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WEATHER: a strange misty day, warm but never sunny, with very light rain and light winds. Top temp 25C

WE set ourselves some target species today and visited several places to look for them, the first was on the Eastern side of the Salt Pans (before breakfast), there we looked for Slender-billed Gulls and a few waders missing from our list.

From the raised-hide we scanned the nearest salt pans and found a couple of new additions to our waders list, four Eurasian Curlews dropped in and a couple of Grey Plovers. In general, the wader numbers were not very high but the usual crowd of Ruff, Little Stints, Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers dashed about and of course the hundreds of Avocets and Black-winged Stilts.

In the distance salt pans we saw two Dalmatian Pelicans amongst the Greater Flamingos and a small flock of Whiskered Terns was our first sighting of that species. Other terns seen were Common and Little Terns, we also noted a flock of Yellow Wagtails, Mainly ‘feldegg’ types.

a record shot of Dalmatian Pelican

Our first target species after breakfast was the Eurasian Scops Owl and the Scop’s Copse just north of Kaloni Town was where we found one. Usually they are very hard to find, but this one sat right out in the open and it thrilled the group.

a Scops Owl

A brief visit to the Raptor Viewing Point on the hillside a few kilometers further on towards Petra proved futile. The cloud base was too low and a misty atmosphere restricted our view of the sky and distant hills. We did see Short-toed Eagle and a few Buzzards, both Common and Long-legged. Ravens, Ruddy Shelduck and Gulls was the rest of the sky-sightings. In the scrub around us we saw a Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Great Tit, Black-eared Wheatear and not a lot else.

A stop at regular Woodpecker site just outside of Petra produced a sighting of two Middle Spotted Woodpeckers in flight! We didn’t find a nest site.

At Kavaki along the coast above Petra we visited two sites along the cliffs to look for Sardinian Warblers and/or Ruppell’s Warblers. None of them appeared, The latter seems to have disappeared from this area. We did find Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear and a few Subalpine Wheatears.

my gruesome crew - taken at the harbour of Skala Sykimnias

At Perasma Reservoir we searched the gull roost for Audouin’s Gull and found none. The shallow water held many Ruddy Shelducks and a few waders such as Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilts and Little Ringed Plovers.

Whilst we ate our picnic lunch overlooking the reservoir a Great Spotted Cuckoo flew into a nearby bush making such a racket with its loud call. It was another target bird in the bag. Everyone had excellent views of it, another target in the bag. We saw Short-toed Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard high above us.

From the reservoir we drove to Eftalou on the coast and followed a dirt track all te way to Skala Sykamnias. A couple of stops provided views of a Bonelli’s Warbler for one of the group, but generally it was very quiet. We searched the sea and the small harbour area at Skala Sykamnias for Audouin’s Gull without success, but the coffee and ice-cream stop in the picturesque harbour went down well.

hard core birding?? soft core ice-cream

We returned to Kaloni via the Napi Valley, we drove passed a Little Owl sitting on a fence, we stopped to take a closer a look and flushed the little beauty! Doh! We did see a couple of Hoopoes in the filed below us. Further stops in the Napi Valley were made, we searched for Sombre Tit, but found only Masked Shrike, Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches and Black-eared Wheatears, a Woodlark sang in the distance and we saw two Turtle Doves in flight and a Common Buzzard circled over the ridge.

the injured Marsh Sandpiper taken on the west side of the Salt pans

At the Salt Pans we made an effort to see a Cattle Egret in a sheep field along the eastern section, we took a track leading away from the pans. The sheep were present, but the egret was not! However, a lucky spin-off was the sighting of two Sombre Tits feeding close by, ha!! We layer found out that we looking at the wrong sheep in the wrong field along the wrong track!! I always said that you never find Sombre Tits when you search for them, you just bump into them! That is exactly wat happened today.

sleeping Avocets and Greenshanks with a Greater Flamingo

We drove to west side of the pans and searched the correct sheep field for the Cattle Egret but it wasn’t there!! From the hide we watched many species and had close views of a Marsh Sandpiper which seemed to have a damaged leg. We also saw greenshank, Ruff, Little Stints and the usual bunch of salt-pan birds.

Little Stint with Kentish Plover on the Christou River Marsh

For our final venue we ‘twitched’ a bird species just around the corner from our hotel. A flock of 40+ Collared Praticoles had dropped into the marsh at the Christou River. We had distant views of them until they all took off together and flew right over us, smashing, everyone saw them! Little Stints and Kentish Plovers fed quite close to us and a Gey Plover was distant, those sightings were our last of the day, it was 6pm so we left for the short drive to the hotel.