Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Brittany - Birding around St Malo and Dinan

Northern Brittany
Brittany, France - May, 2016

The northen coast of Brittany in France is a great place to spend some time. The dramatic rugged coastline, sandy beaches, wildlife, food and Breton culture are well worth exploring!
We were based around Cancale on the east side of the bay of Mont St Michel. Here the oysters grow in profussion in the shallow tidal bay and are harvested throughout the year. The town itself isn't too touristy although it is a place where people travel to eat in the various restaurants that line the long coastal main street. We certainly enjoyed the delicious food, fine white wines and ambience.

Pointe de Gruins near Coutance
We ere lucky with the early summer weather at the end of May and there were plenty of birds around.
Early mornings were quite productive and although I hadn't been to this particular part of Brittany beofre there was quite a lot of bird activity out at sea with distant Gannets, Shags and gulls. On two occasions I watched a Peregrine Falcon high above a group of little islands off Cancale which are a designated nature reserve. Lnding there isn't allowed without permission.

Green Lizard


Meadow Pipit amongst the Sea Thrift
Lizards, Pipits, Nightingales, Stonechats, Wrens, Linnets, Cirl Buntings and Common Kestrels were always not too far off. Inland I found Yellow and White Wagtails, Common Buzzards, Skylarks and Woodlarks, Greenfinces, Yellowhammers, Common Whitethroats, Melodious Warblers, Green and Great spotted Woodpeckers and did see a few but heard many Common Cuckoos.

Rock Lizard
Common Stonechat

Californian Poppies with other summer flowers
(Eurasian) Reed Warbler in flight
(Eurasian) Reed Warblers were quite obliging around Mont St Michel where we spent a morning. The tide was quite far out although Whimbrel, Oystercatcher and a few Northern Lapwing and a single Hobby were seen.

and peeking out...
The 'Sloop John B'
Breton Fisihng boat

Lighthouse off Coutance
There were some opportunities to take a ferry to islands off the coast north of St Malo. I did want to spend a day doing this but the service was a bit scat out of season, so to speak and on the day I wanted to go (having skillfully worked up my points to get a day away) the weather wasn't so kind out at sea. Next time perhaps and I'd certainly reccommend this part of France for such an easy holiday break.

There are lots of quiet, sheltered sandy bays

Le Mont St Michel from Cancale

Male Reed Bunting
Reed Buntings were present at the appropriate habitat and Grasshopper Warbler, Cetti's Warbler were heard as was Sedge Warbler. A pair of Red-backed Shrikes were also seen as well as a dashing Sparrowhawk.

 
Melodious Warbler
A male Blackcap with a rather jaunty pose
Street scene in Dinan

Beach to the fort off the city of St Malo

St Malo Hotel
Wren
 Chiffchaffs were singing in the woodland as were Wood and Willow Warblers
Yellow Wagtail
Common Swift preening in flight

Common Swift, Brittany
Cirl Buntings, male and female
Looking south to Cancale

There are lots of walking trails all along the coast
Family picnic time...
A Fench Air Force Alphajet scared away a Wren that I was trying to phograph...
...and off he went!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Encounter with a Red Fox cub


I went out to a local nature reserve north of Karlsruhe, Germany very early one day last week primarily to look for breeding Bluethroats, but came across this lovely young Red Fox cub. His muddy paws were a result of exploring the reed-beds on the fringes of one of the many pools on the reserve.

Red Foxes are wild animals and serious hunters, but still pull at our emotions simply because they look very cute. Some of the things that enhance our liking for these animals include their intelligence. They have lots of bad press with expressions like 'As cunning as a fox' but they are indeed clever and as an example hide food in a hole in the ground or wall when they have some extra and come back and eat when they are hungry. 
Foxes will eat just about anything including worms, spiders, lizards, mice, voles, rabbits, birds, berries and fruits. If they live in the city they'll search rubbish bins and areas where people picnic in parks.


