Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Cape Tenaro Team 2017

A summary of this year's observations will be published in the next couple of days for now however here is a picture of this year's team at Paliros.

Maria, Jim, Tim & Mags and Carol & Tim (thanks also to Katherina who left before the team photo)

Cape Tenaro - Bird Ringing Report for 2017

Observations of spring bird migration have been carried out annually at Cape Tenaro since 2000. This year (2017) saw the introduction of an experimental bird ringing programme to investigate the potential of establishing Cape Tenaro as a regular bird ringing site for the study of spring migration. We wanted to ascertain if there were suitable sites for bird ringing and whether it was practical to catch enough migrant birds to make this a worthwhile activity. The necessary permits were obtained from the Greek authorities through the Hellenic Bird Ringing Centre.

On arrival we spent the first day familiarising ourselves with the area and deciding on the most suitable site to commence activities. We chose a valley side and bottom in the central part of the headland where abandoned olive groves provided shelter and act as a corridor for the northward movement of migrant birds after their arrival on the Cape.

The first full day of ringing (24th April), whilst operating with only 5 nets (45m length), saw the highest number of birds caught (48).  Over the next few days we gradually increased to a maximum of 9 nets (87m length).   Ringing was carried out on 9 consecutive days amassing a total of 239 birds, an average of 26 per day.

Turtle Dove
Tree Pipit
Black-eared Wheatear
Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
Sardinian Warbler
Orphean Warbler
Garden Warbler
Wood Warbler
Willow Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher
Collared Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher
Great Tit
Golden Oriole
Woodchat Shrike
House Sparrow
Corn Bunting

Total Ringed
(of 29 species)

On reflection we feel that the choice of ringing site is probably ideal, when compared to all of the sites investigated.  It was well away from any habitation and was neither troubled by people nor domestic animals. Its position in relation to migrant birds making landfall on Cape Tenaro and then moving generally north through the landscape seems to be beneficial, with enough habitat for both attracting birds and erecting nets.

Overall bird ringing totals were low for the amount of time and energy expended; this was almost certainly due to the exceptionally settled weather which was not conducive to significant falls of migrants after the first day. The fine weather conditions however meant that ringing was able to be carried out on all days.

The chosen location has the potential to be a very good site for ringing migrant birds, especially passerines. There is also the scope to increase the number of mist nets if we were to have a larger team involved with the ringing programme in future years.

Finally we would like to say thank you to all those in Greece who helped us obtain the relevant permits and permissions and helped us liaise with the local community - so thank you to Katherina, Maria, Filios and Christos. 

The first bird ringed at Cape Tenaro - Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)

Friday, 12 May 2017

Raptor Migration at Cape Tenaro - Spring 2017

Small number so raptors arrive at Cape Tenaro most days in spring; this was the case again this year. There was a particularly strong showing of several falcon species and harriers were in lower numbers than expected. As in previous years there was no attempt to systematically record raptor migration, observations were made informally while birdwatching in various locations on the headland. The only exception to this was an hour or so most lunchtimes when the team gathered at Paliros and were able to observe the east side of the mountain and the central valley.

Raptor Migration at Cape Tenaro 
22 April to 3 May 2017 

(NOTE: there was limited observations on 22 April and 1 May, and only 4 hours on 3rd May)

Marsh Harrier
Hen Harrier
Montagu's Harrier
Harrier Sp.
Accipiter Sp.
Lesser Kestrel
Kestrel Sp.
Red-footed Falcon
Small Falcon Sp.
Eleonora’s Falcon


Note: The table has sought to exclude birds that had apparently stayed off passage for one or more days, so any individual is only counted once.

In addition the resident raptors - Short-toed Eagle, Common Buzzard and Peregrine have also been excluded. A group of 4 Short-toed Eagles on 24 April and a single Common Buzzard on 27 April (that flew off strongly north) hinted at migrants but could have referred to local birds exploring the headland. The Peregrine record included in the table refers to an immature bird that was seen arriving from the south at the lighthouse.

