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Raptor Migration Count, 21 Sep, Autumn 2014. Windy day

A windy day up at the watchpoint and we ended up covered in dust. We has the nice visit of Costas, a new volunteer that will be sharing his time between the raptor monitoring and the ringing activities. His familiarity with the Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni,  Κιρκινέζι) is important, since this small falcons are very similar to the Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus, Βραχοκιρκίνεζο) and actually today he spotted three of them.

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Despite the annoying wind, some birds were passing, and the Marsh Harriers have been the most counted today.
The Booted Eagles are always hunting over the island, but sometimes we are able to recognize newly arrived individuals to add to the count.
One, struggling with the wind, flew a few meters in front of us.

The count:
Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata): 2 – 1 light, 1 dark
Black Kite (Milvus migrans): 1 ad
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus): 17 – 2 AM, 1 AF, 1 Juv
Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus): 3 – 1 juv
Lesser Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus): 3

 

Day 15 of ringing . 21 Sep, Autumn 2014. Equinox!

The autumn starts and we are at the equinox of the autumn ringing season 2014.
Everything goes to plan, until now we have caught 420 birds of 31 species.
The new volunteers have settled in to the family and everyone is enjoying themselves despite the change to bad weather again.

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Strong wind, full of colours!

Unfortunately there was little activity today due to the strong winds meaning the nets could be seen too easily by the birds; by midday the wind became too strong and we decided it was best to close the nets.

The equinox also marks the midpoint of our time here ringing and we are hopeful that the second half of our season is going to be as productive as the time we’ve already had.

Today we trapped 13 birds of 4 different species,

The most abundant species today was the Garden warbler (Sylvia borin, Κηποτσιροβάκος).
Other species trapped:

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica, Σταβλοχελίδονο)
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος).
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva, Νανομυγοχάφ).

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Fever of Katsiki and Raki Saturday nigth!

Last nights successful “katsiki”(goat) and “raki” night was a great chance for us to not only greet the new volunteers but also say goodbye to one of our long-term volunteers, Eli Navarrete. Eli has been with us for 3 weeks now and has been a great team member, bringing with her lots of experience in bird ringing and identification. She’s also been an excellent entertainer for those quieter times at the table and helped make the guesthouse feel like a home; willing to help out with anything and everything that’s going on and always with a positive attitude and energy. Finally, I’d like to thank Eli for helping out with the translation of the blog to English every evening and, congratulate you on your recently acquired ringing licence! Goodbye Eli and Buenos vientos (‘good-winds`)!. We will miss you!

Antikythira (270)

Eli and Lanius collurio, Great Females!

Raptor Migration Count, 20 Sep, Autumn 2014

Despite the quiet hours of waiting at the watchpoint, the migration is not over yet, with a turnover in the observed species. While the numbers of migrating Honey Buzzards and Black Kites have decreased, we still record Marsh Harriers, Booted Eagles and Lesser Spotted Eagles, as well as Sparrowhawks. Also, a juvenile Montagu’s Harrier appeared, soaring very high over our heads. And today we have seen a flock of 35 Red-footed Falcons foraging close to the coast, in the beautiful light of the sunset.

The Count:
Lesser Spotted Eagle: 2 – 1 juv, 1 subadult
Booted Eagle: 2
Marsh Harrier: 8
Montagu’s Harrier: 1 juv
Honey Buzzard: 2
Sparrowhawk: 3
Levant Sparrowhawk: 1
Red-footed Falcon: 35
Hobby: 2

Montagu's Harrier juvenile - ph Giacomo Biasi

Montagu’s Harrier juvenile – ph Giacomo Biasi

Day 14 of ringing . 20 Sep, Autunm 2014 Return of calm weather, new faces and new species.!

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Riparia riparia. Young.

The last 2 days the wind was a bit stronger than usual but the calm has come again. It seems that the migration this year is more consistent, with a good number and better variety of birds again and  this morning. Also, we caught a new species for the season, the Sand Martin (Riparia riparia, Οχθοχελίδονο). The diversity and number of birds seems to be the same and every day that passes we can see the changes the migration brings and, the birds that were in our nets the day before are rarely those we find in the nets each new day.

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Sylvia borin (left), Sylvia atricapilla, male (rigth)

Today we trapped 28 birds of 13 different species, 1 of them new for the season.

The most abundant species today was Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Μαυροσκούφης).

New species:

Sand Martin (Riparia riparia, Οχθοχελίδονο)

Other species trapped:

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica, Σταβλοχελίδονο)
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος).
Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos, Αηδόνι).
Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina, Κιτρινοστριτσίδα).
Garden warbler (Sylvia borin, Κηποτσιροβάκος).
Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis, Θαμνοτσιροβάκος).
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus, Θαμνοφυλλοσκόπος).
Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus, Καλαμοποταμίδα).
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata, Σταχτομυγοχάφτης).
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva, Νανομυγοχάφ).
Collared Flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis, Κρικομυγοχάφτης).

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Phoenicouros phoenicouros. Youngs. Male (left), Female (rigth)

We were visited again today by one the island locals, they kindly gave us some grapes from the island and a short lesson about the greek names of some of the birds we are seeing.

