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WEATHER: Clear all day, cloudy later with thunder storm.

We went out with a bang today! We had glorious weather, we visited the Vrondous Mountains, we had stunning scenery and the weather was just perfect. An early start found us high up on the edge of the Vrondous Mountains looking down to the distant city, and the regional capital, of Serres.

our view from the Vrondous Mountains 

It was fabulous out there and not too cold, the air was still and the morning light was superb, we couldn’t have asked for more. Now all we had to do was to find a few target species, we set up our scopes and scanned the rocky terrain below us, we quickly found Red-backed Shrike, Hoopoe, Goldfinches, Northern Wheatear and we heard Lesser Whitethroat, Woodlark, Orphean Warbler and then our main target the Rock Partridge.

Eurasian Hoopoe

Not long after starting our search we found two separate Rock Partridges, males. They were calling from prominent rocks and we got both of them in the scopes for everyone to see. Next we needed to find Common Rock Thrush and after a short spell of scanning we found a female bird, wowza!! A male appeared not long after, they were both quite distant but very visible in the scopes, at this point we also found Mistle Thrush, Stonechat, Woodlark and Woodchat Shrike. Dancho called out our first Pallid Swifts.

a record shot of the female Common Rock Thrush

We ate our picnic breakfast as we enjoyed the beautiful scenery, it warmed up too, as the sun rose over the ridge so did the temperature. The Orphean Warbler appeared on top of a bush, we got much closer views of Hoopoe and Red-backed Shrikes and a Corn Bunting appeared to spoil the show!

Red-backed Shrike

Further up the road near a hotel we searched for Black Redstart, but found Tree Pipit and Serin instead. One of the group, Rosemary, came up to us asking for an identification of a bird she had just photographed, it was a WRYNECK! A mega in these parts, after a quick search of the place where she had seen it, a few of the group got a glimpse of it we all heard it calling.

a Wryneck taken by Rosemary Aitken

Before we visited the Lialias Ski Centre we took a walk along a wide track which brought us out to a huge rock face. Along the way we heard Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Robin, Wren and several Firecrests. At the rock face we saw more Tree Pipits, Common Crossbill, Common Chiffchaff, a distant falcon (probably a Kestrel), but we never found a Rock Bunting. On the way back we heard more, Coal Tits, Firecrests and Chiffchaff.

Black Redstart taken whilst we ate our lunch

We ate lunch at the Lialias Ski Centre whilst watching a Black Redstart, we could hear more Firecrests but nothing new turned up. A short walk after lunch produced sightings of Coal Tit and another target bird the Crested Tit showed really well.

a Coal Tit taken at Lailias Ski Centre

Driving back down the mountain we stopped to search for Bonelli’s Warbler at a regular spot, but all we got was Subalpine Warbler, Common Nightingale, Blackcap and Serin. Further on Dancho heard a Bonelli’s Warbler as we drove along, we stopped and searched the area but could not locate the bird.

Crested Tit

What was left of the afternoon was spent at two places, the Quarry at Paleokaskro and a stand of woodland near Vironia. The quarry produced very little, it was hot and birds had shut up shop. We saw Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Black-headed Bunting, a Nightingale sang from the bushes in the quarry and not a lot else was seen except for raptors. A distant Kestrel sat on a pylon as did a Short-toed Eagle, we saw Common Buzzards and a few Swallows.

the light was all wrong but this is a picture of a Black-headed Bunting taken at the quarry today

A copse of mature poplar trees along a lane near Vironia held a large colony of mixed species. Mainly Spoonbills, but also Grey Herons, Night Herons, Squacco Herons, Little Egrets and a single pair of Cattle Egrets. We had hoped to see a Cattle Egret which is an uncommon breeding species around the lake area. We saw all of the other species mentioned above but not the Cattle Egret.

A Hobby flew over us, Common Buzzard was also seen, but not much else, so we called time and had an early day. Dark clouds were looming, a thunderstorm looked imminent.

Back at the hotel we decided to eat our last meal at the restaurant in the next village of Akritochori, we had a wonderful meal, the thunderstorm did not happen and everyone was happy about that. We had lots of laughs at the table as we talked over the events of the past week.

the view of the lake - taken this morning (13th) as I finish this last blog of the 2024 trip. I can't wait to return next year, come and join us for a wonderful trip. May 4th - 11th 2025

We finished the last bird log back in the hotel lounge area, our total was now 182 species, one less than last year’s total. We had missed a few but seen a lot, we must concentrate on the birds seen, not those we missed. Bird of the trip?? Undecided, for me the Lake was the best sighting of our week and also provided 80% of of our bird sightings.