I've speculated before about the total numbers of migrant raptors that make their first landfall on the Mani after crossing the Mediterranean in spring. This year's observations serve to reinforce the importance of Cape Tenaro and the Mani peninsula as a whole as a landfall for migrant birds of prey. The estimate made in an earlier post (11 April 2013) of 500 to 1000 raptors arriving each spring may well be too conservative. 

Friday, 5 May 2017

Orioles, Falcons and Flycatchers - 3rd May

Today was our last day on the headland this spring and we were rewarded with a varied arrival that provided plenty of interest until we had to head for Athens and a flight home at lunchtime. Birds were rather oddly distributed with very few to be seen at Beehive Pass, Windy Gap or Koureli but reasonable to good numbers in the valley below Beehive Pass, at Kokinoghia, at Mianes and at Porto Kagio.

There was also another good arrival of falcons with no less than 12 birds gathering above Kokinoghia just before 09.00 however all but one of these had moved on half an hour later. 

Grounded Migrants:  1 Cuckoo, 6 Woodchat Shrike, 16 Golden Oriole, 4 Great Reed Warbler, 11 Garden Warbler, 3 Whitethroat, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Olivaceous Warbler, 3 Icterine Warbler, 14 Wood Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler (singing below Paliros), 11 Whinchat, 1 Redstart, 47 Pied Flycatcher and 59 Spotted Flycatcher.

Raptors: 11 Kestrel, 4 Red-footed Falcon

Weather: calm to cyclonic 3, clear skies, visibility no better than moderate.

Red-footed Falcon above Kokinoghia

Red-rumped Swallows at Paliros

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

More Pied Flycatchers - 2nd May

Tuesday saw another arrival of Pied Flycatchers along with smaller numbers of other common migrants. Grounded birds were most apparent early on and there were far fewer migrants in the sheltered areas at Porto Kagio and Marmari in the afternoon than there have been in recent days. Birds  presumably moving northwards during the course of the day.

Visible migration was very limited however late on a party of 25 Bee-eaters flew strongly north at Kokinoghia late in the afternoon and appeared to have just come in from the south. Raptors were limited to Kestrel today with one early  on and another 5, presumably freshly arrived, birds on wires and hunting above Kokinoghia late on.

Grounded migrants: 7 Golden Oriole, 10 Woodchat Shrike, 1 Great Reed Warbler, 19 Garden Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 8 Whitethroat, 1 Icterine Warbler, 4 Wood Warbler, 4 Redstart, 2 Nightingale, 12 Whinchat, 28 Pied Flycatcher, 18 Spotted Flycatcher and 7 Black-headed Bunting (all males).

Raptors: 6 Kestrel

Visible Migration: 60 Bee-eater 

Weather: effectively calm early on then W or WNW 4-5 in afternoon. Clear with some haze

Black-headed Buntings are very conspicuous at the moment 

The Cirl Bunting was singing on the edge of Koureli cemetery today (a record shot but the best I have)

Monday, 1 May 2017

Pied Flycatchers and Wood Warblers - 1st May

A combination of circumstances led to incomplete coverage today with a need to take down the mist nets mid-morning and a visit to Areopoli in the afternoon.

What coverage there was revealed a mixed fall with 22 Pied Flycatcher and 7 Wood Warbler; there had also seemingly been an influx of Black-eared Wheatears with 9 between Beehive Pass and Kokinoghia.

The most notable bird of the day was a rather late Serin seen briefly n the car park at Kokinoghia early on.

At least 44 Bee-eaters went north by mid-morning.

Bird Ringing:  Pied Flycatcher  9,  Wood Warbler 4,  Black-eared Wheatear 2,  Garden Warbler 2,  Sedge Warbler 2 and House Sparrow 1. 
Overall Total: 20 birds ringed from 78m nets in 3.5 hours.

An Ortolan Bunting at Beehive Pass this morning.

A male Pied Flycatcher in an olive tree.

Dragons, Painted Ladies and Saharan Murk - 30th April

With a fresh southeasterly wind blowing the headland was enveloped in a typical hazy Saharan murkiness almost all day and the top of the mountain was not seen at all. There were very, very few birds about in the southern half of the headland and without visits to Porto Kagio and Marmari in the afternoon the counts would have been very poor indeed.

