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Day 29 of ringing, 5 October, Autumn 2014. AWESOME END.

 

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The last ringing team say you bye bye!

Unfortunately this is the end and during the night  the sky cried because we are leaving. After the raining we had a wet and hot awesome ringing morning. We had two nice new surprises in our nets although we could work three hours.

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Jynx torquilla.

We trapped the amazing  Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla, Στραβολαίμης), and we enjoyed his movements of neck replying a snake during we ring it.

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Accipiter nisus. Young, male

A raptor always is a nice capture for us. We trapped a Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus, Ξεφτέρι).

The end of the session was amazing!

Today we trapped 10 birds of 7 different species.

The most abundant species today was European Robin (Erithacus rubecula, Κοκκινολαίμης). We trapped more than the half of the total.

New species:

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus, Ξεφτέρι).
Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla, Στραβολαίμης)

Other species trapped:

Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix, Δασοφυλλοσκόπος).
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus, Θαμνοφυλλοσκόπος)
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva, Νανομυγοχάφτης).
Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio, Αετομάχος)

Another autumn ringing session is over with a total of 567 new birds ringed and 1 control bird ringed in Belgium of 36 different species.

During this month 14 volunteers from 5 different countries have been here to help me, to learn about the ringing like method of study   to enjoy with the beautiful place of the island, and to create a very nice atmosphere in the communal life. Tank’s a lot Sylvia “Moldavia” (Moldova), Navarrete Eli (Spain), Maria Dolores (Greece), Giannis “Posaidon” (Greece), Javi “heavi”(Spain), Cristian “hepfully” (UK), Robin “random” (UK), Maria ruberta (Greece), Elpida “onomatopoeya” (Greece), Neutron Kostis (Greece), Nadia “Komanechi” (Greece) Andrea cinerea (Serbia), Louisa  “chochin” and her amazing  Molly “doggy”. Without your help this couldn’t have been possible. I hope that you learned and enjoyed and I hope I will see you again.

Also I want give my greeting to my colleague Giaccomo “proton”  and of course to my lord Barba christos for their help. All thesespecials “species” have been the reason that the communal life this month in Antikythira was great!! Don’t forget it guys: YOU ARE AWESOME!!! Haha!

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Giaccomo biasi (Raptor monitoring, left) and Ruben Gonzalez (Ringing proyect, rigth)! the shepherds of Antikythira Autmn 2014!

Our greetings Giaccomo and me also to the friendly coordinator of the project, Manolia, who unfortunately for all couldn’t be here this year, to the conservation officer of  Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) and al my colleagues of HOS for their support always when I need, they were willing to help me.

Finally I will like to thank the local community and also the team of archaeologists for their company and to the great time we spent together.

We wish you will come again to participate in this project, I would like to thank all of you for your contribution.

The head ringer of this session:

Ruben Gonalez (A.K.A Negrinakis!!)

 

Day 28 of ringing. 4 October, Autumn 2014. To Ring or no to Ring!

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To ring or no to ring! that was the question…

The weather today was pretty windy so we had a dilemma if we should give it a try. Finally, we scheduled to check the nets every half an hour in order to be sure that they are working in the proper way. Meanwhile we had the chance to see one amazing nocturnal bird flying close to the nets, one European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus, Γιδοβύζι).

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Erithacus rubecula. Young (left), Adult (rigth)

Unfortunately the weather became worst so we had to give up after three hours. We trapped few birds but two European Robins (Erithacus rubecula, Κοκκινολαίμης) were perfect to explain the difference between partial (young) and complete moult (adult).

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Erithacus rubecula.
Young, partial moult (left), old chick feathers with orange spots.
Adult, comple moult (rigth) all feathers moulted, without spots.

Today we trapped 5 birds of 3 different species.

Species trapped:

European Robin (Erithacus rubecula, Κοκκινολαίμης).
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos, Τσίχλα).
Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Μαυροσκούφη).

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Cleaning Xeropotamos!

Although the weather didn’t allow us to ring , we had the opportunity to accomplish another “mission”, to clean one more beach of the island, Xeropotamos. Tonight is our last night and we will enjoy ourselves in Myronas tavern, with the good company of the locals, the delicious katsiki (goat meat) and raki. Yamas!!!!

