Wednesday, 6 April 2016

A few Collared Flycatchers in a small arrival

Yesterday (5th April) was our last day at Cape Tenaro this year, we were able to achieve only partial coverage (the route to the lighthouse, upper Kokinoghia, Beehive Pass, Paliros and Porto Kagio) before we left. This was enough to establish there had been a small arrival despite the good weather, it seems reasonable to assume that with clear skies and very light winds the majority of birds passed overhead to better habitat further up the Mani or inland. Nightingale was again the dominant species, with smaller numbers of Redstarts, Whinchats, Black-eared Wheatears and a few Pied and Collared Flycatchers. Overall a really enjoyable morning's birding in great weather. 

Totals for the (half) day were: 4 Quail, 3+ Bee-eater, 4 Hoopoe, 2 Wryneck, 1 Wood Warbler, 2 Willow Warbler, 13 Subalpine Warbler, 8 Whitethroat, 1 Ruppell's Warbler, 8 Redstart, 18 Nightingale, 5 Whinchat, 15 Black-eared Wheatear, 1 Northern Wheatear, 1 Isabelline Wheatear, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Collared Flycatcher, 3 Red-throated Pipit, 10 Tree Pipit, 6 Ortolan Bunting and 1 Cretzschmar's Bunting.

Lighthouse - 1 Black-eared Wheatear and 3 Swallows seen to come in off the sea. On the path approaching the lighthouse there were also 1 Wryneck, 1 Hoopoe, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Nightingale, 1 Whinchat, and 1 Pied Flycatcher all presumably recent arrivals. There were also at least 6 dolphins riding the bow wave of a passing container ship (not just the 3 mentioned in a tweet).

Raptors - 1 Kestrel at Paliros

Weather - calm or variable 1-2, clear and sunny, some haze restricting visibility

A male Collared Flycatcher at Porto Kagio - 5th April 2016

There was a small arrival of Black-eared Wheatears, this one looks very white in bright sunlight at Paliros

A view of Porto Kagio bay from Paliros

Some summary posts to follow over the next week.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Lighthouse Birding

Well it was wonderful weather pretty much all day today unfortunately that didn't create the best birdwatching opportunities. There were comparatively few grounded migrants, though some appeared to arrive later in the day and it was once again left to the lighthouse to provide the best birding action.

As we arrived at the lighthouse a party of 12 Night Herons appeared and after a couple of attempts that all landed on the ripocks at the point and were still there when we left over an hour later. A Hoopoe also appeared on the outermost rocks and stayed put for half an hour before moving inland; there was also a a steady trickle of arriving migrants: 27 Swallow, 1 Sand Martin, 2 Short-toed Lark, 1 Tree Pipit and 2 Linnet. There was also a Northern Wheatear on the outer rocks.

Selected migrant totals for the day were: 6 Quail, 13 Hoopoe, 1 Wryneck,  8 Woodchat Shrike, 6 Willow Warbler, 5 Wood Warbler, 12 Subalpine Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap, 1 Orphean Warbler, 30 Nightingale, 5 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 7 Northern Wheatear, 1 Collared Flycatcher, 43 Tree Pipit, 10 Tawny Pipit and 1 Ortolan Bunting.

One of the most surprising things today was an apparent arrival of Tree Pipits at about 13.30, we were at Paliros when 29 appeared to drop from high up. A further 10 Tree Pipits were seen during the course of the afternoon. There also appeared to be an increase in Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike and Wood Warbler during the afternoon, though it is hard to be certain if their was a genuine arrival.

Oddities - the first Orphean Warbler of the year was by the church north of Beehive Pass, a Lesser Whitethroat at Aghirokambi was also a first for the year and there was a Rock Dove was at the lighthouse.

Raptors - 2 Harrier Sp (Montagu's / Pallid) and 2 Kestrel

Weather - NE 3-4 early on, later NW 3-4 by about midday, dropping later in afternoon and almost calm by dark. Largely clear, with hazy sun  and moderate visibility.

The group of 12 Night Herons circling prior to landing on the rocks at the lighthouse

Night Heron at the lighthouse

A Hoopoe on the outermost rocks at Cape Tenaro

A newly arrived Northern Wheater at the lighthouse

 Kotschy's gecko - we found 6 of these today in the mouth of an old cistern

Looking south-east from the road to Mianes towards Kokinoghia

Sunday, 3 April 2016

A Heron Arrival

The wind was stuck in the north-east all day and a fairly brisk breeze at that. As a consequence there were hardly any birds on the land and the main interest proved to be at the lighthouse where in the space of an hour we had 3 parties of herons arrive. First in was a Purple Heron that tried to land on the rocks by the lighthouse but got blown back out to sea and then fought its way back to land further up the headland. Next were 2 Grey Herons that after an unsuccessful attempt made it in to land briefly on the rocks at the tip of the cape than took flight again and headed up the east side. Finally there was a gang of 4 Night Herons, picked up a long way out that after a long struggle managed to hold course offshore and continued up the sat side though they were finding it hard going.

