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New Year's 'jolly-up' in Lake Kerkini Greece

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Old Friday 12th January 2018, 20:14   #26
SueBryan
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Wildcat

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New Year's Eve dawned cold but with a beautiful clear blue sky! After a wonderful breakfast prepared by Niko's parents (including cucumber jam - sounded unappetising to me but tasted divine!) we set off on the short drive to the lake.
Driving up onto the earthwork dyke that forms the Eastern boundary I got my first sight of it - wow is it big! 11 miles long and up to 5 miles wide at its fullest it is impressive to say the least! During Winter the level drops substantially exposing vast areas of vegetation that are grazed by wintering birds of all kinds and large numbers of Buffalo.
A large flock of Flamingo could be seen in the distance and closer in waders and ducks of every shape and size but no geese! We drove northwards towards the dryer areas stopping to scan occasionally picking up a couple of Greater Spotted Eagle and a lovely Peregrine but still no White-fronts! We then came across Costas, one off the Park Rangers, who Mitko knew and he informed us the LWFs had been there earlier but had moved on to another part of the lake! While we were chatting Costas said "Common Crane!" and sure enough 30 came honking over and landed some distance away to graze - my first Lifer of the trip! He also picked up a rare GSE var. fulvescens in his scope which warranted us going back for a slightly closer look!
After that we headed up to the northernmost corner of the lake where there are some reedbeds and deeper pools that still hold water in the Winter. On the way we spotted a small group of geese but unfortunately they were 'only' A. albifrons!
The pools were filled with Pochard, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveller, Gadwall, Pygmy Cormorant and a solitary female Red-crested Pochard. Kingfishers were flying in and out of the reeds when suddenly we spotted an Otter just behind them! A lifer for Marina, Mitko's wife, and a real treat for us! Four young Coypu continued the mammal theme, playing around on a partly submerged log to the consternation of several Cormorants!
A couple of Greek birders stopped to have a chat and were just leaving when one of them spotted something walking along the dyke in the direction we had come - Wildcat the first I have seen in daylight!
It was time to make our way back now as we had a boat trip planned for the afternoon, not a bad morning's work all things considered!

To be continued...

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Hi

My partner and I spent Christmas 2017 at Lake Kerkini and also saw 3 Wildcats along the Eastern Embankment of Lake Kerkini one of which I managed a photo of before it slunk off into the bushes. We had a great few days seeing many of the birds that you mentioned. We were amazed by the number of Hawfinches that we saw too.

Sue
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Old Saturday 13th January 2018, 13:35   #27
Scridifer
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Thanks Nick, much appreciated!

Yup, good for GSE as you say, apparently this is the third Winter the var. fulvescens has visited.

Chris
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Old Saturday 13th January 2018, 13:37   #28
Scridifer
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Hi

My partner and I spent Christmas 2017 at Lake Kerkini and also saw 3 Wildcats along the Eastern Embankment of Lake Kerkini one of which I managed a photo of before it slunk off into the bushes. We had a great few days seeing many of the birds that you mentioned. We were amazed by the number of Hawfinches that we saw too.

Sue
Lovely picture Sue!

Chris
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