Birding Trip to Corfu 11.08-18.08.2006

Birding Trip to Corfu 11.08 – 18.08.2006

I couldn’t find any Corfu trip reports about August from the Internet and so I guess it will help at least some people a bit.
You can find some pictures of the trip from here

General Info
Birding in Corfu in August can be a desperate effort, especially if you have family vs birding situation. I’d prefer Turkey, Spain or Bulgaria any time. If you don’t have previous Mediterranean birding experience then it’s not that bad. Spring is probably much more productive.

Roads are narrow but in good condition, people are friendly, food is good, no problems with safety. Nice beaches and scenic landscape to keep your family/friends excited. Kerkyra town is basically a tourist trap and you can do your shoppings elsewhere if necessary.

Birds are very elusive like in other countries where birdhunting is a national sport. Pishing doesn’t work too good. In August birds are not territorial so they don’t react to luring either. Heat is killer and tourist season keeps traffic busy. I missed lots of birds i had expected e.g Eleonora’s Falcon, buntings, Orphean Warbler etc. But this was obviously because of wrong timing. Strange that i didn’t hear or see any Bee-eaters. There are lots of cartridges everywhere in countyside so there’s lots of hunting acitivity.

Places visited
I stayed in Agios Stephanos with my non-birding friends and i didn’t had too much time in best birding sites. We hired rental car in 2 days and i hired scooter on my own for a day. I had only camera and binocular with me, no scope.

Agios Stephanos
Little village in NW of the island. Typical small beach resort. Walk towards Sidari or find some other paths leading to the surrounding olive groves and you’ll find some areas for morning walks. I found only common species here. Scops Owl was maybe the best one.

Paxos and Antipaxos island tour
You can have a boat tour to those two small islands if interested. I didn’t see anything spectacular in this trip so i don’t recommend it to birders, at least not in that season. I was hoping for Eleonora’s Falcon because both islands have rocky coast and could be suitable for this species. Their breeding season should start at this time i guess. I missed Yelkouan Shearwater as well although i saw some Cory´s Shearwaters and Black Terns from the boat. People who get seasick easily should be cautious. On the way back the weather got stormy – i loved it! Several people didn’t share my excitement and had to use plastic bags which were given by crew.

Pantokrator mountain
This place is a must for birders. I was here in one morning with my friends and next day i rented a scooter and came back alone. On the way i crashed the scooter and scrached it heavily. It was amazing that the damage cost me only 15 euros. I damaged myself pretty badly as well – big hole in elbow, bruised knees and body etc. Very nasty looking. So last two days of my holiday i was covered with bandages. I guess twitching those Rock Nuthatches has to be one of the most painful birding experiences i have ever had….

I guess this place can be amazing in May or September. I found 5 Rock Nuthatches easily, but i missed the Cretzschmar’s Buntings, maybe they have left the area already. Lots of Woodchat Shrikes, Black-eared Wheatears, Kestrels, Subalpine Warblers everywhere. I saw 5 species of raptors here. Nuthatches were very aggressive although i think their breeding season should be over. About 1,5 km from the top you’ll find a small road leading east which i found good place for birding. There are some other sideroads as well as you go further down. These are worth checking too.

Lefkimmi saltpans
Another excellent place for birders and photographers. About 600 flamingoes were nice and lots of other birds too. Probably the only place on the island where you can see decent selection of waders and other waterbirds. Check the roads surrounding the saltpans because there are quite variable habitats around. Thea area is very easy to find. You can spend whole day here if you can take the heat.

Angelokastro
Very scenic area and is probably good for birding as well. There’s a castle on the top of one mountain and this might be good spot for raptorwatching. I heard Rock Nuthatches here too. We were here only for 15 minutes and then it started raining heavily. Rain was so ferocious that we had to stop our car for a while. Our Suzuki Jimney rental car didn’t have windows in the back so some of us got totally soaked.

