Well, back in drizzly Britain after a week in sunny Rhodes! An easy, cheating way to get your birding yearlist up is to go to foreign climes, and although the birdwatching was pretty casual between bouts of beaching, eating, drinking and general sightseeing, the island didn’t disappoint.
The first thing I noticed was large numbers of quite unexotic collared doves and house sparrows, but more interesting birds started to arrive pretty quickly, with hooded crows overhead during the shuttle from the airport. There were also tantalising glimpses of birds of prey at various points, some which were long-legged buzzards, and some immense eagles I’ve not managed to identify with any certainty
At the apartment in Pefkos, the first thing I saw was a jay of the Middle Eastern subspecies, and before long a red-backed shrike on a telephone wire. These turned out to be very common throughout the island, and I saw several, sometimes three at once from the apartment balcony. The balcony was a great place to spot things, including loads of blue rock thrushes, wheatears, a hoopoe, another long-legged buzzard, and rock doves, swallows, sand martins, house martins, common swifts and at least a couple of crag martins. There were also a few blue tits and blackbirds. On the Sunday there was a great sight when a large flock of bee-eaters flew overhead.
Elsewhere in Pefkos, a small party of night herons flew from a tree, seemingly disturbed from their daytime roost, and warblers included wood warblers, willow warblers, spectacled warblers and icterine warblers. A patch of scrubland not far from the apartment was good for yellow wagtails, crested larks, orphean warblers, blue rock thrushes and wheatears, including at least one black-eared wheatear. Yellow-legged gulls and lesser black-backed gulls flew over the sea.
Elsewhere on the island, there were Sardinian warblers at the ancient ruins at Kamiros, wrens and blue tits at the Valley of the Butterflies (a famous breeding ground for Jersey tiger moths). Ravens were spotted a couple of times from coach windows near the coast, and a couple of peregrines over Old Rhodes Town. I also saw a couple of kestrels, sadly not close enough to tell if they were common or lesser kestrels.
A trip to Epta Piges (Seven Springs), brought up chaffinches, a kingfisher, some more Sardinian warblers, and a spotted flycatcher.
As well as birds I saw at least four species of lizard, which I’ll write about later on when I’ve actually worked out which species they all were!