Crete Birding

October 2006

Daily around the house there are…. Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch , Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Raven, Common Buzzard, Hooded Crow, Blackbird, Sky/Crested Lark and Collared Dove to be seen, at night we have regular sightings and calls of Barn owls and Scops Owls . They may not be listed everyday but are invariably about and easily spotted.

We try to photograph everything so that at least we have evidence and later can ID wildlife we are unsure about and those rarities.

1st October 2006

100+ [we think] Yelkouan shearwater, our first sighting on Gramvousa of a single Lammergeier heading from the peninsula across towards Falasarna a wonderful spot for us although it disappeared too quickly, Griffon Vultures 2 then later 11, Buzzard 8, Honey Buzzard 1, Eleonoras falcon 1, Ravens 8, Sardinian Warblers , Goldfinches large flocks feeding on seed heads , Whinchat 4 , Stonechat 2, Little Egret 40+, Cormorant 1. heard Barn Owl as it flew by the front balcony and a distant Scops Owl.

2nd October

Griffon Vultures 14, Kestrel 1, Buzzard 1, Raven 6, Hooded Crow 20+, Goldfinch large flocks feeding on seed heads, Blackbird 2, A single Black Kite flew high overhead made a large loop before flying northward onto Gramvousa, Sardinian Warbler, Eleonoras Falcon single bird over Neo Horio, several Collared Dove on road side cables into Kissamos, Yellow Legged Gulls 3 over Kissamos harbour, the first gulls seen for a few months.

3rd October

Still sighting large numbers of Griffon Vultures, the morning started very quietly, there seemed to be no Sardinian Warblers or Spotted Flycatchers about, greatly reduced numbers of Goldfinch and not until 11.30 did we see a lone Buzzard  , then noticed on the high crags to the north of us several groups of Griffon Vultures sat along the ridges, a few taking off and moving ledges, at 13.00 they all lifted into the air, headed north along Gramvousa ,we counted 30+, also 4 Buzzard possibly our local ones, a small falcon flying with the Griffons then small groups of Swallows. Swallowtail butterfly feeding on the Sea Squills.

4th October

A quiet day Sardinian Warbler, single buteo, Crested Larks and Hooded Crows

6th October

See Roy’s report.

7th October

Single female Sparrowhawk,  Peregrine Falcon, Griffon Vultures 6, Kingfisher x3, two batches of Little Egret 9+30, Cormorant, Grey Herons 60+, Honey Buzzard, Blue Rock Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Kestrel, Stonechat, Goldfinches, heard Scops Owls and Little Owls calling in the tamarisk trees, possibly a pair of each.

8th October

Buzzard, Sardinian Warbler, Crested Lark, Little Egret 1, then a group of 12.

9th October

Storms brewing , Crested Lark, Buzzard x 2, Woodchat Shrike, Chaffinch, juv. Roller, Stonechat, Little Egret 30, Kestrel x2, Hooded Crows , Greenfinch, Isabeline Wheatear.

10th October

Little Egret x2, Isabeline Wheatear, Crested Lark, Kestrel, Buzzard, 2 distant falcons unidentified, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Goldfinches, Collared Dove.

Severe electrical storms all around in the evening . Whilst taking photographs of the lightning  a superb Barn Owl came and hovered over my head at arms length for what seemed like minutes but was just seconds.

Heavy rain all night.

11th October

A trip to Athens, left home at 5am saw single Barn Owl along national highway.

In Athens we saw, Magpie, Robins, Blackbirds, Warblers, Collared Doves and some Parakeets all in the park behind parliament. 

12th October

Severe weather

Returning along national highway, Grey Herons 2 then a further 8, several Buzzard .

At home a single Griffon Vulture and several Ravens, Crested Larks, Kestrel, and Wheatears.

13th October

Weather still bad, single Kestrel, Griffon Vulture x2, Blue Rock Thrush, Collared Dove, Chaffinch, Crested Lark, Little Egrets 20+, Ravens x 4.

14th October

Weather still bad with strong winds, Kestrel, single Griffon, many Goldfinches, Great Tit, Raven.

15th October

Temperatures have dropped below 20°C rain threatening.

At home Raven, , Buzzard and Kestrel a great numbers of Goldfinches.

A trip out towards Chania …flooded fields at Kolymbari towards Tavronitis, a few Northern Wheatears, Stone and Win chats, otherwise a non productive trip along this part of the coast as there were three carloads of people with guns and dogs !!!!

Tavronitis where the river was in full flow produced a single Marsh Harrier. The cars of dogs and guns seemed to be following us , so we left for lake Agia….water levels well up, so no waders about.

White Wagtails 2, pair of Marsh Harriers , and a single Sparrowhawk which took a quick dive at one of the harriers before flying off towards the white mountains, several Kingfisher flying singly and in pairs, a single heron flew in , a single Squacco Heron, heard Cettis Warbler, Shoveler, Garganey, Ferruginous, Pochard, Teal and Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Raven, Hooded Crow and Buzzard.

16th/17th/18th  October

Really bad weather just a lone Griffon sighted on the 18th and a few Crested Larks.

19th October

First falls of snow high on Lefki Ori.

Pair of Sparrowhawk, Blue Rock Thrush, Griffon Vultures x 6, Kestrel, and large Goldfinch flocks, Ravens x2.

