MY BIRDWATCHING HIGHLIGHTS FOR AUGUST 2003

bullet2nd Aug. At Neo Chorio.  A long legged buzzard circled with two local buzzards which continually protested at the invasion of their territory.  A single raven slid by looking for its mate.
bullet4th Aug. On the coast.  We found a great white egret which obligingly let us get some close up views as it fed in the brackish pools near a river mouth.  A broad billed sandpiper and a common sandpiper scurried about, busily feeding up before moving on.
bullet6th Aug. At Neo Chorio.  At home a dark phase eleonoras falcon and at night a barn owl thought I might make a convenient perch ( see final comments para 2 below).
bullet8th Aug. At Neo Chorio.  A single purple heron lazily moved along the valley.
bullet10th Aug. At Neo Chorio.  9+ eleonoras falcons hunted around us at dusk.
bullet11th Aug. On the coast.  A wood sandpiper; a grey heron; a fan tailed warbler; a little egret; a squacco heron; a small flock of yellow wagtails; 3 little stints; and a grey wagtail.  Migration is getting well under way now.
                 At Neo Chorio. 3 eleonoras falcons came at dusk.  After dark we went down to the coast and were thrilled to watch a nest of leatherback turtles hatch.  15+ tiny hatchlings struggled up out of the sandy gravel and soon found their way down to the safety of the sea.
bullet12th Aug. On the coast.  we found a little egret; a squacco heron; a night heron; 3 little ringed plovers; 7 wood sandpipers; a dunlin; 3 Kentish plovers; 30+ grey wagtails; a common sandpiper; and a fan tailed warbler.  Returning in the evening there were 3 barn owls at Sirili and at the turtle nest another 4 hatchlings emerged by the light of the full moon.
bullet14th Aug. On the coast.  A little egret, 2 little ringed plovers; and 3 common sandpipers.  Then suddenly a flock of 50+ squacco herons were flushed from the giant reeds by a party of 3 marsh harriers - 2 adults and a juvenile.  A tight flock of 14 little egrets flew along the coast headed west.
bullet16th Aug. On the coast.  Again to the coast to see a turtle dove; 2 little ringed plovers; 3 green sandpipers; 2 little stint; a little egret and a wood sandpiper.
bullet18th Aug. On the coast.  3 sand martins; a Kentish plover; a kingfisher; 8 yellow wagtails; and a white wagtail. 
                 At Maleme.  A flock of 30 glossy ibis and
                 At Polymarchi.  A single steppe buzzard.
                 At Neo Chorio.  A flock of 4 more steppe buzzards were harried by a pair of local buzzards.  Later a group of 3 juvenile lesser spotted eagles lazily circled - these were left alone by the buzzards.
bullet19th Aug. On the Rodopou Peninsulla.  There were several wheatears and wood larks.  Then lovely views of a pair of sub alpine warblers.  6+ red backed shrikes; a single griffon vulture; a juvenile roller; a black eared wheatear; 4 golden orioles; a raven; several small flocks of spotted flycatchers; and an adult bonellis eagle.
bullet20th Aug. At Neo Chorio.  A collared flycatcher stayed in the garden for an hour while overhead 22 eleonoras falcons foraged along with 4 pallid swifts and 6 common swifts.
bullet21st Aug. At Maleme.  A flock of 200+ garganey flew west along the shore.
bullet22nd Aug. Near the coast.  A juvenile lesser spotted eagle was circling with a pair of buzzards.
        At Agia reservoir.  There were 15 coot; 20 little grebes; 8 moorhen; 50+ green sandpipers; 20+ sand martins; many dozens of swallows; 20+ yellow wagtails; 1 purple heron; 4 wood sandpipers; 5 marsh sandpipers; 1 grey heron; 4 wood sandpipers; 1 little stint; a kingfisher; a white wagtail; 2 pairs of steppe buzzards; and a small flock of alpine swifts.  On the mud banks dozens of terrapins were sunning themselves.
        At the Omalos plateau.  We found a griffon vulture; a pair of alpine choughs; a flock of 50+ choughs at a great distance; 2 jays; 2 blue rock thrushes; a raven; a kestrel; 2 bearded vultures; a flock of 13 wood pigeons; and another of 30+ linnet.

