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Welcome to BirdWING

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.


 Newsletter 33 - Spring 2023

The observant ones among you, like this stunning Scops Owl above, might have noticed that we’ve been a bit quiet lately in terms of communication, but this is because we have been hard at work writing the third edition of the site guide ‘Birdwatching in Northern Greece’. The new edition will be in full colour with new sites, extra maps and updated information on all locations. We’d very much like your views on which of the three potential covers for the book you prefer  before we go ahead with publication.

Every vote counts so do let us know!

Barn Owl chicks!

Following confirmation last year of Barn Owls using one of our nestboxes at the Evros Delta, we were delighted to observe at least 3 chicks in the box this spring! The large triangular nestboxes were put up at the delta several years ago, funded by your donations.

With Barn Owls the eggs are laid at intervals of two or three days meaning the eggs hatch on different days. This leads to chicks being different sizes in the nest. This strategy means that, when food is scarce, the largest chick will always get what it needs and makes it more likely that at least one chick will fledge. When food is plentiful all the chicks may fledge. Fortunately, the chicks in this box all seem to be doing very well!


We need your vote!

The third edition of the site guide ‘Birdwatching in Northern Greece’ is being finalised before publication. The new edition, twelve years since the last, will be in full colour with new sites, extra maps and updated information on all locations.

We are hoping to publish it this summer but would like your help in the meantime. We would like your input in choosing which of the following covers should be the one we use. In the second edition the majority of votes was for the flying Night Heron which subsequently appeared on the cover. We hope you like the new selection and will let us know your preferred choice. Please vote via our Facebook page, via email to or on Twitter.

Cover 1 - Flamingos

Cover 2 – Short-toed Eagle

Cover 3 – Bee-eater

Please vote via our Facebook page, via email to or on Twitter.


Spring tour to Northern Greece

For the first time since the pandemic, Alexander Wirth guided a group again with the German travel agency DUMA, specialising in ecotourism and botany. The tour focused on the incredible biodiversity of Northern Greece – but the late spring made this year’s tour more difficult. Continued cold weather in Greece meant that signs of spring were much delayed this year. It seemed that many expected plants were not yet flowering and most birds were low in numbers.

Reaching the Nestos area, luckily the group was welcomed by the famous Spur-winged Plover in its familiar haunt by the football pitch – even though it was raining. In Keramoti, the group enjoyed outstanding ‘philoxenia’ and delicious Greek food. The next days, the group had wonderful sights of Hobbies and Red-footed Falcons hunting together at the Nestos Lakes, where also the first few orchids were found.

Starting from Keramoti, the group also headed towards the Kompsatos valley where an Ortolan bunting was singing in wonderful light and even close enough for mobile phone images. But some things have changed however, with the colony of Lesser Kestrels in Kalamokastro seemingly much reduced since 2019. At end of April none of the nestboxes were occupied by Lesser Kestrel. In addition, Lake Ismarida was very quiet too. So especially in Thrace, birding was hard this time. But at least the group was lucky to find the first flowers of the Eastern Bluestar (Rhazya orientalis) – an Anatolian flower – in blossom.

From the Nestos Delta the group went to the top of Mount Falakro, where it was cloudy, rainy and in the lower slopes densely foggy. After a hot coffee, the group went up to the top again and found the first flowers of Drenovski’s Chess Flower, Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Saxifrage and Viola perinnensis, whereas Spring Gentian and most orchid were just budding.

Again, the group headed west and after visiting the Rock Nuthatch in Sidirokastro, finally arrived at Lake Kerkini. Here, spring seemed a little bit more advanced compared with the areas visited before and thus the group was lucky to find a new orchid meadow with hundreds of Bergon’s Serapias and dozens of Bug Orchids. Of course, the group went also on a boat trip with Nikos (Varkada, Hotel Limneo) and had some wonderful views of the new breeding platform funded by Birdwing.

Here too is a link to their report in news:

Note: We are very grateful to Alex and to DUMA for their generous donation to Birdwing as a result of the trip.


Nestbox news

We are delighted to announce the success of our nestbox programme in 2023. At the Evros Delta, where suitable trees are lacking, the majority of boxes have been placed on electricity poles. In total, over 90% of nestboxes have been occupied by Rollers, Little Owls, Barn Owls and Kestrels this year.

All except one of the Birdwing boxes intended for Kestrels have breeding birds, with the majority of pairs feeding chicks in May.