20th October

Single Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Blue Rock Thrush, Raven x4 , Sardinian Warblers, Chaffinches, single Great Tit and Buzzard, Griffon Vultures x 3, Kingfisher x 1, Barn Owl. At night in Kaliviani, a Beech Martin, single Barn and Scops Owl.

21st October

Sardinian Warblers, Willow Warbler x2, Cormorant, Chaffinch, Buzzard x3, Blue Rock Thrush, Goldfinches by the hundreds feeding on dead flower heads on hills, Raven x4 , Hooded Crows, Barn Owl heard .

22nd  October

Weather has settled and warmed again

Great Tits, Sardinian Warblers, Buzzards x3, Spanish Sparrows, have usually omitted these as they nest and roost on and around the house, our first autumn Robin singing loudly , Hooded Crows and Ravens, huge numbers of Goldfinches still around [several flocks of hundreds]. We have noticed since the bad weather that there are no Blackbirds around.

23rd October

Single Red-backed Shrike, Robin, Sardinian Warbler, Hooded Crows, Ravens x2, Great Tit, Stonechats, Buzzards, Crested Larks.

A trip to Tavronitis, 6 distant Raven  mobbing two unidentified birds of prey [buteo ?], Eleonoras falcon x1,a pair of Shoveler flew out to sea, Buzzard x 2, kestrel x2, Kingfisher, Grey Heron, White Wagtails, Crested Larks, Yellow Legged Gull x, Linnets in small flocks, large numbers of Goldfinch. Just as we were driving off the beach Sue spotted a plover on the waters edge , a winter plumage Ringed Plover, our first spot of this species here. As we drove away we had another surprise, eight Starlings perched on the telephone wires, another species we do not see many of  but a few more seem to arrive every year. At night  a Barn and Scops Owl.

24th October

Sardinian Warblers, more Robins arriving, Great Tit , Cettis Warbler, Hooded Crows, Ravens, Little Egret, Blue Rock Thrush, Griffon Vulture x5, Buzzards, and a single Eleonoras Falcon.

25th October

Robins, Blackbirds, Linnets, Sardinian Warblers, large flocks Goldfinch feeding nearby. In the early afternoon we had a single dark form Booted Eagle fly over with two Short-toed Eagles and a Buzzard, the Booted was feeding on the wing and the Short-toed Eagles gave us a wonderful ten minutes of hovering and hunting over the bare hillside behind the house before the Hooded Crows spotted them and drove them off towards Falasarna. The first short-toed eagles we have seen over the house.

26th October

Our first spot of the day was a single Peregrine Falcon, followed by a Short-toed Eagle, Goldfinch flocks all around, Robin , Spanish Sparrows, Linnets, Sardinian Warblers, Blackbirds, Chaffinch’s, in the distant hills of Gramvousa a single pale form Booted Eagle in the company of three Buzzards.  A single Sparrowhawk flew past and ignored a dozen or so Rock Doves scattering them in the process..

27th October

Crag Martin x3, several Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Griffon Vultures x 8 flew north along the peninsula then returned south over Kissamos, several large flocks of Goldfinch, Booted Eaglex2… 1 dark and 1 pale form, 30+ distant herons out over the bay were to distant to properly identify, Sardinian Warbler, Short-toed Eagle x1, later in the afternoon a single Peregrine for once getting the better of a Hooded Crow and several Ravens. An evening trip to Chania produced two Barn Owls flying over the national highway.

28th October

Griffon Vulture x16, our Short-toed Eagle is still with us giving a number of wonderful photo opportunities, several Buzzard trying to get into the photo shoot by harassing the Short-toed Eagle, Raven 10 doing the same as the Buzzards, our dark and pale form Booted Eagles returned in the afternoon, as did the Sparrowhawk and the Peregrine, also though not to be heard or seen much as mostly hiding in the scrub numbers of Goldfinch, a Robin and two Great Tit.

29th October

Our Short-toed is still about also a dark form Booted Eagle, Buzzard x2, a number of Raven, Golfinches still very active on the seed heads,  Robin and Great Tit, several loose small flocks of Linnet .

Later a trip to Deliana Gorge produced a Sparrowhawk, Buzzardx2, single Peregrine, a Redstart, Chaffinch’s, Raven x4, then just before dark 12+ Griffons returned to their sites in the gorge.

30th October

Still with us this morning our single Short-toed Eagle was joined by another, also two pale form Booted Eagles, all hovering in the light morning air over the beach and neighbouring fields, two Swallow flew past heading west, two Griffon Vultures circled lazily about half a mile offshore, Goldfinch and Linnet flocks plundered the seed heads, around the house, a single Robin.

On our shopping trip to Chania mid morning we saw, several Common Buzzard, a Sparrowhawk dashed low through the trees and across the national highway, several Collared Dove, Stonechats, Linnet and Goldfinches fed in the fields along the local beach track. On our return were two pale form Booted Eagles and a Short-toed, some heavy cloud had moved in from the west bringing a little rain with no sign of  the Booted or Short-toed near the house, maybe the ones we saw on the way back from Chania were the same birds  moving off with the barometer dropping dramatically and strong westerlies coming in

In all the eagles stayed with us for four days giving us a wonderful opportunity to watch and study them, in all we shot 1500 photographs ! thank goodness for digital SLRs.

31st October

During the night we have had really bad storms continuing through today with not much in the way of birdlife, 6 Yellow-legged Gulls flew across the waves, a Hooded Crow battled against the winds and a single Goldfinch was seen sheltering in the low shrub.