Thursday, September 28, 2017

Home From Skiathos

Sue and I are back from Greece and as usual, up to our ears in catch-up with friends and family. Until I get up and running with birding I put together a few pictures of the last two weeks in Skiathos. Please "click the pics" for better views.

Two weeks of late September wall-to-wall sunshine, temperatures in the thirties and not a cloud in the deep blue Skiathos sky. I found myself feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the almost total lack of birdlife during what should be a period of peak migration. Yes, we saw House Sparrows, Collared Doves, swallows, and hundreds of the ubiquitous Hooded Crow and Yellow-legged Gull but had to search hard to find the limited number of migrants hiding from the burning midday sun. 

Nr Ligaries, Skiathos

Agia Paraskevi, Skiathos

The Bourtzi, Skiathos Town

The Bourtzi, Skiathos Town

Skiathos Town

The ferry - Skopelos to Skiathos and vice versa 

Where to go - Skiathos Town

 Coffee Time - Skiathos Town

I have experienced this strange sensation before on Skiathos and also on islands such as Menorca, Lanzarote, and closer to home on Bardsey Island and North Ronaldsay. Such times reinforce the understanding of the effect of the weather on bird migration during spring and autumn when theoretically there should be migrant birds at every turn but when ideal holiday weather makes for poor birding. A drop or two of overnight rain or preferably one of the famous Skiathos thunderstorms would have made for interesting mornings but it was not to be. 

It was in the relative cool of the hills and the monastery gardens that we found Spotted Flycatchers together with small numbers of Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Garden Warblers and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. Up here close to the pine forests we saw Honey Buzzards circling and small numbers of Bee Eaters and swallows, both Common and Red-rumped. 

Church at Evangelistria
To the Monastery

Spotted Flycatcher
Willow Warbler

Red-backed Shrike

Red-rumped Swallow

Hooded Crow

Unlike our own farmland Barn Swallow the Red-rumped Swallow is a bird of the open hilly country of southern Europe and Asia where they build quarter-sphere nests with a tunnel entrance lined with mud collected in their beaks. They normally nest under cliff overhangs in their mountain homes, but will readily adapt to buildings and bridges. 

Red-rumped Swallow

It doesn’t matter where you go in Skiathos. There’s always a Red-backed Shrike to enliven proceedings and inevitably one that lacks any red in the plumage but displays the autumn russets of a juvenile or female.

The Red-backed Shrike is a very common bird in all of Greece and the Greek Islands, and a bird well known to Aristotle, the original Greek birder. The Latin/scientific name of the Red-backed Shrike is Lanius collurio, the genus name, Lanius derived from the Latin word for "butcher" and the specific collurio is from Ancient Greek “kollurion”. 

Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

In the pine forests there are fire crews on permanent watch to ensure that help quickly reaches any conflagration. A few years ago forest fires in mainland Greece spread by strong winds across the waters of the Aegean to the islands of Skiathos and Skopelos where they devastated huge swathes of forest and claimed many lives. Only now have the forests recovered. 

Fire Crew - Skiathos

Our forest dwelling Jimny

Spotted Flycatcher

From the forested Kanapitsa peninsula of Skiathos it is possible to see the church of Agios Ioannis Kastri out towards the neighbouring island of Skopelos and where scenes of Mamma Mia were filmed. The film runs through the summer season in the open air cinema in Skiathos Town. The church stands on top of a rock and provides amazing view to the coasts of Skopelos and to Alonissos. Its name actually means Saint John on the Castle, assuming that probably there was a small castle there in the past to protect the island from pirates.

The "Mamma Mia" church of Agios Ianiss Kastri

Open Air Cinema - Skiathos Town

Me? I'd rather be birding than watch that awful film. Log in soon for more birding.

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


eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil! I love all the birds but the Greece scenery is beautiful too. Gorgeous views! Happy Thursday, enjoy your day and weekend ahead.

Linda said...

Your bird photos are beautiful, Phil, and your photos of your trip to Greece are magical! Welcome back, dear friend. :)

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Welcome home, Phil. I hope it will not be long before you are back to your normal routine. We are about to take off for three weeks so it may be a while before I am back to commenting on your blog. We'll see how it goes while we are away and how much access to WIFI I will have.
I hope we don"t get the thirty degree temperatures you were having - too hot!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, I am envious of your beautiful Greek birds. Wonderful sightings and photos. It appears the last theme I chose did not work with the linky, the type-font appeared white. Now I temporarily went to another theme until I can find one that works with linky. I appreciate your linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy day and weekend!

A Colorful World said...

Amazing Greece photos! What a wonderful holiday there. Sorry the birds weren't up to your expectations, though.

GreenComotion said...

Wow - what a beautiful place for some R&R!
Great photos of the town and the birds.
Have a Happy Weekend!
Peace :)

carol l mckenna said...

Greece looks incredible ~ great colorful photos ~ fun for you ~ and your feathered friends photos are always wonderful! ~ Glad to catch up with you ~

(A ShutterBug Explores) aka A Creative Harbor

sandyland said...

oh my how beautiful water and birds ,lovely first visit or ??

Lowcarb team member said...

Welcome home.
Always nice to see all the birds but enjoyed seeing the Greek scenery too.

Happy weekend wishes and Happy October too!

All the best Jan

Stuart Price said...

Hope you had a good trip Phil...........

Anni said...

Sorry I am late visiting. Bud & I had a family pet of 25 years pass away last night.

Thanks so much for faithfully linking up & sharing your birds!

Prunella Pepperpot said...

Wonderful views from your trip to Skiathos.
I can see why the birds preferred to be in the cooler parts around the Monastery gardens. Loved your captures of the Red backed Shrike.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Yikes Phil, a new one for me I do believe of my favorite Swallows family...the Red-Rumped Swallow what a beautiful bird. I love your new banner photo using the lovely Red-backed Shrike, what a beauty.
Your journey and the stops you made along the way, the birds that you captures as well, all very delightful and I so envy. Alas though, if I am healthier next year and Bill can get his work finished on our home, then he wants to take us back out to Washington state and hope this time after a five day drive, there will be no government shutdown like the last time. All state and national parks got shut...ugh.
Take good care~

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