bullet1st Mar. At Neo Chorio.  A mixed flock of 500+ house and sand martins.

bullet3rd Mar. At Neo Chorio.  3,000 plus swallows streamed by in large flocks all day, helped on by the southerly wind that has sprung up.

bullet5th Mar. At Tavronitis.  5 crag martins; 10 swallows; and 11 house martins were hawking over the river and repeatedly drinking.

bullet6th Mar. At Kolymbari.  A steppe buzzard.

bullet8th Mar. At Neo Chorio.  A bonellis eagle, presumably the one that wintered in our valley.  Also over 1,000 swallows and house martins in mixed flocks.

bullet10th Mar. At Neo Chorio.  2 honey buzzards.  Later a friend telephoned to ask if I would like to see a scops owl that whilst either prospecting for a nest or looking for food was accidentally trapped when he shut the door of his garage.  Most birdwatchers who come here manage to hear scops owls calling but never get to see one as they are very secretive and strictly nocturnal.  Needless to say I dashed down and now have some lovely photographs to prove it.  A most beautiful bird with tiny ear tufts and prominent staring eyes that almost accuse you of intruding in its private life.  It was of course released unharmed with only its dignity ruffled.

bullet11th Mar. In the central park in Chania.  Despite the noise and bustle a chiffchaff was singing beautifully.  
Near the coast.  We had good close up views of a lesser spotted eagle as it worked its way north. Later there was a rough legged buzzard, and
on the coast.  There was a dark phase booted eagle.

bullet12th Mar.  Just along the valley was a flock of 3 honey buzzards.

bullet15th Mar. On the coast.  A booted eagle was being vigorously mobbed by a short toed eagle.
On the way up to Afrata.  We disturbed a pair of chukkars, an increasingly rare sight due to hunting pressure.
Coming back along the coast.  We found 3 honey buzzards; a steppe buzzard; 1 griffon vulture; 1 eleonoras falcon; and the usual pair of bonellis eagles.  A good view of a stonechat with large white wing panels indicated it was probably Saxicola armenica, the eastern race.

bullet16th Mar. At Neo Chorio. A flock of at least 8 honey buzzards, there was so much calling, wheeling and dive bombing with our trio of local common buzzards it was difficult to be sure how many there were.

bullet19th Mar. On the way to the bearded vulture nest.  We saw 2 griffon vultures; 2 booted eagles; and a very late black redstart.  Most of these have already left us.  Also we saw a flock of 3 rough legged buzzards in typical mode of wheeling in tight circles very low down, then we also saw an early hobby while nearby a blue rock thrush sang to us. 
At the nest site.  We had good views of both adult bearded vultures and could see the now well grown chick in the nest.  A steppe buzzard circled nearby and in the distance a flock of alpine swifts flew north.
On the way back.  We saw an osprey low down and very close as it too worked its way north.

bullet23rd Mar. On the coast.  We found our first black winged stilt of the year; along with a pair of green sandpipers; some yellow wagtails; and a single cormorant.  Further along were a kingfisher; some white wagtails; a flock of 7 serins bathing and drinking in a muddy pool with a pair of linnets; and nearby a pair of skylarks were singing and displaying.

bullet24th Mar. At Neo Chorio.  A noisy pair of ravens and later a booted eagle.

bullet25th Mar. On a quick shopping trip.  We saw 2 booted eagles and a big flock of swallows.

bullet26th Mar. At Neo Chorio.  A flock of 3 honey buzzards plus a single steppe buzzard circling together. Unusual this, as buzzards normally are seen in single species flocks.  Also the swallows have now returned to nest in our neighbours shed again.  Summer must be coming!
Down on the coast.  We heard a fan tailed warbler ‘ticking’ away.  A kingfisher sat patiently fishing in some giant reeds, while 2 spotted crakes crept about at the bottom of the reeds.  Then, most unusually, there was a jack snipe feeding right out in the open giving us perfect views of it.

bullet30th Mar. Another trip along the coast.  Revealed the usual pair of bonellis eagles that by now must have well grown chicks.  Then plenty of white and yellow wagtails; several northern wheatears; and 5 black eared wheatears; a little egret; a sedge warbler; a pair of little ringed plovers; a pair of little stint; 2 moorhens; a red throated pipit; and in all, several thousand swallows.

bullet31st Mar. At Neo Chorio.  To round off the month we had a pair of dark phase booted eagles circling together with a steppe buzzard and one of our local buzzards.

And a few final words for March.....    Despite the mild winter and early spring, migration has been slow to get going and is late this year.   Only the trickle of wagtails, a few wheatears and a handful of waders at the end of the month hint at what has yet to come.

As I feared, the fields along the coast between Kolymbari and Platanias have remained dry as the month was largely dry, so many of the waders will simply pass straight through as there is nowhere for them to rest and feed.

Raptors are about in good numbers, the sightings of plenty of rough legged buzzards indicates either a change in their migratory patterns or that I am the only birdwatcher resident in this area and thus the only one able to record them.

It is very pleasing that the bearded vulture nest is yet again successful so another chick will fledge this year, probably in late May.

Now a confession.  I personally did not see the spotted crakes on the 26th. so have still never seen one!  A real ‘bug’ bird for me.  What happened was that my right hand man borrowed the binoculars for a look around and found them lurking at the bottom of some giant reeds.  By the time she returned the binoculars they had slipped away into the undergrowth and remained there.  Sandra is claiming to be the champion birdwatcher now while all I can do is grit my teeth and compliment her increasing skills at finding the elusive and hard to spot birds.  My reputation will only be restored by finding not only spotted crakes but little and  Baillons as well – watch this space!  Mind you I may well have to cop out and buy her her own pair of binoculars…….

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