Wader Migration Tour in Northern Greece

Glossy Ibis by Mladen Vassilev

On this tour we focus on wader migration along the Aegean coast of Northern Greece with its well preserved lagoons, providing excellent stopover conditions for a huge number of migratory birds. We will also visit some inland sites to search for resident raptors and woodpeckers.

 

Day 1

The tour starts in the early afternoon from Thessaloniki. The tour participants will be picked up from their hotel in the area or from Thessaloniki Airport until 14.00 h (2pm). The transfer to Lake Kerkini takes about 1 hour and a half. The rest of the day we will spend in the area of Lake Kerkini. Accommodation there for two nights.

 Days 2

Today we will explore the area of Kerkini Lake National Park, which hosts a big variety of migrating and resident birds in late summer and autumn. Among the waders we can expect to see Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Caspian, Whiskered and Black Terns. Other target species that we see here are the Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Black Stork, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Ferruginous Duck, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and Little Owl. The forests around the lake hold Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper, Hawfinch, etc.

 Day 3

Transfer east to the region of Maronia (about 3 and a half hours). On the way we will explore the Nestos Gorge for Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Western Rock Nuthatch and Blue Rock Thrush and the lagoons around the Nestos Delta, which may produce Spur-winged Plover, Kentish Plover, Common Redshank, Mediterranean Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Little Tern, Sandwich Tern.

Accommodation in Maronia for two nights.

 Day 

In the morning we will explore the coastal area of Maronia. The offshore birding is usually very productive here, with Scopoli’s and Yelkouan Shearwaters, European Shag (ssp. desmarestii), Audouin’s Gull, Lesser black-backed Gull (ssp. fuscus), Yellow-legged Gull and Mediterranean Gull.

Then we will visit the coastal lagoons around Porto Lagos. Our targets here will be Pied Avocet, Kentish Plover, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Little Stint, Spotted Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Parasitic Skua, Slender-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Little Gull, Little Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, etc. In the end of the day we will be looking for White-tailed Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Montagu’s Harrier, Purple Heron, Calandra Lark and other birds at Ismarida Lake.

Day 5

Transfer to the Evros Delta (about 1,5 hours).

We will spend the whole day at the Evros Delta National Park, which is the major stopover site for many waders – Northern Lapwing, Spur-winged Plover, Common Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck’s and Little Stints, Spotted Redshank, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper. Here we can also expect to see the Slender-billed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern and White-winged Tern. It is a good area for raptor migration as well – European Honey Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Levant Sparrowhawk, Black Kite, Long-legged Buzzard and Common Buzzard. The reedbeds may hold Great Bittern, Purple Heron, Reed Bunting (ssp. caspia), Bearded Reedling, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Great Reed Warbler and many other songbirds.

Accommodation at the area of Dadia for one night.

 Day 6

In the morning we will visit the Dadia Forest National Park, home to the only breeding population of the Eurasian Black Vulture in Greece. At the raptor feeding station we can also see Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite, White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle and Eastern Imperial Eagle. Other interesting species of birds in the area include the Syrian Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Sombre Tit, European Serin, Cirl Bunting.

In the afternoon – transfer to Thessaloniki (about 4 hours), where we will be staying for two nights.

 Day 7

We will spend the whole day in the Axios Delta National Park, which is one of the best wader areas in Greece, with plenty of rarities observed over the years. It is the only site with reasonable chances for Terek Sandpiper in early autumn. Other more common waders here include the Eurasian Stone Curlew, Pied Avocet, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Collared Pratincole, Grey Plover, Kentish Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Ruddy Turnstone, Ruff, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Temminck’s Stint, Common Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, as well as Slender-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Little Gull, Little Tern, Sandwich Tern, Caspian Tern, etc. Other birds that we may observe here include the Greater Flamingo, Pygmy Cormorant, Eurasian Spoonbill, Osprey, Western Marsh Harrier, Greater Short-toed Lark and Calandra Lark.

Day 8

Transfer to Thessaloniki Airport for departure. If time allows we can visit the wetlands around Thessaloniki once again.

Broad-billed Sandpiper by Dimiter Georgiev

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