Monday, October 5, 2015

An Ill Wind In Skiathos

The weather is not too good for birding or ringing for a day or two so for today’s blog post there’s a tale from recent Skiathos. "Click the pics" for a clearer view of Greece.

Our first week in Skiathos saw glorious weather, constant temperatures between 28 and 30⁰ and endless clear blue skies. The photograph below shows part of Skiathos and in the right-hand background the neighbouring and larger island of Skopelos as viewed from the Kanapitsa peninsula of Skiathos. 

View from Kanapitsa, Skiathos

The scorching weather broke on 22nd and 23rd September with thunderstorms of historic proportions. The Greek mainland and the island of Skopelos bore the brunt of the storms with at times wind and rain reaching tornado strength. In Skopelos the torrential rain created flash floods which poured through the narrow streets and alleys into the harbour below the town. Reports at the time suggested that 10.5 inches of rain fell in the first 24 hours and that 70 or 80 vehicles had been washed into the harbour. Many businesses were destroyed by the ferocity of storm. Thankfully we heard that there was no loss of life and that both islanders and tourists managed to stay safe. 


While all this was going on we spent a day and more in our hotel in Agia Paraskevi listening to the thunder, watching the lightening and hearing the rain beat on our patio roof. When we once ventured out during what seemed a lull we found ourselves stuck for an hour or more in a stationary line of traffic at Kolios when a tree crashed across the road ahead of us and brought down power lines. 

The mornings after the storm saw huge numbers of birds on the move, displaced by the bad weather systems which stretched across many hundreds of miles. Sitting with my pre-breakfast cup of tea I watched thousands of Barn Swallows, Red-rumped Swallows, House Martins, Common Swifts, Pallid Swifts and Alpine Swifts circling in the grey clouds above. Two parties of Bee Eaters flew over as did a group of 8 Hobbies, several Lesser Kestrels, a couple of Eleonora’s Falcon, at least 3 Marsh Harriers and a number of Ravens. The grey skies allowed time to test the theory that the Hobby has a silhouette like a large swift - it does. Eleonora’s Falcon has a call remarkably similar to Ring-necked Parakeet, a fact which I remembered when searching the sky for a green parrot with a long tail but instead seeing a medium sized falcon! 


On the third day Sue took the bus to the delights of shopping in Skiathos Town. I made off in the Jimny for Aselinos where the cool of the morning meant that no one wanted to sunbathe. Pools newly created by the recent storms held many Yellow Wagtails as well as Whinchats, Wheatears, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and the ever present shrikes. 

Aselinos Beach



Red-backed Shrike

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail


Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

I found a couple of Richard’s Pipits too, a species which according to various sources, may or may not be scarce in Greece but is one that I’ve seen in the same place two years running. There are no Magpies or Jackdaws on Skiathos where apart from the scarce Raven, the representative of the crow family is the ubiquitous Hooded Crow. 

 Richard's Pipit
Hooded Crow

 The Road From Aselinos

As that old proverb goes - “It’s an ill wind that blows no good.” That certainly applies in Skiathos where the normally quiet bird watching of September becomes rather different when bad weather drops migrant birds onto the island. 

I just looked at the latest forecast and it looks like there will be a ringing or birding day soon. Log in then for more news, views and photos.

Linking today to Anni's Birding Blog and Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


David Gascoigne said...

I am glad you stayed safe. Weather patterns around the world are crazy these days; just look what is happening in South Carolina. See Phil, maybe good old Lancashire is not so bad after all!

Linda said...

So lovely to see your post and beautiful photos, Phil! Every time I see photos of Greece and England it makes me want to hop on the next plane! I am sure if I ever get a chance to see England, especially Kent where my grandparents on my father's side are from, I probably would want to stay and live there! :)

Fun60 said...

A very eventful holiday. Can't believe the number of different birds you saw.

EG CameraGirl said...

I love the name wagtail and wish we had some here!

Photo Cache said...

Rain of that proportions need to come to parched California. Glad you were able to do a bit of birding while there as well.

Kalantikan said...

Greece and its environs is always a dream place to visit. At least you are giving me a semblance of a tour. thanks a lot.

Margaret Adamson said...

that was wonderful the selection and amount of birds you saw after the storm. And you did well when you went out on your own in Jimmy.

Findlay Wilde said...

They are fantastic pictures and some great birds there.

Christian Weiß said...

Great photos and an interesting place.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Perfect example of that old adage. You certainly were there at an interesting time. Love the birds.

Andrew Fulton said...

A wonderful post...

Marie C said...

Such an interesting post! Love the info on the area where you visited. The rain & winds yielded some great sightings, too. Your bird photos are wonderful!

mick said...

Great photos as always. Very interesting to hear what happens to small birds when they hit a storm during migration. It seems amazing to me that birds as small as that can migrate those great distances.

Adam Jones said...

Superb Whinchat and Yellow Wag shots Phil. Sometimes it's the only good thing to come out of bad weather, the movement, or fall of birds.

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Wonderful photos!

Anni said...

I must be the odd woman out....I'd much rather go birding that shopping! And boy howdy, did you ever spot some wonderful species. Finding wagtails and chiffchaffs along with the others in the newly made pools from the storm would fill me with excitement. =I'm happy to read that no one was injured in the bad storm=

Thanks, Phil, for enlightening us of your vacation in Greece. Looks to be a marvelous part of the globe!!

Janice Adcock said...

Nice capture of such a lovely variety!

eileeninmd said...

Hi Phil, beautiful images of Greece and the birds. The Wagtail is a beautiful bird. Enjoy your weekend!

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:)Beautiful captures of the Whinchat and Yellow Wagtail. I'm pleased for you that due to the weather conditions you had so many sightings of different species. I would have been pleased to just see the numerous Shrikes and Hooded Crows, as I never see them here.

Gunilla Bäck said...

The view in the first photo is gorgeous. I'm glad no lives were lost during the storm.

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