Crete Birding

September 2007

The following listed birds were seen daily throughout September and are not listed in the daily reports.

Hooded Crow, Italian Sparrow, Buzzard, Collared Dove, Rock Dove, Crested Lark, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Sardinian Warbler, Raven, Yellow-legged Gull.

A good start to the month with regular daily sightings of a pair of Bonelli’s Eagle hunting together, on one occasion  resting on a ledge for two hours before giving great flying views for another 15 minutes before heading north onto the peninsula. Eleonora’s Falcon 3 birds. Also a Lesser Grey Shrike, Glossy Ibis x 67, all on the 1st. A brief glimpse of an Aquila as it flew onto the rocks but  we were unable to find it amongst the boulders on the hillside so were unable to ID it. Our first Jackdaws around the house on the 18th. A Long-legged Buzzard on the 19th. Also Bee-eaters were heard.

Lammergeier arrived a few days later this month [ from the 4th ] and the closest views yet as one flew over the house on the 12th. Again good views on the 17th,18th,20th,23rd,25th on the 26th superb views for over an hour of two birds one juv. and an adult .

An imm. Egyptian Vulture on the 25th.

Our first Rufous Bushchat on the 6th. A Wryneck on the 11th. Our first sightings of Kingfisher from the house. AnEastern Imperial Eagle showed again on the 13th and sightings of Long legged Buzzard on the 11th &15th. Lots of the smaller migrants arriving mid month.


Great Tit, Nightingale, Hooded Crow a large flock of 40+, Buzzard 3, Eleonora’s Falcon, Kestrel 2, Lesser Grey Shrike, Crested lark, Blue Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Griffon Vulture 9+11+5, Blackbird, Raven 10+14, Goldfinch,Bonelli’s Eagle 2, U.I.D. Aquila,  Northern Wheatear, Stonechat, Italian Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Yellow-legged Gull, Glossy Ibis x 67 circled the bay before flying south , with 7 waders that were with them but unable to ID as too distant. As dusk settled a Hobby once again drifted past the front balcony.


Great Tit, Kestrel 2, Blue Rock Thrush f, A pair of Bonelli’s Eagle,, Griffon Vulture 2, Red Backed Shrike f,Swift 1, Swallow 3, Eleonora’s Falcon, Honey Buzzard 5, another Bonelli’s Eagle 3rd cy, Little Egret 9, Stonechat, Hoopoe 1, Greenfinch, Whitethroat 2, Stonechat.

A large Western Whipsnake threaded its way through the Scented Geranium.


Woodchat Shrike, Great Tit, Blue Tit, around the house all day were several Red Backed Shrike m & f , Kestrel 1, Peregrine Falcon 1, Swallow 3, Whitethroat 1, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Stonechat. Whilst out with our dog on our late night walk a Barn Owl sat on the hide we are constructing overlooking an overgrown gully.


Plus a trip to Lake Agia.

Great Tit, Blackbird  6, Goldfinch + +, Pied Flycatcher 1, Red Backed Shrike m&f, Hoopoe 1, Blue Rock Thrush, Griffon Vulture 1+3+9, Icterine Warbler 1, Whitethroat 2, Spotted Flycatcher 3,Willow Warbler 1 ,Cirl Bunting 2, Swallow, Lesser Grey Shrike 2 m&f, Kestrel, Little Egret 5, Blue Tit 4, Woodchat Shrike juv, Swift & Alpine Swift large flock 200+, Lammergeier one showed very briefly for 2 minutes. Stonechat.


An evening visit that was marred by a forest fire in the foothills of the White Mountains and saw a Russian loaned helicopter with fire bucket over flying the lake several times scattering what birds there were.

Collared Dove, Purple Heron 30+, Grey Heron 2, Gargany 20+, Ferruginous Duck 20+, Shoveler Duck 6 f, Marsh Harrier 1f + 1 dark morph m, Turtle Dove, Wood Sandpiper 4, White wagtail 1, Grey wagtail 2, Coot 300+, Moorhen 10+, Teal 30+, Pochard 10+, Little Grebe, 30+, Little Egret 2, Hooded Crow 60+, Swallow 10+, Kingfisher 3, Peregrine Falcon 1. On the way home several Buzzard, Little Egret 5,and as we approached our house a Hobby


Blue Tit, Blue Rock Thrush m&f, Great Tit, Stonechat, Lammergeier, Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel 2, Woodchat Shrikejuv m, at 0920 the pair of Bonelli’s Eagle showed for a short while. Griffon Vulture 4, Raven 10+, Little Egret, a flock of 80+ along with 20+ Grey Heron were seen on the rocks in the bay and were disturbed by human presence, so took to the air and settled on the harbour rocks. Marsh harrier 1at 1130hrs and 1 juv m at 1600hrs.Spotted Flycatcher, Red Backed Shrike m, Rock Thrush f.


