Thursday, September 29, 2016

Greece Again

Why bother to go on holiday? I asked the question on Wednesday evening after viewing the overgrown garden, the pile of letters and junk mail waiting to be sorted, never mind the dozens of emails. 

And then I downloaded the pictures from two weeks in Skiathos to reveal the answer to my question. The island of Skiathos may be just 46 sq km, but many people choose to return for their holidays year after year for the simple fact that it has amongst the best beaches of the Greek islands, a large variety of tavernas, places to stay and the fact that it has a spectacular coastline that begs to be explored. The day before we left for home we too felt the pull of the island and left a deposit to secure our room for 2017. 

There aren’t many bird pictures in this posting as the weather was mostly too clear and sunny for large scale migration, but there are lots of photos of the island and the places we visited. Several locals told us how there had been a lack of rain for the previous three months, a fact that became all too obvious once we began to explore in our go-anywhere Jimny and viewed the tinder dry landscape.

Don't forget to 'click the pics' for a close-up of Skiathos.

The plane’s approach took us close to the sister island of Skopelos with Skiathos Town on the right, just before the pilot turned right towards the rapid and heavily braked landing on the short, but recently extended runway. 

Skiathos Town
The Bourtzi, Skiathos Town

Around The Bourtzi, Skiathos

The Old Port, Skiathos Town 

Next stop Skopelos

Skiathos Town from the Airport

Arrival - Skiathos

Our host Makis Mathinou met us at the airport and just twenty minutes later we settled down in our favourite room at the idyllic, stunning and totally soothing Hotel Ostria. I am reluctant to mention this hotel on the Internet for fear of the place becoming too well known. Some secrets are best kept that way. But word does seem to have got around via the dreaded Trip Advisor, and quite deservedly, anyone wishing to stay at The Ostria must be quick off the mark to reserve a room.

The hotel has resident Hooded Crows and plays host to Scop’s Owl, Little Owl, Spotted Flycatcher, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Red-backed Shrike. It also offers free drinks from the swimming pool to Barn Swallows and Red-rumped Swallows and on occasion, Bee Eaters which join the swifts and swallows overhead in the hunt for flying insects. We had one sighting of Bee Eaters this year when a party of eight or ten flew around before heading off towards the nearby shore. 

The Ostria, Agia Paraskevi

Hooded Crow

We had a super two weeks and even though the weather turned a little dodgy in week two with a couple of mornings of heavy rain to disrupt migration, the birds never arrived in any numbers. Even after downpours the landscape remained dry and parched with a lack of standing water where migrants might normally be found.

On a number of days we called in at Aselinos and the tomato farm near Xanemos beach and found Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow and Red-backed Shrikes, together with Barn Swallows, Swifts and Red-rumped Swallows, plus the ubiquitous Hooded Crows. The cliffs at the tomato/pepper farm are a good spot to watch for gulls and Eleonora’s Falcon as it’s not far from the falcon’s stronghold of Kastro just along the coast. Yellow-legged Gull is the neighbourhood gull of Skiathos but unlike our closely related UK Herring Gull, the Yellow-legged Gull of Skiathos remains wary of human contact and wouldn’t dream of snatching a sandwich. 

Aselinos, Skiathos

Red-backed Shrike

 Yellow Wagtail

A dodgy morning near Xanemos

Eleonora's Falcon

 Yellow-legged Gull

On other days we explored the unmade roads and tracks of the wild north coast to the beaches of Kanapitsa, Kechria, Ligaries and Agistros where we came across more shrikes, flycatchers and Whinchats but this time with Common Whitethroat, Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat amongst the Chiffchaffs. There are one or two pairs of Ravens on the island, birds which alerted us to the presence of on high Honey Buzzards, a Kestrel and more Eleonora’s.

On our journeys we we found similarly minded people, not birding, but simply exploring and enjoying the landscape, mostly in the obligatory Jimny.  Anyone thinking of driving in Skiathos, dont worry. The only things to be be wary of are taxi drivers on flight days, tourists strolling along the narrow streets of town, or helmetless locals riding motorcycles. Sticking to rules is not something the Greeks enjoy. 

