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Post Info TOPIC: Crete

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RE: Crete

A few extras to the other wildlife that I saw in Crete.

The Gecko wasnt a Turkish House Gecko, this one was quite large whereas House Geckos are fairly small. The one we saw was a Moorish Gecko (or Crocodile Gecko) Tarentola mauritanica.

The Cicadas in Crete are the largest in Europe and are the species Tibicen plebejus. Another 32 species occur in Greece.

Shield Bug or Stink Bug not sure which one, quite large, fairly common and beautifully coloured.

Last but not least in a secluded area of arid scrub near an old disused air base I came across a Cat hunting. Plenty of cats in Crete I know but this was a looker!


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Some images from Crete that I had trouble with uploading this morning. - 3 Eleonoras Falcons (incl 1 with prey + 1 coming back to roost) - 2 Scopolis Shearwater - Yelkouan Shearwater banking - Italian Sparrow - Tree Sparrow - Red-rumpled Swallow - Yellow-legged Gull 1CY - Black-crowned Night Herons - Great Egrets - Whinchat - Possible Black Kites (lower right of image) - Common Kestrel - Corvids at the communication tower

-- Edited by Rob Creek on Thursday 22nd of September 2022 12:37:12 AM


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Thurs 8th to Thurs 15th Sept.

Family holiday in a very hot Crete, Gouves or Kato Gouves, same area as Chris below. No scope just bins and camera, and opportunistic birding when I could. Few early morning walks proved successful but to be honest good birds were on offer all day if you kept your eyes peeled.
Hotel was literally minutes from the beach, mini harbour, accessible rocks, mountains behind you, scrubby areas with patchy thicket, bit of farmland and various hotel gardens and a disused US air base were all supporting birds.


- Eleonoras Falcon
Bird of the week, lots of them, pale morphs, dark morphs, brilliant birds. At dusk on the 1st day I counted 11 in a couple of minutes over the hotel balcony coming back in off the sea to roost. They were seen everyday throughout the week, witnessed some acrobatic flights as they were chasing their quarry, then one morning I was stood on the rocks on the sea front and I watched 5 together hunting birds over the sea. Wow!
Surprisingly difficult to photograph as Chris said, you gotta be quick!

- Lammergeier
2 Adult types, not sure of age, seen on 1st day, circling high over one of the mountains, didn?t see them again so I?m assuming the individuals in the islands population go roaming over the island.

- Griffon Vultures
Seen on 1st day then almost daily, mainly in the afternoon on the hot thermals. 3s and 4s seen, circling above the hills, a joy to watch but not to photograph as I didn?t get any decent images of either Vulture sp. due to distance and heat haze.

- Scopolis Shearwater (Lifer)
Seen on 1st day and plenty seen throughout the week just beyond the harbour but not too close. A few individuals did come closer to the harbour so managed some record shots.

- Yelkouan Shearwater (Lifer)
Quite a few seen throughout the week, bit more difficult to see being smaller but 1 or 2 did come in a bit closer to shore.

- Italian Sparrows (Lifer)
Lots of Sparrows around but these ones were never around the hotel, they were in old disused buildings and the like, quite a few around and their call gave them away, different tone to the other Sparrows. The males were nice looking birds with their white cheeks.

- Tree Sparrows
I found a nice little family of them at the back of the hotel in an old ruin, totally unexpected.

- Red-rumped Swallows
Lots of them, some were round the hotel daily and perched up nicely on wires to get a good look at them. Beautiful birds. 100s of usual Swallows around.

- Yellow-legged Gull
A serious lack of Gulls here, only the same 6 birds in and around the harbour all week and I suspect the flyovers near the hotel were one of these. 1 adult, 3 x 2CY, and 2 x 3CY birds. Very tame these ones.

- Black-crowned Night Herons
A flock of c40 birds flew over me on the coast one morning, they followed the coastline and were eventually lost to view. Totally unexpected.

- Great White Egrets
A group of 4 did exactly the same as the Herons had done previous morning, eventually lost to view.

- Purple Heron
A smart individual came flying over the harbour but try as I might I just couldnt get a shot due to the sun, a shame as it was corker!

- European Shag (desmarestii)
One fishing in the bay then had another do a fly-by. Desmarestii is the Mediterranean subspecies.

- Garganey
A few large flocks were seen flying over the sea, beyond the harbour. Didnt realise there would be so many.

- Turtle Dove
2 together near the hotel flying round, looked to drop into a small agricultural plot that was adjoined to the hotel but I couldnt relocate them.

- Serin
One heard calling near the hotel one morning but I just couldnt find it. It was that jingly downward trill sound.

- Sardinian Warblers
Very common, seen virtually everywhere, around the hotel, etc.
One morning I thought I heard a Ruppells Warbler call, so I got the bins onto where it was coming from and up popped a bird that was likely a female Sardinian Warbler. The one that got away.

- Marsh Harrier
I watched this one fly in off the sea and continued right over me up into the hills. Lovely bird this one.

- (possible) Black Kites
Raptors were a nightmare with the heat haze. One afternoon I had around c50-75 Raptors circling above the hills and was spoilt to a right good spectacle but then I didnt really know what most of them were.
But one image does show what could be a good shout for them, the tail in both birds could be the deviation of the fork but its certainly not definitive. I thought I had an Eagle too but no reason why it couldnt just be a Buzzard.

Last day I took a morning walk up the coast road towards the disused US airbase and Dinosaur Park, what a good decision. There was a nice little scrubby area joining the beach and the old remains of small water park and I got some good stuff there.

