telescope a white’ish bird was seen on the rocks so a quick drive down lifted the spirits when we saw our Greater Sand Plover feeding where we first saw it on the 12th Nov. Once again the only wader present. The only other birds seen…. Goldfinch.

 

 

5th

Torrential rain put a stop to any serious birding again….Greenfinch, Woodlark, Black Redstart, Peregrine Falcon, Blue Tit.

6th

After more heavy rain in the night the atrocious weather cleared and produced a good hour of birding at 11am, some heavy snow had fallen on the Lefki ori and could be seen down as low as possibly 400metres …. Linnet, Black Redstart, Stonechat,Griffon Vulture 18 birds seen soaring over nearby valley descending to a carcass where we watched them feed for some time before rising into the skies and flying low over the house and heading towards the Gorge of Deliana at the same time our resident  pair of Bonelli’s Eagle flew northwest onto Gramvousa whilst a small group of 7 Honey Buzzard flew high above heading south west, whilst a Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine Falcon hunted the bay area all provided spectacular views and an amazing hour as we then had to head off on a shopping trip where on the way we saw Blue Rock thrush , Yellow-legged Gull, Buzzard and Collared Dove. When we arrived home and were unpacking the weekly human fuel a superb m .Hen Harrier flew from the rocks behind the house and onto the coast where it flew off towards Kissamos . Greenfinch and Robin fed in the garden and Black Redstart came in to roost on the front and rear pergolas as darkness arrived.

 

7th

Blue Tit, Black Redstart +,500+ Yellow-legged Gulls followed the wakes of two trawlers, Crag Martin 3. A single Sparrowhawk , Kestrel and Peregrine hunted throughout the day. Linnet, Corn Bunting, Raven, 22 flew noisily onto the peninsula, Chiffchaff, Griffon Vulture 4, Cormorant 1, White Wagtail 1, Whitethroat.

 

8th

Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Greater Sand Plover still present but very elusive, Kestrel, Griffon Vulture 4, Sparrowhawk 1, m. Hen Harrier 1, Corn Bunting , Linnet. At night a Barn Owl flew from our roof when taking the dog out for its nightly run.

 

 

 

9th

Black Redstart, Linnet.

Whilst in the Viglia beach area  and Kissamos……..a group of 15 Crag Martins flew on the rock face opposite the harbour entrance where we also sighted a Blue Rock Thrush and a Kingfisher sat on the rocks just inside the harbour. Along the coast were Corn Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Robin and stonechat. In Kissamos…. Italian Sparrow, Greenfinch, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Linnet and Buzzard.

10th

Weather still atrocious more rain this December than we have seen for several years kept birding to a minimum with all the usual and Black Redstart.

11th

The Bad weather continues, with the hills to the north continually covered in cloud we have so far this month been unable to sight the Lammergeier and only glimpses of the Griffons. At home during the rain we had the usual birds listed at the head of the page so we decided on a beach walk at Falasarna during some breaks in the rain. We saw Kestrel, Griffon Vulture 5 flew north onto the peninsula, Kingfisher 1, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail 100+  mingled with flocks of sheep, Stonechat, Black Redstart, Buzzard, a Tree Pipit, Raven, Hooded Crow, Blackbird, and a j Black Headed Gull. We made the mistake of a detour on the way to see if GS Plover was still present and although we were very fortunate to see a f Shelduck moments later we were devastated to witness it shot in front of us , we watched the injured bird fly a short distance out to sea before crashing down where it was left to float amongst the waves for a short while until a small boat headed from the fishing harbour and retrieved it.

12th

We awoke to an overcast morning with hopes still dashed of hill sightings rain showers continued throughout the day 100+ Yellow-legged Gulls flew and rafted on the sea, Stonechat, Chiffchaff, Robin, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch were present in numbers in the Olive grove, whilst in the lower fields could be seen White wagtail and Linnet flocks. In the gulley to the rear a couple of Blackbirds called. Late in the evening a  m Hen Harrier flew across the front balcony and away across the hills towards Falasarna and a Buzzard was seen perched on a tree in the fields below.

 

 

13th

Still with heavy rain, thunder and lightning and with no views of the mountains to the north on Gramvousa again produced mostly the regular species and few others….. Blue Tit, Stonechat, a Peregrine Falcon stooped several times from the crags nearby, Linnet, Black Redstart, Kestrel. White Wagtail. Brown Hare. A pleasing sight is the Black Redstart that shelter at night on the wooden pergola beams they are now used to us taking the dog for its nightly walk and remain where they are.

