Crete Birding

July 2007

The following species were seen every day in JULY and are not recorded in daily reports below.

Blackbird , Yellow-legged Gull, , Hooded Crow, Greenfinch, Italian Sparrow, Buzzard, Collared Dove, Sardinian Warbler, Rock Dove, Raven, Northern Wheatear, Great Tit and  Crested Lark.

***  Denotes birds seen on a daily basis for the month 

We are beginning to wonder if the Lammergeier use a calendar!!! those of you who read these reports may have noticed  that for the last four months these birds have arrived  at roughly the same dates each month staying for a few days then maybe an odd appearance at 3/4 way through the month . This time they arrived on the 30thJune and were seen again on the 1st and 2nd of this month and again on the 24th and 30th.. Calendar aside, checking on the weather tables we keep, they do seem to appear when the wind is anywhere East of North…. on the 3rd the wind changed again to a northwesterly and they were not seen again until ¾ of the way through the month. Not being Vulture experts [ nor any other bird expert !!!] they have probably just had a good feed and are settled down somewhere before looking for food again after a week or two….

Other highlights ….A Wood sandpiper in a small stream near Kastelli Kissamos. On the 2nd and 4th nice Golden Eagle sightings. Lots of Eleonoras Falcon sightings throughout the month with a maximum three seen together on several occasions. A Honey Buzzard put in an appearance on the 13th & two on 17th one on 18th

A Hoopoe  on the 21st, was an unusual sighting. As was a fantastic sighting of Eastern Imperial Eagle 0n the 23rd .

Chaffinches not seen or heard this month. A few Stonechats returned early in the month.

Whilst Yellow-legged Gull numbers dropped right off towards the middle of the month to just the odd one or two.

JULY 1st

Griffon Vulture 1@0745hrs, + 4 @1200hrs, +1 @1520hrs, Northern Wheatear [lots of juveniles present], Alpine Swift, Swift, Swallow, Black-eared Wheatear andLammergeier 1 seen @1300hrs for 2 minutes, 1350 for 7 minutes and 1520 a brief glimpse. ***

2nd

 Swallow, Alpine Swift, Eleonora’s Falcon 1, Griffon Vulture 2, Kestrel 1, Swift, Black-eared Wheatear, Lammergeier 1@1645hrs , 2@1725hrs. A very distant Aquila sat for some time on top of a ridge, we could not make it out for a definite ID at first , [we could not be sure if it was a goat distorted by the haze until we got the scope out] but at last it flew and it was a Golden eagle. Nightjar was again heard and an unknown Bat flew around the house for some time. ***

3rd

Blue Rock Thrush, Blue Tit, Alpine Swift, Swift, Swallow, ? Pallid Swift , Ravens 20+headed north onto Gramvousa peninsula creating a spectacular sight as they spiralled up in one group on a thermal. Nightjar and  Barn Owl. In the Kissamos beach area in the morning, A single Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover 1, a Juv. White Wagtail and a single Red-rumped Swallow.

4th

Blue Rock Thrush, Turtle Dove 1, Alpine Swift, Swallow, a large group of House Martin.

A visit to the river at Tavronitis was again very poor we had a couple of juv. Little Ringed Plover and a Mallard .  nothing more was seen .

Late in the day at 1700hrs  Griffon Vulture 3, a Juv. Woodlark. At 1800hrs a Buzzards cry from high above the house alerted us to a Golden Eagle heading north onto the peninsula, we watched for some minutes as it was repeatedly harassed  by Alpine Swifts.

***  At night we found a Hedgehog grubbing around, the first we have seen for some time and a Scops Owl was heard.

5th

Stonechat, Swift, Alpine Swift, Swallow, Scops Owl and an Osillated Skink….***

A trip to Maronis River was not very productive , the Wimbrel is still there the only wader to be seen , a single Cormorant, Yellow-legged Gull, House Martin, Collared Dove and Italian Sparrow.

6th

Swift, Alpine Swift, Swallow. ***

7th

Alpine Swift, Swallow, Griffon Vulture 2, a pair of Woodchat Shrike, Blue Tit and Barn Owl.

