3rd Jan. At Tavronitis. Apair of sparrow hawks hunted together, the female flying high up to distract the flocks of goldfinches and linnets while the male sneaked along just above ground level in the hope of snatching an easy meal. Results were not observed.
At Kamisiana. There were 10 mute swans. & adults and 3 juveniles.
At Neo Chorio. A pair of spanish sparrows were prospecting to nest in the horizontal pole of our pergola, as were a pair of great tits. Also the bonellis eagle was hunting over the valley below us and a pair of buzzards were displaying - the breeding season starts early here.
4th Jan. At Neo Chorio. Paul enjoyed his birthday with a day off birdwatching! However, he did not enjoy the temperature with a maximum of just 1C - since he declares that the temperature is normally no lower than 12C here.
7th Jan. At Kamisiana. 12 swans were present, 6 of them juveniles, plus 2 moorhens and a black necked grebe while a pair of marsh harriers circled overhead.
At Limini. A dark phase booted eagle.
8th Jan. At Neo Chorio. We awoke to a white world - the worst winter for 100 years hit the island with a vengeance, with deep snow everywhere. The whole of northern Crete declared a state of emergency and for the next few days the clatter Chinook helicopters as they evacuated people from mountain villages - water and food supplies being cut
10th Jan. At Tavronitis. 4 lapwings.
At Kamisiana. 14 swans of which 5 were juveniles; 8 mallard.
At Skoutolonas. 2 little egrets.
At Sirili. A single steppe buzzard.
11th Jan. At Neo Chorio. The bonnelis eagle is still with us and a pair of winchats fed in the garden.
12th Jan. At Astrikas. The bonellis eagles are already nesting with the female sitting tight. Also 2 griffon vultures circling lazily and a pair of ravens were looking for trouble.
At Kamisiana. 13 swans, of which 3 were juveniles. 1 moorhen and a pair of coots.
At Tavronitis. There were now 9 lapwings plus a pair of mallards.
13th Jan. At Agia Reservoir. At long last we were able to get to the reservoir at Agia. 50+ sand martins; 20+ pallid swifts; a pair of marsh harriers; 2 moustached warblers; a pygmy cormorant (this is a tick for me!); 300+ coots; 50+ ferruginous ducks; 8 greylag geese; 17 pintail; 120+ mallard; 8 moorhen; 40+ little grebes; 9 shovellers;
70= wigeon; 3 swallows; 2 reed warblers; 5 chiffchaffs; 30+ yellow legged gulls; 8 crag martins; 1 grey heron; 120+ teal; 1 cormorant; a singing cettis warbler and assorted black redstarts, stonechats; meadow pippits, blackbirds and linnets. An enjoyable trip after all the bad weather.
17th Jan. At Neo Chorio. A flock of 50+ hooded crows gathered at dusk. The winter flocks are probably breaking up now.
19th Jan. At Neo Chorio. The bonellis eagle was circling with our nearest buzzards, a trio that has existed at least since we moved here nearly three years ago. More information about trios in a later article.
At Sirili. There was a steppe buzzard.
At Tavronitis. 7 lapwings.
At Kamisiana. 13 swans, of which 4 were juveniles. At least 11 have now been shot.
20th Jan. At Neo Chorio. 4 pairs of buzzards were in the air displaying together, a fine sight.
23rd Jan. At Viglia. A juvenile golden eagle. While out on the Gramvousa peninsula we saw a pair of bonellis eagles; 2 griffon vultures; and the very old and very red single bearded vulture. We could not get very far out onto the peninsula as the winter rains had washed out the dirt track and even with our four wheel drive
progress was abandoned.
At Kastelli. There were 2 swans whilst back home at Neo Chorio a black kite flew within 30 metres of me.
24th Jan. At Dromenoro. A sub-adult bonellis eagle, then later a pair displaying. These must be a different pair to that at nearby Astrikas as we know that those are sitting on eggs. Also a pair of kestrels displaying and calling repeatedly.
At Anavos. Very good close-up views of an adult rough legged buzzard. Behaving very differently to common buzzards, this was flying low down, twisting tightly and vigorously quartering the ground. Over the mountain above Kandanos a tight flock of 63 ravens were creating a clamour -
something must have died up there. On the journey we saw many olive trees smashed by the weight of recent snow that thankfully has now melted at lower altitudes.
26th Jan. At Neo Chorio. The sparrows have now won the fight to nest in our pergola and are busy carrying in nesting material - dried grasses and chicken feathers. It amazes me the way they always go in head first and then come out head first, the pipe in question having an outside diameter og only 6 centimetres. There cannot be much
room for a nest; nestlings and turning around!
27th Jan. At Melame. A flock of 4 honey buzzards. Spring migration for raptors is getting under way. At Skoutolonos the swans have now gone while at home (Neo Chorio) the bonellis eagle is still with us, circling, plus a pair of honey buzzards, with our common buzzards.
30th Jan. At Chania. 8 swans were offshore whilst a single water pipet foraged on the tide line. Relaxing over a beer after some shopping we sat in the central park in glorious sunshine listening to a chiffchaff in full song while being entertained by the numerous collard doves that live there.
31st Jan. At Nembros. 4 honey buzzards flew by. Talking to a member of the forestry department (they are responsible for environmental matters in the countryside) I was saddened to hear that at least 40 swans have been shot in this area.