- Hoopoe
Just saw this little head popping up in the scrub so I kept on it and suddenly it flew up into one of the bushes. I started to make my way over but a car pulled up in the same area and an old guy got out for a pee and it flew off, I was livid!
I just had to watch it fly off and out of view.

- Wryneck
I clocked it digging around in the earth for Ants in the same rough area. It popped up on a mound of earth then back down again but I never managed to relocate it. I managed an awful blurry shot.

- Whinchat
2 in the same general area, didnt expect to see these. They always seem to pick those grassy plants with the wide spread out tops with dried out flowers. Smart birds.

- Crested Lark
All over this area, singing away, didnt count them but there was plenty of them.

- Kestrel
Again in the same area a very small beautifully coloured Kestrel swooping and diving to the floor, hello I thought, Id this a Lesser Kestrel but its not. Damn! Nice bird all the same.

Also worth a mention that were seen during the holiday -
- Hooded Crows everywhere
- Raven fairly common
- Yellow Wagtail back end of one flying over hotel
- Grey Heron 1 fishing in the harbour
- more Corvids that are probably best left unidentified, all flying round the communication towers on the mountain, I dont know if they were Chough, Alpine Chough, Raven, Crows, ??

Also few Bats seen, lots of Cicada Beetles, a rather large Mediterranean House Gecko that dispatched a Cicada on the balcony rafters, and a lovely Green Turtle down in the bay, Ants and different bugs everywhere and the Bees were massive - bright yellow and jet black.
Oh and as yet one bird heard singing that is yet unidentified!


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Belated highlights of a trip to Crete from 5-19th August this year.

Not the best time for birdwatching here, but saw some great wildlife nevertheless. Stephanie Coghlan's book A Birdwatching Guide to Crete was handy, even though it's out of date and print. Crete Birding on Facebook was an excellent source too, with Colin Turvey proving a very useful source of information. 

We were based around Kato Gouves, only a 15 minute drive from Heraklion airport, and excellent for accessing the main East to West and North to South roads.

Highlights of different areas follows, with a few images at the end.

Gouves/ Kato Gouves/ Mount Edari:

Italian Sparrow, Hooded Crow, Red Backed Shrike, Hoopoe, Cory's Shearwater, Alpine Swift, Crested Lark, Griffon Vulture, Raven, Chukar, Barn Owl, Blue Rock Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black Eared Wheatear, Black Kite, Red Rumped Swallow, probable Eagle Owl, up to 5 Eleanoras Falcon hunting locally, including over the ocean and bats in the evening.

Aposelemis Wildlife Refuge:

Olive Tree Warbler, Squacco Heron, Kingfisher, Reed Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Turtle Dove, Short Toed Lark, Montague's Harrier, Green Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher. Dice Snake.

Santorini excursion:

18 Cory's Shearwater, Yelkouan Shearwater from ferry. Pallid Swift island.

Lake Kounas:

Gargany, Common Sandpiper, Little Grebe 

Kotsifou Gorge near Plakias:

Griffon Vulture (common in the mountains throughout), Lanner Falcon

Amari Valley:

Hobby, Alpine Swift to within a few meters

Idean Cave:

Collared Pratincole en route near Perama, Woodchat Shrike, Crag Martin nesting in cave. Possible Thrush Nightingale 

Knossos Palace:

Olivaceous Warbler, Hoopoe, 10 Eleanoras Falcon around Mount Youchtas

Spinalonga Island:

Audoin's Gull, Little Egret. Peregrine and Golden Eagle en route near Neapoli

Agia Reservoir:

Wood Duck, Wood Sandpiper, Great Reed Warbler, Black Crowned Night Heron, House Martin 

Omalos Plateau and Samaria Gorge entrance:

Woodchat Shrike, Golden Eagle, 1+ Lammergeier, Alpine Chough, Serin, Tawny Pipit, Red Billed Chough, Peregrine Falcon, Blue Rock Thrush, 70 Bee Eaters near Lathi.

If anyone would like more detail of the sightings or accommodation used please don't hesitate to contact myself or Vicky.

The main highlights throughout was the ease of watching the Eleanoras Falcon, especially in the first week, when they were the most common bird of prey. Photography of them proved difficult however. Next time.....




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Just back from a week's non birding holiday at a small village on the south coast, in western Crete, called Plakias. Very picturesque area with mountains and gorges forming a backdrop to the village. Didn't hire a car or go further afield other than a boat trip to Preveli Beach, a few miles to the east. Here there is another small gorge and a bit of a pool where the stream meets the sea. Virtually all birding undertaken in the valley behind Plakias, mainly very early for an hour or two before it got too hot. The weather was hot and sunny throughout, in fact hotter than normal for this time of year. Thought I would have seen more to be honest and finished with a modest trip list of 37, the more interesting species being :-

Little Egret (5)
Black-crowned Night Heron (1)
Grey Heron (3)
Lesser Kestrel (1)
Long legged Buzzard (2)
Common Buzzard (3)
Griffon Vulture (c.25)
Raven (5)
Rock Dove (c.25)
Turtle Dove (1)
Hooded Crow
Red rumped Swallow (1)
Alpine Swift (16)
Bee-eater (1)
Crested Lark (2)
Tawny Pipit (1)
Cetti's Warbler (c.15)
Sardinian Warbler
Blue Rock Thrush (3)
White Wagtail (1)
Spanish/Italian Sparrow

Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Tawny Pipit and one of the Long legged Buzzard were seen from the coach en route to Plakias. Several doves were seen on wires, too distant to be certain but no doubt several were Turtle Dove. Whilst my Collins Guide does not list Italian Sparrow as covering Crete, the Spanish Sparrow types certainly seemed to be the 'Italiae' race/species.

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