Also at the lighthouse this morning was a single adult Audouin's Gull that gave great views as it flew by close inshore.

On the land it was a pretty dismal showing of the main migrants of the moment there were just 14 Nightingales, 7 Subalpine Warblers, 3 Willow Warblers and 3 Blackcaps. No less than 17 species were recorded as a solitary single today !

Raptors - 2 Kestrel, 2 Harrier sp.

Weather - Wind NE 5-6 pretty much all day, cloudy Neil about 1.00pm then sunny. Visibility poor to start improving to moderate later.
Purple Heron struggling in the wind

A Grey Heron passes east in front of the top of the Cape

Night Herons passing up the east side

The Isabelline Wheatear on pipit plateau

A view of 'Beehive Pass' fro Koureli, a great location for gauging the number of migrants present in the early morning

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Painted Ladies and a Great Tit

Well today wasn't the greatest for bird migration, with the possible exception of Nightingales (and these could have been left overs from yesterday) there was no substantive arrival. The only species that seemed to show evidence of an overnight arrival was Northern Wheatear with 3 at the lighthouse, however as we could find only one other on the rest of the headland it was clearly not a big arrival. Later in the day we did have 3 flocks of Spanish Sparrows shoot through Turtle Dove Alley at 1.00pm so they had presumably left Africa at dawn.

The oddest bird nightlight of the day was a lone Great Tit at on the top of the lighthouse when we arrived there (about 9.45am), calling loudly. This is about 2km from the nearest substantive bushes or trees and 3km from the nearest place we have seen a Great Tit in the past week.

The wildlife event of the day was a huge arrival of Painted Lady butterflies, this was first noticed as we walked out to the lighthouse but continued all day and must of numbered several thousand. They were clearly heading north and could be seen doing so at locations such as Windy Gap, there were also smaller numbers of other migrant Lepidoptera - Bath White and what I assume were Small Whites (assuming they occur in Greece).

Bird totals for the day were: 6 Quail, 5 Hoopoe, 3 Wryneck, 4 Woodcaht Shrike, 4 Willow Warbler, 1 Wood Warbler, 10 Subalpine Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 27 Nightingale, 4 Northern Wheatear,1 Isabelline Wheatear, 2 Whinchat, 1 Black Redstart, 2 Collar d Flycatcher, 5 Tree Pipit and 15 Tawny Pipit.

Raptors - 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Harrier Sp., 1 Sparrowhawk  

Weather - early on NNE 3-4 with 7/8 cloud, hazy. Wind later ESE 1-2, broken cloud, visibility improving and Antikythira just visible.

A Painted Lady at Windy Gap this morning

The Great Tit on the lighthouse lantern

The Hen Harrier that flew north early morning

A view up the headland's main valley with the hills of the 'mainland' forming the far horizon. Koureli is to the right, above and left of here is Turtle Dove Alley. Left of the hill, just to the right of centre of the photo, is Windy Gap. While the road through the headland goes up and left to Beehive Pass.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Nightingales, Bee-eaters and Hoopoes

Today was a pretty good day's birdwatching, with the exception of a couple of species there were were no large numbers however there was a good variety on show (the best day yet this year) and we also had several firsts for the year. 

Birds were concentrated in the valley leading up to beehive pass and in the bushes above Kokinoghia, some locations such as Windy Gap, Mianes, and Marmari were almost bird free. Birds seem to pretty much vanish as the afternoon went on.

Totals for the most prominent migrants were: 9 Quail, 19 Hoopoe (including one in off the sea at the lighthouse), 5 Wryneck, 11 Willow Warbler, 14 Subalpine Warbler, 10 Great Reed Warbler, 4 Robin, 7 Whinchat, 8 Redstart, 12 Northern Wheatear, 1 female Pied Flycatcher, 2 Collared Flycatcher and 10 Tree Pipit. 

Firsts for the year - 26+ Bee-eater, 4 Cuckoo (Kokinoghia, Windy Gap x2, Koureli), 3 Ortolan Bunting. 

Raptors - 2 Kestrel, 1 Kestrel Sp. There were also 4 Short-toed Eagles making a lot of noise over Paliros, presumably as they vie for territories.

Oddities - The highlight of the day was A Mediterranean Monk Seal that was seen well, but briefly as it surfaced off the tip of the cape, it then dived and frustratingly could not be relocated. A Greenshank at the lighthouse was the only other (minor) event of the day.

A Whinchat at Beehive Pass

A Spanish Sparrow at Porto Kagio

The first Cuckoo of the year at Kokinoghia

A Horned Viper asleep on the road above Marmari

A view of the gardens and Olive groves at Koureli from Mianes

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Lots of sunshine ........ but only a few birds

Today was much quieter, with no substantive arrival though there was a good mix of species. Not really surprising given the clear weather and the light westerly winds.

