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Birdwatching in Greece

Greece is worldwide known for its great history, sandy beaches, one of the most famous holiday destinations. On the other hand, few birdwatchers realize that, this small European country, being the natural frontier between Europe, Asia and Africa, combines a great variety of different habitats. From small rocky islets, to snow capped mountain, from agricultural areas to deserted valleys, from fresh water lagoons to estuaries, the country is simply full of unexpected micro-environments.
All this combination provided the perfect habitat for as much as 444 species of birds that have been recorder here. There are 9 Ramsar sites, 196 Important Bird Areas, Natura Sites, Aesthetic Forests.

"A view of Mesolongi Lagoon"



The highlights of the country include several east European - minor Asia species, with very restricted distribution, such as Rueppell's Warbler, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Sombre Tit, Olivaceous Wabler, Olive-tree Warbler, which can all be found surprisingly around Athens!
The Island of Lesvos provides two more Eastern species Kruepper's Nuthatch and Cineraceous Bunting.
Around Greece we can add more highlights such as Cory's Shearwater, Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Bittern, Greater Flamingo, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Lesser Fronted Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, White headed Duck, Great Egret, Squacco Heron, Black Stork, Barbary Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Booted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Eleonorae's Falcon, Levant Sparrowhawk, Shaker, Lanner Falcon, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Collared Prantincole, Spur-winged Plover, Kentish Plover, Rock Partirdge, Chukar, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Rern, Black Tern, Turtle Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Roller, Black Woodpecker, Wryneck, Isabelline Wheatear, Short-toed Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Semi-collared Flycathcer, Red-rumped Swallow, Hoopoe, Scops Owl, Rufous Scrub Robin, Rock Nuthatch, Collared Flycather, Semi-collared Flycatcher,Black-eared Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Wallcreeper, Red-billed Cough, Rueppell's Warbler, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Olivaceous Wabler, Olive-tree Warbler Moustached Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Woodchat Shrike, Masked Shrike, Common Rosefinch, Sombre Tit, Penduline Tit, Rock Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Rock Bunting, Black-headed Bunting

"Imittos Mountain overlooking Athens"



Surprisingly, the city of Athens provides excellent birding opportunities. Around the city, in radiuses of 2 to 40 kilometers, 4 important bird areas exist, all easy to approach from the city center. Indeed, almost half of the species recorded in Greece, can be found only around the city, during the whole year period.
Highlights for Athens surroundings are Rueppell's Warbler, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Sombre Tit, Penduline Tit, Black-eared Wheater, Blue Rock Thrush, Olivaceous Wabler, Olive-tree Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Common Rosefinch.
Least, but not last, we should not forget to mention Greek island of Lesvos, the "Mecca" for most European birdwatchers. During migrations, thousands of birds pass over or stop by the island, being the only European site to host Kruepper's Nuthatch and Cineraceous Bunting.


"Trip map"


Electronic map of Greece

Tour I

3 day Central Greece Bird Tour.


This 3 days trip includes major birding areas of Central Greece, different habitats and a great variety of target species. It combines Schinias National Park, Kaisariani Aesthetic Park, Evia Island and various important birding areas. Thus, in just 3 days few day, we will visit estuaries, lagoons, lakes, dense forests, Mediterranean shrub areas and much more, while we will have the opportunity to do some Sea Birding while on ferry to Evia (1hour).


Itinerary

Day 1 - Attica: Imittos Mt, Spata fields, Vravrona Estuary.
Pick up from airport and driving 40 min to Imittos Mt. (8123 hectares), a long but narrow mountain (total length 20 km), with its highest peak reaching at 1026m, second highest in Athens. Starting from Kesariani area, officially an Aesthetic Forest, we walk in the pine and cypress forest, olive orchard, and Mediterranean shrub area. As we move towards the top, the landscape becomes more rocky and steep, with many aromatic plants such as thyme and oregano. An impressive panoramic view of all Athens is enjoyed from most parts of our trail.

