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Day 7 (Wednesday, 8th May)

Map of Kalloni area


The plan this morning was to go to Kalloni Pool first thing, which we did by 6 o'clock first light, scan around for any interesting arrivals, and get some information about other birds, such as Scops Owl, Olive Tree Warbler, and anything else of interest. As usually happens, things did not go exactly to plan, due to the good close birds that we chanced upon, and so we spent the whole of the morning in the Kalloni area, in particular in the salt pans vicinity. The weather had changed this morning, again starting cold, but the wind had switched around to the north-east, and was fairly strong, keeping temperatures down. We looked for any crakes that might be around in the corner of Kalloni pool - none today, but Water Rail legged it across the open mud. It was also noticeable that there were more Whiskered than White-winged Black Terns today, with 22 of the former, although 6 of the latter did fly in later.

We gained information about the exact trees for the Scops Owl missed earlier in the week, so we left for Kalloni school, where a group of birders were already watching the bird. It was about 3-5m up one of the poplars (not eucalyptus) in the open, behind the playground of the school. The bird was very approachable, and occasionally mustered the effort to half open one of its eyes to check us out.

Scops Owl

Scops Owl

Olivaceous Warbler

Great Reed Warbler

Olivaceous Warbler

Great Reed Warbler

From there we were heading for the salt pans area via the East River ford, where, as we crossed, Great Reed Warbler was close and out in the open. This had followed an equally confiding Olivaceous Warbler on the other side of the river. There was not much of interest between here and the car parking area next to the sheep fields, so we crossed to walk in the latter. A recently arrived Rufous Bush Robin, now singing from a favoured perch next to an abandoned wheelchair, was checked out first. From here, we walked towards the salt pans, which had dried up considerably since our first visit. There were masses of Red-throated Pipits and Yellow Wagtails here, most of the latter being flava, and the odd feldegg. Back towards the car was a small concentration of Short-toed Larks. When we got to the car, we heard of reported Black-winged Pratincole in the fields opposite the south-western end of the salt pans. When we arrived, there were quite a few birders watching a group of 4 pratincoles, all variously claiming dark wings, dark backs, etc. Unfortunately, they were a little distant, and only flew sporadically. There was also the added difficulty of actually seeing diagnostic features, so we spent an hour or so watching these, mainly on the ground, before they briefly flew past us, proving all to be Collared Pratincoles. Also in this area, on the telegraph wires directly in front of us, were initially 2 males and  1 female Red-footed Falcon (1 male departed) which periodically hunted the grass below for insects.

Red-footed Falcon

Red-throated Pipit

Red-footed Falcon

Red-throated Pipit

Yellow Wagtail feldegg

Yellow Wagtail flava

"feldegg" Yellow Wagtail

"flava" Yellow Wagtail


Afternoon was supposed to be similar to the morning, spending a short time in Napi Valley looking for Olive Tree Warbler, and then moving on elsewhere. Again, due to the excellent birding, this went out of the window, and we spent until early evening there. Directions to the site were to drive 11.8kms north of the garage on the main coast road, and this would take us through Napi village itself and into the valley. These were spot on - leaving the car and heading into the sparsely wooded slopes quickly found up to 5 singing Olive Tree Warblers (3 seen, with open views of one, which briefly sang from the edge of a large tree). This site also proved excellent for other birds. At ground level, a couple of Middle Spotted Woodpeckers were chasing each other from tree to tree, and at one time squared each other up on one trunk. Hoopoes were also evident, as well as single Cuckoo and Golden Oriole. But the best of the birds were in the air in the form of raptors - at least 4-5 Short-toed Eagles, 3 Steppe Buzzards, 3 Long-legged Buzzards, and just as we arrived at least 6 Red-footed Falcons over the ridge to the West. Again in the valley, there were small numbers of close Sombre Tits in what seemed to be family groups.

Napi Valley

Sombre Tit

Napi valley from the South

Sombre Tit

Before heading further up the valley, we trecked back down towards Napi for a site with two large rocks, where Long-legged Buzzard could be seen perched, presumably nesting near here. At this same place, there was yet another Olive Tree Warbler singing in the open, with Woodchat Shrike nearby. We then headed back North, to the end of the valley, which ascends to a hairpin bend on the right. Scanning back, we saw what was probably the spectacle of the trip. Over the western ridges, Red-footed Falcons appeared, and numbered eventually around 60 birds circling in a tight group above the ridge. After watching these for 15-20 minutes, it seemed as if they were landing, so we took a track upwards, and after about ½km, crossed fields and walls to view a small and hidden part of the valley beneath. All the falcons had landed here, and seemed everywhere - on trees, stone walls, fences, and on the ground, with yet more hawking for insects. Particularly satisfying was that we found ourselves above the birds, giving an incredibly impressive view of them. A male Lesser Kestrel joined them for a short time. After 20 mins to half an hour of this, the whole group took off as one, and headed towards the ridge, forming another tight circling mass.

Before returning to Petra, we had a report of Lanner breeding on the cliffs just to the North of the village. We watched this area for about ¾ hour, and found only a pair of Peregrines perched at the end of one of the headlands. It seems unlikely that they would tolerate another pair of falcons nearby, and we wondered if this was the pair that had been seen. One of the birds had a small fawn patch on the nape - presumably not enough to make it a Lanner? Whilst watching, a fox was in front of us, and stalked away along the headland under the watchful eye of a male Blue Rock Thrush. Out at sea, a school of 4 dolphins made their way slowly North, with a Yelkouan Shearwater in attendance. Over the calm sea, a group of a further 20 Yelkouans went both North and South (same birds?).

Home

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Introduction

Day 1

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Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

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