Winter Birding and Wine Tasting Athens: Jan 5th 2023

Birdwatching tour combined with winery visit and wine tasting

Our first tailor made birding tour for 2023 was designed to include a winery visit and wine tasting of greek wine varieties. Charlie and Cindy Jacobs, a couple of american birders from Waterville, Maine wanted to see as many new birds possible, while tasting some of unique varities of greek wines. 

Great Flamingos at Oropos Lagoon
Greater Flamingos at Oropos Lagoon
(Photo: C.Jacobs)

We arranged a pick up at Katehaki Metro Station, in order to avoid the morning city traffic downtown. This gave us the opportunity to visit an extra site, Kaesariani Aesthetic Forest in Mt Hymettus. Early in the morning we heard the call of the resident Tawny Owls, however we could not see the birds that were well hidden in the roof of the 11th century monastery. The area was full of small passerines, like Blackbirds, Blackcaps, Robins, Long-tailed Tits, Great Tits, Firecrests, Jays, Chaffinches. After spending time walking around the maze of paths, we started our drive north, towards our main destination, the wetlands!

Black Redstart, a common winter visitor  in Mt Hymettus
Black Redstart, a common winter visitor
 in Mt Hymettus (Photo: C.Jacobs)

Eurasian Jay at Mt Hymettus
Eurasian Jays are breeding
in Mt Hymettus, Athens (Photo: C.Jacobs)

After a 45min easy drive on the main highway, we ended up in Oropos seaside town. A short stop for a warm cup of cappucino and fresh "koulouri" (the tradition greek-style sesame bagel) is a must for anyone visiting the area. Our first birding spot was the big parking lot out of the town. Here, we saw a group of Goldfinches, lots of Meadow Pipits, a flying Sparrowhawk and a couple of Kestrels. A second parking lot beside the sea was also quite productive, when we had the first sightings of Black-headed Gulls, Hooded Crows, Little Egrets, Yellow-legged Gulls, Great Cormorants, Great Crested Grebes.

Hooded Crow in Oporos Lagoon
Hooded Crow in Oporos Lagoon (Photo: C.Jacobs)

Common Redshank, Oropos Lagoon
Common Redshank, Oropos Lagoon (Photo: C.Jacobs)

Crested Lark, Oropos Lagoon ATHENS
Crested Lark, Oropos Lagoon (Photo: C.Jacobs)

White Wagtails, Oropos Lagoon ATHENS
White Wagtails at Oropos Lagoon, Athens (Photo: C.Jacobs)

Our next stop was Oropos Lagoon, which is full of overwinter waterfowl this time of the year. Indeed we observed several species of ducks, like striking Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, together with Flamingos, and dozens of Great White Egrets, Grey Herons. Lots of shorebirds were recorder too, from small Kentish Plovers, Dunlins, Little Stints, Grey Plovers to medium side Redshank, Greenshank and Curlews. We also had the opportunity to enjoy good views of rare Slender-billed Gulls, and Mediterranean Gulls.

Eurasian Curlew, a striking bird at Oropos Lagoon
Eurasian Curlew, a striking bird
at Oropos Lagoon (Photo: C.Jacobs)

Meadow Pipit at Oropos Lagoon ATHENS
Meadow Pipit at Oropos Lagoon
(Photo: C.Jacobs)


Slender-billed Gull at Oropos Lagoon, Athens
(Photo: C.Jacobs)

We had lunch at Oropos town and headed south again, towards Spata fields. Here we visited Markou Winery, one of the oldest Attica wineries. Maria Markou, the 4th generation owner welcomed us and we first visted the nearby winery field of Savatiano variety. This is an old grape variety, trademark of Attica, that produced an excellent white wine. Then, we visited the Wine Museum, a personal collection of antique wine equipment, all restored and kept by the Markou family. 

It was then time for the most fascinating part: the wine tasting. Maria served us Savatiano (production 2020, 2021), Retsina (the famous greek wine), a semi dry rose, while explaining the history beyond each variety. Our conversation started with wine history on Athens, which is more that 2.000 years old, continued with ancient history, folklor traditions, myths, symposia and much more.
What a way to end a winter birdwatching tour and a winery visit! 

Wine Tasting in Athens
After a fiew glasses of Retsina

Winery Tour in Athens
Savatiano winery in winter

Here is the bird list of Jan 5th, 2023

Northen Shoveler
Eurasian Wigeon
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Eurasian Teal
Greater Flamingo
Great Crested Grebe
Feral  Pigeon
Collared Dove
Grey Plover
Kentish Plover
Eurasian Curlew
Ruddy Turnstone
Dunlin
Little Stint
Common Greenshank
Slender-billed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Great Cormorant
European Shag
Grey Heron
Great White Egret
Tawny Owl 
Common Kestrel
Eurasian Jay
Common Magpie
Hooded Crow
Great Tit
Crested Lark
Long-tailed Tit
Eurasian Blackcap
Common Firecrest
Short-toed Treecreeper
Eurasian Wren
Black Redstart
European Stonechat
House Sparrow
White Wagtail
Meadow Pipit
Water Pipit
Common Chaffinch
European Goldfinch