Birds of Crete

April 2024

All photographs copyright Paul Gale Bird Photography

One week in the north-east of Crete from 20 April to 27 April which is peak migration season. I was based at the resort in Sisi where bee-eaters could be heard overhead throughout the week, red-rumped swallows land on the lines, barn swallows skim over the swimming pools and Sardinian warblers chatter in the shrubs.The highlight was a red-throated pipit on the lawns of the resort early on the Sunday morning. Just outside woodchat shrikes are present in the scrub land and I could hear a turtle dove purring from the olive trees. Just 5 miles down the road is the Selinari Gorge where peregrine falcons are nesting and some 50 Griffon vultures soar overhead. Crag martins and rock doves can be seen, and there was a blue rock thrush doing display flights. A day trip to the Elounda salt pans only produced a little egret but there were two adult Audouin's gulls in the harbour. Continuing south-east from the gorge along the "old road" is the village of Neapolis where one can access the Limnes pools, although these were dried out. There was a marsh harrier, grey heron, several ravens and a woodchat in the area with beautiful views of the valley and mountains in the background. More griffon vultures could be seen and two kestrels were hovering over the hill where large numbers of yellow-legged gulls were loitering. Malia marsh is just 15 minutes drive from the resort and was very productive with flocks of blue-headed and black-headed wagtails, a tawny pipit, northern wheatears, flocks of Spanish sparrows, alpine swifts and woodchat shrikes. I saw a marsh harrier and an unidentified falcon flew overhead. Crested larks were singing in abundance and a black kite flew over high. Malia marsh also has some great butterflies with good numbers clouded yellows, painted ladies,cleopatras, European swallowtails and even a plain tiger. I was lucky enough to photograph a stoat bounding along the path with a mouse. There were several lizards too. On the last day I visited the Thrapsano pools where sand martins and alpine swifts skim over the water to drink, wood and common sandpipers are present and there were terrapins on the bank.

Alpine Swift Audouin's Gull
Barn Swallow Bee-eaters Landed
Bee-easters in flight Black Kite
Black-headed Wagtail Blue-headed Wagtail
Blue Rock Thrush Cleopatra
Clouded Yellow Pale clouded Yellow
Common Sandpiper Common Swift
Crested Lark Eastern dappled White
Greenfinch Grey Heron
Griffon Vulture Terrapins
Peregrine falcon landed Peregrine falcon flight
Hooded crow Hoopoe
House Martin Kestrel
Northern Wheatear Painted Lady
Plain Tiger Red-rumped Swallow
Sand Martin Rock Dove
Sardinian Warbler Woodchat Shrike
Yellow-legged Gull Wood Sandpiper
Spanish Sparrow Buzzard
European swallowtail Stoat
Tawny Pipit Speckled wood
White butterfly  


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