Friday, 26 May 2017

A Waldridge Naturalist in Corfu - the last five days

10th May

Just a 10 minute check from the front this morning as we were going to Corfu town for the day.

Yellow-legged Gull (7)
Collared Dove (2)
Common Swift (2)
House Martin (7)
Barn Swallow (6)
Red-rumped Swallow (8)
Golden Oriole (1) heard in its usual poplar clump
Cetti's Warbler (2) heard only
Sardinian Warbler (1) heard
House Sparrow (13)

Had a walk around Corfu town and then south to the Achillean Palace for a bit of culture. Back into town to watch the planes land at the airport and checked out the lagoon adjacent. Lake Halikiopoblos is now a nature reserve which is surprising considering it's that close to the runway with bird strikes being a possibility. Having said that there were very few birds around and nothing in the way of waterfowl. A nice female Marsh Harrier quartering the reeds and a raptor perched up on a small mound eventually revealed itself as a Common Buzzard.

Runway and Lake Halikiopoblos
Corfu Town & Lake Halikiopoblos

Grey Heron (8) all at Halikiopoblos
Little Egret (10) again all at Halikiopoblos
Marsh Harrier (1) a female quartering the reeds on the east side of  Halikiopoblos
Common Buzzard (1) perched on a mound at Halikiopoblos
Yellow-legged Gull (3)
Feral Pigeon (5)
Collared Dove (4)
Alpine Swift (4)
House Martin (6)
Barn Swallow (5)
Red-rumped Swallow (2)
White Wagtail (1)
Woodchat Shrike (1) on west side of Halikiopoblos
Blackbird (3)
Sardinian Warbler (1) singing male seen on west side of Halikiopoblos
Serin (2) at the Achillean Palace
House Sparrow (10)
Magpie (1)
Jay (2) two separate birds flew over as we walked around the town                    
I did very little research on the butterflies you get in Corfu, partl;ey because I knew I was past their peak period. What I hadn't appreciated was that many of them are the same common  species you see in the UK. I saw for example, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Large White, Painted Lady,  Common Blue and Small Heath.  Also, Corfu butterflies are on the wing early in the day, oftern before breaskfast,  presumably due to the heat, and you are lucky if you see anything on the wing after late morning,
Amongst the few non-british butterflies seen were Southern Small White (Pieris mannii) and Southern White Admiral (Limenitis reducta)

Southern Small White (Pieris mannii)

Southern White Admiral (Limenitis reducta)


11th May

Didn't venture away from the apartment and the stream area with the weather changing now. There's was a significant NW breeze, a lot of cloud and a few specks of rain. Looking out of kitchen window first thing a few birds in the distance were perched up on some uppermost dead branches of a couple of cypress trees. Couldn't make them out but had my suspicions confirmed  when I took a photo zoomed up to 200x of one of them. A crappy photo but enough to confirm they were Common Bee-eaters.  A bit of a north movement today of swifts and bee-eaters. Four new birds for the trip today.


Honey Buzzard (2) flew over north together
Common Buzzard (3) two soaring over the hillside again and a different bird flew north
Common Kestrel (2) the resident pair seen again

Common Kestrel
Eleneora's Falcon (1) while watching the Bee-eaters and swifts by the  stream a dark phase bird flew over my head going  south. It went under the feeding birds but just carried on.
Moorhen (1) despite several visits this is the first bird I have actually seen on the stream. 
Yellow-legged Gull (25)
Wryneck (1) Still singing down track.
Common Swift (93) many feeding by stream and all eventually moved off  north.
Alpine Swift (70) moving north throughout the day.
Common Bee-eater (15) a group of 5 spent most of the day hunting from tops of cypress trees to the east of the apartment. Also 3 flew north overhead calling and a flock of 7 were feeding with Swifts and hirundines by the stream.

A long way off Common Bee-eater
Hoopoe (1) while scanning the hillside from the patio I picked a bird  against the trees flying north.
Feral Pigeon (1) 1 flew over
Collared Dove (5)
House Martin (8)
Red-rumped Swallow (6)
Barn Swallow (37) most if not all flying north
Blue-headed Wagtail (1) a single bird flew over
Golden Oriole (3) one singing from the poplars and later a male followed by my first female flew past right in front of me nearby.
Common Cuckoo (1) a silent bird flew low from the north over the stream in front of me
Blackbird (2)
Woodchat Shrike (2) by the stream, probably the same two birds


