Crete Birding

November 2006

Highlights: Red Kite…..Whimbrel……imm.Egyptian Vultures…..Pallid Harrier .

Another good month with a few rarities springing up again .

Early in the month the Whimbrel was still present at Maronis River, later looking at photos of the bird noticed it has half its upper mandible missing, which probably explains why its still present, watching it feed it looks like it has adapted to its situation as it tips its head to one side and filters onto the top mandible. A Red Kite mid month near Chania and more Egyptian Vultures passed over the house, are they wintering here or just passing through? The vultures are particularly exciting, we first noticed these on the 7th September when we saw 6 adult birds in the company of 150+ griffons, this month we saw the immature birds [3] all in different stages of plumage. Then 2/3rds of the way through the month a male pallid harrier hunted in the fields below us giving us really good views from above of its hunting technique…..

The beginning of the month we harvested the olives so not too much time for watching for the first two weeks.


After a severe storm in the night the month started with a reasonable day  with the first bird seen a Peregrine followed by a Buzzard, Yellow legged gulls x 3, Sardinian Warblers, Hooded Crows, Goldfinch [numbers reduced after the storm, Willow Warbler, Robin, Chaffinch, Griffon Vulture x 8, Crested Lark, and a Sparrowhawk .


Linnets, Stonechats, Isabelline Wheatear, Sardinian Warbler, Hooded Crow. Shopping trip to Tavronitis: Buzzard x 5 , Yellow-legged Gulls x 8, Grey Heron x 3, Little Egret and a Kestrel


Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Sardinian Warbler, Yellow-legged Gulls, Linnets, Hooded Crows.


Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Buzzard, an unidentified harrier across the lower fields. Moorhen, Goldfinch, dark form Booted Eagle, Starlings x 2 .


Sardinian Warbler, Hooded Crow, Linnets, Goldfinches, and a Kestrel.


Buzzard, Blackbird, Robin.


Black Redstart, Robin, Sardinian Warblers, a weasel harassing them making them very vocal, Kestrel x 2, Chaffinch, Hooded Crows, Linnets, Goldfinches, Great Tits , Sparrowhawk.


Sardinian Warblers, Stonechats, Robins, Black Redstart, Peregrine, Willow Warbler, Serin x 4, Meadow Pipits, Goldfinch, Linnets, and 2 Buzzards.


Pair Blue Tits, a flock of House Sparrows, dark form Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Robin, Chaffinch.


Olive harvest finished, back to birding tomorrow.


Rain stopped play


After attending the remembrance service at Souda Bay war cemetery a trip to Maronis River. The Whimbrel still present, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Kingfisher x 3, Cormorant x 3, a Great White Egret, Little Egret x 3, a flock of 30+ Starlings a few years ago we did not see these birds, they seem to be on the increase, a  Sparrowhawk shot along the river path nearly taking my head off and alighted in an olive tree a short distance away. Several common Buzzard, Moorhen x 20 +, Coot x 20+, Yellow-legged Gulls x 12, Black Headed Gulls x 3. a small wader swam across the river which thought could have been a red necked phalarope?


Goldfinch, Linnet, Kestrel, Yellow-legged Gulls, Buzzard, Goldfinch, Linnet, Kestrel, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Common Sandpiper.

Another trip to Maronis river in the afternoon to try for a photo of phalarope?.

Produced Kingfisher x 2, Black-headed Gulls x 4, Little Egrets x 3, a Great White Egret, Redshank x 2, Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Yellow-legged Gulls x 4 , Meadow Pipits 10+, Squacco Heron x 1, an tern sp. out in the bay, Starlings x 10, a small wader flew off across the river at dusk.


Buzzard x 2, Peregrine Falcon, Ravens, Greenfinch, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch, Robin.


A trip out into the foothills of Lefki Ora above Chania, produced the highlight of the day a Red Kite above Drakona was being harried by two raven that chased it north towards Chania, 7 Buzzard, Hooded Crows, Stonechats, Robin, Blue Rock Thrush x 2, Sardinian Warbler, large numbers of Meadow Pipits and everywhere Blue Tits.