The pupils in the eyes of foxes have vertically elliptic shape, like that of a rugby ball. It's not so obvious, but perhaps you can see what I mean from a close up of the photos above.
The pupils are actually more akin to that of a cats and there is one species the Grey Fox of North America that is the only fox that can climb trees.


Foxes are still persecuted for their fur and in many countries still bred in small cages hardly able to turn around and to keep their beautiful fur undamaged for the fur industry owners of fur farms use a method of anal electrocution which is needless to say extremely painful and utterly barbaric


Back in 2009 there was a newspaper report about a fox cub caught in a snare near Southend in Essex, UK. The snare was tied to a tree and the wire had tightened around the cub's stomach to the size of a couple of twopence pieces.

Vets believed that the animal had been trapped for up to two weeks and survived only because it's mother returned to regularly feed the trapped youngster.
After lots of stitches and other treatment the fox cub, who was named Willy by the veterinarian team was eventually released back into the wild


Foxes are part of our ecosystem and because they take ground nesting birds they are persecuted or 'controlled' in some sensitive areas by killing them using various methods. 

Rather than get into an emotional debate about our furry friends I have to admit that my love for foxes often clashes with for example, the decline in the population of Montagu's Harriers on the Iberian peninsula and other places, where there are lots of wind turbines. 
In these places animals such as foxes, genet and mongoose learn very quickly that birds of all sizes, bats and dragonflies get killed by the rotating blades and fall around the bases of the wind turbines where predatory animals manage to find plenty of  free food thus raising strong families and consequently over-populate such wind farm areas. Female foxes have a gestation period of just 53 days. Any ground -nesting birds like the Montagu's Harrier can fall prey to such natural hunters. 
Such are the consequences of wind generated electricity production but the dilemma is that I do want to be able to turn on the lights at home.


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Lake Kerkini in Winter, Greece. 18th - 22nd January 2016




 

This was a trip I led for LImosa Holidays the tour was co-led by Georgios Spiridakis and Martin Hrouzek.     Click above for the Jan 2017 tour info. Fantastic photo opportunities!



Introduction
Lake Kerkini is around 100kms north of the bustling port city of Thessaloniki, which is home to 1.5 million people. In 1932 a dam was constructed at Lake Kerkini that held back the waters of the Strimonas River and formed a huge lake over the marsh and flood plain. This agricultural plan for irrigation during the hot summers unwittingly created a unique wetland, which has become a haven for around 300 different bird species that can be observed throughout the year.
It is a major breeding ground and migration stopover route to the Aegean Sea, the Balkan region and the Black Sea and a special wintering area for many birds including the rare Dalmatian Pelican.



Day 1 - Monday 18th January 2016

Martin, Georgios (George) and Stephen were already at Thessaloniki Airport when the group flight arrived on schedule from London in the early afternoon. It was bitterly cold with a biting north wind and snow on the ground as we headed north on the motorway. Close to
the airport we saw a few Marsh Harriers, Common Buzzards, Eurasian Magpies and
Hooded Crows. Later, towards the Bulgarian border and our hotel close to Lake Kerkini, we
saw five or six Great Grey Shrikes sitting on telephone wires. Passing the dam and sluices
we saw our first Dalmatian Pelicans and pygmy Cormorants. There were also some Ruddy
Shelducks close to the sluices and a good number of Great Cormorants and Little Egrets.

It was already getting dark as we arrived at our village hotel, but we did see a local Little
Owl sitting in an outhouse window. We took dinner at a local restaurant then retired for the
night.



Day 2 - Tuesday 19th January 2016
Although very cold in the night with temperatures still well down below freezing, the clear
skies brought a magnificent sunrise lighting up the snow capped mountain range that
separates Greece from Bulgaria. After breakfast we set off early and drove down to Lake
Kerkini, accessing the eastern dyke that retains the lake’s water. Stopping to watch huge
flocks of Bramblings, Common Chaffinches, European Goldfinches, Corn Buntings and
Common Starlings that had arrived from the east and north to winter around the lake and
it’s huge agricultural plain. Pygmy Cormorants were already flying around and watched
perched in low trees in the ditches and canals. Great Egrets, Grey Herons and a few
Common Moorhens were also seen.