14th

Weather…. still raining but a bit brighter later in the morning with the temperature at around 11oC  we again had a few  Crag Martin, flying around and a lone forlorn looking Griffon Vulture sat high on the hill trying to dry off looking very bedraggled. A pair of Blackcap, Greenfinch, Linnet and Black Redstart.

15th

The day dawned dry for a change all the rain came in the night . 20+ Hooded Crow charged about putting on a terrific flying display Stonechat, Kestrel 2, Crag Martin 7, Woodlark, Linnet, Blackcap, White Wagtail, Buzzard 3 and a Peregrine Falcon along with Black Redstart and a single Blue Rock Thrush brightened our day.

16th

We woke to the chattering of Sardinian Warbler, the song of the Robin and the squabbling of the Italian Sparrow oh and our neighbour Niko’s dog giving it all at a local shepherd. Yellow-legged Gull circled around recreating that UK seaside memory [or landfill site]as they called incessantly, a call that is not heard much here , these YLG’s stay mostly silent. Buzzard 6 circled nearby, Griffon Vulture 3, Raven 8, a loose flock of Crag Martin, Kestrel 3 and Hooded Crow all added to the Arial melee. Whilst lower down in the scrub and Olive trees a Cetti’s Warbler was heard, Greenfinch, Chaffinch , Robin, Italian Sparrow, Goldfinch , Chiffchaff, Crested Lark, Linnet, Stonechat, Blackbird, Great tit , Blue tit, Blackcap and Black Redstart helped to complete a list of twenty four species  and all before breakfast.

17th

The weather has improved this morning a lot of cloud although it did rain late in the afternoon.

A trip to Chania for shopping this morning gave us sightings of 6 Buzzard on route,  a couple of roadkill Beech Martin and a Barn Owl were seen before Kolymbari, a Kingfisher on the way home along the coast and 2 Whiskered Tern. At home our first bird of the day was a Peregrine Falcon sat on the highest point nearby a Blue Rock thrush sat within yards of it quite unconcerned.

Black Redstart, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, a Blackbird , Cetti’s Warbler again heard, a Song Thrush  Yellow-legged Gull 50+ flew noisily overhead. 3 Kestrel flew hunting together, careful studying showed disappointingly that they were not Lesser’s.  Stonechat were everywhere today. One eastern hedgehog was seen foraging along the roadside at Tavronitis.

18th

Another really bad weather day only the usual at the head of the page were observed.

19th

More bad weather the usual plus a Peregrine Falcon

20th

This must be the wettest December for years …usual plus White wagtail, Woodlark and 9 Griffon Vulture flew low under the cloud onto Gramvousa.

21st

Another cloudy day but no real rain. The usual plus some Black Redstart, a pair of Kestrel, a Peregrine Falcon and dark morph Booted Eagle

22nd

A Sparrowhawk, a pair of kestrel, Black Redstart, Griffon Vulture 4.

23rd

SUNSHINE !!!  a clear day very light winds. Our first sighting this month of Lammergeier… one rose from Gramvousa slowly gained height before flying right over the house heading south towards Sfinari , a good 15 minutes of viewing … Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Black Redstart, Griffon Vulture 3, Crag Martin 3, Blackcap, Kestrel, Linnet. The usual birds increased in number with the good weather with lots of birdsong through the olive grove. A Little Owl was heard in the early evening.

 

 

 

24th

The bad weather seems to have cleared and the small birds are to be heard again ..

Black Redstart, a Shag swam just offshore, Crag martin 5, White Wagtail, Blackcap, Blue Tit a single Griffon Vulture and 4 Chiffchaff joined the regulars.

25th

A Christmas Day birding trip looked on the cards as the weather dawned fine. We packed a picnic lunch and headed for Elefonisi on the south western corner of the island. We had a check of the local birds around the house before leaving , ticking off the regulars fairly quickly plus Black Redstart, Cetti’s Warbler, Crag Martin 6, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackcap, a Peregrine Falcon.