Although it was a poor day for birds the winds from Africa did bring in some insects including several dragonflies, Painted Ladies and a few locusts.

A female Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) resting on the path to the lighthouse.  

 A Painted Lady on Pipit Plateau

Waves crashing in to the rocks in Porto Sternes 

The highlight of the day was the discovery of a pair of Cirl Buntings close to the cemetery at Paliros; although this species occurs just north of our wildlife recording area this is our first record on the headland itself.

Grounded Migrants: 1 Woodchat Shrike, 6 Golden Oriole, 5 Great Reed Warbler, 4 Sedge Warbler, 11 Whitethroat, 2 Subalpine Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 15 Garden Warbler, 6 Icterine Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 5 Wood Warbler, 5 Nightingale, 1 Redstart, 4 Whinchat, 11 Spotted Flycatcher and 10 Pied Flycatcher.

Visible Migration: limited given the conditions but 40 Bee-eaters appeared from lunchtime onwards. There was also a notable count of 34 Red-rumpled Swallows but this could well be birds that have been hanging around for much of the last week.

Raptors:1 Honey Buzzard, 1 Kestrel and 1 Kestrel Sp.

Lighthouse Watch: 9 Scopoli's Shearwaters flew east in 25 minutes. On the approach to the lighthouse a Grey Heron was flushed off the ridge at Turtle Dove Step and there were 12 Short-toed Larks just north of this.

Bird Ringing: Sedge Warbler 1, Great Reed Warbler 1 and Whitethroat 1.
Overall total 3 birds from 78m of nets.

Weather: SE 5-6 to start dropping away a bit after 10am, overcast and hazy. Some patches of sunshine in the afternoon. Visibility poor.

Honey Buzzard soaring over Porto Kagio

Bee-eaters near Paliros (this a photo - honest !!)

Eastern Olivaveous Warbler singing at Porto Kagio

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Sand Martins, Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers - 29th April

Another fine day with light winds saw another small arrival. This time Whiethroat, Sedge, Great Reed and Icteine Warblers, Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers were the main species of grounded migrants. There was also a strong movement of hirundines late morning and the total of 243 Sand Martins was more than six times the best previous day total of 39 on 3rd May 2009. The total of 66 House Martins was also our 3rd best Spring count.

The first Black-headed Bunting of the year was singing below Beehive Pass early on and another two were seen later at Koureli.

Black-headed Bunting below Beehive Pass

An Eleonara's Falcon that went north at Koureli at lunchtime was also a first for the year.

Grounded Migrants: 20 Woodchat Shrike, 14 Great Reed Warbler, 15 Sedge Warbler, 59 Whitethroat, 15 Garden Warbler, 14 Icterine Warbler, 6 Wood Warbler, 9 Redstart,14 Whinchat, 10 Nightingale, 14 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Collared Flycatcher, 44 Spotted Flycatcher

Visible Passage: 28 Common Swift, 20 Common/Palliid Swift, 2 Pallid Swift, 243 Sand Martin, 66 House Martin, 62 Swallow, 19 Red-rumpled Swallow, 

Raptors: 1 Honey Buzzard, 2 Hobby, 5 Kestrel, 1 Falcon Sp.

Bird Ringing: Sedge Warbler 11,  Whitethroat 12,  Nightingale 2,  Pied Flycatcher 1,  Woodchat Shrike 1, Icterine Warbler 2,  Wood Warbler 1,  Great Reed Warbler 2,  Garden Warbler 4,  Spotted Flycatcher 1 and Great Tit 1.
Overall Total: 38 birds ringed from 78m of nets.

Weather: Initially NE 2-3, later SE or SSE 3 occasionally. The sky was hazy with Saharan dust from early on and grew increasingly so during the afternoon. Visibility was again excellent with Crete again discernible.

Spotted Flycatcher at Porto Kagio

A male Redstart below Beehive Pass

A Turkish Gecko found in the same cistern where Kotschy's Geckos were seen last year

A view of the headland from the raptor watch point that marks the northern boundary for wildlife recording