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Day 24 of Ringing. 30 Sep Autumn 2014. Trekking in Antikythira.

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Ligthhouse.

We keep waiting for the weather to change and give us the opportunity to open our nets. In the meanwhile we keep enjoying the possibilities that the island offers to us.

Today we have made a nice trekking that leaded us to the east part of the island until the lighthouse. Days like today are perfect for visiting some nice places of Antikythira. We never get bored, although we would like to restart the ringing activity.

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Into the ligth house

Moreover during the trekking we had the possibility to see different species of the island. Some of them are waiting to start their travel to Africa like Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava, Κιτρινοσουσουράδα) or one flock of Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis, Χωραφοσπουργίτης).
Also we saw species that we cannot see in the ringing area like Alectorix chucar and Larus michaellis, Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix, Ορτύκι), or the beautiful Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis, Αλκυόνη).

We passed from the awesome cliffs where many Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae, Μαυροπετρίτης)are breeding and we were able to see a group of more than 35 individuals, some of them were the first juveniles that we saw flying.

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Eleonorae’s kingdom!

We are in the last week of the autumn session and we wish we can finish with our nets opened.

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Pirates of Antikythira!!

Day 23 of ringing. 29 Sep, Autumn 2014. Travel into history.

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The hill of Kastro.

What to do if the weather is unfavourable for setting up the nets? This island has many surprises and interesting things to discover. We met a team of archaeologists that in this windy day were happy to show us trails of the history of Antikythira. They are studying the ruins of a Sanctuary and of a castle and a settlement from the 3rd Century B.C., in the bay of Xiropotamos (“dry river”) and the hill of Kastro (from the Latin, meaning “castle”). We were honoured to be guided by the chief archaeologist, Aris Tsaravopoulos , who was very good in explaining the history of this settlement and of the island. the sanctuary was discovered by chance in 1880, when digging for water the local farmers unearthed a headless statue of Apollo. This statue carried an inscription, with the name of the donor: one admiral of the Hellenic fleet that, on behalf of Persian, tried to betray Alexander the Great. Moreover, in this inscription was found the first evidence that the ancient name of Antikythira was Aigila (Αίγιλα). Since then, several archaelogist came to the island and the diggings are still ongoing, with many things awaiting to be discovered.

It has been a different experience for us, used to look up in the sky for birds, to walk this island looking at the ground and seeing more than just rocks, but actual signs of the past history.

Aris took us along the path that goes across the ruins, until the top of the hill, where the Oracle was. Along this walk we learned a lot of things about the place. We could see what remains of the ancient walls of the castle, that where 9 meters tall; in recent times the big stones served as basement for a new farmers settlement. The difference in the cut is obvious: stones of more than 2000 years are bigger and perfectly cut and contrast with the newest, small and roughly cut stones.

The big stones of the ancient walls contrast with the rough and small stones of the modern era village

The big stones of the ancient walls contrast with the rough and small stones of the modern era village

In the photos below you can see some examples of what remains of the castle nowadays, including evidence of battles.

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Part of the Eastern wall

 

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A recess in the rocks for offers to goddesses.

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Basins for ritual bath before asking the Oracle.

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A dolphin graffiti in the basin. This animal is a symbol of Apollo.

These stairs carved in the rocks led to the Oracle sanctuary.

These stairs carved in the rocks led to the Oracle sanctuary.

 

A stone for catapults, used during a siege, found inside the castle.

A stone for catapults, used during a siege, found inside the castle.

We really enjoyed the visit, it has been a different and awesome morning and we are very grateful to Aris and the archaeologist team for guiding us. We are waiting for the weather to be better, so that we can exchange with those kind people our experience with birds, showing them our work and explaining its importance for conservation.

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Group photo in front of the Altar of Apollo, where the statue of the god was found in 1880.

 

 

Day 22 of ringing. 28 Sep, Autumn. Eolos and “Posaidon”

 

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Eolos and Poseidon effects!

Eolos (Greek god of winds) and Poseidon (Greek god of sea) were demonstrating their power this morning and present us nice views of the sea around the island.

Unfortunately again we could not open the nets today because strong wind. When there is a strong wind we can not work because it is dangerous for the birds witch are trapped in the nets and, of course, we prefer don’t harm any of them. The first objective is that the ringing process doesn’t affect the normal life of the birds.

