PARAKILO MARSH - EROSOS TO SIGRI TRACK – FANEROMENI FORDS AND BEACH – ALYKES WETLANDS
WEATHER: mostly sunny with some high cloud. Still breezy, top temp 24C
It was another early start for us, we met at 6am and with our breakfast in a bag we set for another exciting day’s birding. We headed out west taking the coast road from Kalloni to Eresos, it was another clear morning with a colourful sunrise. At Parakila we stopped to view the marsh area next to the road, we saw Greater Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts, Moorhens, Little Egrets, Common Shelduck and a Grey Heron.
From Eresos we took the coastal track that eventually leads to Sigri, the track passes through Meladia Valley and crosses a river at the Meladia Ford. We drove through some stunning landscapes, it was very remote and wild looking. We stopped many times before we got to the ford, listing many birds, enjoying the lovely morning and fantastic scenery.
A Chukar ran in front of the vehicle before we even left Eresos! Buntings and Wheatears appeared to be everywhere, on every rock or fence post. We saw Northern and Black-eared Wheatears as well as Cretzschmar’s, Cinereous, Cirl, Black-headed and Corn Buntings. One stop produced Turtle Dove, Spotted Flycatcher, and Raven.
a view from the Eresos to Sigri track
Our first stop in the valley was very productive, it was the head of the valley bottom were scrub bushes ended and ground scrub began, it acted as a filter where migrant birds working their way up the valley came to an abrupt habitat change. We saw several flycatchers there, both Spotted and Pied. Also a good number of Black-headed buntings. A rocky outcrop held a apir of Rock Nuthatches, we could their old nest had been taken over by Rock Sparrows. Also in the area we saw Red-rumped Swallows, Woodlark, Stonechat and Whinchat.
A Rock Nuthatche's nest taken over by a Rock Sparrow
Near the ford the number of flycatcher sightings increased, we also added Common Whitethroat, Orphean Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Wood Warbler and Golden Oriole. We then found a distant Rufous Bush Robin but it disappeared before we all saw it. It was great being in the valley so early, there wasn’t a single birder in sight and the bird song was terrific.
it was nice to see more Black-headed Buntings than Corn Buntings for a change
At the ford (which had very little water) we saw two Wood Sandpipers, a Little Bittern, Linnets, Goldfinches, more flycatchers and a Black Stork. Guy then found two falcons circling together, a male Red-footed Falcon joined a Hobby catching insects whilst airborne. Buzzards, both Long-legged and Common, Short-toed Eagles and a Common Kestrel were also seen from the ford area.
seen around the ford area in good numbers
After eating more of our breakfast supplies we went for walk along a track that took past a fig plantation, we could see Ipsilou Monastery ahead of us high up in the hills. We searched for more warblers and other migrant species but our main target species was the Rufous Bush Robin.
Guy lagged behind us and stopped to take off a layer of clothing and whilst doing so he saw a Rufous Bush Robin on the fence behind us!! Wow! The bird flew off but was quickly re-found and we discovered that it had a mate too. We watched them as they dropped down into various barbed-wire bushes, we assumed prospecting for a nest site. The male was carrying food which he offered to his mate, it was a great sighting and eventually the birds flew off towards the fig plantation.
a Rufous Bush Ropbin carrying food
We continued our journey to Sigri, stopping at a small chapel to search a small copse of pines, we found a single Wood Warbler there and a Spotted Flycatcher. at the old cheese factory near Sigri we stopped to look for warblers and warblers is what we got!! Sitting in the car we watched birds flittled about in an orchard and in just bafew minutes we had great sightings of very smart looking Wood Warblers, also several Orphean Warblers, Common Whitethroat, Whinchats and Blackcaps. It was amazing the trees were dripping with warblers then all of sudden they had passed through and it went quiet.
In Sigir we stopped at the quayside and scanned the harbour for Shag but all we saw was a Wite Wagtail and a bunch of Jackdaws.
a field of poppies near the lower ford
The fields and the two fords at Faneromeni produced much of the same, both fords were birdless, due to the lack of water. Merv found a small group of Yellow Wagtails bathing at the upper ford. The lower ford had been completely transformed, it is now a bridge and not a ford! It had no water at all.
the dry lower ford - is no longer a ford but a bridge
In the fields beyond the upper ford we found three shrike species in one place, Red-Bakced, Masked and Woodchat. We saw more flycatchers and the area had plenty of Bee-eaters but not many raptors.
At the beach area we scanned the sea and saw a steady stream of Shearwaters passing, they were Yelkouan Shearwaters, the eastern version of the Mediterranean Shearwater which I believe are going to be lumped together very soon.
We drove back to Kalloni arriving at 5pm giving us enough time to go searching the salt pans for recent arrivals. A group of 11 Spotted Redshank had been seen so we dipped on those! We walked into the Horse paddock at the Alykes Wetland and scanned the waders, nothing new was present but we enjoyed seeing good numbers of Little Stint (100+), also Curlew Sandpipers, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover and Wood Sandpipers.
Much nearer we found a small group of Short-toed Larks and some very colourful Red-throated Pipits, they were flighty and the grass was getting long but we had good views of them.
We had just sat down for our dinner at 7:30pm when Merv sent us a message about a Long-eared Owl siting in a tree just around the corner from our hotel. So off we went and sure enough the Owl was siting out in full view to all and sundry, what agreat bird to finish off day with.