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KOS -PSALIDI and TIGAKI - 16th -23RD JUNE 2010

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Old Thursday 1st July 2010, 18:57   #1
MikeJenx
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KOS -PSALIDI and TIGAKI - 16th -23RD JUNE 2010

This was a family holiday to the Psalidi area of Kos with my wife and 4 year old daughter. We stayed in the Hotel Sol Kipriotis Village which had the benefit of being less than 10 minutes walk to the entrance to the Psalidi wetland reserve.

The wetland is bi-sected by a causeway with reed beds to the north and a shallow lake to the south. A path runs around the whole perimeter of the reserve. The wetland is fenced and managed as a protected reserve with a visitor centre and a hide located on the causeway (which was permanently locked).

The benefit of this was that I could bird watch without the stress of worrying whether I was trespassing on somebody’s land. The Psalidi area is only mentioned in passing in the trip reports I had read from parties who based themselves in Tigaki. I had hopes that by making the area my regular patch for the week, that I could improve on the relatively sparse number of species reported in these reports from this area.

Having birded several times in the Med, I had no real target species, particularly as we had gone well outside the migration period. I did hold out some hope that I would find a roller which I had noticed was regularly reported in other areas of Kos in May. I was not certain whether this bird bred in Kos or simply passed through in numbers.

THE BIRDS
House sparrows were abundant around the hotel and any area with buildings nearby. Greenfinches were also present in numbers and hooded crow was the commonest large bird. The corvids were also represented by magpie and jackdaw.

Crested larks were present in numbers in areas of rough ground, fields and on the beach. Yellow legged were the only representative of the gulls I encountered. Olivaceous warblers were very common even in the hotel grounds but their skulking habits led to only the occasional glimpse. Cettis and Sedge were heard singing from the reed bed but not seen.. Hirundines and common swifts were a constant feature and included the occasional red rumped swallow.

The only wader seen in this area was a black winged stilt which gave confiding views from the sides of the lake. Also present on the lake were a pair of squacco herons which were seen regularly. Sadly, coot and mallard represented the only other water birds which I could locate on the lake which was disappointing.

My favourite area to bird was at the far southern end of the lake. From here you could look north across the lake through a gap in the foliage towards the hide. Looking south was a fallow field with several pylons running through it. It was on one of these pylons on the second day that I saw my one and only roller of the trip. This stunning bird posed for about 20 minutes allowing me to digiscope it badly from a distance of about 100 yards.

More common in this area were bee eaters which could be seen and heard throughout the reserve. Several bee eaters posed next to the roller on the pylon allowing views of two of Europe’s most colourful birds through the same eye piece view. They were joined by a little owl. .Turtle doves were seen on the pylons and also in a dead tree on the west side of the lake. Careful examination of the large house sparrow flock which favoured some disused bunkers, revealed a Spanish sparrow amongst their midst

Seeing the roller meant that the holiday was a success bird wise. However, I was disappointed with the lack of variety of species which I was able to locate. My hope of improving on the list of species previously reported didn’t materialise. The diversity of habitat and the good level of management of the reserve had promised more.

With assurances of a comfortable sun bed on a lovely beach, I was able to persuade my wife to spend our last two days in Tigaki which is a more renowned birding destination. I will cover my experience of Tigaki in a supplementary report.

As we waited outside the hotel for our transport to arrive at 23:00 on our last night, my wife heard a scops owl calling from outside of the hotel reception area. Anyone who has looked for scops in the night will know that hearing the call is the easy part and actually locating the bird is a whole different ball game. Alas our mini bus arrived within minutes and the owl went unseen.
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Old Saturday 3rd July 2010, 05:06   #2
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Glad you saw the Roller !

Interesting update.
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Old Saturday 3rd July 2010, 10:19   #3
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Thank you wolfbirder. I had waited many years to finally spot one and it was more than worth the wait. I will add the Tigaki part of my report in the next day or so.

Mike
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Old Sunday 4th July 2010, 10:54   #4
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Originally Posted by MikeJenx View Post
Thank you wolfbirder. I had waited many years to finally spot one and it was more than worth the wait. I will add the Tigaki part of my report in the next day or so.