Out on the lake’s sandy shore a lone Greater Spotted Eagle sat preening itself and the
single adult Black Stork from yesterday was still present. A few Eurasian Spoonbills were
spotted with more Great Egrets and a few Little Egrets; checking through the large flocks of
roosting gulls we found mainly Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls, although adult
Common and Caspian Gulls were also noted. A large flock of Dalmatian Pelicans was seen
in the distance and we also saw some Greater Flamingos, along with several duck species
that included Mallard, Common Pochard, Eurasian Teal and Eurasian Wigeon.



We took our time walking along the dyke and, on the parallel tree line on the other side of
                      the lake, we watched small flocks of Water Pipits and Redwings. European Robins and 

Common Blackbirds were seen and we took time watching the antics of a Green and Grey-
headed Woodpecker having a dispute over a nest hole in a tall poplar. A Eurasian Nuthatch
was seen feeding on a tall poplar. Continuing along the dyke we saw a single Spoonbill
feeding close to some Great Egrets and Grey Herons. A little further on out on the mud flats
and sandbars we found a Greater Spotted Eagle perched on a small tree. Although quite
distant we did manage good scoped views of this fine wintering bird. Along a small water
channel on the other side of the dyke we watched some of the many Water Buffalo feeding.
A single Merlin flew past at speed putting up lots of mixed finch flocks as it passed close to
the ground over harvested maize fields. Common Buzzards were abundant and a few
Eurasian Sparrowhawks passed by, some dashing low, some flapping and gliding higher
up. Back down in the ditch Blackbirds flew from the brambles as European Robins,
European Goldfinches and a few Greenfinches searched for food. Water Pipits seemed to
be quite a common sight along the small pools on the drier sections of the lake where they
                      were feeding with White Wagtails.



As we moved along the dyke track a single Black Stork was seen on the lakeside. More
woodpeckers were calling from the poplars and willows and we heard then saw a single
Syrian Woodpecker. Greylag Geese were watched flying in to the lake a little further on and
then to our delight we spotted a group of over 40 Lesser White-fronted Geese, a rare
species for this part of Europe! Talking to some of the National park wardens, we learned
that only recently had these geese been recorded as wintering birds around Lake Kerkini;
Lesser White-fronted Geese do winter in Greece but usually around the Evros Delta.

Better views of Bramblings and European Blue and Great Tits were had as we headed for
lunch at Vironia. We took a hot chocolate and coffees at the old train station in the town
which had been tastefully turned into a small restaurant, then headed up to the local quarry
which presumably was the source of the foundations for the man-made dyke that we'd just
come along. Walking up the hill to the now abandoned workings we stopped to watch flocks
of Eurasian Siskins and European Goldfinches feeding on seeds. We managed to get very
close to these brightly-coloured finches. A short time later the first of three Golden eagles
flew over the horizon towards us. All together, they turned out to be two adult birds and a
juvenile.

Hawfinches seemed plentiful as a few very smart looking male Black Redstarts were
watched. A pair of Western Rock Nuthatches were seen on the quarry face and gave us
great views. We also saw an old nuthatch nest. Yellowhammer and Cirl and Rock Buntings
were next to be added to the bird list, before we added Song and Mistle Thrushes after
looking more closely at a flock of Hawfinches. Stopping off at the River Striomas on the
way back to the hotel we found some Meadow Pipits in amongst more Water Pipits, White
Wagtails and Common Starlings. Although cold, it was a day of bright clear skies and a
great day out in the field was had by all.