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Local teacher, special lesson!

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Giannis and Eli enjoying the present after the special lesson!

Also 3 new volunteers arrived last night to spend some weeks with us, Lisa, Kostas and Nadia, all from Greece. The ringing community is growing in size and experience and the atmosphere is perfect to learn…and enjoy the katsiki night at the taverna, and have a nice chat with the locals, and taste the delicious goat meat.

Posts from Volunteers: Robert of Nottingham!

This post has been written by Robert, our smiling volunteer from England.

I have had an incredible time here on Antikythera with this being a successful migratory season. Since my arrival I have encountered diverse number of raptors such as Honey Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, Montagu’s Harries, Ospreys and Black Kites. We have also been lucky to have encounters with rare species raptors such as Lesser-spotted Eagles, Snake Eagles, Imperial Eagles as well as Booted Eagles; we have been lucky to even see a pair of Egyptian Vultures.

A Short-toed Snake Eagle  -ph C. Christodolu- Davies

A Short-toed Snake Eagle
-ph C. Christodolu- Davies

Besides raptors this island is rich with other bird life, with many passerines such as Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchats, Northern Wheatears and Golden Orioles up which I have been lucky to see close up. We have also been occasionally been greeted by large flocks of Bee Eaters which are a beautiful spectacle to see.

The weather here has been unpredictable with strong wind and heavy rain with even the occasional twister out at sea, this made it difficult for raptors to migrate and as a result we have had days when there have been very few birds. A majority of my time here, we have been quite lucky and even when it has been too stormy for migration the resident Eleonora’s Falcons are always at present, which are exciting to watch in action.

A twister in Antikythira - ph Robert Hilton

A twister in Antikythira
- ph Robert Hilton

I have had the opportunity take part in the bird ringing sessions, which has been a great experience for me to see birds up and have been privileged to handle one. I feel that gained a lot of knowledge from this on bird handling as well identifying the age and sex.

It has overall been fantastic month, having the opportunity to see raptors that I wouldn’t see in the UK and I feel the experience has been invaluable to improving my bird identification skills. I hope that we will continue to see increase in the number of raptors this season and in other years to come.

Robert from Nottingham, England

Day 13 of ringing. 19 Sep, Autumn 2014.Difficult new species!

Some species are very similar at first glance and that’s why we must spend some time doing extra measurements to be 100% sure which species is in our hands.

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Acrocephalus palustris. Young

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Acrocephalus scirpaceus. Young

Yesterday and today we trapped 2 species that look very similar, the bird from yesterday (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) was ringed in Belgium and today we trapped an Acrocephalus palustris which is a new species for this season.

After more than ten days of calm weather, looks like the strong wind is going to stay with us for a few days more. The migration continues to go in a good way but our nets cannot work to their full potential because the wind moves them unfortunately making them more visible to the birds.

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Wind of the net.

Despite that, we had a good day, with a normal number and good diversity of birds in the nets. The volunteers had the opportunity of taking measurements and now really understand that the priority of the ringing is the safety of the bird.

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Elpida taking mesurment.

Today we trapped 23 birds of 12 different species, 1 of them new for the season.

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

New species:

Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris, Βαλτοποταμίδα)

Other species trapped:

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica, Σταβλοχελίδονο)
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Φοινίκουρος)
Warbler (Hippolais icterina, Κιτρινοστριτσίδα).
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra, Καστανολαίμης)
Garden warbler (Sylvia borin, Κηποτσιροβάκος).
Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Μαυροσκούφης).
Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis, Θαμνοτσιροβάκος).
Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix, Δασοφυλλοσκόπος)
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata, Σταχτομυγοχάφτης).
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva, Νανομυγοχάφ).

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Sylvia atricapilla. Youngs, Female (left), male (Rigth)

Today we had a very good atmosphere at the ringing table with the visit of Giaccomo (responsible for the raptor migration monitoring) and Javi and Robin (volunteers, raptor migration monitoring) who wanted to spend a bit of time with us before heading off to monitor raptors. All people are “more than welcome” at our table!!.

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Jam packed at the table!!

We are waiting for 3 new volunteers who are coming tonight. The family is growing and for sure they will enjoy with us and we with them.

Raptor Migration Count, 19 Sep, Autumn 2014

Windy day, not a good one for birds (and not good for us, being annoyed by the wind the whole day). Anyway, we had a nice sunset on hazy day.

ph Giacomo Buendìa Soares

ph Giacomo Buendìa Soares

Regarding the birds, Marsh Harriers, a few Honey Buzzards and one Accipiter is all that we have seen migrating today. One dark Booted Eagle is flying around the island since a few days, we took some photos from close distance. And that’s all from today (the total count is below the photo).

