Pre-dawn began with the local Peacock, Dog and Stone-curlew chorus before driving to the Eastern Salt Pan track and walking down with the first Crested Larks bringing in the day with a background of waders out on the pools.
It was still and calm and as hoped the light was superb. The
setting full moon was still huge and Jupiter and its moons had shifted position
in the ensuing eight hours from last night.
It was a successful wader session with a frenzied
aggregation of Redshanks with a few Greenshanks and six delicate Marsh
Sandpipers amongst them. Two Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper and eight Little Stint
were on the edges and Ringed, Little Ringed, Kentish and four dapper Grey
Plovers represented that tribe while seven Curlews were also found along with
the first Avocets of the trip.
Nine Dalmatian Pelicans were congregating around their usual
island where they dwarfed the Cormorants, 'mingos and 21 scything Spoonbills.
Great White Egrets and six Black Storks were concentrating their efforts around
a distant sluice and a raucous flock of 55 Sandwich Terns headed towards the
Bay in a fast tight flock.
A glance up produced a small dark falcon overhead and I was
pleased to see it was a female Merlin - I have not seen an autumn one here
before. Two Teal, five Mallard and four Ruddy Shelduck were the only ducky
things while an adult Little Gull was picking flies from the surface with
Black-heads and Slender-bills.
Wagtails and Corn Buntings left their roost sites and five
Zitting Cisticolas moved around the rushes making the strange little calls that
sound nothing like the familiar song. A Kingfisher zipped down the channel too as
we ambled back and Tawny Pipits chupped in the fields. It was all rather
pleasant but breakfast beckoned.
The temperature soon soared and the post breakfast
Bee-eaters were sky high in the blue. Two Kentish Plovers were on the Ennia
Kamares (this is the marsh opposite the Aegean Hotel and north of the main road
that we call the Christou which is the name of the river further upstream – I am trying to follow the official ‘birding’ maps) - but I still could not find the Stone-curlews.
Potamia was roasting and we saw a few Shrikes and Warblers amongst the olives including an Eastern Orphean that nipped across the path. Water was low in Kerami reservoir but still held a flotilla of 32 Little Grebes and 12 Coot while Violet Dropwings hunted from the boundary fence. Like the Coot; Grey Wagtail and Blue Rock Thrush were also new to the trip list.
|Short-toed Eagles were rather scarce this season
|Not sure if it is a female Red-veined Darter or Violet Dropwing
We bumped around the back of Metochi seeing more Spot Flys, Red-backed Shrikes and several head bobbing Starred Agamas but the lake was still fully wet to the edges and just a Common Sandpiper and Little Egret were seen. The chances of a Black Stork frenzy before I left looked slim.
|A full Metochi
|Willow-leaved Pear - Pyrus salicifolia - inedible by the way
|Freyer's Grayling on Willow-leaved Pear - Pyrus salicifolia
|Spotted Flycatcher thrashing a moth! look at those scales flying!
Levant Water Frog - (Pelophylax bedriagae) a fine spotty adult on the usual concrete water trough
|A new plant - the non-native, invasive Bathurst Burr - (Xanthium spinosum). No one is even sure on which continent it originates. The closely related alien Rough Cockleburr (Xanthium strumarium) is all over the island.
Lunch was taken at Octopus in Mithymna where the Oriental Hornets were taking their pound of tentacle flesh as usual and the fish in the harbour as usual require further investigation.
|So blue that even the hills are tinted...
|A very plump ripe Fig looking for all the world like Audrey 2
from Little Shop of Horrors - ACV
Late afternoon chill time and then out for a very quiet Loutzaria
circuit with a showy juvenile Woodchat stealing the plaudits for sitting still long
enough for some pics.
Little Ringed Plovers were in the saltpan channel and Curlew
and Common Sandpiper were on the first lagoon. A fine adult male Red Backed
Shrike perched up on a single tall grass stem and gleamed in the Golden Hour
and a high speed Spur-thighed Tortoise zoomed across the parched fields.
|Little Ringed Plover - love the colours
|Little Ringed Plover
|male Red-backed Shrike
|The Sheepfield Horses were in the main Wetland field (not sure if by design) and were running full tilt to and fro with a water stop at the barn in between
We lingered long enough for the sun to set and the sky to glow and drove back with the Bats amassing around us but alas there were no Nightjars although a Little Owl bogged us out from his telegraph wire by the Ford.
As we entered the Ford our luck changed with an immature Night
Heron lumbering off to a few yards downstream and then a Nightjar skimmed the
roof of the car as it followed the Heron just seconds later!
On a whim I took the track back to Papiana and soon picked
up a Nightjar perched like a nocturnal Bee-eater on the phone wires from where
it sallied forth after invisible insects. Two more were perched further along
the same line and our fifth was hunting to the right. What I would not give to
see one in the daytime!
A plump Eastern Hedgehog rounded up a superb evening as it fossicked in the verge.