Crete Birding

May 2007

A bit of a mixed month…. sightings of  two Lammergeier over our house and the nearby hills from the 2nd-6th then again on the 23rd/24th. The expected influx of Red Footed Falcons never came, this year we saw only three !! Usually the Kaliviani basin has hundreds, but with favourable weather we believe a lot of migrants flew straight over the island . Waders were also few as water levels were higher on Agia lake and Tavronitis river has been trashed by tipping and damming as have a few small streams nearer Kolymvari which have been filled in and channels dug to drain off quicker leaving very few shallow edges. The construction work  and farming along the sea fronts has left a lot of sites dry.

However a few unexpected birds have materialized. A Spoonbill and Glossy Ibis on two pools on the Omalos plateau a total of seven Jays there as well on the16thalong with Golden Eagle and Lammergeyer and our first Alpine Accentor landed on the flagstones at the Kalergi Refuge as we ate lunch  ……. on the 18th a single Little Tern fed along the coast and Tavronitis River.

Good numbers of Bee-eater about,  Nightjar for only a few days instead of the usual two weeks . No sightings of Golden Oriole !

Our Buzzard have one young that has now fledged, Italian Sparrow are busy feeding young ,or were until the 26th when we found the nets trashed and one nearly fledged bird dead and a single egg… Chaffinch, Blue Rock Thrush,  Blackbird and Great Tit also very busy with young. On the 4th we spotted a pair of Little-ringed Plover with three young. The last four days of the month was very quiet with few birds about.

Two sightings late on consecutive afternoons of a Badger on the hill behind the house and for several nights three tiny young rabbits have huddled together on the gravel around the house thankfully escaping the attentions of our dog.

Unexpected for this area, rain on the 1st-18th-25th and 28th

More like April showers

Hooded Crow, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Italian Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Whitethroat, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackbird, Willow Warbler, a female Blackcap, Cormorant 13, Swallow Woodchat Shrike, a family of Great Tit with three young feeding through the Olive Trees, Grey Heron 5, the first of the year, Scops Owl, Collared Dove.

Torrential rain and lightning then put paid to any birding after 3pm

Hooded Crow, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Italian Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Bee-eater 50+ and later another50+, Cormorant 11, Woodlark, Blackbird , Cetti’s Warbler, Buzzard, Swallow, House Martin, Grey Heron 1, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Large numbers of Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike, Whitethroat, Goldfinch, at 1130, 2 Lammergeyer, an adult and a younger bird put in an appearance giving us twelve minutes of viewing as they circled over the ridges in that time also, Eleonora Falcon 1, Marsh Harrier 2, Buzzard 15+  and Griffon Vulture 2 all headed north onto the Gramvousa peninsula, Swift, Alpine swift, Red-rumped Swallow, whilst near Kissamos Curlew Sandpiper 1, Little-ringed Plover, Collared Dove, Yellow Wagtail, Little Egret 1, Blue-headed Wagtail, Blue Rock thrush, Willow warbler, Little Stint, Chiffchaff  and White wagtail.

Hooded Crow, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Italian Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, our local Buzzard + 17 more headed north, a Peregrine Falcon, House Martin, Spotted Flycatcher, Blackbird, several great Tit families, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, again at 1130 the 2 Lammergeyer put in an appearance the same two birds ? Bee-eaters 20+ , 20+. Crag Martin, a single Black Kite followed by a dark morph Booted Eagle and an Eleonora’s Falcon, Sardinian Warbler, Raven, Greenfinch, Black Redstart, Swallow, Blue Tit, Nightjar.

A fantastic day for Lammergeier  the same two birds appearing from 1200-1400 brilliant viewing for two whole hours.

House Martin, Woodlark, Blackbird, Hooded Crow, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Italian Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler,  Crested Lark, Buzzard, Nightingale, Goldfinch, Bee-eater, four groups totalling 83, Stonechat, Great Tit, Red-Footed falcon 2[m] 1[f], Swift. Alpine Swift, Spotted Flycatcher, Kestrel 3, Marsh Harrier, 2[f], Sparrowhawk 1, Eleonora’s Falcon 2, Blue Rock Thrush, Little-ringed Plover 2 pair +3 young. Common Sandpiper 2, Squacco Heron 2, White wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail, Cormorant, Collared Dove , Whinchat, Swallow, Cetti’s Warbler, Greenfinch, Raven, Rock Dove. At about 7pm whilst watching the Cetti’s warbler in the gulley at the rear of the house we heard a crashing noise from the far side that sounded like a horse careering  through the undergrowth which turned out to be a badger out early trying to make for denser cover, the first we have seen for a couple of years. The last ones made such a mess in the lower olive groves we believe the farmers wiped them out so nice to see them back again.