Our first rain since a shower on June 4th , previous heavy 18/19th May ! left the air freshened and an autumnal feel, a relief after the long hot summer with the threat of fires with us.

+ A lunchtime walk into the hills of Gramvousa .

Stonechat, Kestrel, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Griffon Vulture 15, Little Egret 3, Yellow Legged Gull 2, Cormorant 1, Bonelli’s Eagle 2 were seen circling high over the Kissamos Harbour area for about 15 minutes before setting off at a fast rate back onto Gramvousa peninsula. Blue Tit, Swallow, Cory’s Shearwater9 flew just of the shoreline .Woodlark. At 6pm Little Egrets x 10 settled for the night near the harbour. At 8pm our local Hobby again put in its brief appearance. Also a Bat.

Gramvousas Peninsula

We found 6 small Stripe Necked Terrapin and a crab in a nearly dried up freshwater stream, lots of Dragon flies and Pool Frogs in a swampy area created by a leaking drink trough.

Birds seen….. Our first for here a Rufous Bushchat, Bonelli’s Eagle 2 , our nearest sightings yet, Kestrel 2+2, Griffon Vulture 8, Stonechat, 3, Black Throated Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Whinchat 1, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Crested Lark, Swallow, Skylark, Red Backed Shrike, Raven 6


Woodlark, Great tit, Spotted Flycatcher numbers increasing, high up a group of 5 Buzzard, Alpine Swift 50+, Kestrel, Swallow, Little Egret 26 circled the bay, a Kingfisher flew amongst the coastal rocks, Stonechat.


Great Tit, Griffon Vulture, 2+2+4+11, Woodchat Shrike, Swallow, Alpine Swift, Blue Rock Thrush, Kestrel, Cormorant 1, Bonelli’s Eagle again put in an appearance firstly distant views then later in the day in front of the house, Blue Tit, Whitethroat.


Great Tit, Little Egret  211+ [30+ Glossy Ibis 1 ]+40, Griffon Vulture 11, Swallow, Woodlark, Bonelli’s Eaglepair 1415-1445 hunted the slopes of Gramvousa, Cetti’s warbler, Whitethroat, Woodchat Shrike, Nightingale, Spotted Flycatcher, Red backed Shrike, Alpine Swift, Eleonora’s falcon. We had noticed a bat appearing at around 8pm each night and tonight noticed it flying out from the tiles on our new pergola. We had been observing the tiles as we suspected one was coming from the tiles.


Plus another trip to lake Agia

At home

Griffon Vulture 2, Swallow, Great Tit, Whitethroat, Kingfisher 2, Red backed Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Woodlark, Woodchat Shrike, Little Egret 3, Grey heron 7, Spotted Flycatcher, Nightingale, Greenfinch, Bonelli’s Eagle 2, Skylark, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Barn Owl

At the lake

Ferruginous Duck 15, Grey wagtail 1, Kingfisher 4, Coot 200+, Moorhen30+, Little Grebe 30+, Sand Martin 10+, Shoveler 6f, Little Egret 3, Hooded Crow 12, Garganey 4, Pochard 5, Teal 6, Wood Sandpiper 5, Marsh Harrier 2, Buzzard 2, Eleonora’s Falcon 2, Little Bittern 1, Reed Warbler 1, Mallard 2f, Gadwall 4, Alpine Swift 1, Swallow, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Barn Owl no less than 3 on the way home .


Blue Rock Thrush, Grets Tit, Whitethroat, Red Backed Shrike, Woodlark, Stonechat, Red-rumped Swallow 1, Blue Tit . A weasel was being warned off by a Sardinian Warbler as it worked along a hedge.

