Spur-winged Plover, breed in small numbers on the Evros Delta and along the coast – stunning birds!
From Lake Kerkini we headed east, first to the excellent Kyveli Hotel at Kariofito, in the Rodopi Mountains, and then, via Porto Lagos, on to the Evros Delta, close to the Turkish border. In the mountains we explored the road which heads north from the hotel to the Forest Village (for details see Steve Mills’ book p110), now largely derelict. There was excellent birding along this road including Rock & Cirl Bunting, Eastern Orphean Warbler and five species of woodpecker, including Black – just south of the Forest Village. The following day we visited the various lagoons and salt-works in the Porto Lagos area, seeing a few late waders, flamingo, terns and gulls, before finally arriving at the Hotel Isidora, practically opposite the Evros Delta Visitors Centre. We had a day and a half to explore the delta, which is divided into two sections West and East – for which a permit is required, in advance. We quickly discovered that the delta is vast and slow to circum-navigate but packed full of interesting wildlife – in addition to the many and varied birds, we had good views of Golden Jackal and Wild Cat. We also managed to squeeze in an early morning visit to the Dadia forest, taking the mountain road to the Kapsalo transmitter mast view-point. Here, we eventually caught up with both Black & Egyptian Vulture and Blue Rock Thrush.
Cirl Bunting were relatively common in the Rodopi Mountains – here an adult feeds a youngster
Rock Bunting were, however, much less common – seen between Kariofito and the Forest Village
On the lagoons around Porto Lagos, Flamingo with a group of Greenshank and several Slender-billed Gull
Whilst birdwatchers are free to visit the western Evros Delta, you do need a permit, arranged in advance, to visit the eastern delta, close to the Turkish Border
On the Evros Delta there were still a few migrant waders, including Wood Sandpiper
Distant Marsh Sandpiper – part of a group of 20 – 25 with just a few of the flock of 350+ Ruddy Shelduck, in the background
These distant Collared Pratincole were a delight to watch, hawking for insects over the flooded rice fields
Surprisingly, we only saw a couple of Purple Heron
Along the many tracks which bisect the Evros Delta, several Greater Short-toed Lark
and Calandra Lark
To our delight, on our first evening in the delta, this juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo
One species we did see in reasonable numbers, both here and back at Kerkini, was Turtle Dove. Weird how the pattering on the coverts make the bird look out of focus!
Distant views of one of two Black Vulture seen at Kapsalo
On our last day in Northern Greece we had a long drive back from the Evros Delta to Thessaloniki – but we still managed to fit in some birding on route.. see my next blog for details!