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In the Kedros forest!

However we had time to visit some places around the island like the cedrus forest or the Castro were the archaeological team are making an excavation. Tomorrow we will try to meet with them.

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The cave of the Tyto alba.

Also next to the Castro there is a cave where the Tyto alba use for rest and we went to collect the pellets (a mass of rest of the prey that they can’t digest and they vomit it) to make a study about it diet.

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Pellets of Tyto alba.

We still waiting for the Eolos go away to continue our work.

Unfortunally “Posaidon” is leaving today only if Eolos want and finally the boat comes to Antikythira. Ok, “Posaidon” is the nickname of our volunteer and now friend Giannis Chalkias who has been here helping with the ringing project during 20 days, for you good attitude to learn and to help in the ringing table and in the communal life. We will miss you very much and your awesome bread and racomelo. Our time was “KALI FASI”.

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“Posaidon” and Acrocephalus arundinaceus. Smile and be alive my friend!!! Buenos vientos (Good winds)!!

Raptor Migration Count, 28 Sep 2014: last day of monitoring

After 43 days and more than 2600 raptors counted, the Monitoring of the raptor migration over Antikythira in the Autumn 2014 is closed. As a coincidence, this last day was without any bird in migratory flight. Count: 0.
That doesn’t mean that the migration is over: Raptors will be migrating until november, in less and less numbers. And today, the wind was very strong, unfavourable for migrant birds, so strong that we had to halt the observations at 4 p.m., when the speed at the watchpoint reached 70 km/h. The only raptors seen were 3 Booted Eagles hunting, one Sparrowhawk, also stopping over, and the resident Buzzards and Kestrels. One nice observation, though: 9 Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo, Κορμοράνος) in a long glide.
So, many days with few birds compensed by great emotions, like the appearance of a Saker Falcon and of the Egyptian Vultures or the majestic view of an Imperial Eagle.
And the people that participated to this Count: a few but great. In order of appearance: Dimitris, Christian, Silvia, Eli, Robert, Javier: thanks to all of them, for their help in the hardest time on the field, for sharing their experience, for their desire to learn, and for cooking the lunch. Thank you guys!
And thanks to the HOS staff, in particular to Christos, Ruben and Manolia, for their support and advice.
To conclude, a call for Volunteers: raptor monitoring is hard, but amazing. The more we are, the more we enjoy. So, people, come in numbers next year!

The Hill

The Hill

27 September 2014: Day 42 of Raptor Migration Monitoring & Day 21 of Ringing. Team up!

The autumn is in Antikithira: the volunteers are leaving like the leaves on a tree. The family of Antikythira has been reduced as 3 of our volunteers left yesterday night. Christian from UK, who has been more than one month in the raptor migration monitoring: he came to learn more about raptors and hopefully his knwoledge and identification skills improved during his 37 days here; special thanks to him from Negro, for the help in writing the Ringing blog.

Christian, at the beginning of his adventure on the island

Christian, at the beginning of his adventure on the island

With the same ferry also Maria “Ruberta” & Elpida (from Greece) left. They have participated in the ringing project during 15 days and they have helped a lot. We are very very grateful for they created a good atmosphere during these days on the work and mainly in our communal life. We’ll miss them a lot. Thank you very much for your help and even more for your friendship. ”Buenos vientos”, Good Winds!

The cheerful Maria and Elpida at the ringing table

The cheerful Maria and Elpida at the ringing table

Good Winds, Bad Winds: because of the storms and the strong wind, today for the Ringing Team it was impossible to open the nets. But this weather had a good side effect: changing the colours and the shadows in the landscape offered a different and beautiful view of the island. Not only that: it also gave the chance for a meeting between Ringers and Raptorers! What a nice surprise for the Patient People of the Hill to receive the visit of the Happy People of the Valley! The Ringers brought positive energy and more eyes to scan the sky in exchange for a wonderful sightseeing and some tips on the best places to have shelter from the wind a the obsrvation point.
Unfortunately, not many raptors to see, in the penultimate day of observation: 3 marsh harriers, 1 black kite, 2 levant sparrowhawks, 1 eurasian sparrowhawk, 1 lesser kestrel, 1 booted eagle.

So, no nets to catch birds, a few raptors for the count, but a nice day after all!
Thanks to everybody for the good company!

