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WEATHER: hazy sunshine for most of the day with light winds. Heavy cloud build-up and thunderstorms from 4pm.

It would be boring if all of your target birds were just sitting there waiting for you, showing well and singing! I only usually say that when we have a day where we miss most of our target birds, today we missed some but saw most of them.

Before breakfast we were on the road at 6:30am heading into the wooded hillside above the lake near the village of Ano Poroia, our main target bird was the Semi-coloured Flycatcher, which can be a bit of a blighter to find. Before we left the hotel some of the group had been shown a Red-footed Falcon sitting on a telegraph pole in the hotel grounds, unfortunately one of the group, a photographer, flushed the bird before anyone else had a chance to see it!! Doh!!

Along the way we saw Black-headed Bunting, Corn Bunting, Red-backed Shrike, European Bee-eaters and a Jay.  We set up our scopes and had bins at the ready along a lane on the edge of the village waiting for the flycatcher to show. In the meantime we logged many Chaffinches, Goldfinch, Grey Wagtail, Blackcap, Eurasian Nuthatch (a family party) and one of group heard a Common Chiffchaff.

Eventually the bird was found by Lorna, she pointed us into the right direction and soon we had found a nest hole where both parent birds were feeding young (the female seemed to be doing most of the work). We re-positioned ourselves and had much better views, target bird in the bag! On the way back we saw Common Whitethroat, Hoopoe and Turtle Dove.

Above, a male Semi-collared Flycatcher flying to the nest, and below a female at the nest hole


Our morning destination was the quarry near the village of Chimarros where we had reports of an Eagle Owl, we had seen this species a couple of times before in this quarry. We had a diversion because of a bridge closure and it took 20 minutes longer to get there. Along the way we stopped to watch Red-footed Falcons, Turtle Doves and Bee-eaters.

the group scanning for the Eagle Owl - well sort off!

We drove straight down to the quarry once we had turned off the main road, we wanted to get there as early as possible and before it got too hot. We set up in a line and scanned the tiered quarry walls and, of course, it was Dancho who found the Owl. It was an adult, sitting against a rock between two broom bushes. It was quite a funny sighting because a Tortoise was ambling along in front of the owl, the owl watched it carefully and gave it a quick nip now and again to keep the tortoise away from it.

three record pictures of the Eagle Owl, one with the Tortoise walking by

We also saw Cirl Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear, Woodlark, Golden Orioles called from the woods behind us, an Ortolan Bunting also called from afar and bee-eaters were ever present. Butterflies were out in force, but I could not find the Little Tiger Blue which had been present several times during past visits. We saw dozens of Fritillary and the Black-veined White.

Woodlark seen by the quarry

Our walk back along the track was in search of Olive-tree Warbler we never heard one or saw one, but we did see other species including Olivaceous Warbler, Sombre Tit, Woodchat Shrikes, Raven and a few raptors.

Black-veined White Butterfly

We had news of a Masked Shrike showing well just passed the quarry so we drove back down the track to see it. We had great views of it albeit not for very long. It was now approaching lunchtime, we had booked a taverna in Lithotopos for lunch at 1pm and we made it on time.

Masked Shrike taken by Rosemary Aitken

Long lines of White Pelicans drifted northwards very high-up as we ate, we had a great view of the part of the lake near the dam. We also saw Lesser Spotted Eagle, Black Kite, Booted Eagle and Marsh Harrier. Lunch was a long drawn out affair and it was close to 3pm when set off for our last birding session of the day.

drove down the western shoreline and after a few kilometers we turned onto a dirt road and got out of the vehicles for a walk. Dark clouds loomed all around us and distant thunder sounded every few minutes, we knew our time was limited. The walk produced nothing much at all, we did see Black Kites, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier over the ridge but on the ground and in the scrub very little showed.

a very common sight along the tracks and main roads is the Hermann Tortoise

Lots of butterflies still danced in the sunlight and we saw many Thread Lacewings, we could hear Golden Oriole and Turtle Doves.

We stopped another three or four times along the shoreline, the road was very close to water at times, some bays held birds and roadside pools had reedbeds. Squacco Herons looked truly golden in the afternoon light, we also Great and Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Little & Great Crested Grebes, Pygmy Cormorants, Dalmatian Pelicans, but no gulls and terns, or waders were present on the shoreline.

a Squaaco Heron - in its colourful breeding plumage

shared accommodation - a White Stork's nest with Spanish Sparrows nesting within it!

The darkness increased, the wind picked up and spots of rain fell, it was time to get into the buses and drive back to the hotel. We drove through a thunder storm and came out the other side just as we reached the hotel. The thunderstorm then caught up and it poured down for next hour or so, but we were safely ensconced in our warm hotel rooms getting ready for dinner.