"Hoopoe"



Top 10 species: Chukar, Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Roch Thrush, Rock Nuthatch, Ruppell's Warbler, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Sombre Tit.
We will drive east and after 40 min we will arrive in Spata area, an extensive agricultural area, famous since ancient history for its winery and olive orchards. The area has recently raised birders interest, since important migrants (Pallid Harrier, Red-footed Falcon, Red-breasted Flycatcher) as well as several vagrant rarities (Isabelline Shrike, Dotterel, ) have been reported the last 5 years.
Top 5 species at Spata: Red-footed Falcon, Short-toed Lark, Black-eared Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike, Black-headed Bunting.
Our next stop after 15 min drive will be Vravrona Estuary, home of the famous Temple of Artemis, one of Athens major archeological sanctuaries. Next to the Temple, Erasinos river forms a minor delta, where several interesting species can be observed, with Rufous Bush Robin being the areas highlight and one of birders "Greece's most wanted species.
Top 5 species at Vravrona: Long-legged Buzzard, Scops Owl, Hoopoe, Rufus Scrub Robin (in June), Zitting Cisticola.
Our last stop for the day, only 15 min drive from Vravrona, will be Loutsa Lagoon, a small but important pond just near the sandy beach of Artemida.
Top 5 species at Loutsa Lagoon: Black-winged Stilt, Marsh Sandpiper, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Red-rumped Swallow.

"Black-headed_Bunting"



Day 2 - Schinias National Park, Pendeli Mt, Oropos Pools.
A combination of Athens most important birding areas such as Pendeli Mt and Schinias National Park, the later being one of the major migratory areas of Attica. The park (5000 hectares) is located at the NE part of Attiki, at the Marathon plain, close to the historic Tomb of Marathon and temple of Ramnous. Its extensive wetland which includes ponds, reed beds, rocky cliffs, pine forest and seashore has recently become an official National Park, the third around Athens region.
We will start from Schinias National Park. The site remains an ecological quality despite its proximity to Athens, only 45 min from the center. This is comprised of the following elements: 1) a variety of habitats with rapid interchange in a relatively small area, 2) its flora is rich in common species and also contains endemic and local endemics, 3) its fauna contains strictly protected species (birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish), 4) the area is very important for migratory birds as one of the few resting places, whereby spring and autumn routes traverse the peninsula of Attiki. More than 220 bird species have been recorded over the last years.

"Cretzschmars Bunting"



Top 10 species at Schinias National Park: Purple Heron, Ferruginous Duck, Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Black-eared Wheatear, Penduline Tit, Subalpine Warbler, Black-headed Bunting, Cretzschmar's Bunting.
After driving for 15 min , we will reach Pendeli Mt. Even though the northern part of the mountain has recently been severely destroyed by summer fires, it still remains a great place to observe breeding Cretzschmar's Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear and important Subalpine and Rueppell's Warblers.
Top 5 species at Pendeli Mt: Black-eared Wheatear, Whitethroat, Subalpine Warbler, Rueppell's Warbler, Cretzschmar's Bunting.
Our last stop of the day will be Oropos Estuary where a formation of small ponds right next to the sea, hosts several species of waders and ducks during spring migration.
Top 5 species in Oropos Estuary: Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Kentish Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Short-toed Lark.

"Olive-tree Warbler"



Day 3 - Evia Island, Lake Dystos and surrounding hills.
We will spend the whole day on this immense island of the Aegean archipelago, having the opportunity to exercise our sea birding skills while traveling for about 1 hour with the connecting ferry. Cory's Shearwaters, Yelkouan Shearwater, Shag, Mediterannean Gull, and Auduin's Gull are possible on our way, not to mention possibilities for observing Sea Dolphins escorting our ferry. Our main destination is Dystos Lake and surrounding hills. The area in found in the middle of Greece's migratory path, being an important resting station after bird's trip over the smaller cycladic islands. The most important breeding species are undoubtedly the Olive-tree Warbler, Lesser Kestrel, Rock Partridge, Long-legged Buzzard.
Top 10 species in Evia Island: Red-footed Falcon, Long-legged Buzzard, Eleonorae's Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Rock Partridge, Olive-tree Warbler, Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Rueppell's Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Black headed Bunting.

