BirdWING (Birdwatching in Northern Greece) has been set up to raise awareness of birds in Greece and to raise money for the conservation and restoration of bird habitat in the region. Birdwing has supporters from all over the world.
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Ten years ago max numbers were in the low hundreds but February 2014 saw a new record for Greece with 3300, February 2015 saw 3691 and this month - January 2016 - over 5300 are on the delta. This upward trend coincides with a decreasing trend for wintering numbers in northern Europe. See http://odnature.naturalsciences.be/bebirds/en/blog_swans for some fascinating insights into what seems to be happening with this species.
A very successful and interesting two-day conference about birds at the Evros Delta at which Birdwing gave the closing presentation. It was an inspirational event and it was great to meet so many old and new friends! The event, in Alexandroupolis was organised by the Evros Delta Management Body and the list of speakers from around the world included Giorgos Catsadorakis, Nikos Probonas, Ad Wittgen, Eva Stets and many experts reporting on numbers of birds at the Delta both past and present and related data. For further photos from the conference click here.
At the British Birdfair in August we handed over the cheque for 6029€ raised for the Anti-poison Dogs by Birdwing supporters to Roula Trigou from the Hellenic Ornithological Society! Thanks to so many of you for supporting us in this vital work, in protecting Egyptian Vultures and other wildlife of Northern Greece.
The BirdWING site guide, 'Birdwatching in Northern Greece', has detailed information about birds and birdwatching in the region, with up-to-date maps and site info and can be ordered from this website. Click here.
Dave Gosney writes, 'I found this book to be really useful on my last trip to northern Greece. It’s an area I’d already visited many times but this book introduced me to several new and fantastic sites, described in the sort of idiot-proof detail that I also apply to my own titles. Without it I would have missed out on several really good birds. Oh, and by the way, northern Greece was just FANTASTIC for birds. I’d forgotten just how good it was. So many great sites.'
All money raised from the book goes to bird conservation in Greece.
Things are constantly changing out there - directions to places, value of sites, access alterations, not to mention a river changing course! If you have the 2nd edition of the site guide there is an update to download to help bring things up to date. You'll find it in our Resources section or click here to download.
The new Birdwing nest-box programme has begun. All around the Evros Delta nest-boxes for Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) and Rollers (Coracias garrulus) have been positioned and there will also be the possibility that the Kestrel boxes might be also used by other birds, including Long-eared Owls (Asio otus). Kestrels have been shown to readily accept nest-boxes in other parts of Europe and there seems to be plenty of good feeding habitat at the Evros Delta for them but the opportunities for nesting are limited due to the lack of trees with holes.
Similarly opportunities for Rollers to nest at the Evros Delta are limited because of the lack of suitable holes. They prefer boxes with a smaller hole rather than the open box preferred by Kestrels. In a natural environment Rollers do not create their own holes but depend on other species to make them. The lack of trees on the delta limits the number of holes made by woodpeckers, for example, that Rollers could then use. The programme is also being extended to other regions of Northern Greece, firstly to the Nestos-Vistonida-Ismarida region where boxes for Rollers will be made and sited. Projects for various nest-boxes to be put up in National Parks of Axios-Aliakmon-Loudias, Koronia-Volvi and at Kerkini are also due to begin shortly.
The new Birdwing playing cards are now available to order! Each of the 52 cards shows a different Greek bird with its name in Greek, English and Latin. All money raised will go towards helping birds in Greece. Support Birdwing and take advantage of our special offer!
We are offering two packs of the cards for a price of £10 or €12 (which includes postage!).
UK customers click this button! 2 packs for £10! (Free delivery!)
EU customers click this button! 2 packs for €12! (Free delivery!)
Now with free children's activity pack to support the cards. Click here to download.
Click here, here, and here to read more of our recent projects or download pdfs from our archive of newsletters on our resources page, where trip reports from Greece and other downloads are also available.
The usual wonderful experience of being at Lake Kerkini in May was supplemented this year by visitors from the east. On the Sunday of our visit there weren’t any, Monday saw a few but by Tuesday there were large flocks all around the lake. Rosy starlings were everywhere! It seemed that every mulberry tree was alive with their movement and chatter.
