Wednesday, May 18, 2022

May Days

Apologies to regular readers who perhaps realised I had gone AWOL without leaving a forwarding address. I promise to get back to you all very soon. Yes, it was holiday time in Greece.

This was our eleventh time in Skiathos and our first visit to the island in spring. Sue and I missed out in both May 2020 and May 2021 due to Covid but at last we made it, despite the best efforts of TUI and Manchester Airport.  

Skiathos runway

Spring was only slightly different from late September trips when the landscape is parched following a typical Greek summer and when many summer birds have gone south. In early May the weather was initially cooler but by the second week scorching sun and a familiar twenty five degrees. Once again I was the only birder on the island, birding as much as possible, if you get the drift. When is a birder not birding is the question?

Our usual hotel The Ostria at Agia Paraskevi opens in late May so this year we stayed within a stone’s throw at Spiti Oneiro, a Greek title that translates as ‘Dream House’. It’s an apt name for so many homes in faraway, relaxing Skiathos. 

Dream House - Skiathos

We know Dream House well as one of our welcoming watering holes and places to eat during September stays. It’s a little off the beaten track so very quiet, a friendly, laid-back sort of place with just nine apartments, bed & breakfast if required or room only. Proprietors are Dad Kostas and daughter Efie, two wonderful, helpful and kind people who go out of their way to make guests feel at home. 

Kostas Stergiopoulos

We reserved a room via Efie and book flights directly. This makes for a more personal experience as well as ensuring our money goes into the local economy rather than a percentage into commission to third parties.

Courtesy of Magda of Mustang Motors we picked up the Jimny jeep at the airport and filled it with expensive petrol, fuel that lasts a while on quite tiny Skiathos Island. At Euros 25 a day the jeep works out as both convenient and cost effective when a couple of trips to other parts of the island by local bus costs about Euros 8 each time, e.g into Skiathos Town or the opposite ends of the island Koukounaries, or Troulos. 

The furthermost north part of the island is in any case accessible mostly by car, sometimes a 4x4, more so after a wet winter. It was in January and into March this year that Skiathos had several bouts of snow followed by a legacy of soggy roads and tracks.

Skiathos Life - Facebook January 2022

Two weeks of uninterrupted sun and zero rain made for lots of photos of Skiathos if not too many bird photos as early May proved a little late for heavy migration and in any case Skiathos has a quite small bird list. 

The "best" and most unexpected bird proved to be a Little Bittern which I saw on and off for two weeks in a reedy ditch where stream frogs Rana gracea were probably the reason for the bittern's presence. Most of the time I glimpsed the thing climbing through the thick reeds and only once did I get a decent photo. My sighting may be the first recorded sighting of this small bittern species  on Skiathos where birders are rare even non-existent but I imagine the Little Bittern is pretty common in Greece as a whole.

Rana gracea

Little Bittern

The first week included Bee Eaters, Black-headed Buntings, Red-throated Pipits, Richard's Pipits, Yellow Wagtails, Red-backed Shrikes, Woodchat Shrikes, Whinchats, Red-rumped Swallows, Barn Swallows, Marsh Warblers & Reed Warblers, Hobbies, Buzzard, Olivaceous Warblers, Scops Owl and a good number of daytime singing Nightingales. Sea birds consisted of the ever-present Yellow-legged Gulls, European Shag and numbers of Cory's/Scopoli's Shearwaters searching the mill pond Aegean Sea.

Barn Swallow

Black-headed Bunting

Red-rumped Swallow

Woodchat Shrike

Yellow Wagtail

Red-throated Pipit

Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

Yellow Wagtail feldegg

By the second week the birds dried up with the increased temperatures and we were left to enjoy the sunshine, deserted beaches and the company of Hooded Crows and Yellow-legged Gulls.   

Hooded Crow

Yellow-legged Gull

There are lots of photos of Sunny Skiathos below. Enjoy and don't forget to "click the pic" for a better view.

Skiathos Town

Skiathos Town

The Bourtzi 

Skiathos Town

The Bourtzi

Rural Skiathos

Above Skiathos

Essential Shopping in Skiathos

Skiathos Town

Skiathos Boatyard

Skiathos Boatyard

In the Boatyard

View from Mylos Taverna




Back soon with local news and views.

Linking this weekend to Eileen's Blogspot and Anni in Texas.


Lowcarb team member said...

I think one word describes everything in your post!

Loved all of your photographs, so pleased you had a great break.

All the best Jan

Angie said...

Phil - it looks like you had a wonderful holiday on Skiathos, as always. Congrats on the picture of the Bittern. We hear them throughout the summer, the unique call echoing up from the lake, but they are desperately difficult to spot! We arrived in Grand Cayman today, and I brought my binoculars!

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

WOW! What a wonderful holiday and a great account of what you d, what you saw and lovely photos to go with it all. Thanks Phil. Sorry I have not been commenting much recently. It is because my daughter had a bad car accident and I was asked to come over to the Isle of Wight to help her and the family so it is keeping me quite busy and will be here for a while still.

Wally Jones said...

It is understandable there are so few birders here as it would be difficult to move far from that gorgeous view of the sea! Or from the scenic town or taverna.

We applaud your diligence in doing the hard work necessary to provide us a sampling of the avian beauties present on the island during your sojourn.

Seeing most of those birds would definitely make my vacation better!

Nice work not only observing the Little Heron but his lunch as well.

Hopefully, somewhere in the extremely hectic hours of diligent labor as you sought out bird life, you were able to at least have a sip of Ouzo and sneak in a nap. Poor thing. You must be exhausted.

Gini and I are very happy you and Sue were able to make the trip this year! Again, welcome home, tired travelers.

Now, get busy and go ringing.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil,

It feels good to getaway after the last two years, you picked a lovely spot for your vacation. I love the views of Skiathos. Great sighting of the Little Bittern, I assume it is similar to our Least Bittern. Wonderful variety of birds and photos. The Woodchat Shrike is a beauty and I always love the cute Swallows. Great post, welcome home. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend!

Shiju Sugunan said...

Wonderful photographs! You sighted so many beautiful birds. Looks like a great vacation spot for a birder!

Linda said...

Beautiful pictures. That snow is impressive.

Anni said...

I figured you two were on vacation! May is a good month to travel in my opinion.
And just look at the wonderful birds seen! Glorious. The scenery is brochure perfection!!
We birders enjoyed your share today Thanks for linking in and have a wonderful day!

R's Rue said...

Wonderful photos. I love all the birds. So pretty. Have a beautiful day.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Glad to see you back and you enjoyed your vacation. It's nice to get away and have a change. Greece has always looked so beautiful in the photos I see. I did miss you BTW. I'm happy it was for something wonderful.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'm so glad you got to go on a lovely holiday! This place looks like a movie setting...or a dream vacation destination! You sure saw some neat birds and critters too! Enjoy your week. And I missed you too. I posted my Dolphin pics...but you can see the best one in my header and I know you saw it already! Diane

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