Meeting at the Observation Hill

Meeting at the Observation Hill

Raptor Migration Count, 26 sep, autumn 2014

Another member is leaving tonight, Christian, very good in spotting the birds by scanning constantly the sky. He’s migrating back in England, crossing his way with the birds that are going southwards.

The sunset from the watchpoint, photographed by Christian

The sunset from the watchpoint, photographed by Christian

The migration of raptors is not over yet and the bad weather that we had, enhanced the passage over Antikythira instead of stopping it: many bird were seeking a safe route instead of facing the strong opposing winds over the sea. One storm came and made us retreat for two hours, but right after the rain more birds were passing, flying very low. Who knows how many we missed, because they were flying into the valleys? A Short-Toed Eagle was flying very low close to the hill and after we enjoyed the awesome view of a very pale juvenile Honey Buzzard, one of those disguised as Booted Eagles.
Two days are left of the official count. How many birds we will see? And still there is time for surprises!

The count:
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus): 1
Short-Toed Snake Eagle: 1
Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata): 8
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus): 30 – 3 ad males, 1 male 2cy, 21, juv
Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus): 1 ad male
Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus): 15 juv
Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus): 6
Red-Footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus): 1 juv
Hobby (Falco subbuteo): 1 juv

After the storm, heading back to the watchpoint

After the storm, heading back to the watchpoint

 

 

Day 20 of ringing. 26 Sep, Autumn. The day of the night birds!!!

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Noctual birds!

The storm that was around Antikythira during the night and this morning offered us beautiful views, and finally we could not complete the today’s session because started to rain.

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Storm coming!

Despite of the rain we had enough time to get some surprises in our nets.

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Caprimulgus europaeus.

Sometimes during the first check of the nets, when it’s still “madrugada” (dawn), we capture nocturnal birds, but today was really exceptional. We had 4 Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops, Γκιώνης) and 1 European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus, Γιδοβύζι), a new species for this ringing season. Again another “present for our eyes” and the chance to observe the cryptic plumage and the huge mouth adapted for caching big insects that are flying at night(e.g moths).

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Huge mouth adapted to eat big insect.

We also had a second new species Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis, Χωραφοσπουργίτης). During the first hours we saw a flock of about 20 individuals flying close to the nets and finally 2 of the were trapped.

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Passer hispanolensis. Female.

Today we trapped 15 birds of 6 different species, 1 of them new for the season.

The most abundant species today was European Robin (Erithacus rubecula, Κοκκινολαίμης) and Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops, Γκιώνης).

New species:

European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus, Γιδοβύζι).
Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis, Χωραφοσπουργίτης).

Other species trapped:

Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος).
Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Μαυροσκούφης).
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus, Θαμνοφυλλοσκόπος). 

During the time away of the ringing table we had time to work in the office, the congratulation an al the volunteers because always are available to help me in the ringing staff and also in the house. We are a good team!

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Kostas and Louisa working.

Raptor Migration Count, 25 Sep, Autumn 2014. Red Kite (?)

Yesterday Robert (Robin) left: a big big hug from all of us for this enthusiastic and smiling guy!

The Raptor Team

The Raptor Team

 

So, the Raptor Team has become smaller and again we had to ask for reinforcement from the Ringing team. Alexandra from Serbia was at the hill with her many questions.

Alexandra

Alexandra

It has been a windy day yesterday, and the migrating raptors appeared only in the afternoon, in small numbers, but we’ve had a better day today. Not big numbers, since the migration is naturally declining, but a nice observation: one kite that looked like a Red Kite (Milvus milvus, Ψαλιδιάρης)!

This species is a partial migrant, with only individuals from northern populations migrating and wintering mostly in Europe and is very rare in migration along the Eastern Flyways.

However, as the individual was moulting, we can’t be 100% sure that it wasn’t one of those rufous Black Kite that look like Reds.

Red Kite - ph Giacomo biasi

Red Kite (?) – ph Giacomo Biasi

Also, quite a few Sparrowhawks and still some Booted Eagle, Honey Buzzard and Marsh Harrier. Of this latter species, we are still seeing adult males.

The season changes, the sun is setting earlier every day and the temperatures are getting milder, and, among the dry rocks of this arid hill, some unexpected color appeared: a few Ciclamen bloomed in the shade of the northern, fresh side of the rocky top.