Rollers, on arriving back from Africa in May, have been in a hurry to adopt one of the nestboxes as their own, so much so that a new box was claimed by a pair within 4 hours of it being put up. Two boxes intended for Rollers have been occupied by pairs of Little Owls.

Thanks to the National Park of the Evros Delta staff for their collaboration and to the electricity company for allowing us to use their poles.


Third edition of the site guide

As a taster for what will be in the third edition of the site guide ‘Birdwatching in Northern Greece’ we thought you’d like to see some new features:

  • New sites including wider areas across Northern and Western Greece such as Lake Karla, Messolonghi, the Amyntaio Lakes, Maroneia, Doirani Lake, Mount Parnassos and others
  • Colour-coded sections to speed up finding a site when using the book
  • Site names on each page to more easily find your place
  • Detailed GPS information to 4 decimal places to aid navigation
  • Photography tips and other featured boxes
  • A greater number of maps included - all in full colour
  • Charts showing which months regular species can usually be seen at each location
  • Information tips about accommodation and adverts for hotels
  • Updated status lists and much, much more!




Adverts in the third edition

In the new edition of the site guide there will be a section with adverts for hotels and tour companies, which will make the book more useful and, at the same time, will help raise money for Birdwing.

If you know of any person or organisation who might want to be included please write to us at and we will send you the options and prices.

Here are examples of different-sized adverts available.               


Bird news round up

The weather in Greece during 2023 has been unusual. Cold and dry conditions during the early months were replaced by lengthy cold and wet periods that extended into mid-May. Many summer visitors were late arriving and delayed nesting attempts until things warmed up. Numbers of many passage birds were reported as being smaller than normal, particularly in the case of waders and raptors. Large raptors seemed particularly thin on the ground.

Despite this there were many good birds to be seen. At Kerkini, one magical moment had both Marsh and River Warblers singing from the same small ditch, Lesser Grey Shrikes in courtship flight above and Cuckoos, Nightingales and Hoopoes adding to the orchestra. About 120 pairs of Dalmatian and 5-10 pairs of White Pelicans bred on the Birdwing platform and stone islands.

Spring was quieter than usual on the Evros Delta, with many pools and channels brimming with water in the wet conditions, restricting the foraging habitat for waders. Some of the best sightings were on the flooded fields, with both Temminck's Stint and Broad-billed Sandpiper. Marsh terns passed through in good numbers, with a group of over 200 at Anthia on May 19th together with a very classy Little Gull.

Over 400 small waders - Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Little Stint and two Broad-billed Sandpipers - found conditions to their liking at the south end of Ptelea Lagoon in May.

At Lake Karla, Lesser Kestrels began to arrive in late March and were soon busy with courtship despite the downpours. Hordes of Yellow Wagtails were passing through in April and were briefly joined by a gorgeous male Citrine.

Other birds of note included a River Warbler at Ismarida, Rufous Bush Robins near Maroneia and the regular early May Terek Sandpipers at Kalohori.


Other news

Tern raft planning

Birdwing are in the process of exploring options to further our provision of tern platforms in various National Parks. Most of the rafts we have funded so far are showing signs of wear as the wood inevitably rots. We are looking at alternative materials that will last longer and these include collaborating with a company who make long-lasting floating pontoons and jetties. Although expensive, these will hopefully have a much longer life-span.

If you would like to donate towards this new initiative, please go to our website and click the donate button.

Positive Pelican update

Despite last year’s devasting impact of Avian Flu where, for example, over 1700 Dalmatian Pelicans died at Prespa alone, it is a relief that outbreaks this year have been much reduced and colonies are beginning to bounce back.

In Prespa the numbers of breeding Dalmatian Pelicans this year is estimated to be about 500 pairs. This number may be almost â…“ of last year’s population (around 1,400 pairs) but is more positive than some had predicted, with hundreds of White Pelicans also breeding.

As well as the colony of Dalmatian Pelicans at Lesser Prespa Lake, the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) monitors the most recently established Dalmatian pelican colony in Greece, at Lake Chimaditis (one of the Amyntaio Lakes featured in the new edition of our book). Its population suffered severe losses from last year's Avian flu outbreak, losing nearly 50% of its members. This year, however, it seems that the isolation and shallow waters of Lake Chimaditis continue to offer a welcoming refuge for them and the scientific monitoring by the SPP found at least 50 nests!


Our thanks as always go to those who have helped us with news and supporters who help by donating to our work.

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