Day 3 - Wednesday 20th January 2016
An overcast morning was forecast but fortunately there wasn't any mist on the lake. During
the night the Little Owls had been calling their cat-like cries across the village.
We headed along the shore road to meet Nicos at his boat mooring and after parking close
to the shore most of the group boarded the boat with Nicos for a trip down to the Dalmatian
Pelican island to get closer views of these rare birds. At this time of year the pelicans are in
full breeding plumage with bright orange-red bill pouches and mad looking mop-like head
feathering. Adult birds have a slight yellow-ochre tinge across the breast feathers and the
birds’ iris has a rich yellow colour too. They look simply superb and offer photographers
great portrait opportunities. There was also an overwintering Whiskered Tern seen by the
group as well as some Great White Pelicans. It seems that a few Great Whites, mainly
juvenile birds, stay on and winter at suitable eastern European sites rather than fly to
Africa.

The cold prompted us all to have hot drinks and cake at a nearby hotel and after warming
up we followed the lakeside road looking for more birds. Thousands of Wood Pigeons were
covering the lakeside poplars giving the trees the appearance of being in full leaf! A pair of
Northern Ravens flew overhead calling noisily in the crisp mountain air. Here and there we
saw many more Chaffinch flocks with a few Common Linnets and more Greenfinches
amongst them. At a farm we stopped to look at a mixture of birds feeding on a manure
heap. Grey Wagtail was a new bird and a Red Fox was slinking along the treeline behind
us. We were close to the lake and could see lots of Dunlins flying in medium-sized flocks,
as well as some Common Snipe, a Temminck's Stint and a single Common Greenshank
that were all probing the waterlogged meadow and shore. Some Eurasian Jays were
watched flying and could be heard calling as well. It was soon time to head back to our
hotel as the sun was setting in the sky.



Day 4 - Thursday 21st January 2016
Another big temperature drop during the night brought a heavy frost around the village.
After breakfast and scraping the ice from the minibuses, we headed north through the gap
in the mountain range towards the Bulgarian border. The sun was shining and, although the
temperature was not going to get much above zero, we still had great visibility and a strong
will to find more birds. Our first stop was around the Promahomas quarry where lots of
Corn Buntings and a single Yellowhammer were sitting on electric cables. Skylarks were
seen, as were some Crested Larks at various parts of the open farmland above the quarry.
We also saw a single Dunnock perched in a bare bush just below the quarry and a
Eurasian Sparrowhawk passed through. Out on the ridgeline a female Hen Harrier was
having a tussle with a lovely male Pallid Harrier! Seconds later a second female harrier
came in to join the melee which turned out to be another female Hen Harrier. It turns out
that there are not too many reports of Pallids overwintering in Greece but then again their
range expansion and global warming may play a part in their winter presence.



We moved down to the valley and walked through the woodland, listening to the calls of
Middle Spotted and Green Woodpeckers. Eventually a Green Woodpecker was seen along
with Short-toed Treecreeper, Eurasian Nuthatch, and Song and Mistle Thrushes.
We had lunch at Agristo with our now standard coffees or hot chocolate drinks. In the
afternoon we explored the limestone valley north of the town of Sidirokascro where we had
a fleeting view of a Long-legged Buzzard on the outskirts of town. As we drove above the
town we stopped at a layby to scan the cliffs and valley below. Another Long-legged
Buzzard came into view - a different bird from the first sighting - then the buzzard was
stooped on by a passing sparrowhawk. Although fairly high in the clear blue skies, we
watched the spectacle as the two birds jinked, flapped, rose and fell as the sparrowhawk
refused to let up her attack. Over on the other side of the valley was the local quarry and
from here we had excellent views of a male Peregrine Falcon eating a freshly killed starling.
Blue Rock Thrush was also viewed as was a young Golden Eagle and two fairly distant
Common Buzzards.




