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A spring migration day in Western Crete

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Old Tuesday 3rd April 2007, 19:52   #1
ColD
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A spring migration day in Western Crete

My wife Sue and I would like to share what for us was a very special day.
[ Birding from our house ]. But not just the birds other wildlife made this day special to.
We have about an acre of land with hills to two sides, sea in front and olive grove to the remaining side.
With an ENE light wind coming in I had an idea this was to be a good day, sunshine and a slight haze greeted us as we stepped outside.

Our first birds of the day were our pair of resident Buzzard, Sardinian Warbler and Italian Sparrow.The Buzzard are daily seen mating and nest building the Sardy's have a nest in a herb and gorse bush, whilst the It. Sparrows are busy building their condo. on the bathroom window ledge.
These were quickly followed up by a number of Yellow-legged Gulls, Hooded Crow whilst two male Marsh Harrier made their way northwards, House Martins flew around the area for most of the morning and a group of six Lesser Kestrel hunted over the hills behind.
Alpine Swift put in an appearance for a short while before heading out onto the Gramvousa penninsula.
The highlight of the morning was whilst watching two Griffon Vulture we noticed a large bird heading from the penninsula toward the house, which after five years of looking for, was our first real sighting of a Lammergeierand we never had to go look for it , there it was flying quite high but an unmistakable sight, awesome!! it first flew south then looped around and flew back before again heading off southwards, giving us about three to four minutes fantastic viewing....

After downloading some not very hazy distant pictures and having a coffee, some distant birds of prey were seen but we were unable to ID them, several Buzzard headed north or were seen off by our resident pair. A Kestrel put in a brief appearance hovering over the hill behind, whilst Swallow took over from the House Martins.
A look on the coastal side we saw White Wagtail Isabelline WheatearNorthern Wheatear and Crested Lark and a pair of Collared Dove we were dissapointed to see that a stream has started to dry up and only a single Common Sandpiper and a pair of busily mating Little Ringed Plover were present. The previous day we had seen a pair of Ruff, some Feldegg Yellow Wagtails and a Little Egret.
Whilst around the house were several groups of Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch.
It was now lunchtime and sat looking at the hill behind the house a Weasel scampered around the garden like a kitten , showing no sign of fear of us... sneaking indoors I managed to get some pictures as this small predator scrambled to the top of a two metre high wall and posed before coming back towards us and dissapearing up a drainpipe !.
After some work, all the while scanning the skies for something different [would the Lammergeier put in another appearance? ] we again got the binoculars out and headed to the rear hill where an overgrown gulley has an abundance of birdlife at this time of year, several groups of Rock Dove flew over heading inland, we had good views from here of several Cetti's Warblerour first real views as they flitted out into fairly open areas. A Collared Flycatcher flew from an Almond tree, whilst a Woodchat Shrike was hunting from a previously burnt shrub, aStonechat, Sardinian Warbler and Great Tit were creating a fuss about the Shrikes presence but failed to see it off, Whilst a pair of Blackcap were busy sorting a nest site out on the far side of the gulley carrying nest material into a low bush.
A Hoopoe sat in another burnt out bush,[a legacy from a large scrub fire that swept out of control one night a few years ago].
A group of fifty plus Red-rumped Swallow were seen hunting over a flock of sheep as they disturbed the ground the shepherd was bringing them across on their way to their enclosure for the night.
A Blue Tit showed for a short while before heading into the gulley where we spotted a Sombre Tit and another Woodchat Shrike. To finish the days birding a Peregrine Falcon obtained height before stooping on some distant unseen prey. Birding ceased here as the shepherd previously mentioned lit a large fire that created so much smoke we had to give up.
Whilst returning through our olive grove we noticed that our first Seripia Orchid is following on from the Butterfly and sawfly orchids .
Thirty six bird species seen over the day, our first Lammergeier and close up Weasel, with still the best of migration to come.
If you are visiting the island for wildlife you may may like to see our monthly bird reports and some photos on www.cretewww.com or our bird gallery on www.cretanvista.co.uk
A picture of the Bearded Vulture and weasel attached
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Last edited by ColD : Tuesday 3rd April 2007 at 19:55.
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Old Tuesday 3rd April 2007, 21:20   #2
Marcus Conway - ebirder
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Fantastic report, and nice pictures to capture the memory of such an interesting day. will certainly stroll through your websites
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Old Tuesday 3rd April 2007, 22:16   #3
Kentbloke
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Yes, fantastic report, thanks for sharing. I love Crete, not least for the birds life! We 'done' the Samaria Gorge about 15 years ago and had great views of a Lammy amongst many other species. Do check out the North coast for Eleonoras!
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