MY BIRDWATCHING HIGHLIGHTS FOR NOVEMBER 2006

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1st Nov.  On the coast. We watched a lovely late flock of 10  black storks and also saw a kingfisher; a marsh harrier; a corn bunting; a flock of 12+ meadow pipits; and even saw a wren skulking in the undergrowth.

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3rd Nov.  At Gerani. A female goshawk was hunting.

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5th Nov.   At Tavronitis. Perhaps the same goshawk was present.  Nearby we watched a juvenile greater spotted eagle; some white wagtails; 2 corn buntings; a kestrel; some whinchats; stonechats; blackbirds; more meadow pipits; and a kestrel; plus 3 starlings.

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6th Nov.  Near Platanias  A group of 3 booted eagles were circling.
                At Agia reservoir. Were a massive 735+ coots; 24+ moorhens; 60+ pochard; 30+ teal; 47+ shoveler; 7+ ferruginous duck; 7 black necked grebes; 26+ little grebes; a kingfisher; a robin; a pair of white wagtails; a pair of actively displaying marsh harriers; and we had good views of a juvenile lesser spotted eagle.
 
 

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 9th Nov.  At a favourite valley. A lovely sunny day with still and calm conditions, so we went up into the mountains to our favourite valley to look for raptors wintering.

At one stopping point we saw a pair of lanner falcons; a pair of bonellis eagles; a single swallow; a flock of 5 honey buzzards; a pair of ravens; and a flock of 20 rock doves at the resident colony. Further on we stopped again to watch 2 adult eastern imperial eagles; an adult golden eagle; a steppe buzzard; a flock of 20+ meadow pipits; 19+ goldfinches; and a grey wagtail. These small birds are worth noting because of the altitude that we found them at.

At the last stop we watched a booted eagle; had lovely views of a pair of golden eagles displaying by diving, screeching and barrel rolling against a pure blue Mediterranean sky. Then a lanner falcon arrived and later a raven; 5+ robins; a flock of 15+ serins; a single griffon vulture; a rock thrush; and of course the pair of bearded vultures did not let us down. Theirs was a fine display of seemingly effortless soaring along the high ridges as they searched for carrion.

Even on the way back we did well when we found a huge flock of 60+ ravens; a pair of long legged buzzards; and then a pair of must be wintering red kites. All these birds were foraging at a large rural rubbish dump. My right hand man was not too impressed at my taking her to a rubbish dump, but the effort was worthwhile!


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12th Nov. Near the Coast. A black kite; a male goshawk; 6+ meadow pipits; a white wagtail; a black redstart; a male marsh harrier; a flock of 6+ linnets; and 6+ tree sparrows were tucked in with a large flock of Spanish sparrows. We even found a flock of 30+ of those awful starlings.

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15th Nov. Into the Mountains. Again making the most of lovely autumn weather, we again headed for the mountains and were well rewarded.

At the first stop were a black kite; a flock of 10+ meadow pipits; a pair of golden eagles; 4 griffon vultures; 2 ravens; an alpine accentor; a juvenile female goshawk; and 5+ crag martins. At the next stop were a steppe buzzard, a bonellis eagle; stonechats; and a kestrel. At the final stop we saw a flock of 30+ rock doves at this other colony, a juvenile red backed shrike; a black redstart; 2 juvenile eastern imperial eagles - an adult and a 3rd calendar year golden eagles; a flock of 50+ ravens; a peregrine falcon; a long legged buzzard; some whinchats; and a kestrel.

What was amazing was that when the bearded vultures arrived to survey their territory, one of them perched on a rocky outcrop and was joined within minutes by the adult golden eagle that flew up and perched within about four metres, with no hostile behaviour from either bird. Ten minutes later the bearded vulture lazily flew off after its mate.


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16th Nov. Along the Coast. A leisurely drive along the coast produced good numbers of stonechat; whinchat; black redstart; meadow pipits; chaffinches; a kestrel; and even a moorhen.

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16th Nov. At Neo Chorio. A pair of ravens were vigorously displaying and calling loudly. A booted eagle nearly managed to sneak by undetected  - until the crows found that it was carrying food of some kind and so mobbed it repeatedly until it escaped over the ridge and into the next valley.

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18th Nov. On the Coast. Were a male goshawk; and a group of 4 calandra larks.

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20th Nov. At Neo Chorio. 20th. A kestrel. Then,
                 Along the coast. Were a marsh harrier; a juvenile booted eagle; a pair of kestrels; and a flock of 6+ greenfinches.


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22nd Nov. At Neo Chorio. A flock of 80+house martins flew by. Some 50+ very late swifts were with them. Later a booted eagle flew by.

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23rd Nov. Along the coast. More whinchats; white wagtails; a pair of moorhens; a flock of 20+ meadow pipits; and a male hen harrier in perfect plumage.

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25th Nov. Back along the coast. The usual stonechats; whinchats; black redstarts; meadow pipits; marsh harriers; robins; and blackbirds - but supplemented by a steppe buzzard; a flock of 15+ serins; and a male kestrel.

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27th Nov. On the Coast. A lone and very late sandwich tern was fishing just out to sea for a long period.

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28th Nov. Back to the Mountains.  Unable to resist the excellent weather we again set off for the mountains, this time to a very different area.

At the first stop were  a lanner falcon; 2 ravens; 5+ griffon vultures; and a bonellis eagle.

Further on were 1 griffon vulture; a pair of bonellis eagles; and a lovely female goshawk soared against the incredibly blue sky.

Returning via the rubbish dump was a good idea, as we saw a flock of 17 griffon vultures; 70+ ravens; 5+crag martins; 1 red kite; a female sparrowhawk that almost scraped the ground as it swooped by - presumably after the flock of 5+ meadow pipits or perhaps the orphean warbler that sat near the car, singing away oblivious of the potential threat. A hoopoe was very unexpected at this late date but was calling and flying nearby. A separate flock of 19+ ravens appeared as we were leaving, indicating that there was plenty of food available nearby.

                   

A few final words for November.

A most enjoyable month made especially memorable by the superb weather that enabled us to have fantastic views of a wide variety of birds. Never mind the rarities, we derive the same satisfaction of having good views of a black redstart as we did of the orphean warbler or the peregrines, let alone the bearded vultures that remain our permanent favourites, second only after my passion for birds was kindled by the life cycle of swifts. I still find it hard to believe they can and do remain aloft for up to three years after leaving the nest - before they land on a ledge to repeat the breeding cycle - and give their wings a well earned rest after such prolonged use. Amazing. It puts us puny humans to shame when we compare our athletic prowess with such superstars as swifts!

December may well be much quieter. The bad weather has to catch up with us sometime, but we are well prepared with central heating and wood burning stove at the ready. If nothing else we have masses of lovely memories to reflect on as we peruse our records that now go back over seven years of enjoyable and very rewarding birdwatching.

Tip of the month, keep your records up to date and complete, they are so rewarding to look back on, and could become important historical records for future generations to marvel at as so many species go even further into decline. The bearded vultures here are an excellent example of this now so inbred they stand no chance of any future. A great shame!

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.

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