8th

Griffon Vultures 5, Alpine Swift, Swift and a Peregrine Falcon. ***

9th

A female Blue Rock Thrush, Blue Tit, Eleonoras Falcon, a ? Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Scops Owl and Nightjar. ***

10th

Arising before the dawn we heard a Nightjar. A Weasel hunted amongst the shrubs

Stonechat, Blue Tit, Eleonoras Falcon and Swallow. ***

11th

Blue Tit, Blue Rock Thrush, a Hobby flew lazily past the balcony, later Eleonoras Falcon 2, Swallow, Black-eared Wheatear, at 1800hrs Griffon Vulture 2 flew onto Gramvousa , Nightjar and Scops Owl. ***

12th

Greenfinch, An adult Woodchat Shrike fed a juvenile, Alpine Swift, Swallow, several juvenile Stonechat, at 1600hrs Griffon Vulture 4. Lots of young birds being fed by adults seen today of the following , Northern Wheatear, Goldfinch, Great and Blue Tit.***

13th

Stonechat, Woodchat Shrike + juv. Alpine Swift. At 1900hrs a Peregrine hunted around the house.In the evening a Barn Owl and unknown Bat. There are thirteen species of bat listed for here  so what it was is anybody’s guess. ***

A good raptor day we took a walk into and onto  the Gramvousa hills and were rewarded with…Griffon Vulture 5+1+3+6, Eleonoras Falcon 3 flying together, Kestrel 1, Golden Eagle 1, Honey Buzzard 1, Hobby 1, Also seen Stonechat, Crested Lark, Woodlark, Northern Wheatear  and Raven. ***

14th

Eleonoras Falcon 4, Griffon Vulture 23+1, most flew low over the house [see picture] a pair of Blue Rock Thrush, Kestrel 1, Black-eared Wheatear, Alpine Swift Swallow and Stonechat. ***

15th

Eleonoras Falcon 3+1.

We believed we had a Badger set in a bank just onto our neighbours land  and tonight Sue had a sight of one as it raced back to its hole when she took our dog Mia out for her nightly walk . ***

16th

Throughout the day sighted 6 Eleonoras Falcon, Griffon Vulture 5+3, Alpine Swift Buzzard 7 circled and headed southwest off Gramvousa. ***

17th

Another early morning rewarded us with a pair of Blue Rock Thrush, Woodchat Shrike juv. Griffon Vulture 6+9, a pair of Honey Buzzard , Eleonoras Falcon 1+1, Nightjar.***

18th

Eleonoras Falcon 1+2+1 @1045hrs, 1055hrs, 1115hrs. , 1045hrs Honey Buzzard 1, House Martin, Swallow, Turtle Dove, Alpine Swift, at 2100hrs a Hobby showed  twice, Nightjar . A Barn Owl was spotted hunting near the small chapel nearby it was too dark to get good sightings but managed to get a few poor pictures as it flew around for ten minutes or so. ***

19th

Sparrowhawk 1, Swallow, Alpine Swift, Eleonoras Falcon 3 hunted together, a pair of Woodchat Shrike with a juv. in company. Stonechat, Barn Owl, Nightjar and Scops Owl. ***

20th

Woodchat Shrike, Stonechat, Buzzard 6 together, a family of Blue Tit. A Nightjar flitted very close to the house this evening.Scops Owl and Barn Owl. ***

21st

Stonechat, Swallow, Hoopoe in the company of a Woodchat Shrike , Kestrel 1,Eleonoras Falcon 1, Buzzard 3. ***

22nd

Stonechat, Woodchat Shrike an adult male with 3 juv. Eleonoras Falcon 2, Red-rumped Swallow 3 .At dawn a Cretan Hare .***

23rd

Woodchat Shrike 1 adult +2 juv. Raven, a flock of 15 headed onto Gramvousa. Eleonoras Falcon 3, Swallow a small party of 15. Short-toed lark, Kestrel.Only one Yellow-legged Gull today sat on a rock in Kissamos harbour.Turtle Dove 2, Barn Owl, Nightjar.

Short story for the day

At 1040 whilst having a coffee break, happened to look up at the rocks 100metres away and saw a large raptor, an Aquila ? dashed indoors grabbed telescope whilst Sue got the binoculars and small camera, just had time to  see the bird through the telescope when it lazily lifted and drifted over the ridge with an Eleonoras Falcon in company. Thinking we had missed it, a moment later we saw it rise up and immediately disappear again. We assumed it was a Golden Eagle.

