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Hoachin’ wi Woodchat Shrikes - Kefalonia May 2019

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Old Friday 17th May 2019, 20:46   #1
david kelly
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Hoachin’ wi Woodchat Shrikes - Kefalonia May 2019

I thought I would post a report of a week’s holiday we had in Kefalonia from 8 May to 15 May 2019. We flew Jet2 from Edinburgh to Kefalonia, staying at the very welcoming Sotiris Studios in Svoronata, just south of the airport. On Kefalonia we travelled either by public bus, coach tour or on foot. Many reports say this is not a good island for birds, it’s maybe not as good as some but the birds and wildlife were different enough from Scotland to be worthwhile exploring. I can see more species of birds on a walk round Musselburgh Lagoons than I did in the week but the herps, insects and the few plants I could identify made any trip interesting.

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Old Saturday 18th May 2019, 20:51   #2
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We had arrived at dusk so birding had to wait until the next day. In the morning I walked towards the beach and did a circuit coming back via the southern entrance to the hotel. On this walk I was introduced to many of the island’s common birds, mainly House Sparrows, Barn Swallows and House Martins, with a sprinkling of Sardinian Warblers. Other species seen were Greenfinch and Goldfinch. Blackbirds were apparent as were Spotted Flycatcher and Crested Lark. As I returned to the hotel a raptor was being mobbed by a Hooded Crow. It was buzzard sized but soared on parallel sided wings which were held perpendicular to the body and flat. I identified this as a Booted Eagle, the only one seen on the trip. A Woodchat Shrike was on the wires near the hotel entrance

We went out again that afternoon and walked to the small harbour where the offshore islands seemed to have colonies of Yellow-legged Gulls and a few Shags. At dusk bee-eaters could be heard calling over the hotel.

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Old Sunday 19th May 2019, 20:27   #3
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Another day in Svorotana, many of the same species seen but with the addition of Bee-eater, a Peregrine Falcon and a Red-rumped Swallow.

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Old Tuesday 21st May 2019, 20:42   #4
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Today we caught the bus to the island’s capital, Argostoli. We walked across the De Bosset bridge. This bridge separates the Koutavos Lagoon from the Bay of Argostoli. The logo on is a feeding and resting area for Loggerhead Turtles and these can be seen from the bridge, we saw at least five, two of whom were either fighting or being amorous, I think the former. At the far end of the bridge were some pine woods and scrub where there were a few birds which were new for the trip. The first was a Lesser Whitethroat calling and moving through some thick bushes, the second was a more obliging female Black-eared Wheatear.

On our return to Svoronata we went for a walk and saw the usual suspects, although a singing Reed Warbler was new for the trip. We also saw two Pallid Swifts, as well as enjoying the nightly bee-eater flypast.
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Old Wednesday 22nd May 2019, 14:49   #5
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A favourite holiday destination for us (in fact we're heading back in July). We've been a few times, and I've not scratched the surface of birding sites yet. You are right - it's not a prolific birding destination, but you do get some good stuff, and the insect/dragonflies/butterflies & herps are brilliant.

Pity you didn't have a car - Livadi Marshes & St Georges Castle would have been good destinations for some different birding for you.
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Old Wednesday 22nd May 2019, 20:38   #6
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A favourite holiday destination for us (in fact we're heading back in July). We've been a few times, and I've not scratched the surface of birding sites yet. You are right - it's not a prolific birding destination, but you do get some good stuff, and the insect/dragonflies/butterflies & herps are brilliant.

Pity you didn't have a car - Livadi Marshes & St Georges Castle would have been good destinations for some different birding for you.
It is a pity but Mrs K. was dead set against hiring a car, especially after seeing a couple of cars go the wrong way round the roundabout at the airport, presumably UK or Irish drivers.