Only days after the new tern raft was put in place at the Porto Lagos saltworks, Common Terns (Sterna hirundo) have begun nesting! This is great news and we congratulate and thank all the staff and volunteers involved in making this happen. The Birdwing tern rafts at Lake Kerkini and in the Axios region, near Thessaloniki, also have been successfully used for breeding by the terns in each and every year since being made. Thanks for your donations which make projects like these happen!
These globally-endangered birds last nested here over 40 years ago before conflict with local fishermen led to their disappearance as a breeding species. With fishing pressure much reduced the time seemed right to see if a recolonisation could take place. In October we identified an island in Drana Lagoon as a potential nesting site for Dalmatian Pelicans and part of this was cleared of thick vegetation.
Unfortunately plans were scuppered by unusually severe winter flooding that submerged the whole island for much of the winter. We're now pleased to report that a raised platform is in place. Built by staff from the Evros Delta Visitors' Centre, and paid for by Birdwing, we hope this will allow the birds, which winter on the delta in large numbers, to consider breeding again in 2015. Nesting material has been spread on and around the platform as a further inducement.
Virtually the whole of the European population of Lesser White-fronted Geese - around 60 - 70 birds - normally arrives at the Evros Delta during November and December. This year we hope they're in for a treat. In an effort to improve their food supply - and in so doing help to lessen their foraging movements around the delta which brings them within range of hunters - an area has been planted with their favourite grasses by the Safeguarding the Lesser White-fronted Goose team. Knowledge gathered during the LIFE project regarding the bird’s diet was used to create this high quality ‘restaurant’. Go to the facebook group 'Safeguarding the Lesser White-fronted Goose' for more details.
On February 24th 2014 two records were set both for the Evros Delta and for Greece with the totals of 4100 Ruddy Shelduck and 3300 Bewick's Swans, the latter amongst some 6100 swans in total.
It was excellent to meet so many friends, supporters and potential new visitors to Greece at this year's Birdfair. We joined our friends from the Lake Kerkini, Koronia and Axios Management Bodies. It was also good to see our friends from Greenwings, the holiday company who we guided with this year. We had many opportunities to talk to visitors about the wonders of Northern Greece and have already helped others with planning their trips there. Money was raised through book sales and we have a good number of new supporters.
Over 190 youngsters successfully left the 130 nests on the artificial platforms at Lake Kerkini.
Breeding is over for many waders and they are already heading south. Passage begins surprisingly early and was already underway at the end of June at the Evros Delta and, by the first week of July, was providing some spectacular birdwatching. A record number of Marsh Sandpipers - 1069 - was counted on the 3rd together with what was, briefly, a record count of 337 Greenshanks. By the 18th this had risen to 844! Some 850 Black-winged Stilts on the 3rd is the highest for several years and, not to be outdone, 1616 Spotted Redshanks were counted on the 18th. In addition a wonderful 1280 Glossy Ibis were also present. Up to 5 Broad-billed Sandpipers - see below - were on Paloukia.
For more info see our Evros page and visit www.evros-delta.gr
The first nationwide pelican census has been completed, covering 30 wetlands in the country. This was an initiative of the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) and the Greek Ornithological Society (HOS) and involved the two species of pelicans that breed in Greece: the globally endangered Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) and White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus).
A total of 3564 Dalmatians was counted in 16 wetlands across the country together with 684 Whites in 9 wetlands, while the presence of both species was recorded in 8 of the 30 wetlands where the census took place. Of central importance to the protection and conservation of the two species are wetlands where they breed (Lake Prespa, Amvrakikos, Kerkini, Messolonghi Lagoon and Lake Karla) and where, as expected, there were significant numbers.
For more information see www.evros-delta.gr
Check out the first of our new videos. This one shows the wonders of Lake Kerkini!
Prior to the breeding season repairs were made to the Birdwing tern raft in the Gallikos estuary at the Axios – Loudias – Aliakmonas National Park. Strong winds had caused some damage to the raft for Common Terns (Sterna hirundo) and it was successfully repaired in April. Thanks to those at the region’s National Park Management Body.
