KERKINI LAKE ALL DAY – WITH STOPS AT VIRONIA MARSH - CHIMOS QUARRY – KERKINI QUAY AND AN EMBANKMENT NEAR LAVIDIA
WEATHER; wet all day, light rain non-stop, light winds.
It is not always wall to wall sunshine, t-shirt and shorts with ice-cream stops in the afternoon, sometimes it rains in Greece! Today it rained all day just as the weather forecast predicted, we just made the most it, we wore the appropiate clothing and got on with enjoying our birding as much as we could.
We still made a pre-breakfast excursion and a very good one too. Only five of the group turned up so we travelled in just one bus. Our target bird was the Grey-headed Woodpecker, but we got more than we hoped for when we arrived at the marsh west of the village of Vironia.
Two minutes after getting out of the bus, Dancho, located the target woodpecker, it was very close for a short while and then flew off into the middle distance where it sat and preened for about 10 minutes. It wasn’t raining just yet but it was misty and the light was extremely bad for photography. As we watched the Grey-headed a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flew into the same dead tree and perched not 3ft. away from it.
Dancho was on fire, he called out Hawfinch as two birds flew over us, quite far up but recognisable. Then he called a Kingfisher, we got glimpses of that, a Penduline Tit was next (heard only) and then he heard a distant Semi-collared Flycatcher singing.
three images of the Semi-collared Flycatcher
In the meantime, the Grey-headed Woodpecker flew off, only to be replaced by a Green Woodpecker and whilst we were watching that one, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew across the marsh in front of us. That was a count of four woodpecker species in about fifteen minutes!!
We walked the track and had fleeting views of the Kingfisher again before Dancho got us all onto a male semi-collared Flycatcher. This bird showed extremely well and was visiting a hole in a dead tree just a few meters from us. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker called not far from us but we never found it. Four woodpeckers before breakfast wasn’t bad, we set off back to the hotel as it started to rain.
The rain persisted all day, it was light rain but annoying because it was enough get you and your optics soaked, but not enough to stop you getting out of the bus to watch birds. One of the group opted out of the trip as we set off for the southern side of the lake near the dam, We revisited the quarry near Chimeros and our target birds were the Masked Shrike and the Olive Tree Warbler.
birding in the quarry looking at an Ortolan Bunting
Along the way we saw Common Buzzard, Black Kite and plenty of Turtle Doves, also many Bee-eaters. We stopped once to look at a bunch of Red-footed Falcons, two were on the telephone wires and then we noticed quite few more on te ground in a ploughed field. A Roller also sat on the wet ground with them, we counted 10 Red Footed Falcons, the light was awful for taking pictures though.
At the quarry the leading bus pulled over to watch a Masked Shrike posing nicely for us on a bush at the side of the track, what a stunning bird. Before long the shrike was pushed off its perched by an Olive Tree Warbler!! Both of our target birds in the same bush, amazing, you couldn’t write this script!
Bee-eaters with a Goldfinch
The shrike returned when the warbler moved on after just 30 seconds, the process repeated itself a second time within the minute. Finally the shrike remained in place and we lost sight of the warbler.
A short, wet walk, produced a number of sightings, we sheltered under a large tree, we got dripped on as opposed to rained on. A few Bee-eaters sat forlornly on a dead bush with a Goldfinch, a Woodchat Shrike appeared for a short while, we heard Golden Orioles calling and had glimpses of them as they dashed across the wooded hillside. A nice surprise was a singing Ortolan Bunting, we got it in the scope, so everyone saw it reasonably well, but the light was too bad for taking a picture. Little Ringed Plovers dashed over us as they rose from the river, pairing off I presume. On the way out of the quarry we noted a single Little Stint standing by the side of a stream.
Red-footed Falcon taken by Tony Moore
We had booked lunch in a taverna at 1pm so we had time sit in café and drink a nice warm coffee beforehand. We chose a place where we could sit and watch birds around the dam for an hour or so before lunch. It was lovely to be out of the rain, we saw many species in the water around the dam. Grey, Night and Squacco Herons joined Little Egrets, White Pelicans, Great Crested and Little Grebes in or around the water. We also found a single Common Sandpiper, Coots, Moorhens and Mallards, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk flew over as did Black Kite.
Grey heron flying over a Pygmy Cormorant
After lunch we drove along the south-western shoreline stopping many times to views bays, pools or birds of prey. A few time we got out of the buses to scan an area. We saw lots of birds it was quite surprising! A White-tailed Eagle flew over us as we got out of the bus.
record sot of the White-tailed Eagle by Tony Moore
The number of Turtle Doves was incredible, up to ten sat in many of the dead trees that we scanned, we also found another three Rollers, Black Kite, Honey Buzzard and a very showy Lesser Spotted Eagle, it flew around for a while and the perched in a tree not too far from us, it looked soaked and bedraggled.
a very wet Lesser Spotted Eagle
We watched the antics of the Spanish Sparrows making their nests in the base of White Storks nests and scanning a dead tree behind the nest we saw 6 Turtle Doves, a Lesser Grey Shrike, a Roller and a dozen Spanish Sparrows!
Spanish Sparrow and the White Stork's nest
We saw several Great Reed Warblers, also the smaller Reed Warbler, also Purple Heron, Little Bittern and a Black Stork. Whilst watching the stork we found a Cirl Bunting and an Olivaceous Warbler, both singing in the rain.
Great Reed Warbler
We drove through Kerkini Village and on the way out we found another small flock of Red-footed Falcons, fifteen of them sat in a line on the wires in a field, a Common Kestrel sat not too far away. One last walk near Livadia produced a new bird for the trip, a Common Pochard, we saw it from an embankment alongside the lake, we also had good close views of a Red-backed Shrike, that was our fourth species of shrike of the day!
a Red-baked Shrike in the rain - Tony Moore
Red-footed Falcons above and European Bee-eater below, both taken by Tony Moore
Finally, we found two more male Red-footed Falcons on wires as we left Lividia it was 5:30pm when we got back to the hotel. Our clothing was wet but everyone was in good spirits we had many laughs at the dinner table especially about David’s White-fronted Goose sighting, which turned out to be a dodgy interbred greylag which was white over most of its head neck and chest!