MY BIRDWATCHING HIGHLIGHTS FOR SEPTEMBER 2004

bullet3rd Sept.  At Neo Chorio. 3 honey buzzards drifted by, an indication that migration is well under way. This was reinforced down on the coast where we found lots of swallows; 22 juvenile purple herons; 3 red throated pipits; 11 juvenile yellow wagtails; a little egret; and our first wintering black redstart. My right hand man was fascinated to watch a wintering kingfisher catch a fish, bash it against a branch then get hold of it head first before swallowing it.

bullet4th Sept.  A flock of 5 booted eagles and a flock of 40+ bee-eaters.
                  On the coast.  Another little egret; and 5 red throated pipits
                      
bullet5th Sept.  At Neo Chorio. A flock of 50+ bee-eaters; then another of 36; and then two more flocks too high to be seen but clearly heard.
                       
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6th Sept.  At Neo Chorio.  3+ bee-eaters; plus another flock heard but not seen.
                  On the coast.   9 little bitterns; and a flock of 26 white storks, the latter flying back and forth along the coast trying to find somewhere to land and rest, but with so many tourists about they were having a hard time.

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8th Sept.  On the coast.  A little egret; and a single glossy ibis.

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9th Sept.  On the coast.  Bee-eaters in abundance with flocks of 20, 52, 110, 68, 7, 150+ and yet more heard but not seen.
                  At Dempla. There was a rough legged buzzard.
                  At Kamisiana. A single honey buzzard and,
                  At Sirili. There was a booted eagle.

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10th Sept. At Neo Chorio.  Yet more bee-eaters; flocks of 35+, 17, 30+, 18, 40+ and three more flocks heard but not seen.  In the garden 2 spotted flycatchers; and an early wintering robin.
                   On the coast. A lovely male red backed shrike; then a grey heron; and an eleonoras falcon.

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11th Sept. At Neo Chorio.  Lots of house martins; 3 spotted flycatchers; and two flocks of bee-eaters heard but not seen.

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12th Sept.  On the coast. A fine male lesser kestrel.

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14th Sept.  On the national highway.  Yet another dead barn owl.  Near Afrata were a griffon vulture; a bonellis eagle; and a pair of raven.

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16th Sept.  On the coast.  A hoopoe; and an eleonoras falcon.

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17th Sept.  At Neo Choirio. Yet more bee-eaters heard but not seen.
                    On the coast. 3 honey buzzards; a female kestrel; and 3 eleonoras falcons.
                    On one of the peninsulas. We found 5 linnet; 8 griffon vultures; 12+ red backed shrikes; 5 ravens; 50+ spotted flycatchers; 2 lanner falcons; 1 isabelline wheatear; several wheatears; 2 cuckoos; scattered woodlark and crested larks; a few stonechat; an adult bonellis eagle; a blue rock thrush; and best of all, the bearded vulture I have been following for over five years is now going into full adult plumage with a distinct redness on the breast.  On the way back home we found another lanner falcon; 2 ravens; and another bonellis eagle.

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18th Sept. At Neo Choirio.  Sitting in the lounge reading a book late at night, I was more than disturbed by a barn owl that flew in through the open window and circled round three times clutching a mouse in its talons. The shock nearly killed me and I was petrified it would knock down and smash our lovely copies of Minoan vases we have collected over the years.  Luckily the owl flew out without causing damage but settled on a fence post just outside the window and hissed at me for several minutes. Scary!

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19th Sept. At Neo Choirio.  A flock of 20 bee-eaters; and a hoopoe.
                   At Polymarchi.  There was a fine male hen harrier.

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20th Sept. At Neo Choirio.  A rough legged buzzard.

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21st Sept. At Neo Choirio.  20+ bee-eaters, and another flock heard but not seen.
                   On the coast.  We saw a hoopoe; a hobby; and a flock of 13 purple herons.

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24th Sept. A trip to another peninsula.  Yielded lots of swallows; several wheatears; 100+ yellow wagtails; 3 blue rock thrushes; 1 raven; 3 booted eagles; a juvenile bonellis eagle; 30+ spotted flycatchers; several woodlark; 2 griffon vultures; a pair of lanner falcons; 2 cuckoos; a kestrel; a chiffchaff; a whinchat; and a flock of unidentified pipits.
                   On the coast.  4+ honey buzzards; 1 white wagtail; 1 kingfisher; 500+ yellow wagtails; 2 whinchats; and 2 cuckoos.  Further along were more stonechats and whinchats; another cuckoo; 2 squacco herons; a flock of 23 little ringed plovers; a lesser whitethroat; a red backed shrike; and star of the day was a lovely greater spotted eagle, an adult in full soar as it hunted for a bite of lunch.  We had lovely views of it.

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24th Sept. At Neo Choirio.  A flock of 15+ eleonoras falcons in the morning hawking over the valley. Later a booted eagle drifted by heading south.

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27th Sept. On the coast.  2 white storks.

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29th Sept. Along the coast.  9 purple herons; a kingfisher; and 9 yellow wagtails. 
                   In one of the gorges.  We saw 6 griffon vultures: an alpine accentor; several crag martins; lots of great tits; and 2 rock doves; plus a blue rock thrush.
                   In another gorge.  A hoopoe; 2 griffon vultures; a golden eagle; a chough; a pair of ravens; and a female kestrel. Moving up into the mountains we found a dark phase booted eagle; and then had wonderful close up views of a pair of bearded vultures.  Then a pair of bonellis eagles; dozens of alpine swifts; 2 golden eagles; and fantastic prolonged views of a lanner falcon catching a swallow. It obligingly perched close by so all could study the plumage in great detail.  6 ravens were harrying a steppe buzzard; dozens of swifts were passing by; a peregrine falcon powered by; a red backed shrike cowered away from trouble; and a blue rock thrush risked its luck by coming right out into the open. Then suddenly at least 3 imperial eagles soared overhead to be admired by all.  All juveniles, there may have been a fourth but at the time there was so much going on it was difficult to keep track of everything. The day was not over, on the way back we stopped for refreshments on the coast and saw a long legged buzzard from only a few metres away. Then a flock of 200+ little egrets; a flock of 80+ purple herons; 50+ garganey; a fan tailed warbler; and a wheatear.  Our new friends Derek and Liz who we met through this site were very impressed with this trip!

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30th Sept. At Neo Choirio. Two pairs of ravens; a group of 3 honey buzzards; and in the garden both whitethroat and blackcap were singing.

               

And a few final words for September.....   A really good month with lots to see and all the more enjoyable by being able to share the birds with friends.  Derek and Liz, John and Patti we really enjoyed your company!

Calling these notes my highlights is something of a misnomer as I do not go out looking for rarities.  My pleasure comes from seeing any birds, but the isabelline wheatear, the greater spotted eagle and the imperial eagles certainly stood out this month as being very special and they were duly treasured.  Equally treasured was the high numbers of bee-eaters we saw and the knowledge that the bearded vultures are at least surviving.  By December they will hopefully be breeding and our fingers are well and truly crossed that they will be successful again.

Many birdwatchers keep county, country and life lists of the birds they have seen.  I am thinking of starting one for our lounge that for some reason attracts all sorts, ranging from swallows, swifts, Sardinian warbler, great tit, eleonoras falcon, scops owl and now barn owl. Throw in the not infrequent bats, geckos, scorpions, multitudes of moths and a few butterflies and we have a very interesting lounge!

Until next month, good watching.  Paul Smith.

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