"Rueppell's Warbler"





3 day tour price per Person.
Simple Pack: 2-3 pers 600 Euros. Full Pack: 800 Euros (+100 Euros for single suppl.)
Simple Pack: 4-5 pers 500 Euros. Full Pack: 700 Euros (+100 Euros for single suppl.)

Kindly note: No deposit is needed for "Simple Pack", simply a confirmation call one week before the trip.
For Full Pack: 50% deposit with booking. Balance 3 weeks prior to departure.
If you cancel a trip for any reason - 90% return of deposits.
If client cancels 2 week prior to departure - 75% of deposit will be returned.
Less than 2 week all deposits forfeited.
Note: Since you have received the deposits you will be responsible for any returns.
Simple Pack (no accommodation).
Included: Birding guide service by fluently speaking guides, Spotting Scope with tripod, Easy-tick bird Check List, all ground transportation with A/C, ferry tickets.
Full pack (with accommodation).
Included: 3 dinners, 2 breakfasts (day 2,3), 2 nights accommodation (day 1,2), all ground transportation with A/C, ferry tickets, bird guiding service by fluently english speaking expert bird guides, spotting scope with tripod, easy-tick bird check lists.
Excluded in both packs: International & Internal flights, laundry service, all beverages, all hotel extras, phone calls or any other personal item.
As a minimum, people need to bring their own binoculars, camera gear if they wish, as well as their own personal drink bottle, sunscreen, sun hat etc. Depending on season, weather conditions may vary, so please contact us for detailed information.

Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Included:
The above birding itineraries are based on what are essentially popular routes for birders. It can be shortened or extended.
All the date of itineraries include arrival and departure dates.
All trips are available year round, but prices may be adjusted around special holidays.
Minimum lead time four (4)weeks.
To check availability for tours on short notice, fill out "Request for Quote" form with desirable dates.
Fitness:
The tour does not require a high level of fitness but participants should be in good general health. Should you have any physical limitations please contact us.
Equipment:
As a minimum, people need to bring their own binoculars, camera gear if they wish, as well as their own personal drink bottle, sunscreen, sun hat etc. Depending on season, weather conditions may vary, so please contact us for detailed information.


Should you only need a guide for a day please send a message to Spyros.   

Birding guide Spyros Skareas, your local Birdingpal guide

Spyros Skareas is the main tour guide for all tours. Since 2004, he is proud to be assigned by the Hellenic Ornithological Society as Caretaker of Schinias National Park on a volunteer basis. Monitoring bird species of the area yearlong, tracking the threats of the natural environment of the Park, as well as guiding birdwatching trips nationwide are some of his interests, not to mention his never ending love for bees (being a professional beekeeping advisor and amateur beekeeper) and plants. He also runs a landscape designing business, focusing on Mediterranean plant species and bird gardening. He has an excessive experience in tour leading eco-orientated trips, being a former tour guide for Adrenaline S.A. He has published several articles on entomological, ornithological and environmental issues, in international and national periodicals and newspapers. He is administrator of the longest running birding blog in Greece www.greekbirding.blogspot.com.
He speaks Greek (native tongue), English, French fluently and fairly well Spanish.


Testimonials.