Cetti's Warbler (5)
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (4) spent a good while watching these. 3 were  singing males and managed to see them all quite well. Two birds, 1 singing, were in the scrub near the stream, like last time, 1 was singing higher up in a almond tree close to the road and the third male was in north side, in stream-side bushes closer to the bridge.
Sardinian Warbler (7) the usual birds
Fan-tailed Warbler (3)
Great Tit (3)
Greenfinch (2)
Goldfinch (5)
Serin (1) a male on wires on way to the stream
House Sparrow (18)
Magpie (4)

There's a small beach near the apartments which was rarely used as it was in the opposite direction of town. A few coastal plants here included the familiar Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum) and also non -british species such as Sea Medick (Medicago marina)

Sea Medick (Medicago marina)

12th May

The morning was the environs around the apartment then we ventured out and walked to Canal de Amour again and into the woods beyond. Didn't check the stream area today. Fairly quiet today and overcast all day, with the sun just poking through as we ate.  Two new birds for the trip today,  a Eurasian Sparrow hawk soaring over the apartment early morning and two Tawny Pipits dropping in in the evening.

Dalmatian Wall Lizards (Podarcis melisellensis) are very common and I saw them on most days but especially today.

Dalmatian Wall Lizard (Podarcis melisellensis)

Common Buzzard (2) 2 soaring over the wooded hill nearby again
Honey Buzzard (1) Another single bird north over the apartment
Eurasian Sparrow-hawk (1) a female over the apartment early morning  drifted off west
Yellow-legged Gull (19)
Alpine Swift (15) all north
Common Swift (93) counted moving north in the morning
Wryneck (1) presumably the same bird but singing 150 metres from its  previous position, now closer to the apartment and count be heard from the front of the apartment.
Collared Dove (8)
Tawny Pipit (2) Two birds flew over calling and dropped into the scrub late evening. Wasn't sure of their identity so walked into the area and saw one of them on the ground before I flushed both of them and they both flew off north calling
House Martin (122) Counted moving north in the morning
Sand Martin (1) a single bird flew over
Red-rumped Swallow (5)
Barn Swallow (6)
Woodchat (1) - one on TV Ariel  on a nearby apartment
Golden Oriole (1) Not heard today singing or even calling, perhaps  because it was overcast. I did see a male however fly out  of the poplars, circle around and fly back in.
Great Tit (1) heard 
Fan-tailed Warbler (3)  including what was probably a pair chasing each other over the area on many occasions today.
Cetti's Warbler (3) 1 seen, all heard. 
Sardinian Warbler (1) 

Sardinian Warbler

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (1) A singing male in an overgrown garden in same tree as a Cetti's Warbler just inside the apartment complex. Pass this every day and never heard it before
Greenfinch (11) a flock of 8 flew over and 3 on wires and nearby bushes, 2 singing
House Sparrow (22)
Hooded Crow (2)
Magpie (3)

Woods NW of Canal de Amour
Yellow-legged Gull (4)
Alpine Swift (1)
House Martin (1)
Red-rumped Swallow (2)
Barn Swallow (6)
Blackbird (2) singing males
Cetti's Warbler (2) both singing males.
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (3) all singing in Olive trees in the woods. One seen well but never still long enough to photograph
Sardinian Warbler (3) 2m ; 1f
Blue Tit (1)
Great Tit (1)
Greenfinch (2)
Goldfinch (2)
House Sparrow (20)
Hooded Crow (1)

Amongst the olive groves here were smal arable fields with familiar plants such as the Common Red Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), plants usually associated with gardens like Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)  and a good numbers of Loose-flowered Orchid (Orchis laxiflora)

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)

Loose-flowered Orchid (Orchis laxiflora) 
13th May
Penultimate day and went no further than the sun beds  (well bar actually) apart from a 30 minute walk along the stream and back in the afternoon. It looks like the Golden Orioles have stopped singing.

Common Kestrel (2) - both male and female of the resident pair seen  today, the female seen carrying some some bird
Yellow-legged Gull (12)
Common Swift (10)
Common Bee-eater (2+) Heard several birds flying over north but could not see them.
Collared Dove (5)
House Martin (18)
Red-rumped Swallow (8)
Barn Swallow (11)
Golden Oriole (2) again not heard but a pair flew out of the poplars and  headed west.
Blackbird (1) singing male
Great Tit (3)
Cetti's Warbler (3) 1 seen briefly, all 3 heard
Sardinian Warbler (3) All singing males
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (3) One at yesterday's site and 2 by the stream 
Greenfinch (2)
Goldfinch (5) Five birds together in a pine tree by the stream

Goldfinch This is a different race to both the British and the western  Europeann races. C. c. balcanica looks larger, dirtier and less brightly coloured

