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Greece in Autumn

Tour Code: GRC12

An 8-day birdwatching holiday to northern Greece's Dadia Forest, Evros Delta and Lake Kerkini, timed to enable us to encounter and enjoy the southward migration of numerous waders, warblers and raptors.

8 days from £1395(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1195 SRS: £195


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Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

Comfortable hotels with private facilities throughout.

Outline Itinerary Download

The coastal wetlands, extensive forests and reed-fringed inland lakes of northeastern Greece act as a magnet for migrating birds in both the spring and autumn. The region lies on an important ‘migration flyway’ between Europe and Africa and its easterly position — tucked between Bulgaria and Turkey — attracts an exciting range of migrant and breeding species with a decidedly eastern flavour. Waders such as Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpipers share the mudflats with more familiar Redshanks and Grey Plovers. A passing sparrowhawk is more likely to be a Levant than a Northern Sparrowhawk, and a shrike atop a bush could well be Lesser Grey or Masked. On this new tour we will go in search of these and other species whilst exploring three of northern Greece’s key wildlife sites: the Dadia Forest, the Evros Delta and Lake Kerkini. Although birds will be the primary focus of this tour we will also enjoy the butterflies, reptiles and other wildlife we find along the way … our local guide, for example, is particularly keen on snakes!

Our holiday begins with a direct Easyjet flight to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, which sits on the northern side of the threefingered Halkidiki Peninsula. From here we take the coastal highway east to the pine forests and hills of the Dadia Forest National Park for a 2-night stay in a wonderfully positioned lodge at the edge of the woodland. The Dadia Forest is one of Europe’s prime sites for raptors with up to 20 species breeding, 17 species wintering and others passing through in the spring and autumn. It holds the only population of Eurasian Black Vultures remaining in the Balkans and one of Greece’s most important populations of Griffon Vultures. During our time here we will visit a hide which overlooks a vulture feeding station. From here it is possible to see three of Europe’s four vulture species (Griffon, Eurasian Black and Egyptian), plus Whitetailed Eagle and Black Kite. Other species to look out for overhead include Short-toed Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Booted Eagle and both White and Black Storks.

From Dadia it is only a short drive south to the Evros Delta, our base for the next two nights. The Evros Delta National Park protects one of southern Europe’s most important wetlands. The Evros River, the longest in the Balkans, slows and fans out as it meets the Aegean Sea, forming a mosaic of brackish and freshwater lagoons, reed-fringed marshes, riverine forest and seasonally flooded wetlands that cover, in total, over 180 square kilometres. This is a wonderful area for birds throughout the year and, during our time here, we will look for a variety of wading birds around the saline Drana and Paloukia Lagoons, amongst them Marsh, Broad-billed and Curlew Sandpipers, Little and Temminck’s Stints, Black-winged Stilt and the localised Spurwinged Plover. In the north-western corner of the Delta lie the Antheia Marshes, a delightful complex of shallow freshwater lagoons edged with reeds and tamarisk. This area usually holds water throughout the year and is a magnet for a wide variety of species including Pygmy Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Ruddy Shelduck, Garganey, all three species of marsh tern (Black, Whitewinged and Whiskered) and Penduline Tit. The nearby Loutros Hill is also worth a visit and is not only a good place for butterflies and reptiles, but also Blue Rock Thrush, the occasional Eagle Owl, passing raptors and migrant passerines such as Eastern Subalpine Warbler and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, plus various shrikes and flycatchers.

We end our tour with three nights at one of the finest wetland sites in Europe, the wonderful Lake Kerkini. Set against a backdrop of high forested hills, the lake — actually an artificial reservoir originally dammed in 1932 — is a designated RAMSAR Site and home to a multitude of breeding, wintering and passage species. We will have two full days to explore the lake and its surroundings, both from land and from the water. Large numbers of White Pelicans arrive in September to join the resident Dalmatian Pelicans. Night Herons, Squacco Herons, White Storks, Greater Flamingoes and Pygmy Cormorants are common around the lakeshore, whilst on land we will look for Western Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Middle Spotted and Grey-headed Woodpeckers and perhaps a lingering Masked Shrike. Various raptors, including Booted Eagle and Honey Buzzard, soar overhead and at a lower level European Bee-eaters and Hoopoes add a splash of colour. There is also a wide variety of butterflies, amphibians and reptiles to enjoy, including the occasional Hermann’s Tortoise which, from time to time, need rescuing from the roadside!

After a thorough exploration of Lake Kerkini and the surrounding hills we must make the one-and-a-half-hour drive back to Thessaloniki Airport where we will catch our return flight back home.

Little Bittern (Georgos Spiridakis)European Bee-eaters (Georgos Spiridakis)Yellow-legged Gull (Georgos Spiridakis)Woodchat Shrike (Georgos Spiridakis)Common Tern (Georgos Spiridakis)Squacco Heron (Georgos Spiridakis)Black-winged Stilt (Georgos Spiridakis)Vulture Feeding Station, Dadia National Park (Georgos Spiridakis)Black Vulture (Georgos Spiridakis)Lesser Spotted Eagle (Georgos Spiridakis)Lesser Kestrel (Georgos Spiridakis)

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DeparturesAvailableCost

Tue 4th September 2018 - Tue 11th September 2018

YES

£1395

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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1195 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Greece

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Paul Stanbury
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