A rewarding trip to one of the best preserved areas in Europe with outstanding scenery, great habitats and more than 200 species of birds to see!
The tour starts in the early afternoon in Thessaloniki, as the tour participants will be picked up from their hotels in the area or from Tessaloniki Airport until 14.00 h (2pm). Then we will transfer (~ 2 hours) north to Lake Kerkini, where we will check-in for three nights.
Day 2 & Day 3
Two days at Lake Kerkini. Nestled picturesquely between two separate mountain ranges, Lake Kerkini is one of the true jewels of European birding and the core of a nature reserve that is a relatively unexplored wonderland of beauty and biological diversity.
We will visit all the key birdwatching parts of the lake, as in one of the mornings we can do a 2-hour boat trip to the heron and cormorant nesting colony, which provides very good opportunities for bird photography as well. The key species of birds to be seen in the lake include the Great White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Bittern, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Black Stork, Black Kite, Black-winged Stilt, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler and other species of waterbirds.
In the broad-leaved forests and shrubs, steppes and arid areas in vicinity of the lake we can see various breeding birds like the Long-legged Buzzard, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Wryneck, Red-rumped Swallow, Masked Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Calandra Lark, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Black-headed Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Ortolan Bunting. In late April migrating Red-footed Falcons and Levant Sparrowhawks are quite likely too.
Today we will be driving east towards the Nestos river valley, and on the way we will make a long stop for birdwatching in the area of Mount Falakro, searching for different species of mountain birds like the Alpine Chough, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Water Pipit and Horned Lark (ssp. balkanica). We will be staying for two nights in a small hotel in the Nestos area.
We will spend the morning in Nestos Gorge. The main birds likely to be seen in the gorge include the Rock Partridge, Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Eurasian Scops Owl, Alpine Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Eurasian Crag Martin, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush, Western Rock Nuthatch, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting.
In the afternoon we will visit the coastal wetlands in the area of the Nestos River Delta searching for various water birds.
Today we will transfer further east to the Maronia, with a stop at the southern part of Vistonida Lake and at the complex of small wetlands around Porto Lagos, where we can see a variety of water birds, including the Greater Flamingo, Dalmatian Pelican, Western Marsh Harrier, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Little Owl, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Zitting Cisticola and a lot of breeding and migrating waders, terns and shore-birds.
In the afternoon we will explore the area of Ismarida Lake, which is a very good site for the White-tailed Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Penduline Tit, etc. From here we have a one hour transfer to our hotel in the beautiful small town of Maronia, where we will be staying for two nights.
Full day in Maronia area, looking for the Scopoli’s Shearwater, Yelkouan Shearwater, European Shag (ssp. desmarestii), Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Eleonora’s Falcon, Audouin’s Gull, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Rufous Bush Robin, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Barred Warbler, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Masked Shrike, Ortolan Bunting, etc.
Transfer to Dadia Forest (~ 2 hours) via Evros hills, which is a good area for raptor migration – the Eurasian Honey Buzzard, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite, Levant Sparrowhawk, Red-footed Falcon, etc. In the area we can also find some interesting breeding birds like the Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Hawfinch. Three nights in Dadia area.
Full day at Dadia National Park (Dadia Forests), where we will be searching for the Eurasian Black Vulture, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Black Stork, Sardinian Warbler, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Barred Warbler, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush, Sombre Tit, Masked Shrike.
Full day at the Evros Delta
Key species of bird likely to be seen here: Greater Flamingo, Ferruginous Duck, Spur-winged Lapwing, Marsh Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Collared Pratincole, White-winged Tern, Black Tern, Whiskered Turn, other migrating & breeding waders, shore-birds, gulls and terns.
In the dry habitats we will be looking for the Eurasian Stone Curlew, European Roller, European Bee-eater, Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Isabelline Wheatear, Tawny Pipit, Olivaceous Warbler.
Transfer back to Thessaloniki with stops for roadside birding. In the late afternoon we will visit Axios Delta National Park to the west of Thessaloniki, which is an excellent site for waders – hundreds of Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints, plus the Temminck’s Stint, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Eurasian Stone Curlew, as well as the Greater Flamingo, Ferruginous Duck, Slender-billed Gull, etc.
Overnight in the area of Thessaloniki.
Departure from Thessaloniki.
If the return flight is late in the day we can visit some other birding sites not far from the airport.
During the tour the White Stork, Eurasian Hoopoe, Black-headed subspecies of the Yellow Wagtail, Red-backed Shrike, Spanish Sparrow, Corn Bunting can be observed almost everywhere in the lowlands.
The price includes: – The ground transport by van or small bus (depending on the group-size), including the transfers from / to Thessaloniki Airport; – Accommodation in family-run 2/3* hotels in twin-bedded en-suite rooms; – All breakfasts, lunches and 3-course dinners; – English speaking expert guide during the whole trip;