ATTILA SIMAY (HUNGARY) attilasimay(AT)hotmail.com
Thank you for your letter and the excellent birding opportunity in Athens. I was very pleased to spend a splendid day with you around Athens. It was great to find all my target birds, other beautiful species and having a nice trek on the mountains' slopes close to the capital. I enjoyed very much your company and your expertise. Thank you, and hope to see you again during another birding trip in Greece.
GARY GREY (USA, S. CAROLINA) popsgaryg(AT)yahoo.com
The birding day was very enjoyable and you were an extremely good guide. You were prompt in picking me up at my hotel and we immediately went to the birding areas. Your English was very good, knowledge of the birds and the area seemed to be "top grade", and you made every effort to answer all of my questions. I would be more than happy to recommend your services to any wishing to bird the Athens' area.
HANS WESTERBERG (SWEDEN) hans.westerberg(AT)telia.com
In may 2006 I made a birdtrip to Greece. When i looked after locations to se birds i came across Spyros Skareas who is a bird guide and tour leader. I can really recommend others birdwatchers, that will come and look for birds in Greece, to hire Spyros for guiding. In my case i had great help finding Rock partridge and Olive-tree warbler.
KATHLEEN ROBERTSON (USA, CALIFORNIA) Kathleen(AT)RobertsonFamilyLaw.com
It was very nice to meet you during my quick stay in Athens. I very much enjoyed the birding experience on both days.
Thank you for a wonderful day of birding. On May 10, 2011, we went with for a full day tour. It was an absolute joy. I would highly recommend using Greece Bird Tours (Spyros Skareas) if you want to see a lot of birds with someone who really knows the birds and where to find them. Once again, I cannot express how great of a day I had. Thank you. Sincerely, Jeffrey Mondville USA mondvillelaw(AT)buckeye-express.com Jeffrey Mondville, USA
Spyros-- I am just back from my trip to Greece and Turkey, both of which were wonderful. I especially enjoyed the field trip (May 11th) you arranged for me. It was a memorable day, and the is a wonderful bird and excellent companion. Thank you for the fine arrangements. Regards, Neil Ellman, USA, ellmans(AT)comcast.net
Hello Spyros: All went well on my one day bird tour with your colleagues. They are professional, worked hard to find the target birds, enthusiastic about birds and their work, excellent skills with eyes and ears, and were pleasant and helpful to be with. Added 4 life birds and some good ticks of ssp., and learned when to come to find those missed migrants and early departing migrants like Rueppells Warbler and C. Bunting. Hope that time and funds will allow me another visit. Thanks again for your help and guidance. Would recommend you to anyone seeking help in Greece. Blessings, Duncan Himes of Mesa Arizona USA

Some facts about Greece.

The Country.
It is a peninsular and mountainous country situated in southeast Europe on the Mediterranean Sea, with a total area of 130.800 km2. The country is surrounded by the sea. The greek islands represent one fifth of the country's area. Greece has about 1400 greek islands of which 169 are inhabited. The majority of the islands are scattered in the Aegean Sea between the Greek and Turkish coasts. Greece has a population of 10,610,000 (2000) of which 3.7 million are located in Athens, the country's capital.
Athens is the capital of Greece with a population of 3,192,606.
Local time is GMT +2 hours.
Religion: 98% Christian (Greek Orthodox).
Greece is a member state of E.U. since 1981. The currency is euro.
When travelling in Greece, nature-loving tourists are offered the opportunity to: - to wander in aesthetic forests or explore national parks not merely in the mountainous regions of the mainland, but also on certain islands or in the proximity of rivers and lakes - to enjoy the wonderful natural monuments, gorges, caves and waterfalls - to watch and admire rare bird species nesting or seeking refuge in coastal ecosystems and wetlands (rocky coasts, sandy beaches, sand dunes, river deltas, lakes, marshes, coastal plains, etc) - to study the highly diverse floral life of the Greek countryside.
THE CAPITAL.
Athens is the city of the Olympic Idea, the city of artists, cultural channel scientific centre, East and West for each voyager, the crossroads of every major event for the active, the fashion that is in for avid sophisticates, the Parthenon, of all and for all. Athens has much to offer: near-constant sunshine, access to sandy beaches and idyllic islands, and of course that first stunning view of the Acropolis.
Today is a modern city of Greece, alive and on the go. Modern, but romantic as well, with busy streets and squares, shop windows a riot of colors, as well as little alleys in quiet, peaceful neighborhoods such as Plaka and Mets. In the countless shops, the visitor will find whatever he may need. In the tavernas and restaurants he can enjoy any taste sensation, in the nightclubs, pubs, discos, and bars he can drink and dance the night away.

More facts about Greece.

Guide books and CD's recommended:

Collins Bird Guide: BIRDS OF BRITAIN & EUROPE by Lars Svensson et al.

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Last update 20/02/2014