1st April. Along the coast.  A trip along the coast yielded 1 grey heron; 22 wood sandpipers; 21 little ringed plover; 9 ruff; 3 black tailed godwits; 13 green sandpipers; 14 moorhen; 1 marsh harrier; 1 little egret; 2 garganey; 4 common sandpipers; 1 night heron; 4 yellow wagtails; and several hundred swallows.

bullet4th April. At Neo Chorio.  A white wagtail scurried about looking for food - a long way from it's normal habitat!
                 At Neo Nembros.  2 grey herons, and...
                 On the Rodopou peninsula. A bonnelis eagle; a peregrine and a kestrel.
                 On the Coastal strip. Yielded 10 bar tailed godwits; 8 little egrets; 1 grey heron; 1 woodchat shrike; 382 wood sandpipers; 68 green sandpipers; 4 ruff; 16 moorhen; 16 little ringed plovers; 1 common redshank; 11 garganey; 20 yellow wagtails; 5 collard pratincoles; 3 white wagtails; 3 greenshank; 2 marsh sandpipers; 1 night heron; and a nesting pair of reed buntings - the male carrying some wool.  Hundreds of swallows in large flocks wherever there was water.
bullet5th April.  At Neo Chorio.  A light phase eleonoras falcon;  a dark phase booted eagle; and a large pulse of mixed swifts, swallows and house martins.  Probably numbering over one thousand birds.
                  On the Coastal strip.  13 little egrets; 2 grey herons; 52 wood sandpipers; several hundred swallows; 4 little ringed plovers; 1 cattle egret; 3 greenshank; 2 ruff; 1 spotted redshank (in beautiful full breeding plumage, a magnificent sight); 1 moorhen; 2 white wagtails; 1 wheatear; 1 grey wagtail; and near to the road an utterly exhausted bittern, which we quietly moved away from so as not to disturb.
bullet9th April.  At Nembros.  A hoopoe and an eleonoras falcon.  Whilst...
                  At Neo Chorio.  Another eleonoras falcon.
                  At Chania.  On a shopping trip, we saw and heard a flock of 15+ alpine swifts wheeling and calling right over the city centre.
bullet10th April. At Neo Chorio.  We watched a flock of 6 griffon vultures as they crossed our valley moving from one feeding ground to another.  A hobby shot past in a hurry to get somewhere, without even slowing down to ask directions!
                   On the Coastal strip. We found 23 garganey; 26 wood sandpipers; 3 whinchat; 12 yellow wagtails; 13 little ringed plovers; 8 greenshank; 10 wheatears; 10 ruff; 2 ringed plovers; 17 little egrets; 2 woodchat shrikes; 10 moorhen; 1 water rail; 1 little stint; 1 sedge warbler; 6 short toed larks; 1 grey heron; 2 glossy ibis; and 1 common sandpiper.
bullet13th April.  At Neo Chorio.  Very close views of a dark phase booted eagle - so close we could see the stumps of the third to fifth feathers in the right wing had been damaged.  Maybe by someone taking a pot-shot at it........
bullet14th April.  At Kamisiana.  1 greenshank; 2 little ringed plovers; 3 wood sandpipers; 4 little egrets; 1 glossy ibis; 1 whinchat; and a serin.
bullet15th April. Towards the Coast.  We saw a griffon vulture and an adult bonnelis eagle.
                   On the Coastal strip.  6 little egrets; a moustached warbler; 58 wood sandpipers; 4 woodchat shrikes; 7 moorhen; 3 tree sparrows; 30+ yellow wagtails; 1 ringed plover; 2 snipe; and 1 greenshank.  Swallows now too numerous to count.  A friend from Nembros telephoned to say that she there was a roller in the field below her house......
                    At Nembros. The roller bird!  A wonderful sight.  In perfect plumage and so brightly coloured that you have too wonder how such a gaudy bird can survive!  It stood out like a sore thumb whether perched, flying or strutting around on the ground.  While there we also saw 2 pairs of kestrels; 2 red footed falcons; a flock of 15+ pallid swifts; 1 spotted flycatcher; a pair of whinchat; a dark phase booted eagle; and heard but could not see a flock of bee-eaters.