Serin (2) A pair on wires near the apartments 
House Sparrow (35)
Hooded Crow (1)
Magpie (3)

14th May
Last day, we leave early tomorrow back to Newcastle. Stayed around the apartment as the weather greatly improved compared to the last few days. For the first time no sight or sound of any Golden Orioles 

Common Buzzard (1) soaring over the hillside again
Yellow-legged Gull (10)
Common Swift (10)
Common Bee-eater (2+) Heard several birds flying over north but could not see them.
Collared Dove (5)
Tawny Pipit (2) two birds flew over heading south. Suppose it's the same two birds as those on the 12th.
House Martin (12)
Red-rumped Swallow (9)
Barn Swallow (6)
Blackbird (1) saw my only female of the trip as it flew over the scrub
Blue Tit (1)
Fan-tailed Warbler (2)
Cetti's Warbler (3) heard only
Sardinian Warbler (1)
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (2)  
Serin (1) The male on the same wires again
House Sparrow (22)
Hooded Crow (6) a flock of 5 birds flew over and joined the virtually  resident one behind the scrub. All 6 spent the day here chasing each other and the Magpies.
Magpie (3)

Well thats a quick run through my hols, back to the 1km square tomorrow 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A Waldridge Naturalist in Corfu - Days 3, 4 and 5

7th May
Checked around the Apartment at first light but away from there for the rest of the day and a trip up into the mountains. Forecast a bit cloudy but lifting later. We were headed for Mount Pantokrator, which at over 900m is the highest point on the island. When we could see it in the distance there was some cloud but the Monastery and the radio masts could still be seen even from this distance. We passed through Velonades on the way and the cloud seemed to be thickening. By the time we wound our way up we were in the cloud well before the peak. At the top visibility was often no more than a few metres, though there were gaps now and then when you could see the below and the adjacent rocky outcrops.
Spent 90 minutes at the top but it was frustrating as birds could be heard but only occasionally seen.
After the frustration of this we headed down, though Acharavi and on to Old Perithia for a lovely lunch in a very nice taverna and in glorious sunshine.  Looking back up the mountain we could even see the radio masts once again.

Honey Buzzard (1) Another single bird north over the apartment
Lesser Kestrel (1) a female, seen well flew over.
Yellow-legged Gull (26)
Wryneck (1) One was heard calling in the evening in a garden half way down the track 
Common Swift (2)
Alpine Swift (2) with hirundines 
Collared Dove (5)
Common Bee-eater (1) A single north, calling
White Wagtail (1) A male dropped down onto the lawn in front of the apartment
House Martin (54) A large gathering first thing
Red-rumped Swallow (14)
Barn Swallow (6)
Golden Oriole (2) Still present, 1 seen well in nearest poplars 
Woodchat (1) on wires on outskirts of town
Spotted Flycatcher (2) feeding from wires and bushes in the overgrown gardens
Blackbird (1) 
Cetti's Warbler (4) heard. There's 3 singing birds around the apartment  and another a bit further up the track. 
Sardinian Warbler (4)  3m, 1f - another pair located
Fan-tailed Warbler (1)  
Greenfinch (3) 
Serin (2) flew up from gardens onto wires
House Sparrow (18)
Black-headed Bunting (1) a male, presumably the bird from the other day, flew onto the wires again.
Hooded Crow (5)
Magpie (6) including one on outskirts of town
Jay (4) A group of four flew into the scrub at first light.

A few minutes stop at Velonades did not produce anything of note.

Yellow-legged Gull(2)
Barn Swallow (3)
House Sparrow (3)
Magpie (1)

Had been looking forward to Pantokrator with a good handful of species I was only going to get here. The thick low cloud put paid to much of my hopes

Barn Swallow (4)
Blue Rock Thrush (1) a single singing male at the summit.
Blackbird (2) singing males
Black-eared Wheatear (1) Should have had many but only saw and heard one male. Didn't even hear any more.
Subalpine Warbler (2) Heard two singing males, saw one.
Great Tit (3) Apparently white bellied birds here. Saw two birds but both with yellow underparts
Rock Nuthatch (1) heard one bird and managed some fleeting glimpses in the mist a little below the summit.
Chaffinch (1) My first of the trip
Goldfinch (5) in the monastery grounds
Cirl Bunting (1) a single singing male at the summit.
Hooded Crow (1)