A hike onto Gramvousa , produced a few more migrants

Rock Dove, Stonechat, Whinchat, Wryneck 1, Hobby 1, Northern Wheatear, Raven, Swallow, House martin, Griffon Vulture 4, Blue headed Wagtail 2, Hoopoe 1,Great tit, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Crested lark, Woodlark, Skylark, Bonelli’s Eagle 2, Blue Rock Thrush, Kestrel 2, Long Legged Buzzard 1, Tawny pipit, Whitethroat, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Red Backed Shrike m&f, Goldfinch, Italian Sparrow, Collared Dove, Sardinian Warbler.


Blue Rock Thrush, Great Tit, Little Egret 9, Grey Heron 2+12, Red Backed Shrike 2f+ 1m, Griffon Vulture 4+3+7+2, Kestrel 1, Chaffinch, Woodlark, Kingfisher 1, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Lammergeier a single bird flew over the house giving us our closest views yet. A very brief sighting of two Harriers possibly Marsh. Spotted Flycatcher.

Another hike onto Gramvousa looking for  migrant raptors

Griffon Vulture 7, Kestrel 2, Bonelli’s Eagle 2, Booted Eagle 2 separate birds flew south very high and Raven 6, also seen a Black-eared Wheatear and a Turtle Dove.


Great Tit, Little Egret 80, Whitethroat  juv, Chaffinch, Woodlark, Blue Rock Thrush 2, Griffon Vulture 3+8+4+7+14, Raven 2+3+2, Blue Tit, Red Backed Shrike 1m, Woodchat Shrike 1m, Eastern Imperial Eagle 1, Kestrel 2, Peregrine Falcon 1, Eleonora’s Falcon 1, Grey Heron 1.


Griffon Vulture 2+10, Great Tit, Peregrine Falcon 1, Kestrel 1, Large numbers of Goldfinch, Blue Rock Thrush,Eleonora’s Falcon 1, Stonechat, Little Egret 30+, Isabelline Wheatear 2, a few White Wagtails along the beach road, a Barn Owl sat on the fence looking down on the house.


Great Tit 6, Hooded Crow 30+, Even  more Goldfinch flocks, Woodlark, Blue Rock thrush, Long Legged Buzzard 1, Steppe Buzzard 2, Woodchat Shrike 1, Alpine swift 1, Griffon Vulture 15, Eleonora’s Falcon 1, Peregrine Falcon 1, Greenfinch, Hobby 1, Kestrel 1, Red Backed Shrike 3f  together and singles seen throughout the day. Lesser Kestrel 3 hunted the crags above the house. Swallow.


Griffon Vulture 8+3, Red Backed Shrike several females about, Great Tit, Little Egret 60+80+, Hooded Crow 40+ in a flock, Kestrel 3, Booted Eagle pale morph 1, Woodchat Shrike 1, Woodlark several heard.


Hooded Crow again 40+ in a flock all day , Griffon Vulture 3+7, Buzzard 7, Little Egret 7 , Kestrel 1, Blue Rock Thrush, Greenfinch , Chaffinch, Large numbers of Goldfinch, Two brief views of the Lammergeier as it moved across the hills on Gramvousa at 1930 and 1940hrs. Woodlark , Great Tit.

On the National Highway to Chania near Platanias our first road killed Buzzard was seen.


Plus a trip to Agia lake

Buzzard 4, Woodlark, Red Backed Shrike 2, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Black Redstart, Blue Tit, Griffon Vulture7,Bonelli’s Eagle 2 Jackdaw 3, Kestrel 2, Eleonora’s Falcon 1, Red Rumped Swallow 1, Lammergeier from 1525-1545hrs, Honey Buzzard 7 flew high south from the peninsula. Late at night an unknown bat.

Trip Lake Agia

Kingfisher 8, Coot + +, Moorhen +, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Sand Martin, Little Grebe +, Swallow, Shoveler 5f, Gargany, Cetti’s heard, Teal f, Gadwall, Mallard, Little Egret 1, Purple Heron 2, well hidden in the bamboo at the back of the lake, Eleonora’s Falcon 3 , provided some wonderful flying skills as one landed on an exposed piece of twig in the lake centre and the other two proceeded to try to knock it off , providing some nice if distant photographic shots. Spotted Flycatcher, Some Warblers were heard but were not visible apart from Sardinian Warbler. Chaffinch, Blackbird, Hooded Crow, Buzzard and a single Northern Wheatear. Once again very disappointing in that there are no waders whatsoever, this time even the few Wood Sandpipers that were seen previously were not present.