As we explored another valley road we watched more Common Blackbirds, Song Thrushes
and Black Redstarts around some bushes laden with berries. Driving back down and over
to Lake Kerkini we came across another male Pallid Harrier that was hunting low, very
close to the main road. We pulled off quickly to try and get everyone on to this rare
wintering raptor but by the time we could disembark safely the bird was lost from view
behind gardens and outbuildings. We then took a track along the eastern Dyke where a
Wild Cat was seen walking off into the brambles. Cirl Buntings and Yellowhammers were
seen close by, while out on the lake and on some closer ponds good views of Smew were
had. Other ducks included Common Pochard, Northern Shoveler and some Common
Goldeneye with Little and Great Crested Grebes further out. One Common Sandpiper and
                      a few Little Stints were seen feeding close to the ever present Water Pipits and White 

Wagtails on the lakeshore, while a Common Kingfisher was also seen.

A Greater Spotted Eagle sat way out on the sandbanks in a low tree as we drove over to
Mandraki Harbour. Here another Wild Cat was seen, this time by the occupants of the other
minibus! Ruddy Shelduck were heard 'honking' in the distance and we found some
Bewick's Swans feeding in the muddy river. Greylag Geese were also present as daylight
faded and the temperature dropped quickly and a Bearded Reedling called but didn't show
                      itself. It was time to head back to the hotel.



Day 5 - Friday 22nd January 2016
A cold and frosty morning meant scraping the vans again and heating them up before
saying our farewells to Nicos and his parents. Driving straight to Thessaloniki, Georgios
took us straight to where some wintering Long-eared Owls were known to be roosting in a
graveyard surrounded by a sprawling industrial estate. Superb views of at least five birds in
a large Eucalyptus tree were had, as were similar views of another five owls in a Cyprus
tree in the graveyard.  





On the edge of the town we took a comfort and coffee stop then
slowly drove along the marshlands and saltpans south of Thessaloniki, stopping to watch a
huge flock of Rooks feeding.  







Thousands of Eurasian Teal were also seen feeding on the ponds behind the reedbeds and at times were flushed by patrolling Marsh Harriers. Good numbers of Northern Pintail, Eurasian Wigeon a single Red-breasted Merganser and Black-necked Grebes were also noted. Spotted Redshanks in winter plumage were watched as were Black-tailed Godwits, Common Redshanks, Common Greenshanks and Grey Plovers. Little Egrets, Grey Herons and Great Egrets were watched as Corn Buntings, Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers and Meadow Pipits took shelter from the wind among the reeds that were growing along the irrigation canals. We took a run along the southernmost track that follows the bay at Thessaloniki before heading to the airport to check-in before flying home.

Thanks to all that took part in this very pleasant and rewarding winter tour.



