NORTHERN GREECE - LAKE KERKINI

MAY 6TH - MAY 13TH 2019

£950 - SINGLE SUPPLEMENT £150

Pace: moderate
Physical difficulty: easy
Focus: birding, butterflies & general wildlife
Max group size: 7 with 1 leader and 10-12  with 2 leaders
Expected # of birds seen: 120 – 150

LEADERS: BOB BUCKLER & IORDAN HRISTOV (DANCHO)

This new and exciting 8 day trip is proving to be very popular since its recent introduction to the WINGSPAN programme, it is  based at a good quality hotel for 7 nights on the shores of Lake Kerkini in Northern Greece.

It has to be one of the most unspoilt areas in Europe, untouched by mass tourism it has a tranquil ambience and air of remoteness that belies its geographical position.

The variety of birds, butterflies and wildflowers is amazing you can expect to see up to 150 species of birds (over 300 have been recorded there) and dozens of the 150 butterflies that have been recorded. Wild flowers abound giving colour to an incredibly beautiful landscape.

The tour features are:

·       7 – nights half- board accommodation in a nice comfortable hotel on the shores of Lake Kerkini

·       A boat trip to see the Great & Pygmy Cormorant, Heron, Spoonbill and Egret colonies

·       Daily excursions to local sites and excursions into the mountains

·       Some fantastic butterfly watching

·       All land transport.

·       The services of the expert guides

·       A checklist of species

Flights (not included in the price) are to and from Thessaloniki (Gatwick is the best option).

Some of the places we will visit are:

Lake Kerkini

Now a National Park, Lake Kerkini is not a natural lake but a reservoir and was created by the building of a dam across the River Struma in 1932 ( this was reconstructed along with new embankments some 50 years later which increased the capacity of the lake). Lake Kerkini is now one of, if not the, premier birding site in Greece, it is situated along the migratory flyway for thousands of migratory birds en route to the Aegean Sea, the Balkan region, the Black Sea, the Hungarian Steppes and beyond into Russia. Flocks of Hundreds of all three ‘Marsh’ Terns can be seen during passage in April and May, Black, Whiskered and White-winged Terns are fabulous in their fresh summer plumage.

You will visit several sites around the lake, the trip also includes a boat trip to visit a huge colony of Great & Pygmy Cormorants, with herons, egrets, spoonbills and storks also breeding on or around the lake. Both Dalmatian and White Pelicans breed there as well as Black-necked Grebes, Ferruginous Duck, Garganey, also Little Bittern, Little and Baillon’s Crake are possible.

 

Shrikes abound, they are everywhere, Woodchat, Red-backed, Lesser Grey and Masked Shrikes all breed in the area and are easily found. Spanish and Tree Sparrows join the common House Sparrow and everywhere you go you can hear the song of the Corn Bunting, now a rare thing in the UK.

Belles or Kerkini Mountains

These mountain form a boundary between  Northern Greece and parts of Macedonia and are a prominent feature behind our hotel. The slopes have some wonderful scrub and woodland habitats as well as disused quarries where the rock faces provide nesting sites for a number of birds.

On the lower slopes we are looking for raptors such as Short-toed & Booted Eagles, Levant Sparrowhawk, whilst at mid-elevation Goshawk and Eurasian Sparrowhawk dominate. Woodland species include Sombre Tit and there is a possibility of Eagle Owl, Blue Rock Thrush, Western Rock Nuthatch, Crag Martin, Subalpine and Orhpean Warblers.

Vrondous Mountains and Lailais Ski Resort

Further afield we can drive to elevations of over 2500 meters where some real goodies await us: Black Woodpecker, Nutcracker, Rock Partridge and above the tree line we can look for Golden Eagle, Common Rock Thrush. Ortolan Bunting and many locally common species such as Red-backed Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Woodlark, Northern Wheatear and Common Stonechat . In the pine woods we can look for Common Crossbill,  Short-toed Treecreeper, Tree Pipit, Willow Tit, Firecrest, Crested Tit and many more.

A large woodland near the town of Promochonas is excellent for woodpeckers, up to 7 species are possible, in 2018 we recorded six species: Great, Middle & Lesser Spotted, Syrian, Green and Black.

Other places include secluded valleys, remote gorges and rocky hills. We can search for warblers, buntings, rock sparrows and larks. Birds of prey seen at this level are: Eleanora’s Falcon, Lesser-spotted Eagle, Red-footed Falcon and Long-legged Buzzard. Honey Buzzards are common and Levant’s Sparrowhawk can be seen anywhere.

Warblers we are likely to encounter are:  Subalpine, Eastern Orphean, Eastern Olivaceous, Olive-tree, Eastern Bonelli's as well as Blackcap, Common and Lesser Whitethroats. 

An evening excursion may produce Scop’s, Little and Eagle Owl and also Common Nightjar.

A huge range of butterflies are present in these superb and pristine landscapes, very little intensive farming has been carried which has resulted in an abundance of wild flowers. In turn the insect life is prolific, especially butterflies and dragonflies. During our visit in 2018 there was an unbelievable population emergence of the Nettle-tree Butterfly, over 1 million of these pretty little brown butterflies were in the air just along the northern shore near the hotel.

In 2018 we recorded over 40 species of butterflies and 20 species of dragonflies as well as a number of other interesting insects and moths.

What is included in our 7 day tour?

  • Airport transfer

  • Seven night's Hotel accommodation with breakfast, evening meal and wine.

  • Six full days of guided birding and some birding on arrival and departure days.

  • A morning boat cruise

  • The guiding services and all land transportation.

  • All entrance fees, tolls, taxes and parking fees

  • A "tick-list" of seasonal birds of the region and evening bird-log

    What is not included?

  • Air fares.

  • Personal holiday insurance.

  • All items of a personal nature, i.e. Drinks and telephone calls.

    To book your place use to the contact form on this website and we will reply within 48 hours with all the information you need to book your place. Novices, beginners, accomplished and well-travelled birders are all welcome,

 

COMBINING TOURS

This trip can be combined with the WINGSPAN tour of Lesvos 27th April – May 4th or the following tour of Bulgaria  May 14th – 22nd if you are interested in doing this please contact us for further details.

 

Latest Trip Reports

  • NORTHERN GREECE - LAKE KERKINI : Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    It had been a truly lovely experience, a trip that vastly exceeded all of our expectations, I have fallen in love with this area. There can’t many places left in Europe where vast areas are devoid of human activity, the tranquillit...

    View Report