Work on the Evros Delta Dalmatian Pelican Project has begun!
An area on the chosen island site has been cleared of existing vegetation, nesting material has been provided and several ‘nests’ have been created to give the pelicans every idea of what we would like to happen next! The area will be monitored during this phase to see what level of interest is shown by the birds.
We will keep you updated as things progress.
A two-phase project, put forward by Birdwing, was approved by the board of the National Park of the Evros Delta to encourage breeding of Dalmatian Pelicans (Pelicanus crispus). The project, to be funded by Birdwing, is only possible due to your donations and support.
Until 1962 there were 40-50 pairs of Dalmatian Pelicans nesting at the Evros Delta but this colony was destroyed by local fishermen. There have been no reports of breeding since.
The species is classed as Vulnerable in both the Greek and IUCN red list categorisations. Indeed the world population is only around 14 000. Dalmatian Pelicans are present almost all year at the Evros Delta and it is hoped that by altering habitat and providing nesting materials for them (Phase 1) or, if necessary, building a nesting platform similar to that at Lake Kerkini (Phase 2) breeding may be re-established.
The project will begin this autumn and is scheduled to run until June 2014.
A suitable island in Drana lagoon has been identified as it is relatively free from disturbance and the area is no longer used as a fishery. This location is close to a winter roost site that the Dalmatian Pelicans use and it is hoped will be a good potential breeding site. Currently the island is covered with dense vegetation and work in Phase 1 will be done to clear an area of the vegetation for the nest site.
To find out more details about the project, please go to the Resources page and download the project document.
Our thanks go to the Evros Delta Management Body for agreeing to undertake this project and we hope that members of Birdwing will support us in this exciting venture.
Birdwing relies upon your support for funding such projects and if you wish to make a donation towards this please click the Donate button on the left!
During June 2012 Greece's bird list increased by two. The more significant record is of a Black Heron (Egretta ardesiaca) at Messolonghi wetland on the west coast. Not only a first for Greece, this African bird is also a first for Europe.
Following close behind is a female Hooded Wheatear (Oenanthe monacha) found on the Nestos Delta.
See greekbirding.blogspot.com for more details and pictures.
A nest containing five chicks has been found at Kerkini for the first time, following an increase in sightings over the last few years. Already an established breeder at Kalamas in the west of the country, it looks like the eastward march is on.
Can you name all 36 birds from Northern Greece shown?
We've put the answers at the end of the Lake Kerkini page. Have a look around our site and find out about one of the best birdwatching and bird phototgraphy sites in Europe!
Why not also read some of our newsletters on the Resources page to see what Birdwing has been doing to help birds of the region?
We'd love to hear from you if you answered all the quiz questions correctly or if you're interested in visiting Greece to see the wonders of nature and wildlife there. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or join our Friends of Birdwing Facebook group at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/138708459488919
If you'd like please use the box on the left above to subscribe to our free newsletter and help us make a difference.
We hope you'll see for yourself why so many birdwatchers come back to Northern Greece time and time again!
Steve and Hilary
There are some fantastic places to come birdwatching in Northern Greece, including the unique Dadia forest and the wetlands of Lake Kerkini and the Evros delta.
If you have never been birdwatching in Northern Greece, consider this: where else in Europe could you see…
After the great success of the raft for Common Terns at Lake Kerkini, a new tern raft has been put in place at the Axios Delta near Thessaloniki. After only a week or so of being in place, birds are already adopting it! Many thanks for your donations which paid for this new raft. Read more in the next newsletter, due out shortly.
Many of the sites are under threat. Continued land reclamation, drainage, illegal building, over-grazing and a serious lack of political will towards the environment all continue to have damaging effects. In addition, at certain sites, like the Evros Delta, hunting pressure is intense.
We need to bring pressure to bear for their protection now!!
The aims of Birdwing are:
If you are, join us today -or make a donation - to help make a difference.
Click on the map to find out more about the best birdwatching sites in Northern Greece.