Trip Report: Northern Greece May, 2007
Dadia Forest, Phillipi , Arum Dracunculus or Voodoo Lily
Leader : Dermot Mc Cabe
Photos: Patricia Price, Lorraine Benson
This was prime time migration and one week was just not long enough as we travelled across Northern Greece to visit as many habitats as possible.
From the sites of ancient European civilisation resonating with history to wilderness of great natural beauty, the northern Greek experience is highly recommended if your ambition is to make a big indent into the Collins Bird Guide. Birds were in breeding plumage and singing making identification easier. Our itinerary started with Delphi... of course! A Rock Nuthatch was waiting for us in the ruins. Returing north from Delphi we saw our first White Storks on the nesting platforms that seem to be a feature of all the villages.Then east to Thessaloniki, Lake Veronia and on to Asprovalta. On and around the Lake Veronia, White Stork and Black Stork were plentiful as were Greater Flamingo, and Pelicans. Corn Buntings, Black-headed Buntings and Crested Larks were everywhere. Marsh Harrier was the commonest raptor in this area. On to lake Volpi where we saw 6 Red-footed Falcons on a telegraph wire. Pygmy Cormorant and Cettis Warblers, Cirl Bunting showed easily. A Short-toed Eagle hovered over our heads for a short period on the side of the road
Onwards to Fanari in 28 degrees of heat - near the hotel we saw our first and only White-backed Woodpecker. We also found our first Calandra Lark in this area near Lake Ismerida south of Pagouria. These idiosynchratic large larks favoured roughly ploughed fields and were less numerous that the commoner Crested larks, Short-toed Lark and Wood Lark. A surprising flock of 30 Collared Pratincoles bounced tern-like overhead and stayed hawking in the area for several minutes.Hundreds of calling Bee-eaters filled the air and landed on low bushes around us as we walked in this area alive with birds. So much colour almost succeeded in diverting our eyes from a great bunch of waders including Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover . A Lesser Grey Shrike was also present where we walked. We could have spent the week in this magic small area which we discovered. It was not on anyone else's trip report!! But it was onwards to the birding hotspots identified by Gosney and others before us.
Rock Nuthatch at Delphi
Next stop was inland and up towards the mountains on the Turkish border to Raptorland. Its possible to see almost all the breeding raptors in Europe at the Dadia reserve.The raptors included Booted Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard. Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture and Black Vultures were easy to see at Dadia.
You can gen up on your tricky Warblers in the low bushy scrub along the coastal plains of the Evros Delta which was our next stop. We saw a good number including Eastern Olivacious Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Reed Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Great Reed Warbler as well as the easier ones such as Subalpine Warbler, Mustached Warbler and Sardinian Warbler. A tiny Little Bittern clung leaflike to a stalk in the reed beds. Penduline Tit nests decorated the trees along the delta. Down at the beach a pair of Kentish Plover ran around the abandoned boats in the fishermens' area.We stayed near the Evros visitors centre at Loutros This was another place where we could have spent more time. It is, we understand, one of the few places where the Slender- Billed Curlew can be found. We did not see this bird this time!
six hour drive to Lake Kerkini near the Bulgarian border took
us to a spectacularly different Alpine lake area home to the White-tailed
Eagle, Black Kite, Dalmatian Pelican and White Pelican, a variety of
and thousands of Great Cormorants. On the same day we saw a Great
Eagle Owl and the diminutive Little Owl standing guard at its nest hole in
a quarry. The woodlands around lake Kerkini provide cover for a variety of
warblers, finches, buntings and raptors. More there than we had time
Lake Kerkini near the Bulgarian border took us to a spectacularly different Alpine lake area home to the White-tailed Eagle, Black Kite, Dalmatian Pelican and White Pelican, a variety of Herons and thousands of Great Cormorants. On the same day we saw a Great Eagle Owl and the diminutive Little Owl standing guard at its nest hole in a quarry. The woodlands around lake Kerkini provide cover for a variety of warblers, finches, buntings and raptors. More there than we had time for.
A total of 150 birds were seen in one week. We will be back for more next year!! LB