Athens Birding Trip Report: March 19th 2023

Birdwatching tour around Athens: March 19th 2023

Zitting Cisticola GREECE BIRD TOURS
Zitting Cisticola, a recent addition to my
"Birds on rusty wire" photo collection

Kathryn and Tim from Utah, USA are two avid american birders who visited Greece for a few days and booked a full day trip with us on March 19th. By this time of the year birdwatching can be tricky, since the last days of winter overlap with the first days of spring. Therefore, there might be exciting days with lots of migrants, but also days with very few species due to weather condition. Giving that fact, we managed quite well, as we were able to see many different species of birds, both spring migrants and residents.

After our pick up from Katehaki Metro Station, we headed east to Artemis Lagoon, which surprisingly seemed very busy! We got the first hirundines of the year, Barn Swallows and Sand Martins. We also saw Black-winged Stilts, the first Garganey of the year, together with Ferruginous Ducks and overwintering Eurasian Teal and Shoveler. A couple of Marsh Harriers were fighting over the reedbeds. 
Along the small paths we clearly saw Sardinian Warblers, a striking resident species, singing together with Chiffchaffs and Serins. 
A flock of Mediterranean Gulls with 12 Slender-billed Gulls were actually the hightlight of the area!

Corn Bunting at Spata fields
Corn Bunting at Spata fields

Magpies at Spata fields
Magpie enjoying lunch at Spata fields

Birdwatching in Athens
Spyros and Tim in search for raptors

We moved on to Spata fields, were we were lucky to see migrating Lesser Kestrels and realized their difference in flight pattern, behavior and coloration, compared with local Common Kestrels. Meadow Pipit were ready loud, flushing practically from everywhere, and so did the flocks of Chaffinches and Corn Buntings.

Lesser Kestrel at Spata fields
Lesser Kestrel at Spata fields

Common Kestrel take off
Common Kestrel take off

Spotting Scope birdwatching
Spyros and Kathryn enjoying Slender-billed Gulls
through the spotting scope

Nearby Rafina's Stream was out next stop, were of course the target species is the Kingfisher. One of the most colorful birds of Europe and certainly a favorite one for a lot of visitors. This small stream is excellent spot for this species. Another hard-to-get bird that we often see here is the Water Rail, a couple of them are using the area close to the small metallic bridge. This species is very cryptic, however in Rafina it seems more fearless and exposing more into the open areas of shallow water.

Little Egret, a resident at Rafina stream
Little Egret, a resident at Rafina stream

After having a tradition lunch (greek gyros and vetegerian gyros) at a local restaurant, we headed north to Schinias National Park. the area is very dry this year, due to the lack of winter rains. The first migrant waders were here: Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plovers. We also saw Zitting Cisticolas with their unique singing and display flight. The first Sedge Warblers of this spring have arrived and sing together with residents Cetti's Warblers. Walking around the hills, and overlooking Evia Island with the spotting scope we could observe small groups of Yelkouan Shearwaters, flying low over the calm waters of Aegean sea.

Ruff at Schinias National Park
Ruff at Schinias National Park

Black-tailed Godwit at Schinias National Park
Black-tailed Godwit at Schinias National Park

Happy birders
Happy birders' selfie

The full bird list for March 19th, 2023

Ferruginous Duck
Little Grebe
Water Rail
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Common Kestrel
Lesser Kestrel
Common Buzzard
Marsh Harrier
Collared Dove
Feral Pigeon
Black-winged Stilt
Little Ringed Plover
Green Sandpiper
Black-tailed Godwit
Black-headed Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Slender-billed Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Yelkouan Shearwater
Hooded Crow
Eurasian Jay
Great Tit
Crested Lark
Barn Swallow
House Martin
Zitting Cisticola
Cetti's Warbler

Sedge Warbler
Sardinian Warbler
Black Redstart
Meadow Pipit
White Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
House Sparrow
Corn Bunting

Spyros Skareas
Bird Guide and Certified Tour Leader
Athens, GREECE

All sightings available at my eBird profile