MY BIRDWATCHING HIGHLIGHTS FOR DECEMBER 2003

bullet5th Dec. At Kamisiana. There was a kestrel and a flock of 5 meadow pipits.
               At Rapaniana. There was a marsh harrier; a white wagtail; a grey wagtail; and a pair of stonechats.
               On the beach at Tavronitis. There was a flock of 30+ meadow pipits.
bullet6th Dec. At Neo Chorio. We had superb views of a male goshawk as it soared over the garden for ten minutes.
bullet13th Dec. At Neo Chorio. A flock of 5 honey buzzards then later a steppe buzzard was being mobbed by a pair of local common buzzards.
bullet19th Dec. At Skoutolonas. We found an adult and a juvenile cattle egret feeding in a flooded field and also a female whinchat. Was the whinchat a wintering bird or a very early migrant? Do they winter on Crete? There is so much to find out about the birds here!
bulletOn the estuary at Tavronitis. We were very surprised to see a male mallard right out in the open in broad daylight usually hunting pressure keeps them well out to sea during daylight and they come inland after dark.
bullet20th Dec. At Neo Chorio. There was a mad panic as a juvenile bonellis eagle suddenly swooped down and attacked two small kittens sunning themselves on our patio. Yowling with fear they and our two adult cats streaked for cover and the eagle went hungry.
bulletOn a trip into the mountains. We found 4 griffon vultures; a kestrel; a male goshawk; an adult bonellis eagle; a juvenile rough legged buzzard; an adult golden eagle; lots of ravens and a lovely adult imperial eagle. Imperial eagles winter on the island in very small numbers each year now although perhaps they have done so for a long time but no one was looking for them. We also saw a pair of blue rock thrushes, the male already in full song.
bullet21st Dec. At Neo Chorio. The bonellis eagle was about again but went hunting further down the valley.
bullet22nd Dec. At Neo Chorio. The bonellis eagle was again around but this time an irate short toed eagle was mobbing it.
bullet25th Dec. At Neo Chorio. The lounge has been invaded by lots of robins, partridges in pear trees, even some avocets and six penguins!
bullet29th Dec. Down on the coast. A single grey heron braved the foul weather and tried to feed in a flooded field.
bullet30th Dec. At Neo Chorio. A mixed flock of 4 pallid swifts and at least 7 swallows fed over the valley.
bullet31st Dec. At Sirili. There was a single swallow.
                 At Kamisiana. There was a juvenile short-toed eagle while..
                 At Neo Chorio.  A single common swift and a flock of 7+ crag martins circled for ages.

 

And a few final words for December.....   December was a very quiet month for birds, the weather meant we did not get out much. The summer tourists are always amazed to hear that winter weather here can be as bad as in England though never as cold. When it rains it buckets down so we are confined to the house for much of the time.

Time for a lesson, are you sitting comfortably? Small birds often mob sparrow hawks but with goshawks they do the opposite and flee, either frantically clawing to get as high up as possible or diving into the nearest cover. So if you are not familiar with goshawks then let the behaviour of other birds help you. This free tip comes with best wishes for a prosperous New Year to all my friends and eager readers. Happy birding!

For now, good watching.  Paul Smith.

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