Another early rise failure but this did not mean a lay in - just seeing the sun come up from the balcony with a coffee to hand. I had not been properly out West this trip and despite the fact that it would be quiet we headed that way after breakfast. Parakilia was the first stop to check on the Turpentine Trees. There were still warblers in attendance but only silky white Lesser Whitethroats this time while down at the harbour there were 31 Med Gulls still on the breakwater.
Onwards to Pithariou Reservoir where six Eleonora's Falcons danced but all were pale morph this time so birds are obviously moving through. They put on a magnificent display over my head and seemed to be intrigued by me moving my camera around. They are a big falcon with disproportionately long wings and the most elastic carefree flight of any falcon I have encountered. Aerial haze was once again problem but it was just a joy to watch them hunt and interact with two Black Storks, Ravens and two Short-toed Eagles.
|Short-toed Eagle pre falcon grief
There were only 30 Cormorants roosting below this time but a Great White Egret was still stalking the edges. The surprise was the Teal flock as my two from the 12th had become 19!
From here it was onto the Eresos end of the trail to Meladia and Sigri passing a solitary Starling in town on the way. It was predictably quiet but Rock Nuthatches were entertaining and Rock Sparrows and a smattering of the species I had been seeing in Loutzaria were noted on the bump through. Needless to say the ford was dry and water was only visible towards the sea.
| Blueish Rock Thrush
| Down to Meladia - a parched golden land of rock and Spiny Burnet with dotted Olive-leaved Pears
| Rock Nuthatch at a hay hopper
|Meladia Ford - not a single drop and appears even more rubble filled than previously
|Meladia Fig Grove looking to Ipsilou - a few Spot Flys darting around and the discovery than landing on your coccyx really hurts...
|No Little Owls this time
A juvenile Hobby showed well as we neared Sigri and six Eleonora's Falcons were around the offshore island of Sarmosak while the odd Wheatear, Stonechat and flocks of Crested Larks were trackside.
|Sigri with the Blue Star Ferry in port
|Megalonisi Island - part of the Geopark
|Sarmosak Island with what I think is a volcanic plug or a magmatic intrusion
A huge new Olive Press that (that looks more like a stately home) is being built directly opposite the Oak Grove and an Olive grove has been planted between the road and the tidal inlet so birding down here may change in the coming years. The hay fields were full of Wagtails with the odd dotted Wheatear and Whinchat and 14 Red-backed Shrikes were the most obvious passerine on the fences with a few Spot Flys.
Lunch was taken at the beach ‘pool’ with crashing waves and a kite surfer but only a Kingfisher and 16 Rock Doves for a post Koulouri amble were seen before heading back over the top past Ipsilou and it's still incomplete insane road.
|Rock Doves - ever flighty
|Faneromeni Lower Ford...
|You could smell this field of Wild Fennel as you drove through and it brushed against the car
As we drove back through Andisa we could see smoke billowing from a valley in the hills to the west of Gavathas and the true purpose of those two funny little planes was revealed as they water bombed the affected area. I suspect they patrol fully laden and ready for action. A little further on a helicopter was seen heading that way with a huge bucket on a line.
I popped out onto Loutzaria in the evening but there was no change although perhaps fewer Shrikes and Chats were around before a look at the pans.
|Young Red-rumped Swallow from the balcony
|A Common Buzzard. I was about to bin the image when I noticed the dots behind - seven of eight very high White Storks drifting through!
|adult Turtle Dove
|Motacilla flava - Romanian dombrowskii type I suspect
|And almost went a day without a Red-backed Shrike image!
The pump house corner pan had definitely dropped and all the Black-headed and Slender-billed Gulls were surface feeding along with thankfully some waders again. I counted five juvenile Black-winged Stilts, nine Redshank including a colour ringed and flagged bird, Marsh Sandpiper, two Greenshank, two Ruff, three Dunlin, three LRP and 26 Little Stint so there is still a chance of me finding a rare wader yet!
It was then back to base for cold leftover pizza from last night and a Dark Fix! Living the life...
|And a micro Plume Moth less than 2cm across in the room