Annotated List of Birds Recorded

Greylag Goose Anser anser
Several seen in flight and about 40 seen feeding at Lake Kerkini.
White-fronted Goose     Anser albifrons
Seen on one day, affording good comparisons with the Lesser White-fronted Geese.
Lesser White-fronted Goose      Anser erythropus
A flock of 40 was seen. A rare winter bird that's now being monitored at Lake Kerkini.
Mute Swan   Cygnus olor
Seen at the Strimonas river mouth, other seen in flight.
Bewick's Swan   Cygnus columbianus bewickii
Ten or so seen at Mandraki Harbour.
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus
Great flight views on several days plus scoped views, all at Lake Kerkini.
Common Shelduck     Tadorna tadorna
Fairly common and seen most days.
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
Two small flocks on the lake. Very vocal.
Gadwall Anas strepera
Seen at Kalohori and noted at the lake daily in small numbers.
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
Noted as above and daily around the lake, though no more than several hundred present.
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Small numbers were noted in amongst the commoner wildfowl on the lake, also seen at Kalohori.
Mallard   Anas platyrhynchos
Common, seen daily.
Northern Shoveler    Anas clypeata
Several thousand birds were an impressive sight at the northwest corner of the lake, with small
numbers also noted during our visit to Kalohori.
Eurasian Teal    Anas crecca
Noted daily during our trips to the lake.
Common Pochard Aythya ferina
Noted daily at the lake, with a large flock thought to be in excess of a thousand birds seen from the
North-west corner of the lake.
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Three redheads on day three and two redheads and two adult males on day four.
Smew Mergellus albellus
Seven (including a smart adult drake) were seen from the west bank on day three.
Goosander Mergus merganser
A male was seen twice from the west bank on day three.
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
Four were seen distantly offshore during our visit to Kalohori.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Noted daily on the lake and at Kalohori.
Great Crested Grebe    Podiceps cristatus
Present in large numbers with one concentration numbering several hundred, noted around the dam.
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Our first few at Kalohori.
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
Lots at Kerkini and around Thessaloniki saltpans and bay area.
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
Three at Kalohori were followed by a single at Kerkini on day two and four confiding roadside
birds there on day four.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Common, noted around the lake and roadside fields throughout the trip.
Great Egret    Ardea alba
Common, as above noted daily in various habitats.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Several were seen at Kalohori.
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus
Easily seen on all areas of the lake, with many in breeding plumage with bright red bill pouches.
White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
A juvenile bird was picked out amongst a group of Dalmatians by the dam on day three, with four
'rosy' adults seen on our boat trip on day four.
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmeus
Easily seen at Kalohori and around the lake.
Great Cormorant    Phalacrocorax carbo ssp. sinensis
Noted daily in good numbers around the lake.
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Seen every day.
Merlin   Falco columbarius
A few birds seen at the lakeside.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Common and seen every day of the tour.
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
Two birds seen in the Sidirokascro area.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
                            Two sightings during the tour.
Western Marsh Harrier    Circus aeruginosus

A few at the lakeside around Kirkini but more abundant at Thessaloniki wetlands.

Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus

Only a few seen, often distant views.
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus
Two males presented one of the tour highlights.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Seen most days.
Common Buzzard     Buteo buteo
Seen daily, in fact difficult to miss, with birds perched in rural areas.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
A high flying pair over the wood at Ano Poroyo were a great find.
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga
A maximum of three were seen during our time around the lake.
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Heard only.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Noted daily.
Eurasian Coot    Fulica atra
Seen most days.
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Ten birds seen at Kalohori.
Northern Lapwing     Vanellus vanellus
Seen in small numbers.
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria
One small flock at Lake Kerkini.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Seen at Kalohori, were at least twenty birds were present.
Common Snipe Gallingo gallingo
Around ten were seen in flight at Kalohori, with a single also seen in flight at the lake.
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
Several at the lakeside.
Black-tailed Godwit    Limosa limosa
Several at Thessaloniki.
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
Quite a few at Thessalonik bay saltpans.
Spotted Redshank
Two at Thessaloniki bay saltpans.
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
One bird seen at the lakeside.
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Commonest wader at the lake with flocks of two hundred plus.
Temminck's Stint     Calidris temminckii
One bird seen at the lake.
Little Stint    Calidris minuta
A few birds seen at Lake Kerkini
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Seen on all days during our time at the lake, with a maximum of six on day two.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Singles were seen on days two and four.
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
Noted daily, and easily seen around the lake.
Caspian Gull    Larus cachinnans
Our first, an adult, was seen on our evening visit to the small harbour by the dam. This was followed
by several good contenders for this species on our return visit there the following evening.