There were still 41 Subalpine Warblers, presumably largely a hangover from yesterday's arrival. Other species were also present in reduced numbers: 4 Quail, 8 Hoopoe, 3 Wryneck, 7 Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 13 Nightingale, 3 Black Redstart and 5 Redstart. Good numbers of Tawny Pipit were still present, with 18 today, these were one of the few species that appeared to have arrived overnight.

Raptors - 3 Marsh Harriers went north and there was also a single Kestrel.

Odds and Ends - what was presumably the same Common Starling as 2 days ago was present at beehive pass first thing, 2 Hooded Crow had wandered down from the north and were calling over Kokinoghia and the only Sombre Tit we have seen on the headland this year also appeared at Kokinoghia.

Weather - wind W 2-3 early on increasing W4-5 in afternoon. Clear skies but hazy. Visibility moderate, Kithira island just about visible throughout the day.

North bound Marsh Harrier over 'pipit plateau'

A Hoopoe at 'beehive pass' this morning

A Tawny Pipit near 'swallow hollow'

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Lots of Subalpine Warblers ......... and a few other things as well

Today started off not looking that promising, clear skies and almost no wind. There was a smattering of migrants present early on, but nothing exceptional in the way of numbers and the variety seemed relatively limited. We headed out to the lighthouse without any great expectations however as we approached it we started picking up small numbers of Subalpine Warblers heading north, including one 'flock' of 4 birds. We even saw 2 birds move off the point rocks and pass the lighthouse itself. This proved to be the start of a substantial mid-morning arrival seemingly dominated by Subalpine Warblers; the only other obvious species that was part of the influx was Willow Warbler. Interestingly on Antikythira today while they also recorded a large arrival of Subalpine Warblers they ringed more Chiffchaffs than Willow Warblers (and yes we do know the difference between the two !).

Final totals for selected species were: 10 Quail, 7 Hoopoe, 4 Wryneck, 25 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 191 Subalpine Warbler, 21 Blackcap, 18 Northern Wheatear, 5 Redstart and 18 Nightingale.

Hirundines and Finches - very few swallows or martins today. Small numbers of finches were on the move with 27 Linnet, 6 Goldfinch and 3 Serin (the latter species is surprisingly uncommon here but that may simply reflect us being too late for their main migration). 

Raptors - 1 Marsh Harrier flew north. We also disturbed one of the local Peregrines at the lighthouse that flew off with a freshly caught Quail. 

Oddities - a female Rock Thrush just north of Beehive Pass, 2 Collared Doves at Kokinoghia and 2 Isabelline  Wheatear ('Pipit Plateau' and near Paliros).

Weather - clear skies with a W 1-2 wind early on, then calm for much of the morning wind then increasing WSW 4 by mid afternoon. Little cloud cover for most of the day, however hazy with comparatively limited visibility (Kythira island just about visible).

A Subalpine Warbler at Porto Kagio today. The main concentrations were very patchy, being almost entirely on the east side of the mountain (we could only find 5 at Marmari), and even then birds were present in some areas but not others (there were over 60 at Paliros but only 3 at Koureli)

A Red-throated Pipit at 'swallow hollow'

The gardiens at Porto Kagio

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Hoopoes and Northern Wheatear

,,Today started slowly with seemingly few grounded migrants, a walk to the lighthouse and back also revealed relatively little the highlights being 29 Short-toed Larks, 27 Tawny Pipits and our first Peregrine. However by midday there were clearly more birds present along the main headland road than first thing, a loose group of 10 Northern Wheatear and 3 Woodchat Shrikes near the 'lonesome' pine being the best example. After lunch there were also 1 or 2 Hoopoes to be found pretty much anywhere we stopped.

Notable totals for the day were: 6 Quail, 20 Hoopoe, 8 Woodchat Shrike, 19 Blackcap, 21 Subalpine Warbler, 15 Nightingale, 6 Redstart and 44 Northern Wheatear, the latter being a new peak count for Cape Tenaro. 

Scarcer migrants were represented by 4 Collared Dove, a Common Starling (at Mianes), a new male Rock Thrush (on the terraces around 'Magic Bush') and a Sparrowhawk.

Hirundines were in short supply all day and the only other obvious visible migrants were small numbers of Linnet and Goldfinch visibly heading north.

Migrant Raptors - 2 Marsh Harrier and 2 Kestrel

Weather - wind WNW for most of the day, 5-6 early on then dropping briefly before freshening later in the afternoon. Mostly clear skies. No rain. Visibility again good with Antikythira visible for most of the day.

Common Starling at Mianes - the fourth spring record for the headland

A male Blue Rock Thrush on the terraces around Magic Bush

Northern Wheatear - at least 44 were seen today

A Nightingale at Porto Kagio - 29th March 2016

A view of the Cape Tenaro headland from the north, looking across the narrow neck. Porto Kagio is the village in th bay on the left