MY BIRDWATCHING HIGHLIGHTS FOR JANUARY 2003

3rd Jan.  Near Chania.  Over the motorway near Chania an Eleonoras falcon was circling.

4th Jan.  At Neo Chorio. At home a short toed eagle quartered the valley looking for a meal. A very white adult in perfect plumage Then a raven and a male kestrel. Later a flock of 4 honey buzzards drifted northwards and were joined by our local trio of common buzzards for a while. They all circled, warily eying each other up before the honey buzzards moved out of the localsí territory. At dusk 90+ hooded crows gathered in a very noisy flock before going off to roost. Another birthday for me. Do the years get shorter as one gets older? Birthdays seem to come round quicker and quicker now!

6th Jan.  At Neo Chorio. At home at dusk 60+ hooded crows again formed a very noisy flock.

7th Jan.  At Chania.  In the central park in Chania a chiffchaff was in full song, like us enjoying some warm sunshine.

19th Jan.  On the coast.  A pair of common buzzards were hunting right down at the beach, usually they stay further inland. A pair of whinchats, probably early migrants were busy feeding among some dumped rubble.

26th Jan.  At Neo Chorio.  At night a pair of barn owls were making a terrific din with their eerie shrieking just outside our windows. They were hopping from our pergola up onto the roof and back, hissing, snoring and shrieking all the time.

29th Jan.  At Neo Chorio.  A female sparrow hawk ignored heavy rain and perched in a walnut tree on the lookout for an obviously much needed meal.
                 On the coast.   The pair of buzzards were again right down by the sea. They may well be setting up a territory in an area normally dominated by the marsh harriers but which may well have been frightened off by the continued building work as yet more hotels are built along the coast. Buzzards are more tolerant of disturbance than marsh harriers and seem to be exploiting a chance to move in. At Sirilli a lone swallow was hawking for insects along the road as we drove home.

30th Jan.  On the coast.  A single short-toed lark was singing lustily despite strong winds and frequent heavy showers. Further along a white wagtail foraged beside a load of builders rubble at one of the new hotels being built and a female kestrel was dashing about in search of food.

31st Jan.  At home another short toed eagle circled for what seemed ages watching us prune our bougainvillea.  For over an hour it was there every time I looked up, making the chore much more interesting. Several swallows flitted by and in the distance a flock of 20+ swifts slowly moved north. It was too far to tell whether they were common or pallid swifts. At night the barn owls are always here now disturbing our slumbers with their shrieking.

My eyes are improving slowly so more sightings soon!

And a few final words for January....   A month of bad weather, one heavy storm after another.  Gale force winds and torrential rain.  A woman and two children were drowned just along the coast when their car was swept into the sea by ferocious winds.  Many summer visitors can have little idea just how adverse the winter weather can be as they lie on the beaches soaking up the sun!

Nice to have acknowledgement.  I am necessarily vague as to where I have seen which birds.  It seems that some individuals are using my diary pages to add to their own data.  I also understand that some specialist tour companies may be using my data in their advertising packs.  The copyright laws apply - if you use material from this site under these laws you must acknowledge the source of the data.  If you want more than is legal you must ask permission.  My diaries are the result of many hours of hard work at no little cost.  Acknowledgement is nice.

Be aware also that the locations we give are deliberately general.  "Neo Chorio" for example, covers millions of square metres, standing on just one of them won't improve your chance of sighting particular birds a lot!!

Likewise, dates; times; identifications are valid only at the time of recording - don't let anyone tell you that the Mallard duck that was sat by the fountain in Voukolies on April 1st 2002 at 10.30am will be there again, or not, this year.  Buy a ticket - see the duck!!  Or do I mean Cuckoo?

I have no desire to disturb and perhaps distress our bird population by encouraging mass tourism.  Serious visiting ornithologists reading these pages either don't need me at all in practice, or can contact me here at the cretanvista website.

Local, real time knowledge is essential to success.  There are very few resident experts here on Crete - coming with a coach party will not necessarily include one.....

Editor: Paul delivered his own copy up here to Astratigos a couple of days ago - an indication of how much his eyes have recovered - he drove himself here, accompanied by his wife and a friend. The last few kilometres including the mountain road from Kolimbari. Faith and Trust!!

Preparation of the forthcoming review a of very recent book by another Cretan ornithologist which contains some superb photographs,is progressing - Paul has arranged a meeting here with the author very shortly - watch this space - and of course the 'Books and Good Reading' page.
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