Mike
Look forward to the next installment Mike .
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Old Sunday 4th July 2010, 16:07   #5
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I was lucky at Psalidi wetlands in 2005 and managed to find a day roosting scops owl...had only been birding for a year or so at the time and didnt realise how tough they can be to see. Failed with much else though.
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Old Sunday 4th July 2010, 22:05   #6
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I have been lucky enough to see scops at the police station in Puerto Pollensa and the school yard in Skalla Kalloni. However, these were loacations that were well known and nothing beats finding the bird for yourself.

I hope you had a good trip to "sunny" Wales for your mamora's tick.

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Old Sunday 4th July 2010, 22:34   #7
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TIGAKI

The Alykes salt lake lies to the west of Tigaki and is the most popular birding spot on Kos. This shallow lake is probably about a kilometre in diameter and is accessed via a dirt track on its northen shore. There is a small stream leading from the lake which provides an out-flow into the sea. There is a large field where livestock graze which contains trees and scrub and provides variation in the habitat. To the seaward side of the field are dunes which are inhabited by nudists.

We had only a limited time in Tigaki which we split between the salt lake and the stunning beach. Looking out over the sea there are fantastic views of the Turkish coast and several small uninhabited Greek Islands.

There are several trip reports covering Kos and particularly the Tigaki area. The earliest report I found was by John Jennings who has written a series of inspiring reports on his trips to the Med in the 1990’s. Dave Pearce’s report of his trip in 2005 sets out what the area is capable of yielding during the Spring migration period.

THE BIRDS
On our first day. I was thrilled to be able to present my daughter with her first views of wild greater flamingos. There were about 30 birds, the majority of which were more white than pink in colour. They were congregated in the lake about 50 metres off shore, affording great views.

After watching them for about 20 minutes, a feral dog appeared and proceeded to run out into the lake towards the birds. The birds did not move until the dog was about 5 metres from them, at which point they took off on mass. They circled about before re-grouping on the far western side of the lake. I was none too pleased.

On our second visit, a pelican was seen fishing some distance away. Conveniently, it swam over to the northern shore allowing identification as (I think) a sub adult white pelican. I was concerned as to its legitimacy as a wild bird. My last experience of observing a “wild” pelican ended in disappointment. A white pelican flew over the top of a dune on Lady’s Mile in Cyprus. I was very excited until I noticed a length of rope trailing from the bird. Moments later, its “owner” appeared over the same dune holding the other end of its leash.

Fortunately the Tigaki bird was unaccompanied and I was able to photograph it in flight - a lifer for me.

Ruddy shelduck were much in evidence in small groups with a maximum count of 20+. Herons were represented by greys and little egrets. As with Psalidi, waders were scarce and were limited to a solitary redshank and a group of 5 Kentish Plover. The live stock field yielded 3 stone curlew, numerous crested larks and a serin.

Fan tailed warblers were common throughout the area. One of my most rewarding experiences was encountering a mixed flock of hirundines perched on a low wire. All European species were represented with the exception of crag martin.

On the second day, we caught the bus back to Kos town and made our way from the bus station to the port to catch a second bus back to Psaildi. As we passed the archaeological gardens, I noticed some low flying swifts. They were unusually brown in colour with distinctive white on the head. These were pallid swifts, a second lifer of the day.

Perhaps I didn’t encounter a huge number of birds in my short time at Tigaki but I was very pleased with what I did see. There was always something interesting to look at and I was left with the feeling that I had only scratched the surface of the area’s potential.

Sitting next to the grazing field on the shore of the lake was a magical place to relax and bird watch. A scope is recommended to take full advantage of the views afforded across the lake and adjoining land. I would definitely wish to return to Tigaki in the future as it has plenty to offer for the birder who also has a family to appease.
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Old Monday 5th July 2010, 06:23   #8
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Nice one. Off to Rhodes in August, may do a boat trip to Kos so your info is very useful Mike.
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