A single Lammergeyer put in an early appearance at 0925 for 6 minutes before exiting onto Gramvousa .

A group of 6 Eleonora’s falcon followed by three others also headed onto Gramvousa . Hooded Crow, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Italian Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackbird , Sardinian Warbler, Yellow-legged Gull, Buzzard 7, Kestrel, Rock Dove, Alpine Swift, Swift, House Martin, Swallow, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Cormorant 7, Griffon Vulture 2 + 6, Goldfinch, Crested Lark, Honey Buzzard 1, Whinchat, Whitethroat, Greenfinch, Woodchat, Shrike, Squacco Heron, Barn Owl.

At 11.15am we saw at great height a mixed bag of Eagle, Buzzard and Griffon Vulture,  15-20 birds in all circling and slowly heading northwards .

Blackbird , Bee-eaters, Willow Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chaffinch, Italian Sparrow, Cetti’s warbler, Cormorant, Yellow-legged Gulls, Blue Tit, Crested Lark, Goldfinch, Buzzard 12, Hooded Crow, a distant unidentified Falcon shot through , Hoopoe 2, Raven 2, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Eleonoras Falcon 3, Lammergeyer 2, Griffon Vulture 6, Rock Dove,  Red Footed Falcon 3, Bee-eaters, greenfinch, young Goldfinch, several families of Great Tit, at 5pm Marsh Harrier 2.


From Home
Crested Lark, Italian Sparrow, Chaffinch, Woodchat Shrike, Blackbird , Cetti’s Warbler, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Yellow-legged Gull, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bee-eater,  Cormorant 11, Swallow, House Martin, Buzzard, Eagle UID, Scops Owl.

Trip to Maronis River
Sardinian Warbler, Squacco Heron 2, Little Egret 2, Little Ringed  Plover 3, Common Sandpiper 2, Yellow-legged Gull, Spotted Flycatcher, Swift, Swallow, Chaffinch, a warbler was heard and Roy ID’d as an Olivaceous.

Agia Lake 
Wood Sandpiper 1, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Ruff 2, Little Egret 1, Little Crake 1, Yellow-legged Gull, Cetti’s Warbler, Common Sandpiper 2, Swift, House Martin, Swallow, Little Bittern 2, Blackcap heard.

Bee-eater, Several Great Tit families, Blue Rock Thrush, Hooded Crow, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Italian Sparrow, Yellow-legged Gull, Cetti’s Warbler, Kestrel 2, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, House Martin, Swallow, Griffon Vulture 11, Buzzard 20, Turtle Dove 1, Crested Lark, Blue-headed Wagtail, Little Ringed Plover, Cormorant 4, Sand Martin, Raven 2, Woodchat Shrike.

Cetti’s Warbler, Blackbird, Italian Sparrow, Chaffinch, Crested Lark, Yellow-legged Gull, Hooded Crow,, Woodchat Shrike, Sardinian Warbler, Buzzard 8, Eleonoras Falcon 1, and a distant UID Eagle,

Swift, Alpine Swift, House Martin, Swallow in large numbers, Hooded Crow,  Buzzard 18, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti’s warbler, Blackbird, Cormorant 2, Yellow-legged Gull, Chaffinch, Italian Sparrow, Kestrel 2, Woodchat Shrike, Crag Martin, Eleonoras Falcon 1, Raven 2.

Again large numbers of Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Alpine Swift…… Blackbird, Italian Sparrow, Yellow-legged Gull, Hooded Crow, Buzzard, Raven, What looked like Long Legged Buzzard 7 , Eleonoras Falcon 2, a family of Blue Tit, Collared Dove, Blue Rock Thrush, Kestrel, Whinchat, Stonechat, Little Ringed Plover, Griffon Vulture, Goldfinch, Greenfinch.

Bee-eater 6, Buzzard 15, Hooded Crow, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher 3, Italian Sparrow, Yellow-legged Gull, Swallow, House Martin, Eleonoras Falcon 1, a family of Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike 1, Blackbird , Chaffinch, Stonechat, Crested lark, Cetti’s Warbler, Marsh Harrier 1.