We went back down the mountain and around to Old Perithia for a late lunch. The cloud had of course now lifted.
Old Perithia
Common Buzzard (2) over surrounding hills. Both nominate not Steppe  
Common Kestrel (1) female
Common Swift (19)
Alpine Swift (13)
Wood Pigeon (1)
Red-rumped Swallow (2)
House Martin (27)
Blackbird (2)
Cetti's Warbler (2)
Sardinian Warbler (1) singing male heard and seen
Subalpine Warbler (4) all singing / displaying males, saw two of them
Blue Tit (1)
Goldfinch (2)
House Sparrow (7)
Hooded Crow (3)
Jackdaw (18) One in a garden and a flock of 17 a few hundred metres further up the road
Common Raven (1) over nearby hills

At least I could see the plants on the mountain sos spent more time looking at them than staring into the mist trying to locate a bird singing.
Amongst the flora here was Pink Hawksbeard (Crepis rubra), Little Robin (Geranium purpureum),  Garden Grape-hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum), here in its native habitat not a garden throw-out, Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa), Smyrnium rotundifolium, Tordylium apulum, Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) and the pretty thistle (Tyrimnus leucographus).

Pink Hawksbeard (Crepis rubra),

Tyrimnus leucographus

Little Robin (Geranium purpureum)

Garden Grape-hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)

Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa)

 Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius)

Tordylium apulum

Smyrnium rotundifolium

8th May

Didn't venture far from the apartment today but just to the south I found a small stream so I checked this out. Open fields to the south and a couple of overgrown plots to the north proved to be fairly decent with some promise. Certainly going to cover this again.

Common Kestrel (1) 
Falcon sp. (1) A small falcon zipped by near the apartment. Got nothing on it but it seemed to have the jizz of a Hobby.
Common Buzzard (1) Soared over the apartment
Yellow-legged Gull (11)
Wryneck (1) One was heard calling in the early evening in a garden half way down the track 
Common Swift (3)
Collared Dove (6)
Common Bee-eater (1) A single north again
Blue-headed Wagtail (1) again a 'flava' male
House Martin (5)
Red-rumped Swallow (16)
Barn Swallow (23) definite increase today
Golden Oriole (2) 2 singing males still, in the usual spot.
Cetti's Warbler (9) 4 around apartment and 5 around the stream, a couple seen, most heard only.
Icterine Warbler (1) saw this bird in the stream-side vegetation before I saw either of the the Olivaceous. Did not call but obvious Hippolais with greenish upper parts and palish wing-panel.
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (2) near the stream. Both singing males and both seen. Song treat her Great Reed Warbler-like but delivered from tall bushes or trees.
Sardinian Warbler (9), most were singing males but 5 by stream included a female.
Fan-tailed Warbler (3) 1 by the stream
Great Tit (2) 1 heard by apartment, 1 seen by stream
Blue Tit (2) by stream
Greenfinch (5)
Goldfinch (1)
House Sparrow (35)
Hooded Crow (2)
Magpie (5)

9th May

Again just around the apartment and checked the stream again. Just as I approached it met someone with binoculars who turned out to be a birder from Pagham. Walked around the stream area together and then back see the Golden Orioles. We had just crossed the bridge when I picked up a falcon on the wires. This turned out to be a male Red-footed Falcon and managed to get some quite decent photos of it perched up. Eastern Olivaceous and Woodchats also showed well for us. It was a good raptor day.

Eagle sp. (1) A large eagle soared over apartment heading north, very high up. Too high up to get anything on it but certainly an Aquila and if I had to guess I would say Lesser Spotted.
Red-footed Falcon (1) a male on wires by the stream, gave quite a show as it dropped to the ground to catch insects. 

 Red-footed Falcon
Hobby (1) One flew past carrying prey giving excellent views. Looked like a House Martin in it's talons.
Lesser Kestrel (1) - a female soared over heading north
Yellow-legged Gull (37)
Wryneck (1) Again singing down track.
Common Swift (1)
Collared Dove (6)
Blue-headed Wagtail (2) flyovers, calling
House Martin (6)
Sand Martin (1) flew over north
Red-rumped Swallow (10)
Barn Swallow (2) only 2 remaining
Golden Oriole (2) At least 2 singing males and at one point, 2 males flew from one clump of poplars.
Woodchat Shrike (2) both by stream, 1 singing.
Cetti's Warbler (5) Quite blasé about them now. Can hear then in the room even with windows shut.
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (1) Singing and showed well at one of yesterday's spots near the stream. No sign of the other singing bird but didn't give it long.
Sardinian Warbler (6) including a showy pair by the stream
Fan-tailed Warbler (2)
Great Tit (2) 
Goldfinch (1)
House Sparrow (41)
Hooded Crow (2)
Magpie (5)

I'll do the remaining five days tomorrow and them back into the square (and beyond on occasion)