1st June. At Chania Hospital. An adult booted eagle was circling the hospital when I went in for treatment, and at Mournies a flock of 60+ swifts powered by.

4th JuneAt Neo Chorio.  A turtle dove sang all day and,
                 At Sirili. Another booted eagle was circling.


5th JuneAt Sirili. A male sparrow hawk was chasing goldfinches whilest,
                  At Maleme. Small flocks of swift; alpine swift; swallows; and house martins sped by while high up yet another very late booted eagle circled.


6th June.  At Neo Chorio.  We saw a woodpigeon, a rare sighting on Crete.  But the 6th also brought with it the excitement of the ostrich saga! – see notes at end.

5th June. Kamisiana.  2+ short toed larks were displaying, presumably they were between broods and had some time for each other with the nestlings gone!

11th June. On the coast. We at last found a fan tailed warbler, showing that they are clinging on to the last fragments of suitable habitat. Two kilometers further on we found another - calling and dashing around as if demented. Fan tailed warblers tend to do that! Right on the coast were a single little ringed plover; and a male whinchat.

            On one of the peninsulas. We had called in to pick up some friends to take them out and trip started well as there was a hoopoe singing just outside their garden, while overhead a short toed eagle was screaming about being harried by buzzards. We  had a good trip, finding two adult bonellis eagles; 9+ griffon vultures (seen down to only 20 meters away!); a lanner falcon; a male kestrel; 4 ravens; plenty of wheatears; black eared wheatears; crested larks; a flock of 20+ rock doves; and then the cream on the pudding, great views of the bearded vulture we have been observing for five years now. It is just changing into full adult plumage with a lovely red front. A shame it is destined to remain single, there seems no hope of it ever finding a mate now there are so few left - and spread out too far to find each other.

13th JuneAt Neo Chorio. 2 eleonoras falcon fed over our valley at dusk.

15th JuneAt Neo Chorio. Turtle doves filled the air with their lovely purring song.
                  Back to Chania hospital. Where this time a short toed eagle screamed that I was back again! On the way home we stopped for a well earned beer at a taverna and watched a flock of 4 corys shearwaters quartering the sea. A cormorant was lazily fishing and overhead there was another short toed eagle keeping a beady eye on me.


16th JuneAt Neo Chorio. A swallow joined us in our lounge, circling around and twittering about the décor.
                  On the coast. We saw a white wagtail, an eleonoras falcon and a female marsh harrier.

22nd June. At Tavronitis. Again sitting at our favourite taverna we really enjoyed seeing a dolphin just out to sea. (goes to show how few birds are about in June).

23rd June. At Neo Chorio. The turtle doves sing all day every day now, it is lovely to hear them and know that shooting has diminished so much they can breed again. Dare I entertain such hopes for hoopoes and bee-eaters in the near future? The swallows must approve of our décor as they have come into our lounge several more times.

24th JuneAt Neo Chorio. A single short toed eagle circled over our valley.

28th JuneAt Neo Chorio. Poor birdwatching today – I was reduced to looking at a captive toucan and a huge brightly coloured parrot in a taverna, there were no other birds about.  On the way home a flock of 28+ wood sandpipers indicated the start of autumn movement, these presumably being non breeders that left the breeding grounds early. A red rumped swallow cheered us up as we got home in awful heat – it has been around 44 degrees for two weeks now, too hot!

A few final words for June. 

The ostrich saga on the 6th June was a bit of a laugh in the end. We were driving past a big open area near Tavronitis when my right hand man spotted what turned out to be an adult male and two female ostriches. Wow! Immediate thoughts of emergency calls to 'Birdline International' with the information that after being absent from Crete for about 4,000 years, this flightless species had somehow returned. Imagine the headlines!! Sadly sanity gradually returned when two camels lifted themselves out of the dust and lazily chewed the cud. The real giveaway was spotting the striped head of a tiger in the distance - behind some stout bars. Yes, fooled again. The circus had come to town!

The short toed eagles do not appear to be breeding this year. Odd single birds are about, but there is no sign of displaying or pairing. Hopefully they will get back to business next year.

As usual, June turned out to be a poor month with very few birds showing. With luck, return migration will get going next month to give us more to look at. Although the coast between Kolymbari and Chania has been mostly destroyed as an area attracting birds. Even the Tavronitis river and estuary are now hopeless. Despite there still being water, “improvements” have totally destroyed it as a good spot for birds. Week in and week out we visited daily and saw almost nothing there. Some would call this progress....

Until next month, good watching.  Paul Smith.

Paul's Diary highlights commenced at the end of August 2001.  The current diary is moved to the diary archive at the end of each month - if you are considering a bird watching trip to NW Crete, the previous highlights may well help you decide the best month for your visit - your link to the diary archive is below.