Cetti’s Warbler, Cormorant 6, Buzzard 3, Hooded Crow, Blackbird, Italian Sparrow, House Martin, Swallow, Alpine Swift, Swift, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Sardinian Warbler.

Swift, House Martin, Italian Sparrow, Cetti’s Warbler, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Blackbird , Buzzard, Sardinian Warbler, Hooded Crow, Blue Rock Thrush, Collared Dove, Whinchat, Little Ringed Plover.

Buzzard 4, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Hooded Crow, Sardinian Warbler, Italian Sparrow, Bee-eater 1+2, Crested Lark, Great Tit, Little Ringed Plover, Blue Rock Thrush, Collared Dove.

A trip to Omalos, Kalergi refuge and Lake Agia produced 43 species .

Blackbird, Swift, Bee-eater, Hooded Crow, Yellow-legged Gull, Sardinian Warbler, Italian Sparrow, Chaffinch, Cetti’s warbler started the day at home then onto the lake which still has high water levels and a lack of birds, Blue Rock Thrush Crested Lark, Collared Dove, along the way, at the lake Little Egret 1, Little Bittern 2, Swift, Eleonoras Falcon 1 hunted low over the water occasionally dipping in, Common Sandpiper 1, Ruff 1, House Sparrow, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Yellow-legged Gull, Cetti’s Warbler, Hooded Crow, we had spent too long here and had to rush onto the rendezvous with Roy and Raye   at the bottom of the track to Kallergi Refuge, however we caught them up stuckm behind a tourist bus on the narrow mountain road just past Laki.

On arrival at the parking area we had a close up of a Jay altogether we saw 7 that day  which included  2 pair, Cuckoo Heard 2,  Wren, Northern and Black-eared Wheatear in large numbers, Chukar heard one and later in the day saw one , Sardinian Warbler, Griffon Vulture 14, Golden Eagle 1, Linnet, Raven, Stonechat, Blackbird, Our first Alpine Accentor. Chough, and Lammergeyer 1,  were seen whilst we ate tea at the taverna at the entrance to Omolas Gorge, Turtle Dove 1, on a diversion  to the two pools on the plateau we had Glossy Ibis 1,Spoonbill 1, Woodlark 2, Meadow Pipit 1, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Swallow and Alpine Swift a quick tour of the lake on the way home produced a pair of Mallard .

At home just after dark 3 very small baby rabbits huddled together  on our gravel drive , which are still being seen most nights  sometimes with an adult.

Sardinian Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler,  Peregrine Falcon 1, Bee-eater heard  + 30+. Blackbird , Yellow-legged Gull, Raven, Great Tit, Curlew Sandpiper 1, Little Stint 2, Little-ringed Plover 2, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Little Egret 1, Blue Rock Thrush 1, Greenfinch 2, Griffon Vulture 1, Goldfinch, Buzzard 3.

The morning started with some heavy steady rain OK for the olive trees but apparently not for the grapes or for early morning birding and all was pretty quiet until it stopped at around 10am we decided on a  trip to Kolybari abd Tavronitis

Before setting off we had the usual Cetti’s Warbler, Italian Sparrow, Hooded Crow, Yellow-legged Gull, Sardinian Warbler, Bee-eater 6, Goldfinch, Red –rumped Swallow, Blackbird, Woodchat Shrike.

On out trip, Blue Rock Thrush 1, Collared Dove, Common Sandpiper 1, Little-ringed Plover 3, Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Goldfinch, Moorhen 1, House Sparrow, Cetti’s Warbler, Little Tern 1, Alpine Swift 1, Buzzard 1, Raven 2, Crested lark, Cormorant 2, a pair of stonechat, Yellow-legged Gull.

Cormorant 3, Yellow-legged Gull, Buzzard 3, Chaffinch, Italian Sparrow, Blackbird , Cetti’s Warbler, Raven 4, House martin, Swift, Swallow, Hooded Crow, Rock Dove, Great Tit, Spotted Flycatcher,  Eleonoras Falcon, Marsh Harrier, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Bee-eaters 30+7+2, Sardinian Warbler, Rock Dove, Italian Sparrow, Blackbird , Hooded Crow, Yellow-legged Gull, Great Tit, Swallow, Swift, Greenfinch, Woodlark, Goldfinch and Buzzard.