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Old Wednesday 22nd May 2019, 20:55   #7
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We booked a trip through Jet2 to experience some of the sights of the island. The first stop was the convent of Agios Gerasimos where there were plenty of birds, mostly species such as chaffinch and goldfinch which are familiar Western European species. We did, however, see the only Hoopoe of the trip on the lawns. We then went to the Robola winery before heading towards the Drogarati cave. Here we decided against going into the cave and to enjoy some light refreshments while looking for birds and butterflies in the surrounding vegetation. Jays were the most obvious species but I also saw a couple of Alpine Swifts over a nearby hill. A Scarce Swallowtail was a Lepidoptera highlight. Melissa did Lake was our next stop and here we decided to do the tourist thing and go on the boat trip. We the went to Agia Efimia for lunch, the trip finishing with a view over Myrtos Beach where there were both Alpine and Pallid Swifts over the steep slopes.

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Old Thursday 23rd May 2019, 20:57   #8
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The weather today was rainy so we decided to revisit Argostoli and explore the woods surrounding the lagoon. These woods are a mixture of eucalyptus, which were planted by the British to control mosquitoes, pines and broadleafed trees. Among the first birds we saw was a warbler in the oleanders beside the path, I was able to get a good look at a Common Whitethroat while Mrs K. saw a different bird, a Lesser Whitethroat, which I missed, Farther along the path there was a decrepit wooden pair which had been blocked off. Here a Whinchat was sitting on a small bush and two Common Sandpipers were running along the shore. A Grey Heron was hunting at the end of the pier. Cetti’s Warblers were skulking in the vegetation but their loud songs gave them away and there were chaffinches, goldfinches, great tits and Spotted Flycatchers throughout this wood. A single Eastern Olivaceous Warbler calling and then I spotted a really contrasting leaf warbler with a really white breast and belly in the canopy of a low pine, my first Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler. On the return to the bridge two male Woodchat Shrikes flew out of the bushes more interested in fighting each other than in us. We finished off with more excellent views of the Loggerhead Turtles from the bridge. The rain and wind appeared to have caused there to be a fall of migrants into this woodland.

It absolutely bucketed down when we got back to Svoronata so no evening walk was attempted but while enjoying a post dinner Mythos in the bar the electricity failed. While the staff were fixing it the sudden silence was broken by the beeping of a Scops Owl from the bushes just behind the restaurant.

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Old Yesterday, 12:18   #9
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Originally Posted by david kelly View Post
13 May

It absolutely bucketed down when we got back to Svoronata so no evening walk was attempted but while enjoying a post dinner Mythos in the bar the electricity failed. While the staff were fixing it the sudden silence was broken by the beeping of a Scops Owl from the bushes just behind the restaurant.

David
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Old Yesterday, 13:05   #10
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We stayed on the wild rugged west coast of neighboring Zante a couple of years ago and was well impressed by the number of birds around and about.
We stayed at Keri Village Hotel. No need to hire a car as most places were acessible on foot or using the hotel shuutle bus.
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Old Today, 11:46   #11
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Another trip this time as well as taking in the caves we were going to see the north of the island including Fiskardo, with lunch at the very picturesque village of Assos looking across the bay to the Venetian fortress. We stayed outside the caves and after a coffee at the Drogarati Cave we went for a walk in the olive groves. A purring Turtle Dove was our second of the trip and a large Sylvia in the crowns of the olive trees proved to be an Eastern Orphean Warbler, another migrant? Few other new birds for the trip were seen but Jays, Woodchat Shrikes and Hooded Crows were conspicuous.

Returning to Svoronata we had another walk and the bee-eater flypast was enjoyed for the last time but the Pallid Swifts were not near the cliffs. We found some Eastern green lizards which Mrs K. Enjoyed trying to photograph.

David
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Old Today, 11:56   #12
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Our last day. We spent this in Lassi exploring this more wooded area. This added Zitting Cisticola and Mistle Thrush to the trip list. Here I noticed more butterflies than elsewhere on the island including good numbers of Cleopatras. We flew back to Edinburgh in the evening.

Kefalonia is a beautiful island and I saw more than I expected, probably helped by the apparent fall when it rained. As we did not hire a car the Livadi Marsh wasn’t visited which as Richard G. Points out above would almost certainly have boosted the overall list. I also enjoyed the 4 “herps” seen Eastern green lizard, Balkan wall lizard, Loggerhead turtle and green toad and the butterflies which included swallowtail, scarce swallowtail and cleopatra.

David
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