Birding in Athens, in a hot summer afternoon, June1rst 2022

Lisse and Phillip from Berlin, Germany were in Athens for a few days and decided to have a half day birdwatching tour around Athens.

Birding tour has just started
Birding tour around Athens has just started

We met at Pallini Metro Station and headed east, arriving at Spata fields a few minutes later. Despite the hot and sunny summer day, we had very good views of 3 male Black-headed Buntings, one of them carrying food to its nest. Pallid and Common Swifts were flying above our heads, while several Kestrels were hovering, looking for prey.

Black-headed Bunting at Spata fields, Athens
Black-headed Bunting digiscoped at Spata fields, Athens

As we move around the fields, Lisse spotted a big bird of prey coming towards us. It was an impressive Short-toed Snake Eagle, holding a snake (probably Grass Snake) with its beak. A really exciting sighting. A Crested Lark appeared in the grape yards, as we were enjoying a couple of Stonechats.
Our next stop was Artemis Lagoon. This year, the lagoon is full of water, thus it is hard for small waders to stay in the deep waters. We spotted 3 Black-winged Stilts, House Martins, Barn Swallows, Common and Pallid Swifts. We also had a few seconds to stare at a singing Zitting Cisticola.

Short-toed Snake Eagle digiscoped in Spata fields, Athens
Short-toed Snake Eagle carrying a snake.
Digiscoped in Spata fields, Athens

Our final destination was Schinias National Park. We started with the small pond that holds the colony of Black-winged Stilts. More than 8 active nests were observed from a secure distance with our spotting scope. We observed at least 3 recently fledged chicks, together with a female Ferruginous Duck, a successful breeder in the area.
As we move to the heart of the wetland, we had another sweet sighting, a female Mallards followed by 8 of her chicks! Another highlight bird was Turtle Doves that are still around the area with the olive orchards. Very shy birds, we could only see them from a certain distance. A Hoopoe was also very active in the fields, showing up for a few seconds and disappearing again behind the rocks.

As we moves towards to the pine forest, a Little Owl was perching right beside the road, on a telephone wire. This was one of the target species for Lisse and Phillip, and they were both so enthusiastic to see it well and even take with the mobile phone, through binoculars. Actually, this is how Lisse takes  bird pics, through binoculars or spotting scope. This requires an high amount of patience and hand stability, with she has since she her profession was camera woman.

Little Owl of Athena, a target species for many birders
Little Owl of Athena, a target species for many birders
Digiscoped in Schinias National Park, Marathon

At the Olympic Rowing Center, several Great Reed Warblers were singing and also carrying food to their nests. As we were about to leave the area, a Cattle Egret and a Squacco Heron flushed over our heads! Cattle Egret was really unexpected sighting and was an excellent way to finish our birding trip around Athens.

The full bird list for an afternoon birding tour around Athens, June 1rst 2022:

Cory’s Shearwater
Little Grebe
Squacco Heron
Cattle Egret
Ferruginus Duck
Black-winged Stilt
Little Stint
Common Kestrel

Short-toed Snake Eagle
Little Owl
Yellow-legged Gull
Feral Pigeon
Collared Dove
Turtle Dove
Common Swift
Pallid Swift
Barn Swallow
Hooded Crow
House Martin
Crested Lark
Cetti’s Warbler
Sardinian Warbler
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Zitting Cisticola
House Sparrow
Black-headed Bunting