18 April 08 - A real red heron day

Part of the incredible 32 Night-herons (top birds) and 53 Purple Herons seen together over Kalloni Saltpans this evening

Having arriced yesterday, our first day in the field was first rate!

Morning overcast and warm, afternoon mixed sunshine and cloud with rising temps, max. c.22 C.

We arrived last night and were keen to get out this morning! Good numbers of swifts and hirundines moving through, reasonable numbers of acros, some Whinchat, a few shrikes, plus . . .

Skala Kallonis Pool
The water levels were lower than I expected and there was actually very little here - no waders, no wagtails, few warblers. Wed did see 1 Purple Heron, 4 Squacco Heron, male Garganey and a male Red-footed Falcon.

Metochi Lake
Water level here was high and good numbers of warblers including Great Reed Warbler. Woodchat Shrike, 1 Night-heron, 2 Little Crake, 2 Short-toed Eagle, 2 Ruddy Shelduck, 1 Grasshopper Warbler (reeling).

Back at the Hotel Pasiphae we had a Black Stork fly over and a flock of 35 (!) Night-herons to the north. Now that was more like it!

Great Kruper's Nuthatch action with at least three feeding birds. Birds very vocal but no indication of nest site. Short-toed Treecreeper, Masked Shrike, Short-toed Eagle, Black Stork, loads of Common and Alpine Swifts.

Drive to Polichnitos Saltpans
Masked Shrike, 3 Red-backed Shrike, Woodchat, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Black Stork.

Polichnitos Saltpans
Green Sandpiper, Northern Wheatear.

5 Bee-eater

Near Kato Stavros
1 Golden Oriole, 2 Orphean Warbler, 3+ Sardinian Warbler, Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard.

6 Ruddy Shelduck, Great White Egret.

Kalloni Saltpans
We'd already had a great day, but arriving at the Saltpans at 6.30 pm, the next hour was fantastic! The first pan by the main road was holding 143 Black-winged Stilt and 337 Avocet. Thanks to Eleni's reports from the last week I knew instantly these numbers were way up - more good signs of movement. We picked out the usual Ruff, Little Stint, Greenshank and a lone Stone-curlew.

We then had a flock of 32 Night-herons come over and start circling to gain height. Within a few minutes, 53 (!) Purple Herons came out of a nearby field. They too started circling, and within about ten minutes we had both the Purple Rons and Night-herons circling together. What they were up to, who knows. They spent the next 30 mins circling around looking what to do! We continued to watch the pans and picked up 23 Gull-billed Terns and 6 Whiskered Terns. Looking back up to the heron flock, they had now been joined by two Curlew and 4 Whimbrel! We ended up leaving this flock flapping around high up wondering what they were going to do for the night.

In all a fanatastic day! Day totals of 68 Nigh-herons, 55 Purple Herons and 8 Black Storks. Water levels in some places do seem lower than I had expected, but still plenty of surface water, but temperatures beginning to climb steadily.