Kestrel 3, Hooded Crow 40+ still in the area, Great Tit, Honey Buzzard  6, Griffon Vulture 2+3+7, Red Backed Shrike3 f, lots of Goldfinch, Blue Rock Thrush, Stonechat, Woodlark, Skylark 1, Long –legged Buzzard 1, Raven 20+ flock in the area for most of the day, Bee-eaters heard but we could not locate. Spotted Flycatcher, Chaffinch  numbers are slowly increasing, Swallow 1, Greenfinch 1, Grey Heron 1 sat on the rocks for most of the afternoon, White Wagtail1.


Red Backed Shrike 4f, Goldfinch numbers increasing the noise as flocks rest in the few trees above us is almost like a Starling roost , fantastic , Chaffinch, Woodchat Shrike 1m, Blue Rock Thrush 1, Great Tit, Griffon Vulture 2+5, Woodlark, Eleonora’s Falcon 1, Bonelli’s Eagle 2, Lammergeier 1, Buzzard 2, Steppe Buzzard 3, Kestrel 1, mixed flocks of  White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail and Grey Wagtail along the beach road along with Hoopoe 2. Black Redstart, Northern  Wheatear 2, Isabelline Wheatear 2, Spotted Flycatcher, Late at night a Barn Owl was heard.

The three sightings of Lammergeier 1055, 1630 and 1800 along with Bonelli’s Eagle 1055 and 1630 provided the highlights of the day , the 1630 sighting was particularly nice as these two species circled the skies along with four Griffon Vultures . The 1800hrs Lammergeier sighting saw it rise high into the sky on Gramvousa and head south towards Sfinari at speed straight over the house, terrific !!.


Another good day for raptors as the winds changed  more easterly we had the closest views of the pair of Bonelli’s Eagle one flew along the rocks at roof level 50-60 metres away soaring into the sky to join its mate, in all three views of them today. Also a Booted Eagle pale morph, No less than 3 Peregrine Falcon in the air together one adult and two juv. birds provided a noisy aerial display  plus sightings of single birds throughout the day.. Eleonora’s Falcon three sightings or three different birds. We suspect that the latter two species were all the same ones and were doing a loop of the area . But until we have checked the pictures  to see we believe that a single Eleonora’s and 3 Peregrine was the count.

Raven 13, Red backed Shrike 1, Blue Rock Thrush, Great Tit, 5 in our courtyard at one time, Sardinian Warbler, Kestrel 2, Griffon Vulture 5+6.


Well today Colin was due to go to Antikithera island with the Greek equivalent of the RSPB, The Hellenic Bird Society (See links page) for two weeks helping with the autumn raptor count  but after calm seas this summer and as the ferry changes to its winter timetable a gale has appeared and the ferry would not go to the island today. Due to the exposed harbour its to dangerous for a boat this size to enter the narrow entrance so hopefully a getaway tomorrow will be on, otherwise a week will pass before the next ferry . Sue is going to keep up the spotting here for the rest of the month to conclude our relatively full time birding  diary for the year.

So in the bad weather we saw Great Tit, Kestrel 2, Hooded Crow, Griffon Vulture 9+6, Buzzard , Goldfinch small numbers , Eleonora’s Falcon 1, Red Backed Shrike 1. Raven 2. A poor day due to the weather


The bad weather [rough seas and strong northerly winds] is still with us so the ferry to Antikithera is bypassing the island again.

However we decided to have a trip out along the western coastline towards Sfinari in the afternoon.

At home we saw Kestrel 2, Great Tit, a large flock of Hooded Crow 40+ , Griffon Vultures braved the force 7/8 winds above Gramvousa we saw 2+6+2+1, Eleonora’s Falcon 2, Lammergeier a single bird at 1100hrs for a few seconds , Stonechat, Swallow, Northern Wheatear large groups of Raven flew above the ridges south of us.

The Sfinari trip turned out to be pretty poor , we saw Whinchat, large numbers of Crested lark, Blue Rock Thrush, Kestrel, Raven, Woodchat Shrike and Red Backed Shrike. At a small hidden harbour we saw a single Kingfisher.


The strong winds are still with us another poor day for birding with most of the small stuff taking shelter.

Red backed Shrike, a few goldfinch today , Great Tit, Hooded Crow , 40+ mastered the  blustery conditions also harrying Kestrel 2, Spotted Flycatcher, Chaffinch and Blackbird, Blue Tit and huddled on the rocks along the sea shore Little Egret 10.


