METOCHI LAKE – SALT PANS – ACHLADERI – NAPI VALLEY – PINE WOODS ABOVE ACHLADERI – BEACH POOL AT ACHLADERI
WEATHER; sunny until midday them hazy sunshine and increasing cloud cover. Top temp 22C
We had a ‘bits and pieces’ day today, trying to catch up with a few species not on our list and to track down a couple of local, new arrivals. At 6am we drove to the Potamia Valley, well at least to the entrance track, where we visited a little known pool. Usually in the bushes around this pool you can find Night Herons roosting, but not this year, we struck out, dipped the herons, we saw only Little Grebes and Mallards.
We then made a quick visit to Metochi Lake to see if we could get better views of the Baillon’s Crake, but again we dipped! We did see Little Crake, Little Bittern, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, 2 Squacco Herons, Sedge, Reed and Great Reed Warblers.
Squacco herons in the morning light at Metochi Lake
During breakfast we were told of a River Warbler sighting not 100 meters from the hotel, so that is where we went just after breakfast. We could hear the pulsating, rhythmic reeling of the bird but we did not see it.
Our first official birding location of the morning was the salt pans, in the south-west corner, where a Spur-winged Plover had been seen. When we reached the Tsiknias River we took a few minutes to look for the Ferruginous Duck that had eluded us so far. This time Merv found it, it was a great sighting by Merv since the bird was well hidden in the reeds.
this Ferruginous Duck was very hard to find as it was hiding in the reeds most of the time
Travelling along the dirt track to the salt pans we stopped to view a beach pool where we could see a few dozen Greater Flamingos feeding. In the pool we found 11 Spotted Redshank (most of them in summer black uniforms), also we saw 2 Whimbrels, 1 Greenshank and 7 Ruff. Not a bad haul for such a small pool of water.
very distant views of Spotted Redshank and Whimbrel
At the salt pans we were told that a birding group had flushed the Spur-winger Plover by making a lot of noise and parking very close to the bird!!! Doh!! It had flown onto the pans and out of sight, so we left the area and vowed to return later.
Next we stopped at a Marsh on the side of the main road, we scanned a few pools and a reedy marsh for new species such as Water rail and Garganey but found only the usual suspects. Our second attempt to see the Kruper’s Nuthatch in the pine woods at Achladeri also ended negatively! What a morning, many dips and many new birds!
Olivaceous Warbler taken using Mervyn's phone
We drove back to Kalloni Salt Pans to give the Sur-winged Plover another shot and this time we were successful, the bird showed very well in the channel that surrounds the salt pans,
We then drove into Kalloni to buy lunch from the supermarket before driving into the Napi Valley to eat it. We stopped just before the village of Napi on a side track, it was a beautiful setting, surrounding by thousands of flowers and terrific scenery. It was now the middle of the day and bird activity was very at its lowest ebb. We soldiered on but we didn’t see much. Our target bird was the Sombre Tit and we never had a sniff of one, we did see Great Tit, Olivaceous Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Turtle Dove, Red-rumped Swallows and we found a Middle Spotted Woodpecker visiting its nest hole which was about ½ mile away from us.
Red-rumped Swallow seen along the track in the Napi Valley
Driving through Napi Village we stopped again at another site and this time we struck lucky, a pair of Sombre Tits showed very well by the roadside, perfect, job done.
flowers along the track in the Napi Valley
The last part of the day was spent driving back to Achladeri to visit some pine woods about 5km past the village. Mature pines with open areas sat along the roadside and we pulled over to visit one of those. We spent an hour or so visiting two or three places before we finally found the elusive Kruper’s Nuthatch! What a relief, we had put a lot of time looking for this little beauty. The bird was tapping on a branch and both Guy and Merv got onto the bird at the same time, it didn’t stay long before flying off never to be seen again.
a Violet Limadore Orchid - just this single spike found in the pine woods above Achladeri
In the pine woods we found several flycatchers, Spotted and Pied, also lots of Chaffinches but not much else was about.
Before we returned to the hotel we stopped on the beach-side track near Achladeri village where a seasonal pool was almost dry, last year there was a Great Snipe in the pool. Today there was two Wood Sandpipers and to our great delight four Temminck’s Stints fed there, what a stroke of luck we were hoping to see this bird before we left.
Temminck's Stint at last
We got back to the hotel at a reasonable time for a change, the clouds had gathered and we were expecting rain overnight, this may bring in some goodies, watch this space!