Which Way? - Skiathos
Skiathos goat

Agistros - Skiathos


Jimnys- Skiathos

Kechria - Skiathos

Spotted Flycatcher

Looking for warblers- Skiathos

Kanapitsa - Skiathos

Skopelos and Tsougria viewed from Kanapitsa - Skiathos

Skiathos is a captivating island that has great charm, a fascinating history, wonderful beaches, a friendly and civilised population and one that boasts an amazing array of tavernas in which to spend an evening. I heartily recommend it to readers. In fact, I’ll drink to that. Cheers everyone! 

Dish Of the Mum - Skiathos

Tourists - Skiathos

Back soon with more to enjoy.

Linking today to Anni's Birding and Eileen's Blog.


Linda said...

Greece is beautiful, Phil! I love all your photos here, and feel as though I took this walk with you! Everything, the views, people and wildlife are fantastic. And I have never seen a hooded crow beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this lovely tour!

Lowcarb team member said...

Absolutely fabulous - and you've already booked for 2017 - now that is organised ... but I can't say I blame you it does look a fabulous place!

Dish of The Mum sounds delicious ...
Cheers !!

All the best Jan

David Gascoigne said...

Welcome home, buddy. Now it's time to find the toque, the scarf and the gloves and get busy with the birds of Lancashire.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, wonderful trip report. Greece is on my bucket list, it looks beautiful from your photos. Love the birds and scenery! Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

Prunella Pepperpot said...

It's many many moons since I have visited a Greek Island but the memories still linger especially the scents.
Wonderful images, I can see why you both enjoy going back each year.
You saw so many birds and the ones you have shared are photographed beautifully.
The goat is very cute and Prunella wouldn't know which jimny to sit in as there are so many!
Thank you for sharing your holiday snaps.Have a wonderful weekend :)

Margaret Adamson said...

Welcome home. I can really see why you have booked for next year again. it is a beautiful island with lots ot see and it sounds idyllic Phil. Have a wonderful weekend.

Rajesh said...

Great shots of the place. I am seeing the hooded crow for the first time.

jandi said...

It looks like a perfect holiday! Makes me want to pack my bags...

jabblog said...

Perhaps you should become a freelance reporter for Trip Advisor. No wonder you keep returning - it's delightful.

Mosura said...

Enjoyed the bird shots especially that Yellow wagtail!

eileeninmd said...

Hello PHil, I wanted stop back and say thank you for linking up and sharing your post. You have some great shots of the birds seen in Greece. They are all beautiful birds and photos.

Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

sandyland said...

beautiful there thanks for taking us along

Mary Cromer said...

What marvelous, beautiful image shares. Such fun to sit here in Oldham County, KY, enlarge the images and scroll through...sort of, kind of feels like I got to go...well a little bit. The last image of you and Sue is really wonderful to see. Tell her that you should share photos of the two of you more often. Now I shall see if you posted any before this post. Take care~

Powell River Books said...

Vacations are fun, but coming home is a good feeling (once all the mail and assortment of problems are resolved). The hooded crow is a new bird for me. - Margy

Anni said...

I am going to have to go back and really take a good long look at all the birds you saw, and re-read your listing of them. Why? Because I began reading and your description of the trip from the landing to the room and the beaches and taverns and exploring trips in the two weeks you stayed there had me enthralled!! Yes indeed, I too would be putting down a deposit for a return trip. Gorgeous. Everything!!!

Sharing this post was much appreciated for us birders this week at I'd Rather B Birdin'....for that, I thank you.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

That would be a dream vacation for me! I love this country and the beautiful people that live in it. The water is gorgeous too! WOW! Love your bird photos too...especially the falcon!

Pia said...

Thanks for taking me along to Skiathos, Phil! Looks like you had a wonderful time there. Great shots as always.

Barb said...

Phil, Your Greek Island vacation looks wonderful! Beaches and birds - what more could you ask for? I notice the menu is in English.

Jim said...

Fantastic Greek photos, Phil.

Lady Fi said...

It certainly looks beautiful!

Murthy K v v s said...

What a series of nice photos..thanks for sharing.

Photo(Geo)grapher said...

What a wonderful trip! Great photos and relation, too

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