ELEFONISI

c20 Rock Dove, c 25 Yellow-legged Gull, c50 Stonechat, 1 Golden Plover, 1 Kentish Plover, 2 Shag, 2 Turtle Dove, c20 Collared Dove, 1 Wren, c50 Goldfinch, 6 Serin, 2 Blackbird, c 20 Linnet, 4 Corn Bunting, 1 Kestrel, 4 Robin, 8 White Wagtail, 2 Buzzard, 2 Blue Rock Thrush and an unidentified accipiter tore through the trees some distance away not enough time or view to get a positive. As we arrived home a Barn Owl flew over. A lovely quiet Christmas day with this popular beach deserted….

 

26th

After heavy rain in the night a cloudy morning greeted us and a Robin sang in a near olive tree, c 30 Yellow-legged Gulls flew with two pairs of Kestrel catching insects , c23 Hooded crow chased an intermediate coloured Booted Eagle, a rich orangey one as compared to the darker form we usually see. Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush 2, 4 Buzzard circled behind the house, a Sparrowhawk tore across the front in pursuit  of a male Black Redstart which with a beautiful left and downward jink into an olive tree evaded its pursuer, Linnet 4, Whitethroat1, our local pair of Bonelli’s Eagle put in a brief appearance high on the Gramvousa hills just as quickly disappearing as two hunters and their dogs came into sight, a Chiffchaff and a Cetti’s Warbler  were also briefly seen as dusk fell and our resident bats exited the small tiled window pergolas they roost in. Our back pergola has now several Black Redstart roosting on the beams for the night and are quite unperturbed watching us from a few metres away as we get logs in for the stove throughout the evening.

27th

A cloudy morning with rain in the afternoon, we first saw a female Peregrine Falcon as she lifted from the rocks behind the house, Black Redstart, Italian Sparrow, Robin, Chaffinch and Sardinian Warbler flew and fed in the olive trees, a Crested Lark called from the rocky slopes, 20 Hooded Crow put on brilliant flying displays throughout the day , dive bombing 5 Buzzard that flew in the strong breeze later leaving them to harass a dark morph Booted Eagle. Whilst following the Booted an adult male Hen Harrier appeared in view and flew around the back of the house and off over the hills to the rear. A Sparrowhawk hunted nearby, landing for a short while where it was joined on the same small rock by a Blue Rock Thrush.  c20 Yellow-legged Gull flew above them. 4 Griffon Vultures put in an appearance landing twice just across the valley before taking to the air and moving away fast to the south. Stonechat, Collared Dove, Linnet, Blackbird, Great Tit and Raven. A Kestrel hovered above the house. A Grey Heron flew along the coast landing near the harbour. To finish the day between the showers we walked our dog through the olive trees and watched as maybe the same  Peregrine Falcon returned to the crag to spend the night..

 

28th

After another night of rain the morning was cloudy with some showers.

A Peregrine Falcon kicked off the day followed by Buzzard and Raven. Black Redstart, Yellow-legged Gull, Griffon Vulture 4, Stonechat, Kestrel, Goldfinch, White Wagtail, Serin 2. Our roosting Black Redstart has now increased to 5, they come at dusk and settle onto the support beams of the pergola.

 

29th

A cloudy but dry day with force 7 B winds, a shopping trip to Chania produced on the way and a small bay.

 

Buzzard 7, dark morph Booted Eagle 2, Little Egret 2, [one in bay and one flew across highway], a Cormorant and Shag shared a rock,  Common Sandpiper 1, White Wagtail 2, Black Redstart 2, Stonechat 1, Kestrel 3.

At home Buzzard 4, 20+ Hooded Crow, Griffon Vulture 6, Kestrel 1, Black Redstart, 30 Meadow Pipit, Crested Lark 4, Stonechat, Hen Harrier 2 m , Sardinian Warbler and a Peregrine Falcon.

 

 

30th

Yellow-legged Gull, Raven 2, c20 Hooded Crow, Buzzard 2, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Griffon Vulture 6 [soaring and landing on the hills ], Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 3, Peregrine Falcon 1, Greenfinch  1, and  a dark morph Booted Eagle.

31st.

The last day of 2007 was to be cloudy and wet, all the birds disappeared into cover and the views faded into the gloom as  visibility shrank to nothing. To complete this years spotting spree of our local area we saw the usual birds plus a single Peregrine Falcon and Black Redstart…. A few other pictures from the month are added below ……

 


Thanks to all who read our monthly diaries, we wish you a Happy…Healthy…Peaceful and Prosperous 2008, with good birding wherever you may be ……………. Back in 2008 with the continuing daily birding of Western Crete.

Colin and Sue