The vague plan was to head around to Achladeri today which took us past the six Spoonbills on the north-west KSP before noticing that the Ferruginous Duck was still on Kalami Pool at the point just beyond where we could stop but at least we knew it was still around for our return trip.
A Great White Egret was further along the coast near the old salt workings and was a belated first of the trip. There were only a few Poppies in bloom as we approached Achladeri but there was a purple haze of Wild Gladioli across the back towards the pines and a fat headed Woodchat was perched up near the road.
Our walk in the woods was as peaceful as usual but disappointingly there was not the slightest toot from a Kruper’s Nuthatch. In fact it was fairly quiet in there bar a host of Chaffinches although we did get good views of Short-toed Treecreeper, Spotted Flycatchers and the curiously odd local Long-tailed Tits. Cirl Buntings and Masked Shrikes were singing near the van and a couple of Middle Spotted Woodpeckers were calling.
Rock turning produced not one Scorpion but I did find some little pasty Termites once again. A Wood White was my first for the island and even stopped for a picture and the Violet Limodores were flowering but slightly spoilt by the dumped sheep carcases in the same area!
|Euphorbia - never quite sure of the species|
Eastern Black-eared Wheatears were feeding under the trees and Serins were jingling away but remained largely in the pine canopy while three Red-footed Falcons drifted north over the ridge.
I had some gen about where the Kruper’s may be at Mikri Limni and we ended up with another very pleasing stroll along more sunny woodland tracks but I only heard a couple of calls from the area which was disappointing. However there were compensations with several calling Coal Tits – always a scarce island bird and an equally good Mistle Thrush mournfully serenading way up on the hillside. Cuckoo and Scops Owl were also heard and Spotted Fritillary, Red Admirals, Small Heath, Orange Tips and Small Coppers were flitting along the path.
|Verbena sp I think but can't match it|
Of course back at the bus by the main road we immediately picked up a calling Kruper’s Nuthatch above us and with some patience some good views were had by all as they came and went. Short-toed Treecreepers were vocal, Buzzards mewed overhead and Short-toed Eagles sounded like overgrown Gulls. It was a grand spot for lunch.
|As with most Kruper's encounters, a habitat shot will have to suffice|
With our main target secured we moved on to the Polichinitos salt pans which were very dry with not that many waders at all although we did see a close Little Ringed Plover, 30 Little Stints, Greenshank and a few Stilts, Wood Sandpipers and Avocets. The Tern posts had eight Sandwich and two Common Terns on them and the fence closest to us was decorated in little yellow jewels that were flava Wagtails. Most were indeterminate females but there were some cracking ‘Romanian’ Blue Heads, Black Heads and a paler blue head with a pronounced white ear covert crescent that looked good for Sykes’s. The star flava was actually a striking leucistic male with an almost clean, pale lemon head and some similar patches in the mantle.
|leucistic flava Wagtail|
|‘Romanian’ Blue-headed wagtail - at the greyer end of things|
Alikoudi Pool was Pratincoleless with just a few ‘Mingos, Wood Sandpipers and Little Stints but there were Black-headed Buntings singing in the surrounding fields and the odd Red-backed and Woodchat Shrike dotted around. Surprisingly we saw a couple of Sardinian Warblers out collecting food. This species is definitely spreading and increasing as a breeder.
The drive back through the Olives did not produce any large gurking warblers and just a few Olies and Masked Shrikes to be seen although the meadows were a suffusion of colour with Alliums, Glads, Corn Marigolds and Poppies. Back up at the main road we stopped off at the amazing Poppy field at the far end of the Cypress avenue to take some pictures. The newbies were blown away.
|Yellow-horned Poppies - ACV|
Retracing our steps back towards Mesa added an Osprey heading towards Achladeri almost at eye level before stopping to have a proper look at the male Ferruginous Duck on Kalami Pool. He was very smart with his rich mahogany plumage and shining white eyes. A Great White Egret dropped in while we were watching him and across the road the usual fox red Steppe Buzzard came in and sat on a bush in the marsh and was unphased by a female Marsh Harrier and Short-toed Eagle over the top.
|Osprey - Steve Cullum|
|Great White Egret|
A second Osprey headed around the Bay towards Achladeri as we moved on but the Spoonbills were missing from the saltpans by the time we got there but there was no additions to the wader list although Ruff now numbered 180.
A Sparrowhawk spooked 60 Wood Sandpipers and 30 more Ruff off the hidden coastal pool and caused a Stone-curlew to start calling and there were some more sparking Whinchats to ogle at as we bumped along.
|Corn Bunting - ACV|
We spent the last hour of our day above the Tsiknias ford where a glowing male Citrine Wagtail worked its way through the reedy margins. An absolute stunner and even brighter than our bird in Meladia yesterday. Five Turtle Doves shot through and Reed and Sedge Warblers flicked back and forth. The Spotted Crake even came out to play and showed very well on the other side and had a preen after having had a hidden bath.
|Spotted Crake - Steve Cullum|
It was a fine evening with Nightingales going strongly and the first local Black-headed Buntings proclaiming their territories to females yet to arrive. The Great Crested Grebe was still fishing well up the river, just below the ford.
|Great Crested Grebe|
I was still writing my notes on the veranda at nearly midnight. Barn, Little and Long-eared Owls were all calling and the Nightingales are trying to outcompete the three Amphibians. Down on the Christou the Stilts, Avocets and Stone-curlews were noisy once again and two Oystercatchers flew over calling adding our final new trip bird for the day. A very loud boom in the distance upset the local dogs and the Peacock behind the Pela woke up and started ‘booming’ too. I wonder what it was?