Awoken early in the morning to the sound of a large number of Bee-eaters overhead, then before heading to Lake Agia in the evening we saw, Blackbird , Buzzard, Hooded Crow, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Italian Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Swallow, a Dark morph Booted Eagle, House martin, Crested Lark, Griffon Vulture 4, Little-ringed Plover and 2 young, Woodchat Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Goldfinch, Ruff1, Little Stint 3, Little Egret 1, Squacco heron 1, Sandmartin, Collared Dove, Yellow Wagtail [flava] , Cetti’s Warbler, Meadow Pipit 1.

At Lake Agia, 100-200+ Sand Martin, Swift, Squacco Heron 3, Little Bittern 1 Yellow-legged Gull, Little grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Little Egret 1, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackcap heard , Blackbird, Greenfinch and as we were packing to leave 2 Jackdaw [the first we have seen at the lake area] flew over .

Hooded Crow, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Italian Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Buzzard, House Martin, Swallow, Bee-eater 1, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackbird , Greenfinch, Great Tit.

Hooded Crow, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Italian Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Buzzard 8, Blue Rock Thrush, Great Tit, Cetti’s Warbler,  Blackbird , Swift, Cormorant 4,  Northern Wheatear, Bee-eater 20+, Rock Dove, Alpine Swift, Lesser Kestrel ?2, Greenfinch, Crested Lark,  Raven, Sardinian Warbler. At 1135 one Lammergeier, then at 1145 two, then between 1300-1400 the two circled the hills nearby with three Griffon Vulture  landing on several ledges giving superb views.  Swallow,Hobby 2,  Pale Morph Booted eagle 1, Kestrel 1, Golden Eagle 2 [we have pictures that we believe shows different birds ] House Martin, Desert Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear 20+ , Eleonoras Falcon and in the early evening a Nightjar was heard .

Swift, House Martin, Buzzard 14, Cormorant 4, Yellow-legged Gull, Chaffinch, Blackbird , Cetti’s Warbler, Alpine Swift, Sand Martin, Kestrel, Lammergeier 1 in the company of Griffon Vulture 3, Raven 2, Possible Booted Eagle a bit to distant to ID properly, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Woodchat Shrike, Little Ringed Plover, Crestede Lark, Short-toed Lark 1, Collared Dove, Blue Rock Thrush, Turtle Dove 1, Stonechat.

Stonechat, Swift, House Martin, Hooded Crow, Marsh Harrier, Crested Lark, Chaffinch, Blackbird , Cetti’s Warbler, Alpine Swift, Kestrel, Collared Dove, Little Ringed Plover, Greenfinch, Crested Lark.

Swift, Alpine Swift, House Martin, Griffon Vulture 1, a pair of Eleonoras Falcon, Buzzard 2, Sardinian Warbler, Chaffinch, Blackbird , Rock Dove, 10 Cormorant sat in a group on the sea, Bee-eater 20+, Swallow, Greenfinch, Cettis Warbler, Kestrel.

Chaffinch, Cetti’s warbler, Italian Sparrow, Cormorant 1, Woodchat Shrike 1, Peregrine Falcon 1, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Yellow-legged Gull, Great Tit, Buzzard, Swallow.

Blackbird , Greenfinch, Cetti’s Warbler, Crested Lark, Whinchat, Hooded Crow, Cormorant 1, Yellow-legged Gull, Great Tit 3, Buzzard 2, Italian Sparrow.

Cetti’s Warbler, Blackbird , Bee-eater 4, Italian Sparrow, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Yellow-legged Gull, Kestrel 1, a pair of Woodchat Shrike, Greenfinch, Raven, Buzzard, Goldfinch, Crested lark, Little-ringed Plover, Italian Sparrow, Blue Tit.

Crested Lark, Cetti’s Warbler, Italian Sparrow, Chaffinch, Blackbird , Hooded Crow, Griffon Vulture 5, Raven 1, Kestrel 1, Greenfinch [large numbers passing through ], Rock Dove, Buzzard 3, Yellow-legged Gull.

Buzzard 2, Kestrel 1, Griffon Vulture 9, pale morph Booted Eagle,

Sardinian Warbler, Italian Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch [still moving through ], Blackbird , Cetti’s Warbler, Woodlark, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Swallow 1, Hooded Crow, Bee-eater 15+