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“Mission accomplished”

Day 27 of ringing. 3 October, Autumn 2014.

The migration is still in Antikythira although the bit strong wind didn’t help to have a good number of birds in our nets. We hope we can ring these last days and to have new surprise before finish the session

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Louisa taking mesurments.

We continues enjoying every day and learning about the study of ringing process and migration of birds. Today was a day for it.

Today we trapped 10 birds of 4 different species

Species trapped:

European Robin (Erithacus rubecula, Κοκκινολαίμης).
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος).
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus, Θαμνοφυλλοσκόπο).
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata, Σταχτομυγοχάφτης).

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Aspronero, kingdom of Falco eleonorae.

We had time to visit one beautiful place of the island called Aspronero (Aspro= white, nero=water) because  it is a geologic formation of white sediments, one of the only places where there is sweet water during all the year and it is used by Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae, Μαυροπετρίτης) to drink and to wash its feathers. We saw many of them, flying around. Also we saw 2 species difficult to see in the island, Moor-hen (Gallinula chloropus) and Great egret (Ardea alba).

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Spring of Aspronero.

Day 26 of ringing, 2 October Autumn 2014. New species!!

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Turdus philomelos.

We are in almost in the end of the season and we still have surprises, the first was early in the morning, where a new species was captured in our mist nets, Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos, Τσίχλα).

Once more the volunteers gain the opportunity to apprehend about ringing and they don’t to lose it. Thanks gays for paying me attention and for being always willing to learn.

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lesson time!

Today we trapped 25 birds of 8 different species

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

New species:

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos, Τσίχλα).

Other species trapped:

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis, Δεντροκελάδα).
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος).
Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina, Κιτρινοστριτσίδα).
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus, Θαμνοφυλλοσκόπος)
Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Μαυροσκούφης).
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva, Νανομυγοχάφτης).

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Anthus trivialis.

Today had the honor to welcome Mr. Leventis in the island who is supporting financial the Antikythira Bird Observatory. He was guided in the island by Mr. Fran Vargas the Conservation Officer of HOS. Every day is different and awesome in this small island.

Day 25 of ringing. 1 October 2014. “Kalo mina” “Kalo dromo” birds.

“Kalo mina” “kalo dromo” (Have a nice month and a nice travel) birds.

After 4 days we couldn’t ring, the weather got better and finally we could enjoy another ringing session.
Seems that we are in the beginning of the end of the migration and almost all the species have passed in their way to Africa.

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Erithacus rubecula.

We trapped more or less the usual number of birds but with a small number of differet species and some of them are the latest migrants like European Robin (Erithacus rubecula, Κοκκινολαίμης) and Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Μαυροσκούφης).

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Javi takking the mesurments.

Today was a perfect day for the volunteers, they had the chance to be trained in bird handling and refresh what they have learnt about the strategies of the moult, identification of species and also how to take the measurements.

Today we trapped 25 birds of 5 different species.

The most abundant species today was European Robin (Erithacus rubecula, Κοκκινολαίμης). We trapped more than the half of the total.

New species:

Other species trapped:

Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος).
Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Μαυροσκούφης).
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata, Σταχτομυγοχάφτης).
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva, Νανομυγοχάφτης).

Luckily last night we were invited by the Archaeologists in a presentation about the archaeological sites and the history of island which was given by Mr. Aris Tsaravopoulos .

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This presentation was very fruitful for us, thus we connected the guided tour we had the day before with a more theoretical background about the historical evidence of the island and how the community of Antikythera evolved across the centuries .We are very grateful for the invitation!

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Paying atention in the interesting presentation!!!

Human part:

Today is leaving the last of the volunteers, Javi from Spain, the rest of us will try to enjoy the last days without part of our nice family of this autumn. For sure we will miss him in the end of the season. Javi has been very helpfully in the raptor migratory project and he has visit always that he could to enjoin in the ringing sessions. Like all the volunteers of this year he has contributive for the communal life was awesome It is as important as the field work in this program. Thanks a lot for your help and for being always available. “Buenos vientos”(Good winds) my friend.

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Javi and Erithacus rubecula. Good luck my friend!!

 

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