The strong winds are weakening and a few more birds showed today. Woodlark, Buzzard 6, Hooded Crow 40+ birds again , Great Tit, Crested Lark, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler.

A Lammergeier passed right over the house at 1130hrs,  fairly high heading south then turned  180o and flew back at a lower height again right over the house affording us the best [ closest views) to date, the bird was probably a 2nd-3rd cy. This was followed shortly after by Griffon Vultures 15 that scoured the ridges for an hour.  Two Kestrel hunted separate ridges. At 1430hrs an Egyptian Vulture was ushered at speed, southward by three Raven. Also along the southern ridges over Agios Georgious  80+ Raven circled and dived around . Blackbird.


Well I was a little disappointed that I never got to go to help on the raptor migration count on Saturday, well they say what is meant to be will be, well I think I was meant to stay at home today.

From early on with the wind now gone, the sea mirror calm, Hooded Crow 40+ made a racket. Woodlark, Blackbird, Great Tit, Sardinian Warbler could all be seen and heard again, Goldfinch in large numbers moved through adding their chattering, a Willow Warbler moved through our courtyard garden picking at the abundant  aphids on the Hibiscus, Blue Rock Thrush 1, upward of 60+ Raven again ducked and dived spiralling high above Agios Gorgious whilst numerous others moved across the area . Chaffinch numbers are on the up. Kestrel two birds again hunted the area. A Lammergeier was again seen at 1120-1125  as it moved north along the peninsula. Followed at 1150-1204hrs by the pair of Bonelli’s Eagle and Griffon Vulture 4. We had to tear ourselves away and go into town to visit the post office and the harbour, as the Hellenic Ornithological Society  co-ordinator had phoned to say the ferry itinerary had changed  for Thursday and would now call at the island. So having checked that out we returned home for lunch ……Now that the winds had abated we sat on the front balcony  enjoying lunch when we spotted Lammergeier again, with what turned out to be fantastic views as one turned into two birds ! an adult and the juv. we saw yesterday ? from 1539-1730 hrs, nearly two hours watching them swooping into a hidden gulley and slowly gliding along the ridges before the adult eventually emerged with what looked like the shoulder or hind quarter bones of one of the deceased  mountain goats , it was harassed by the juv. and seemed to struggle to get any altitude before returning to the area where it emerged leaving the juv. to  soar around the area , we only saw the juv. bird again as it passed low along the crags and landed for a short while before taking to the air and then landing a little nearer to us but virtually in the same spot . It took off and disappeared from view before finally flying north back along the spine of the peninsula . All this viewing is probably at a distance of  1/2 - 3/4 km away so pictures taken over that distance are fuzzy with the haze but with the telescope we have today studied some fantastic behaviour.

Am I glad the weather was bad …meant to be home …yes you bet !!  fantastic views of this rarity and the Bonelli’s Eagle from our home balcony, who could ask for more.

So what Sue will see on the last days of this month as I, hopefully, weather permitting, get the afternoon ferry to Antikythira and the HOS bird observatory.


Weather turned out to be fine and later in the day Colin set forth for Antikithera for his two weeks raptor watching. Through the day we saw.

Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Great Tit, Swallow, Isabeline Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail, Blue Rock Thrush, Griffon Vulture 2, Kingfisher.


Goldfinch, Woodlark, Great Tit, Stonechat, Willow Warbler, Blackbird, Griffon Vulture, 2, circled low over the small church on the hillside above our house  before landing on the rocks 100metres away for about fifteen minutes where they sat preening and calling before lazily lifting off, gained height and headed onto Gramvousa , they do not usually land nearby, only one other time [see picture on birds pages] Colin will be sorry he missed them !!!!.Red –backed Shrike, Kestrel, Yellow Wagtial 4, Isabeline Wheatear 1, Northern Wheatear 1, along the coast road a dead Eastern Headgehog.


Red-Backed Shrike, Woodlark, Stonechat, Kestrel, Great Tit, Buzzard 4, Griffon Vulture 1, Cormorant 1 sat on the coastal rocks, Yellow Wagtail 6, Blackbird, Blue Rock Thrush, Goldfinch, Scops Owl heard.


Woodlark, Blackbird, Kestrel, Stonechat, Red-Backed Shrike, Goldfinch, Yellow Wagtail 4, Blue Rock Thrush, Great Tit, Whinchat, Hobby 1 flew through he olive trees at dusk.