Headed for the Kissamos rubbish tip, tips can be good places to find birds, only to find that the tip had been filled in some time ago and now its just a bare hilltop, we stayed a while and saw, Raven x 8 , Stonechats, Meadow Pipits , Buzzard x 4, and a Peregrine Falcon. We were just driving down the hillside when I noticed a bird coming straight towards the car along the hillside, grabbing the camera I took several shots and found that we had photographed an Egyptian Vulture probably a fourth year bird which really made the trip worthwhile.  As we started to drive off  a pair of Griffon Vultures  flew over heading south.


Started with a Sparrowhawk , Yellow-legged Gulls on the sea x 7 , Buzzard x 2 , a nice ten minutes watching a Pallid Harrier overflying the fields below the house,  Stonechats, Black Redstarts, Chaffinch, House Sparrows, Hooded Crows, Blue Tits, Kestrel, Goldfinch and Linnets .


A trip onto Gramvousa peninsular

Buzzard x 3, Hooded Crows 20+, Sardinian Warblers, Stonechats, Black Redstarts everywhere  along the track. A Robin, Blue Rock Thrush x 2, Cormorant x 2, Yellow-legged Gulls x 3, Kestrel, Woodlark x 1, Crested Lark x 3, a Sparrowhawk, Ravens x 2.


Whilst working stacking the winter log pile  in half an hour we saw a Sparrowhawk, Raven x 4, Buzzard x 2, Hooded Crow x 15, Griffon Vulture x 2 followed later by a single, then Egyptian Vultures x 2, which were [ I think ] second and third year birds and a Honey Buzzard flew fast westward. Throughout the day Robin, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch, Linnet, Black Redstart. As the sun was setting we watched for about an hour, as an immature Peregrine made about 15 unsuccessful stoops into the flocks of goldfinch and linnet. Flying from  the crag above the house and from the air using what was left of the sun behind it and undercover of the darkness of the crag to stoop down a distance of ¼ to  ½ km before looping back round to the same start point, a brilliant hour watching as it tore past and over our heads at some phenomenal speeds.  (liked to have been there Roy) 


A single Sparrowhawk started the day off, Robin, White Wagtail, Goldfinch, Buzzard x 2, Peregrine x 2, later 5 Buzzard, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Collared Dove x 2, and Linnet. Evening, and the first hedgehog we have seen for a year.


Kestrel x 3 were over the house feeding on large numbers of flying insects, we initially thought they were lesser kestrel whilst watching the way they were feeding, but ID from confirmed they were not, Buzzard x 3, Black Redstart, Robin, Chaffinch, Sardinian Warbler, White Wagtail, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, in the cultivated fields below mid morning a Pallid Harrier circled the area before heading westward over the hills.


Stonechats, Hooded Crow, Greenfinch, Sardinian Warbler, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Black Redstart, Robin, Along the waterfront at Kissamos flocks of Corn Bunting, Linnets and Goldfinch, Grey Heron, Kingfisher, White Wagtails, Greenfinch, Serins, Common Sandpiper x 1 and a Yellow-legged Gull.


Buzzard x 2, 110 gulls  sat on the calm sea, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Robin, House Sparrow, Hooded Crows, Chaffinch, Stonechat, and Goldfinches.


Buzzard, Sparrowhawk x2, Sardinian Warbler, Chaffinch, Hooded Crow, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Goldfinch.


Buzzard X 4, Kestrel X 1, Sparrowhawk X 1, Hooded Crow, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Goldfinch, Black Redstart, Griffon Vulture X 7, Raven X 2, Peregrine X1, Cormorant X 1, Yellow-legged Gulls X 2.


Great Tit, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark, Robin, Goldfinch, Buzzard X 1


Agia Lake…..300+ coot, 60+ moorhen, 100+dabchick, 90 +Yellow-legged Gulls, 3 Stonechat, Teal, 20+ Shoveler, 4 willow warbler, Several Kingfisher, 1 Marsh Harrier, 3 Buzzard, 2 Water Rail, 20 + Pochard, 10 Tufted Duck, 4 Mallard, Wigeon, 2 Raven, 4 Hooded Crow, heard Cetti's Warbler, 1 Blackbird. At home Black Redstart, Buzzard, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch.


Not a good day we saw only 3 Buzzard and a Great Tit, in the evening we noticed the first wild anemone of the winter.


Bad weather finished off the month and today we saw no birds at all.