Ropa Valley
We only drove through the area. Seems that in spring this area could be excellent for shrikes, buntings, bee-eaters and other species which prefer agricultural landscape. In August it’s not that promising. You just have to drive around the smaller roads and scan the wires and bushes. Some of the roads are not in the best condition.

Airport lagoon
I saw birds only from plane window and departure hall. It’s quite hard to find good access to the area i guess, but it’s worth trying. There were lots of herons on the ponds. It’s possible to scan the lagoon from the Kerkyra-Lemfkimmi highway and estimate the current situation first. Scope is essential.

Triplist

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis – 1 Airport Lagoon
Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea – few birds seen from different spots
Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax – 1 bird was sitting in a tree in olive grove (!) in Agios Stephanos. It flew away when i tried to approach
Little Egret Egretta garzetta – 50 Airport lagoon and 30 Lemfkimmi saltpans
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea – 10 Airport lagoon and 50 Lemfkimmi saltpans
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber – 600 Lemfkimmi
Garganey Anas querquedula – 40 Lefkimmi
Black Kite Milvus migrans – 2 Agios Stephanos
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus – 2 Pantokrator
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus – 2 Pantokrator
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo – about 5 seen
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus – 2 Pantokrator
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus – 5 Pantokrator
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus – 1 near Paleokastritsa
Coot Fulica atra – 1 swimming at sea about 2 km from coast, seen from the boat (Antipaxos-Paxos tour)
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus – 10 Airport lagoon and 20 Lemfkimmi
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus – 10 Lefkimmi
Dunlin Calidris alpina – 2 Lefkimmi
Little Stint Calidris minuta – 20 Lefkimmi
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola – 10 Lefkimmi
Greenshank Tringa nebularia – 2 Lefkimmi
Meditteranean Gull Larus melanocephalus – 20 Lefkimmi, 1 Kerkyra
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus – few birds in different spots
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis – few birds in different spots and 200 Lefkimmi
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis – 3 Lefkimmi, 2 boat tour
Black Tern Chlidonias niger – 35 boat tour
Feral Pigeon Columba livia – common
Collared Dove Streptoptelia decaocto – common
Turtle Dove Streptoptelia turtur – 4 Agios Stephanos
Scops Owl Otus scops – 2 birds seen from the bus windows in late evening, both flying (Sidari, Agios Stephanos). I tried desperately luring them in different spots but without reaction.
Alpine Swift Apus melba – few birds in different spots
Common Swift Apus apus – common
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis – one heard Agios Stephanos
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis – 1 Lefkimmi
Hoopoe Upupa epops – 1 Agios Stephanos
Crested Lark Galerida cristata – 2 Lefkimmi
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo dauurica – common
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica – common
House Martin Delichon urbicum – common
White Wagtail Motacilla alba – few birds in different spots
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea – 1 Agios Stephanos
Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos – few birds in different spots
Stonechat Saxicola torquata – few birds in different spots
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica melanoleuca – common near Pantokrator
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius – 1 bird seen
Blackbird Turdus merula – few birds in different spots
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola jyncidis – common
Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti – 2 Agios Stephanos
Eastern Olivaceus Warbler Hippolais pallida elaeica – common
Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina – 5 Agios Stephanos
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans – common
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala – common
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata – few birds in different spots
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus – common
Great Tit Parus major – common
Western Rock Nuthatch Sitta neymayer – 5 Pantokrator, 1 Angelokastro
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor – 1 Sidari
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator – common
Oriole Oriolus oriolus – 1 Agios Stephanos
Jay Garrulus glandarius – few birds in different spots
Magpie Pica pica – few birds in different spots
Hooded Crow Corvus corone cornix – 2 Kerkyra
Raven Corvus corax – 2 Pantokrator
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus – 1 Agios Stephanos
House Sparrow Passer domesticus – common
Serin Serinus serinus – few birds in different spots
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris – common
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis – common
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia – 1 Pantokrator, sitting on the wire

Total 69 sp