Mediterranean Gull    Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
Six adult birds were found in total in amongst the commoner Black-headed Gulls at Kalohori.
Black-headed Gull    Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Common, easily seen daily around the lake.
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
One during our boat trip was a nice find.
Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Seen daily in small numbers.
Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
Noted daily, sometimes in large numbers.
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Extremely common and noted daily - primarily as we travelled through the local villages.
Little Owl Athene noctua
Seen around the village and often quite vocal there.
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Seen on two occasions.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus medius
Heard only at Promahonas Woodland.
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopus syriacus
Six were seen in total on our first full day around the lake, with two also seen well on our last day.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major
Often tricky to separate from the above species without reasonable views, noted daily.
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
Heard calling around the lake edge and at Promahonas Woodland but only one was seen.
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus
We had one having a slight altercation with a Green Woodpecker in some poplar trees at the
lakeside which offered us good views and comparison of the two species. Several were also heard.
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor
Several were seen sitting on roadside wires on day one.
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
Easily heard and seen around the lake edges and countryside.
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
Easily seen daily.
Western Jackdaw    Coloeus monedula
Noted daily on buildings near the hotel.
Rook   Corvus frugilegus
Noted on the outskirts of Thessaloniki on the trips to and from the airport.
Hooded Crow     Corvus cornix
Common, easily seen and noted throughout the trip.
Northern Raven Corvus corax
Seen daily in ones and twos.
Sombre Tit Poecile lugubris
One showed well for us on our visit to Vironia Quarry.
Marsh Tit Poecile palustris
Two were seen in a large mixed tit flock at Vironia Quarry.
Great Tit Parus major
Noted daily in small numbers.
Blue Tit   Cyanistes caeruleus
As above, noted daily in small numbers.
Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus
Four seen on tour.
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Only a few birds seen.
Bearded Reedling Panurus biarmicus
                          One heard at Madraki Harbour.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata

Seen in small numbers were seen daily.

Common Skylark Alauda arvensis

A mobile flock of around 20 were at Kalohori, with larger numbers seen at the lake.
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
A few wintering birds seen.
Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla
One seen at the lakeside.
Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Six seen at the lakeside.
Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Heard daily, with several seen.
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Several vocal birds were seen well at Promahonas wood, with two others at Ano Porroya.
Western Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer
One showed well for us at Sidrokastro.
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla
One was heard and seen at Promahonas woodland.
Common Starling     Sturnus vulgaris
Noted daily generally in small flocks in fields as we were travelling.
Common Blackbird Turdus merula
Easily seen and noted daily.
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
Only one seen, which was a flyover at a roadside stop on day two.
Redwing Turdus iliacus
Six were seen at Promahonas wood.
Song ThrushTurdus philomelos
Not seen until the last day, with several noted accompanying Mistle Thrushes.
Mistle Thrush    Turdus viscivorus
Particularly noticable at Promahonas wood and during our last morning.
European Robin    Erithacus rubecula
Seen daily in small numbers.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Fairl common wintering bird.
European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
A pair at Kalohori were the only ones seen.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Seen daily as we travelled around, sometimes in large mixed flocks with the other sparrow species.
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
Found in mixed flocks with other sparrows.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Abundant in towns and at farm buildings.
Dunnock   Prunella modularis
One seen perched at Promahomas.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
A few seen at the lake side.
White Wagtail     Motacilla alba
Much easier to see than the above species, with birds easily seen and heard on our visits to the lake.
Meadow Pipit   Anthus pratensis
Noted daily in small numbers at Kalohori and around the lake and surrounding fields.
Water Pipit    Anthus spinoletta
Noted daily, with best views had of several confiding birds at Kalohori.
Common ChaffinchFringilla coelebs
Noted daily and easily seen, often in large numbers.
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla
Several were noted in a large mixed finch, bunting and sparrow flock on two days.

Greenfinch   Chloris chloris
Seen daily, in small numbers.
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus
Wonderful views at Veronia and several mixed flocks with Siskins seen.
European Goldfinch     Carduelis carduelis
Noted daily, throughout the trip.
Common Linnet Linaria cannabina
Noted in several small flocks during the trip.
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Excellent views of these handsome finches especially at Vironia Quarry.
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra
Quite common in and around the lake and farmland areas.
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
Seen in medium-sized flocks of around 30 birds and within mixed bunting flocks as well.
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
Good views around the lakeside and at Vironia Quarry.
Reed Bunting     Emberiza schoeniclus
Only a few seen on the last day.
Rock Bunting    Emberiza cia
A few at Veronia Quarry.



Mammals

European Wild Cat Felis silvestris
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
 

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