Whilst scanning the ridges half a mile away I caught sight of what looked like a Griffon Vulture…. following its course it rose up above the rock mass and at a distance still assumed it was a vulture, until, it turned away out to sea and then headed back towards the house , something looked amiss but I could not quite place it, so grabbing the Canon with the big lens I snapped off three quick shots as it flew past at about 500metres. Whilst Sue continued to watch through the binoculars.

As the bird flew into the distance towards Platanos I looked at the small viewer on the camera, it looked like a Griffon, but something was still not right . OK computer on, download , and we saw what it was. The head of a vulture it wasn’t ,  there was no white and the neck was shorter, that’s what was wrong ,the colours were right for a vulture though ! zooming in we quickly looked at primaries , colour, patterning ……we had a 2cy Eastern Imperial Eagle. Excellent views from fairly close up, if not a first for us then certainly the best views we have had of this beautiful bird. ***

24th

Kestrel several seen throughout the day, Woodchat Shrike 3 juv, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Raven, Buzzard 6, Lammergeier 1 seen for 1 ½ hrs from1630hrs. wonderful views as it was harassed by a Kestrel and circled around in the hills of Gramvousa. Eleonoras Falcon  2.  Nightjar. ***

25th

Kestrel, Raven, Woodchat Shrike, Peregrine Falcon, Swift, Swallow, Northern Wheatear, Scops Owl, Nightjar , Barn Owl. ***

26th

Blue Rock Thrush 1, Eleonoras Falcon 2, House Martin, Northern Wheatear, Raven, Nightjar, Barn Owl. ***

Whilst at  Gerani  river, Common Sandpiper 1, Little Egret 1, Yellow-legged Gull 2 juv.

27th

Raven 2, Eleonoras Falcon 3, Buzzard 6, Griffon Vulture 1, Blue Rock Thrush 1, Kestrel 2, Woodchat Shrike 1, Northern Wheatear. ***

28th

Eleonoras Falcon, Lesser Kestrel 3, Griffon Vulture 8 + 2 late in the day, Buzzard 6, Raven 2, Northern Wheatear, Barn Owl. ***

29th

Northern Wheatear. A walk into the hills of Gramvousa peninsula was very rewarding as we found , Blue Rock Thrush 3,then watched  Lesser Kestrel 10 and  Eleonoras Falcon 6,hunting for about an hour ….. Griffon Vulture a total of 38 [flying and on the ground] at a carcass where we had them flying a few metres above our heads, Sardinian Warbler, Kestrel 2, Crested Lark, Woodlark, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Buzzard 6, Blackbird 2, Raven 12,Woodlark 3. ***

30th

Blue Tit, Lammergeier 1 @0745hrs, for a few minutes as it flew onto the peninsula, Woodchat Shrike a male and female + 2 juv. Raven 2, Northern Wheatear, Barn Owl, Scops Owl. ***

31st

Up early for a trip to Lake Agia. A family of Great Tit flitted through the garden and a couple of male Blackbirds raided the compost tip eating the apple peel before daylight proper. On  route we saw Blue Rock Thrush 2, Turtle Dove 6 the most we have seen together, Crested Lark 20+, Little Egret 1, Yellow-legged Gull 1 juv, Little Ringed Plover 2 juv. and a couple of Buzzard . At the lake where we found the water levels lower  ….Night Heron 2 male, Eleonoras Falcon 1 flew around before landing 40 metres away giving excellent views, Squacco Heron 1, We were lucky to spot a Grey Heron 1 juv sat high in a tree , Kingfisher 2 pairs flew and fished for the whole time we were there, one fleeting glimpse of an unknown warbler, several small parties of Green Sandpiper 20 in total, 200+ Coot, 30+ Moorhen, 50+ Little Grebe, Ferruginus Duck 4 male, What looked like a pair of Marbled Teal in the distance, but with the heat haze it was not possible to positively identify. Red-rumped Swallow, Swallow, Swift, Crag Martin, Collared Dove, Hooded Crow, Buzzard 5, Greenshank, 1 flew over.

Other sightings, a huge number of sunning Terrapins on a mud bank, a Weasel, some very large green frogs lots of Dragonfly and Swallow tailed butterfly.

Back home we were just in time to see Griffon Vulture 6 , lift off circling  high before heading north, Woodlark 1, Raven 20+.  ***