Athens May 12—17, 2018
Posted by Barry Lyon
From the time VENT began operating Birds & History cruises in Greece, we’ve supplemented our programs with optional additional time in Athens and the surrounding areas. The impetus for our Athens Pre-trip stems from the fact that our cruises visit other parts of the country, such as the famous Aegean islands or Peloponnese, and thus miss the great historical and cultural attractions of the Greek capital, in addition to a range of wonderful birds. Thus, the addition of an Athens Pre-trip to a VENT cruise in Greece yields a more complete or “ultimate” experience.
Through the years, we have operated a number of Athens Pre-trips of varying lengths, but this year’s trip was unique in that it represented our most comprehensive effort yet. Unlike 2010, the last time we operated our Circumnavigation of the Peloponnese cruise, this year’s trip was a day longer, allowing for more time in nature and more time at important historical sites. Consequently, we enjoyed our most successful Athens Pre-trip of all.
As expected, we did well with the birds, seeing common, widespread species in tandem with less common species and regional specialty birds that we would not see on the cruise. Our morning on Mt. Hymettos was memorable for the outstanding views of a Tawny Owl by day on the lower slopes of the mountain and for the scope views of the range-restricted Rüppell’s Warbler up higher. In between, we logged a fine collection of other birds including Eurasian Jay, Long-tailed Tit, Subalpine Warbler, and Spotted Flycatcher. The next day, amid the marshes and lakes of Schinias National Park and the adjacent Olympic Rowing Club, we enjoyed a thrilling sequence of sightings that none will soon forget, with standout species being Ferruginous Duck, Purple Heron, Little Stint, Red-rumped Swallow, Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, and Eurasian Penduline-Tit—all birds that can be very difficult to find.
Read Barry’s full report in his Field Report.