23rd Aug. At Neo Chorio.  2 light phase eleonoras falcons; a pair of long legged buzzards; and 5 house martins.

25th Aug. At Maleme.  A flock of 4 white storks flying west along the coast, followed shortly by an adult spotted eagle.

26th Aug.  At Maleme.  A flock of 21 white storks; a flock of 25 collared pratincoles; a flock of 58 glossy ibis; a flock of 150+ garganey; and a flock of 5 great white egrets.
                   At Neo Chorio.  3 eleonoras falcons; and excellent views of a single black kite.

27th Aug.   On the coast.  A flock of 53 glossy ibis.

28th Aug.  On the coast.  At two sites along the coast we found fan tailed warblers.  In a nearby gorge there were 2 pairs of buzzards; a griffon vulture; a kestrel; 2 adult and a juvenile bonellis eagle; a blue rock thrush; and a pair of steppe buzzards.  Coming back along the coast we saw a lovely flock of 68 little egrets.

29th Aug.  At Tavronitis.  A steppe buzzard and a juvenile booted eagle.
                   Rodopos peninsulla.  While crossing the base of the Rodopos peninsula we saw a dark phase eleonoras falcon and a hobby.
                   At Topolia.  There were two griffon vultures; a lesser kastrel; and lots of crag martins.
                   At Mili.  A pair of eleonoras falcons.
                   At Elos.  An adult bonellis eagle.
                   Near Agias Dikeus.  A pair of golden eagles; 5 griffon vultures; and an adult bearded vulture.
                   At Perivola.  Two adult and a juvenile bonellis eagle; plus a peregrine falcon and more crag martins.
                   At Plokamiana.  A roller and 2 steppe buzzards circling with two common buzzards.
                   At Elafonisi. Yet another roller; a pair of ravens; a juvenile hoopoe; and a very tame temmincks stint.  This ran around our feet on the beach.  Further on we saw several wheatears; 2 wood pigeons; another adult bonellis eagle; a red backed shrike; and a blue rock thrush.  A good day out!

bullet30th Aug.  At another nearby gorge.  we saw an adult bonellis eagle; 7 griffon vultures; a female sparrow hawk; and several flocks of spotted flycatchers.
bullet31st Aug.  At Vlacheronitis.  We saw our first honey buzzard of the autumn.
                  At Malame. There were 2 glossy ibis. and...
                  At Neriana.  3 lesser spotted eagles.

And a few final words for August.....  An interesting month with lots to see as migration picked up.  Despite the heat of August we managed to see quite a lot and were pleased to share our birds with another reader of this site, Mr. John Donnelly who came with us several times and was very impressed with the birds about.  We hope he took back happy memories of bird life on Crete and look forward to his coming back in the not too distant future.

Now to that darned barn owl.  I went out onto our lower patio during a late night power cut to look at the stars they were truly amazing to see without any light pollution.  I just happened to be looking down the garden as a juvenile barn owl flew up which mistook me for a good place to perch as it stretched out its talons and came in to land.  For a millisecond I had visions of world fame if I could catch it and ring it the first person to ever catch a free flying barn owl by hand and then release it unharmed.  Fat chance! Being the coward I am I ducked and the talons raked through my hair before the bird flew up onto our pergola and hissed at me for being such a softie!

For now, good watching.  Paul Smith.

Editor: The review a of very recent book by another Cretan ornithologist - which contains some superb photographs, is on site. The review is linked to a photo gallery - with kind permission from the author Anastasios Sakoulis. Have a look at the review in Books and Good Reading pages. 
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