Booted Eagle - dark - ph C. christodolou - Davies

Booted Eagle – dark – ph C. Christodolou – Davies

The count:
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus): 24 – 6 males, 2 juv
Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus): 6
Accipiter sp.: 1

 

 

Raptor Migration Count, 18 Sep, Autumn 2014

Today the migration had a stop and we waited in vain for some birds to pass. We counted only 2 Eurasian Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus), one of which adult female, and 4 Booted Eagles (Aquila pennata), light morph.
One dark booted eagle is stopping over the island since yesterday.
Tomorrow again northeasterly wind of 4 and 5 Beaufort are forecasted, hope that the day would not be like today. And one question: where are the Short-toed Eagles? It’s been one week since the last sighting…

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Day 12 of ringing. 18 Sep, Autumn 2014. From Belgium to Antikythira!!

The weather has changed and the wind has been a bit stronger than other days, specially the last hours. We did the hole rounds and we caught a big number of bird in the nets, with a high diversity and some interesting birds.

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Acrocephalus scirpacius. NAT. MUSSEUM.1000.BRUSSEL.

The mayor surprise has been an individual of Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus, Καλαμοποταμίδα). coming for sure at least from Belgium! This data is really important in order to learn more about the fenology and the ecology of this species. During this days we will get in contact with the ringing center of Belgium to get
more information about where this bird was ringed and know more about his migration route.

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Acrocephalus scirpaceus. Ringed in Belgium.

Also we caught a new species for the season, individuals of 5 species del generus Sylvia and a precious maleRed-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio, Αετομάχος) and oneEurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops, Γκιώνης).for exemplo. Everyday the ringing season offer us special moments.

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Lanius collurio. Adult, male.

Today we trapped 28 birds of 15 different species,

The most abundant species today was Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra, Καστανολαίμης).We could observed the differences between age and sex, because we caught 4 of them in the same round wich were individuals juveniles and adults of both sexes.

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Saxicola rubetra.

New species:

Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca, Βουνοτσιροβάκος).

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Sylvia curruca. Adult.

Other species trapped:

Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops, Γκιώνης).
Warbler (Hippolais icterina, Κιτρινοστριτσίδα).
Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos, Αηδόνι).
Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans, Κοκκινοτσιροβάκος).
Garden warbler (Sylvia borin, Κηποτσιροβάκος).
Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis, Θαμνοτσιροβάκος).
Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla, Μαυροσκούφης).
Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus, Καλαμοποταμίδα).
Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus, Τσιχλοποταμίδα).
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus, Θαμνοφυλλοσκόπος).
Collared Flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis, Κρικομυγοχάφτης)
Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio, Αετομάχος).

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Otus scops. Adult.

Today a local lady came to visit us to make more sweet our day and present us with “lukoumades” ( traditional greek sweet).

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Maria wiyh the local lady.

Another day enjoying the birds, the view , the company ,everything with a nice chat at the ringing table.

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Lokoumades

 

Raptor Migration Count, 17 September 2014. Nice day: more eagles and Egyptian Vultures (2)!!!

Average day in numbers, but great in species! The first observation of the day was an eagle. What eagle? A Misterious Eagle, told because it was gliding in awful light. Later on, two more eagles: a juvenile Lesser Spotted, behind our back, and a light Booted.

 

Lesser Spotted Eagle- ph C. Christodolou- Davies

Lesser Spotted Eagle- ph C. Christodolou- Davies

Meanwhile, the first Marsh Harriers and Sparrowhawks were observed. Over the sea, quite high, a flock of more than 20 Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) and a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) following. After 11 a.m. another eagle appeared from the NE: an adult Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata, Σπιζαετός) glided in front of us and towards S. Around twelve, clouds gathered over the sea in front of us and a twister, big and frightfully close, formed and whirled over the water for minutes. Scope unmounted and data folder in the backpack. Half an hour of rain interrupted the observations but immediately after, the birds were passing again and a male Marsh Harrier was followed by a low-flying juvenile Lesser Spotted Eagle, very beautiful.

«Run!»  ph G. Biasi

«Run!»
ph G. Biasi

No big surprises until 15:40. First, a helicopter, rare passage visitor, landed in the heliport. Probably related with the expedition to search the shipwreck of the famous Mechanism of Antikythira? Anyway, while we were watching the landing operation, two large birds were soaring over our heads, fairly high, showing very long wings. Binoculars up and -yes!- Egyptian Vultures! One was a juvenile and the other an adult. Nice, nice sighting.

The two Egyptian Vultures seen today.

The two Egyptian Vultures seen today.

What else? Well, a Levant Sparrowhawk soared just colse to us, while other Accipiter hawks challenged our identification skills. Some of them won.
Also, a couple of dark Booted Eagle, the first in the majority of light morphs spotted in the last days. Ah, the Booted Eagles, trying to confuse our counts flying back and forth over the island… Apparently they enjoy stopping over Antikythira.

And that’s all for today. Quite interesting, isn’t it?

The Count:

Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus): 2 – 1 juv, 1 ad
Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina): 2 juv
Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata): 1 adult
Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata): 6 – 3 light, 3 dark
Aquila sp.: 1
Black Kite (Milvus migrans): 6
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus): 13 – 3 males, 4 juv
Buteo sp.: 1
Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus): 14 – 1 male, 1 female, 5 juv
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus): 1 female
Accipiter sp.: 3