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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.

New Birdwing projects at Kerkini

We’re excited to be announcing three new projects at Lake Kerkini!

The first, and smallest of the projects, is to fund some raptor posts in the inner part of the lake on the eastern side.  Some of the larger dead trees in the drowned forest have fallen and fewer of the kind of posts favoured by large raptors are available. It is now several years since your donations paid for a breeding raft for Common Terns near the magical Mandraki.

Mandraki

It is time for renovation and for the second of the new projects we have agreedto enlarge the raft considerably and to place the new platform a little closer to the shore, to make watching the terns more special.

The third of the projects is more ambitious as we seek to begin to reverse the loss of the large areas of water lilies (Nymphaea alba), that were formerly in the lake and which have now largely died out. As recently as 1990 the lilies covered an area of 330 hectares, but by 2004 less than one half of a hectare existed! The sharp increases in the height of the water level of the lake during the growing season means that the plants cannot keep up. The lily pads were vital for the breeding of Whiskered and other marsh terns, together with Black-necked Grebes. The new project, which includes a trial-phase, aims to provide submerged floating platforms for the lilies to grow on, at a suitable height below the surface. The platforms will rise and fall with the fluctuating levels of the lake, providing sufficient stability for the growing lilies. Support us in these actions!

Click the donate button to the right to contribute to these actions.

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Bird news roundup

Two pelican records were broken at Lake Kerkini this summer! Some 190 Dalmatians were born in the 130 nests counted on the artificial platforms built and recently enlarged by the Management Authority.  This is great news as it is the largest total since the birds first used the original platforms in 2002. The second event occurred in late September when around 3000 White Pelicans were counted on the lake. This is believed to be the highest number of White Pelicans ever recorded in Greece.  We were at the lake at this time and being able to watch squadron after squadron leave on their journey towards Istanbul and East Africa was a special privilege. Other breeding matters of note included at least 9 pairs of Common Terns on the Birdwing tern raft and, at a rather higher elevation, of a pair of Golden Eagles raised one chick in the same nest as previous years. Other summer counts at the lake included over 550 Dalmatian Pelicans, around 650 Pygmy Cormorants, at least 20 Cattle Egrets, some 1500 Little Egrets, 250 Great White Egrets, 40 Purple Herons, 300 Grey Herons and 800 Spoonbills. Breeding birds of prey included Short-toed, Lesser Spotted, Booted and White-tailed Eagles.

Return wader passage at Evros was in full swing during the first week of July, with impressive totals, including 1069 Marsh Sandpipers, 337 Greenshanks, 1355 Spotted Redshanks, 845 Black-winged Stilts and 1010 Black-tailed Godwits. Almost 1300 Glossy Ibis were on the delta, together with 403 Spoonbill, 68 White Stork and 453 White Pelicans. By the 18th Greenshank numbers had risen to 844 and Spotted Redshanks to 1616. Other totals of note included 64 Black Stork, 380 Little Stint and 1135 Wood Sandpipers. The late summer feel on the delta of 'Redshanks everywhere' was evident in early August, with 1300 on the 6th, when other large totals included 1017 Little Egrets, 1280 Glossy Ibis and almost 500 Spoonbills. Up to 5 Broad-billed Sandpipers were also present. With much of the area at the Delta sadly bone-dry, despite the huge amount of fresh water channelled straight to the sea, September typically sees bird numbers fall before the autumn rains arrive. This year was no different with the only interesting records being a total of 2536 Flamingos, 101 Dalmatian Pelicans, 2064 Teal, 276 Sandwich Tern and a single Terek Sandpiper.

Despite the baking summer heat of August, there were still plenty of birds to be found on the Axios/Aliakmon complex west of Thessaloniki. Herons and egrets were well represented with 28 Night Heron, 40 Squacco and 18 Purple, 12 Great White, 224 Little and 14 Cattle Egrets. Over 1300 Flamingo, 55 Glossy Ibis, 28 Spoonbill were on site and a hundred White Pelicans stopped over on their way to the Bosporus. Waders included 153 Stilts, 28 Stone Curlew, 13 Spur-wings, 21 Ruff and 65 Kentish Plovers. As the formerly wet areas dry out the birds become more concentrated - at Kalohori, along the east bank of the Axios and at Alikes Kitrous. September numbers included a record 1803 Flamingos at the latter site, as part of an area total of 2565, 59 Great White Egrets, 14 Purple Herons and 228 Dalmatian Pelicans. Representing the raptors were 2 White-tails and 2 Short-toed Eagles, 3 Ospreys and 17 Marsh Harriers. Numbers of waders fell during the month, with peaks of 73 Avocet, 107 Curlew and 6 Spur-winged Plovers.

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Black Vulture breeding population monitoring

The Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli National Park is one of the most important sites for raptors in Europe and the only place in the Balkan peninsula where the Black Vulture breeds.