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Yesterday’s count (24/09)
Lesser Spotted Eagle: 1 subad
Booted Eagle: 5
Black Kite: 1
Marsh Harrier: 5 (3 male)
Honey Buzzard: 1 juv
Eurasian Sparrowhawk: 2

Today’s count (25/09)
Booted Eagle: 1
Red Kite: 1?
Black kite: 2 ad
Marsh Harrier: 17 (5 males, 3 females, 3 juv)
Honey Buzzard: 25
Eurasian Sparrowhawk: 7

Day 19 of ringing. 25 Sep Autumn 2014. Raptor surprise!

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Buteo buteo. Young.

Today the weather was very calm. We captured a standard number of individuals with a good level of species diversity, that means that the migration of the passerines is back to being active.

The big surprise was the capture of a raptor in our nets.

The volunteers had the opportunity to see another type and way of taking measurements and handling a large bird of prey. Every day different things are happening at the ringing station that makes every session special.

Many of the birds that we trapped were of species that are in the late migration like the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula, Κοκκινολαίμης) or Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Μαυροσκούφης).

We had the chance to see the differences between the adult and young male Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος).

 

Again we had the chance to see the Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops, Γκιώνης) in our hands it is always “a present for our eyes”.

Today we trapped 24 birds of 12 different species, 1 of them new for the season.

The most abundant species today was European Robin (Erithacus rubecula, Κοκκινολαίμης)

New species:

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo, Γερακίνα).

Other species trapped:

Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops, Γκιώνης).
Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos, Αηδόνι)
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος).
Warbler (Hippolais icterina, Κιτρινοστριτσίδα).
Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans, Κοκκινοτσιροβάκος)
Garden warbler (Sylvia borin, Κηποτσιροβάκος).
Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Μαυροσκούφης).
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus, Θαμνοφυλλοσκόπος).
Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix, Δασοφυλλοσκόπος).
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata, Σταχτομυγοχάφτης).
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva, Νανομυγοχάφτης)

Day 18 of ringing. 24 Sep Autunm 2014. The migration of Robins!!

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Acrocephalus schoenobaenus. Young.

The wind is still strong in Antikythira but is getting lower and the direction changed to North-east and brought us a lot of birds one of them which felt in our nets was new for this season,  Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, Σχοινοποταμίδα).

We hear during the night, before open the nets, some speacies like Anthus sp and Nycticorax nycticorax.h
We saw many birds around the nets and we had more captures than usual days mainly of the species like European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) and Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) and Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος).

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Phylloscopus troquilus.

Also we had a pleasure to trap beautiful birds that we don’t capture often like the first adult male of Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος) one Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops, Γκιώνης) and one Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus, Συκοφάγος) whitch we had the chance to see getting into the net.
Therefore another interesting and wonderful day in Antikythira.

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Phoenicurus phoenicurus. Adult, male.

Today we trapped 32 birds of 12 different species, 1 of them new for the season.

The most abundant species today was Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus, Θαμνοφυλλοσκόπος).

New species:

Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, Σχοινοποταμίδα)

Other species trapped:

Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops, Γκιώνης)
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula, Κοκκινολαίμης)
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος).
Warbler (Hippolais icterina, Κιτρινοστριτσίδα).
Garden warbler (Sylvia borin, Κηποτσιροβάκος).
Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Μαυροσκούφης).
Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix, Δασοφυλλοσκόπος).
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata, Σταχτομυγοχάφτης).
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva, Νανομυγοχάφτης).
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus, Συκοφάγος).

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Enjoying under the water!

Yesterday we had time to go to kamarela beach to enjoy the waters and we almost finished our goal seeing it clean again. It was a hard work because the currents brought a lot of garbage this summer but when you mix the good energy with the compromise it is easier and recomforting. Also the community of antikythira is very gratefully.

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Team of Kamarela, almost clean!

The “migration” of Robins:

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Robin (Erithacus rubecula).

Today we felt that European Robin (Erithacus rubecula, Κοκκινολαίμης) are in active migration to Africa and also our Robin from is making the migration to his home in England. His available hands help us during more than 3 weeks, his smily face and his funny catch phrases will be in our minds until the end. “Hareka para poli” ( nice to meet you). We wish you an “awesome” life!!!.

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Robin, Rare wonderful “bird”!

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Bye bye Robin, Bye bye my FRIEND!!!