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Lake Kerkini

It's simple - Lake Kerkini offers some of the most accessible, and best, opportunities for both birding and bird photography in Europe. As the year unfolds January and February can be cold, and, wildfowl numbers reach their peak with over 20 000 Pochard often with a handful of Red-cresteds. Spotted and White-tailed Eagles are frequently seen, Great White Egrets are everywhere. Dalmatian Pelicans are looking their very best and Cranes are increasingly arriving to spend the winter here, with 28 in February '13.

Migration begins in early March, with the arrival of pioneering Garganey and Osprey. White Storks arrive towards the end of the month. Migration gathers steam through April into early May, when every bush seems to hold warblers. Glossy Ibis are regular and there can be over a thousand of each species of pelican.

The early summer sees the drowned forest alive with herons and egrets. Golden Orioles sing in the poplars and Bee-eaters and Rollers sit on the wires. Great Spotted Cuckoo bred in 2010.

Returning wader migration begins as early as late June, continuing into October, although by then numbers are small. The autumn sees the water level at its lowest, exposing acres of mud, particularly at Mandraki and along the eastern embankment. This is attractive to waders but they are often some considerable distance away. Collared Pratincole pass through in good numbers in early autumn.  Pelican numbers build again as Dalmatians arrive to spend the winter and Whites stop off on passage.

October typically sees the Lesser-spotted Eagles replaced by Spotteds. The remaining months bring the ducks back, together with Lesser White-fronted Geese, which spend time here before moving on south-east to the Evros delta.

In the winter of 2007 - 2008 the total number of birds on the lake was counted at just over 41000.

There is also great birding to be had in the nearby hills, with Long-legged Buzzard, Rock Nuthatch, Calandra Lark, Subalpine and Olive-tree Warblers. Nearby woods hold Black, White-backed, Middle-spotted and Grey-headed Woodpeckers and the mountains to the east have Capercaillie, Nutcracker, Rock Thrush, Wryneck, Semi-collared Flycatcher and Barred Warbler.


Following heavy rains in the winter of 2010 - 2011, the Strimonas River changed its course to the south of the Vironia bridge, with the result that it enters the lake at an earlier point. This has cut through the embankment at site 3 in the site guide where it can now be a little tricky to turn the car around if there's been recent rain.

The new river channel has had a detrimental effect on birdwatching at site 4. Previously the shallow waters by the embankment were a favourite spawning ground for carp in spring, bringing huge feeding frenzies of pelicans, cormorants, herons and egrets close to shore. The new river course means that as the river enters the lake earlier the spawning grounds have gone as a result of the strong current.

Update Update!

Work to return the river to its previous course was completed in October 2014 and it remains to be seen whether site 4 regains its former birding quality.

Answers to Birdfair Quiz!

  1. Honey Buzzard
  2. Black-headed Bunting
  3. Woodchat Shrike
  4. Hoopoe
  5. Long-legged Buzzard
  6. Collared Pratincole
  7. Tawny Pipit
  8. Golden Oriole
  9. Calandra Lark
  10. Spur-winged Plover
  11. Rock Thrush
  12. Broad-billed Sandpiper
  13. Shore Lark
  14. Booted Eagle
  15. Dalmatian Pelican
  16. Squacco Heron
  17. Cuckoo
  18. Lesser Kestrel
  19. Glossy Ibis
  20. Beeeater
  21. Blue Rock Thrush
  22. Ferruginous Duck
  23. Egyptian Vulture
  24. Grey-headed Woodpecker
  25. Black-necked Grebe
  26. Black Tern
  27. Montagu’s Harrier
  28. Levant Sparrowhawk
  29. Spanish Sparrow
  30. Black Woodpecker
  31. Black Vulture
  32. Little Bittern
  33. Red-footed Falcon
  34. White Stork
  35. White Pelican
  36. Black-eared Wheatear


How many did you get? Which did you find most difficult? Let us know your thoughts!

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Kerkini November 2012

There are large flocks of duck, including Pochard, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon but also Shoveler that  gradually increase their number ,as well as Pintails in various parts around the lake. There are also  Ferruginous and Tufted Ducks in small numbers for the time being as well as  Red-crested Pochard for the first time this year at the west embankment.

Theodoros Naziridis watched two  Golden Eagles flying above the top of Belles mountain near Vironia (On the 11th of November  we  had noticed three of them, two adults and one young one). On 21st  of November the first  Crane was spotted for this year  (unfortunately up till now there has been only one). An unusual visitor, a young Black-throated Loon appeared  and has been currently present in the area of Limnohori. On 26th of November  we ,my colleague  Sotiris Mountzelos and I, had an unexpected  and  rare chance to watch and enjoy from a close distance  a male Snow Bunting at the west part of the lake (this is the first time that we have  spotted  such a species in our area and the fifth time that  such a bird is noticed in Greece).

As prey birds are concerned, we have noticed at least 5 or 6 Marsh Harrier flying above the river delta. It is relatively easy to watch male and female Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Goshawk and Merlin flying in the perimeter of the lake as well as  in the fields close by.

Everyday  Peregrine Falcon (definitely  4-5 ) hunt either at the mouth of the river or at the delta or at the old river bed or at the area of Mandraki.

These days the Common Buzzards keep on appearing very often unexpectedly. The White-tailed Eagles are constant  visitors to the inaccessible areas of the river mouth. At least  16 Spotted Eagles show up everyday at the riverside forest. On 11th November we counted 16 of them on the east side of the forest, the triangle ,delta up to the east embankment. We were lucky enough to witness stunning moments with 6 to 8 Spotted Eagles flying along side by side (20-30 meters) .We have also noticed at least one( I would say 2 ) Imperial Eagles usually up in a tree overseeing the area waiting for prey. Finally  a Lesser Spotted Eagle that has been left behind and will probably spend the winter with us at the east embankment.

Lately the number of the  geese has slightly increased (but there aren't many) according to our latest counting we have around  340 White-fronted Goose, 23 Greylag Goose, 2 Egyptian Goose and naturally the  56 Lesser White-fronted Goose that keep their population stable. Among them there are only 5 young ones. Along with them ,there are  4-5 Black storks and an equal number of white storks that  daily feed  mainly in the Strimona river  as well as towards  the riverside forest.

There are many Avocets and Lapwings that fly low in large groups. There are Swans that belong to the three species but not in large numbers .The sea gulls tend to form large flocks. There are  White and Dalmatian Pelicans either together or separate ,either close or far away from each other. Among them we can spot two marked ones, Leyla and Odysseas that carry their radio transmitters on their backs with the valuable information.

Thanks to Kostas for the data.

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