The Black Vulture starts building its nest in late January, lays only one egg, incubates it for 40 days and takes care of the hatchling until late August, when the youngster flies!

This year, for the first time, the Management Body of the National Park has actively participated in the long-term monitoring program of the Black Vulture breeding population that WWF has been carrying out for many years, in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Hydroeconomy of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Prefecture.

After a year of hard work the 2013 monitoring of the Black Vulture breeding population has reached an end, as the fledgings have left the nests. We recorded thirty pairs incubating in total, while only 16 fledgings finally made it and left their nests in the at the end of August.

Also, six youngsters were marked with rings and wind tags by WWF, with the participation of the Management Body and the Department of Environment and Hydroeconomy of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Prefecture personnel, in order to facilitate monitoring and investigate other aspects of population ecology and dynamics.

Due to the relatively low number of individuals of the species, as well as the low reproduction rate (almost half of the pairs that start incubating don't succeed in having a fledging) the Black Vulture population is very sensitive to extrinsic mortality factors. Major threats include illegally-used poisoned baits, as well as the siting of wind farms in the wider area

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Greek birds satellite tagged

Tagged birds

This summer a number of birds have been satellite tagged in Greece and their migration progress can be tracked online. 

White Stork chicks from Northern Greece were tagged and those tagged near the Evros Delta can be followed here: Untick one of the names to reload the map.

Also as part of ‘The Return of the Neophron’ project, Egyptian Vultures (Neophron percnopterus) from Bulgaria and Greece were tagged. Follow their progressed here:




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Enjoy nature

Enjoynature

Birdwing recently announced a new feature available to our supporters called Enjoynature.net

This is a free online database for making observations of the sightings you see when in Greece or anywhere in the world. The site contains thousands of images and information about all types of wildlife, including plants, animals, butterflies, birds, dragonflies, amphibians, insects and so on.

The Birdwing section allows you to see news of sightings in Northern Greece.

There are many exciting features that we would like you to explore. We have written an easy guide to the site and its features, so take a look and find out how you can be involved. Click here to see what it offers!

We would like to express our thanks to Alex Wirth, from Germany, who has made this happen and who has agreed to be the administrator for the site for Birdwing. We hope that this will become a valuable tool for visitors to Greece.

www.enjoynature.net/birdwing

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Other news

Lake KerkiniLake Kerkini

Work is currently underway to reroute the Strimon River along its original course at Lake Kerkini. In 2010 there were severe floods that caused the river to change course and to enter the lake at a much earlier point, slicing the 'Glossy Ibis strip' in two. The change of course of the river had a dramatic effect on different parts of the lake, causing low oxygen levels in some parts. From a birdwatching perspective the Eastern Embankment became less interest to birds in spring, as the  spawning fish seemed to prefer the western part of the lake. The Eastern Embankment, however, became much more appealing to birds in late summer and autumn as the water levels began to drop, as this image shows. Once the river is fully returned to its pre-2010 course it will be interesting to see the changes again.

Evros Delta

In August, the Evros Delta Management Authority implemented a migration ringing expedition for passerines.  From 17th to 25th of August 1247 birds from 35 species were ringed, monitoring the autumn migration. The most numerous species ringed were Sedge Warblers (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus), Eurasian Reed Warblers (A. scirpaceus) and  Great Reed Warblers (A. arundinaceus). 10 birds had been previously ringed of which a Great Reed Warbler had a ring from Italy, a Eurasian Reed Warbler from Bulgaria and 8 birds ringedat the Evros Delta in previous years.

Thanks go to the Hellenic Bird Ringing Centre for providing the rings and to Eli, Lila, Javier, Zeta, Constantina, Iakovos, Sara, Pierre, Tania and Katerina and the Evros Delta staff for making this happen. More ringing will take place next spring.

Keep up to date at: www.evros-delta.gr/en

Ornithofiloi

Kostas Panayiortidis was born in Alexandroupolis and earned his leaving as an Electronics Engineer, serving in Hellenic Air Force for 32 years. After retiring as a Brigadier General he started to visit his home town often and, by chance, visited the Evros Delta for first time. He was deeply impressed by the unique environment and the fascinating beauty of the winged world, that he hadn’t imagined possible before. As a photo enthusiast, he was inspired to capture moments of wild birds’ lives, mainly at Evros Delta, as with more suitable photography equipment became available.  

He has decided to create a blog ‘’Ornithofiloi’’ to make people aware of this unknown beauty nearby and to share with blog’s visitors some of the unforgettable moments, he has managed to capture. He lives in Glyfada, an Athens’ suburb area.

http://ornithofiloi.blogspot.gr/p/blog-page_5516.htm

For other stories from our Autumn/Winter newsletter click here.

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