Day 3 : 27th April:
It dawned clear and bright and we made an early start to get out West as early as we could passing a knobbly kneed Stone Curlew on the Christou on the way. About 45 minutes later we were at the start of the track from Eresos to Sigri and were soon surrounded by the singing of Cretzschmar’s Buntings and flashing pied Black-eared Wheatears. A pair of Masked Shrikes were around the first little chapel and the first Spotted and Pied Flycatchers of the day were flitting around the cypresses while an Eastern Orphean Warbler was invisibly serenading us from the olives.
|Female Masked Shrike|
A pair of Woodchats gave blinding views from the bus with the male displaying with crown puffed up and chest out before giving a good thrashing to another male who flew in to see what was going on.
|Male Woodchat Shrike|
|Male Woodchat Shrike|
|Female Woodchat Shrike - not cropped at all - she was so close!|
On we went and the first gold and grey Cinereous Buntings were soon seen and heard along with many more lavender and chestnut Cretzschmar’s, Rock Nuthatches, Stonechats and BEWs.
|Corn Buntingwith squidgy offerings|
|female black throated Eastern Black-eared Wheatear|
|male Northern Wheatear|
Down in the valley bottom we stumbled on a patch of flycatchers which included 12 Spotted, four Pied and three male and a female Collared along with many Whinchats, four Blackcaps, and a family of Stonechat. They did not stay still for long but good views were had.
A huge Glass Lizard swept across the road and stayed just long enough for me to get a picture of at least the front end as it was about a meter long.
|A monster Glass Lizard|
We continued down to the ford with two male and a female Golden Oriole seen from the van while we were chatting with Steve and Paul. If only Orioles behaved like that at home!
|You get the idea...|
Orphean Warblers were everywhere and the River channel was alive with more flycatchers including another fine male Collared. Blackcaps were also flycatching and several male Great Reed Warblers were gurking loudly and actually showing very well as were the Olivaceous which made a change.
|Eastern Orphean Warbler - one of my favourite songsters|
|Balkan Green Frog|
|What I suspect is a Pied Flycatcher|
|Up towards Ipsilou in the distance|
Butterflies were few and far between in comparison to the clouds this time last year but the little yellow crucifer that they were on was not yet in flower but an Eastern Dappled White did pose for me.
|Eastern Dappled White|
The first Black-headed Buntings were in and singing lustily from the Giant Fennel and another Oriole and a lemony Icterine Warbler were in the Fig Grove.
|Fresh in and newly bathed - a male Black-headed Bunting|
After lunch and a Long-legged Buzzard we moved onto the Meladia Chapel where our 5th male Collared Fly was found along with many Whinchats, more Spotted Flys and our first Tree Pipit. Seven superb Pallid Swifts circled low overhead giving everyone the chance to absorb the subtleties of plumage and flight.
|Another fine male Collared Flycatcher - pesky post and sunshine!|
The rest of the drive to Sigri produced not much else but I would caution against anyone in a small car tackling this stretch of track this year which was somewhat challenging in one or two spots even in the minibus.
|Whinchat on approriately rusty fence|
|Singing Crested Lark - just look at that feather wear|
Faneromeni was pretty quiet too with a smattering of flycatchers but no shrikes at all. The flava Wagtails at the lower ford were great when they came down to bathe and were joined by Corn Buntings, Goldfinches and a Lesser Whitethroat.
Two adult Night Herons fed at the bend before being spooked and an immature Purple Heron stalked out in one of the meadows where it was able to disappear in the long grass. There were no raptors but we did get two Alpine Swifts and a Ruddy Shelduck overhead. A quick look at the sea produced wavy lines of Yelkouan Shearwaters but no Scopoli’s and a lone Shag.
|Purple Heron - ACV|
With time pushing on we spent a great last hour on Ipsilou where the Buntings performed incredibly well and Isabelline Wheatears skydanced and crackled at each other.
|With Molivos top left|
|and down Meladia to the Fig grove|
We found a Rock Nuthatch feeding young in an active nest and a pair of Blue Rock Thrushes glowed in the low light while Woodlarks sang and a Golden Oriole fluted from the valley below.
|Western Rock Nuthatch at the nest|
|Black-eared Wheatear and female Blue Rock Thrush|
|and this single Pallid Swift was with the Red-rumped Swallows|
|A fine Starred Agama|
Somber Tits gave themselves up eventually as did a Middle Spotted Woodpecker and another incredibly showy Cinereous Bunting was a fitting way to round up a long and fruitful day...