bullet16th April.  At Neo Chorio.  A huge pulse of martins streamed by.  I estimate at least 5000 and there were probably at least as many again going along the other side of our valley - which is just too far away for me to pick out individual small birds.  A male hen harrier lazily circled for a while.
bullet17th April.  At Neo Chorio.  We watched a bonellis eagle circling and were surprised to have a pair of jackdaws noisily flying over.  We rarely see them.
bullet 18th April. At Nembros.  The roller was still present and was closely associating with 3 female and one male kestrels - they foraged and perched together frequently.
                   At Neo Chorio.  An eleonoras falcon.  We are not seeing the flocks we used to.  Nowadays it is mostly singles that pass through.
                   On the Coastal strip.  52 little egrets; 16+ glossy ibis; 2 squacco heron; 3 marsh harriers; 3 common sandpipers; 2 eleonoras falcons; 12+ collard pratincoles; hundreds of yellow wagtails; 40 wood sandpipers; 2 wheatears; hundreds of swallows; 2 grey herons; 3 whinchat; a female gargany; and 3 greenshank.
                   At Nembros.  Back at Nembros the roller was still present , along with a woodchat shrike and some swifts.
                   At Neo Chorio. Back at neo chorio later we saw 3 eleonoras falcons pass through.
bullet21st April.  At Nembros.  A pair of eleonoras falcons; a woodchat shrike; several whinchat; lots of swifts and yellow wagtails;  a pair of spotted flycatchers; a semi collard flycatcher; a pair of great tits collecting horse hair for nesting material; and the roller was till there.....
                    On the Coastal strip.  We found one turtle dove; 31 little egrets; 16 squacco herons; 1 grey heron; 6 ruff; 35 wood sandpipers; 2 glossy ibis; 1 black winged stilt; 1 greenshank; 5 little ringed plovers; 5 wheatears; 1 moorhen; 1 whinchat; 1 marsh sandpiper; hundreds of yellow wagtails; 2 bar-tailed godwits; 1 common sandpiper; and hundreds of house martins.
bullet22nd April.  At Nembros.  The roller was still present.......
bullet23rd April.  On the Coastal strip.  We saw 2 grey heron; 1 black eared wheatear; 7 little egrets; 1 purple heron; 2 little ringed plovers; 3 black winged stilts; 4 wood sandpipers; 4 ruff; 1 squacco heron; 3 moorhen; 2 whinchat; a male red footed falcon; and good views of an isabelline wheatear.
                    At Neo Chorio.  A male pied flycatcher.

bullet25th April.  On the Coastal strip.  Another trip along the coast!  This time we saw 3 purple herons; 14 little egrets; 1 spotted flycatcher; 1 olivaceous warbler; 10 wood sandpipers; 1 black winged stilt; 4 whinchat; 23 glossy ibis; 1 little stint; 3 ruff; 1 turtle dove; 2 turnstone; 4 squacco herons; 1 fan tailed warbler; 1 ringed plover; 1 water rail; 1 black eared wheatear; and 1 common sandpiper.
bullet26th April.  At Nembros.  A pair of honey buzzards; a woodchat shrike; 3 whinchat; along with 5 spotted flycatchers.
                   At Neo Chorio. Several alpine swifts went over.
bullet29th April.  At Neo Chorio.  A pair of short toed eagles.
bullet28th April.  A drive Inland.  Just  for a change.  We found 30 ravens wheeling with as many gulls over a feeding station where presumably the vultures have recently been fed.  2 adult bearded vultures and an adult golden eagle were interested as well.  We also saw 3 long legged buzzards; 1 short toed eagle; 5+ bee-eaters; a skylark; 5+ turtle doves; dozens of spotted flycatchers; 1 bonnelis eagle; 3 golden orioles; several wood larks; 1 woodchat shrike; 3 wheatears; 3+ corn buntings; 1 ortolan bunting; 1 rock thrush; and 1 lesser kestrel.
                    At the Nest Site. The only cloud over the whole of Crete sat solidly over the bearded vulture nest and refused to budge so we could not see whether the chick is still alive.
bullet30th April.  At Neo Chorio.  2+ golden orioles; and to ruin what has been a wonderful month for birds - 3 of those hateful and detested starlings were sighted in Tavronitis!              
And a few final words for April..... A really good month with lots of birds about, at times almost too many.  While my 'right hand man' is very tolerant of my obsession for birds there remain jobs to do.  Especially as the weather has suddenly turned glorious and I no longer have any excuse for not doing them - other than the migration will not last forever.

where I have identified the location 'On the Coastal strip' I am referring to that bird oasis that stretches from Kolymbari to Maleme.  Where there have been plenty of flooded fields that the waders in particular have flopped into to rest and feed before moving on with the next phase of their marvelous annual spectacle.  I particularly like seeing the herons, egrets and ibisis.
  The fields are drying rapidly now and within a short time many will be nothing but dusty barren areas until the autumn arrives to make them more attractive.  

Three Irish fans of cretanvista are installed in Tavronitis at the time of writing - to share the spectacle before the migration ends and we are just left with the resident species and summer visitors.

As I write up these diary notes I have been distracted several times by a pair of swallows that keep flying in and circling the living room - with their lovely twittering calls - as they prospect a bird friendly potential nest site.  But it is not that bird friendly in here - one of my cats has ambitions of an extra lunch!

I was surprised that the roller stayed for so long.  In all it stayed for seven days.  We really enjoyed having it stay and honour us with its presence.  Wherever it has moved on to we wish it success and long life!

Many of the migrating birds are very confident and close approach is often possible.  I am thinking of getting a camera attachment for my telescope so anticipate that some photographs enlivening these pages.  My 'right hand man' will first need convincing about such expenditure.  Perhaps if I get those jobs done before I raise the subject I may just be successful....  Watch this space!!

For now, good watching.  Paul Smith.

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