Sunday, 14 October 2012

Crete 3rd-9th October 2012

Sarah and I took a much needed break on Crete from 3rd to 9th October, this was not a birding trip as such mainly a much needed rest from the hectic 2012 bat survey season and a recent house move. However, me being me I did manage to do a little birding and in addition I took my actinic moth trap with me. Therefore, this posting will provide a little information on birds we saw (albeit not many!) and the moths we recorded. 

We stayed in Elounda on the north coast of the island at the Domes of Elounda resort - while not the cheapest resort we weren’t after cheap we wanted somewhere nice to stay with a decent view and potentially with some birding and the resort certainly provided us with this. The resort is located on a slope running down to the sea and our room was located at the top of the slope affording good views to Spinolonga Island I was able to run my moth trap in our small private garden. This is the view from our balcony:

Spinalonga Island from Domes of Elounda- The Desktop Birder, Simon Colenutt
Spinalonga Island from Domes of Eulonda

During our stay we explored mainly the central area of the island from Heraklion in the west, to Gourtys in the south and east as far as Gournia.

To date I have been able to identify a total of 18 species trapped at Elounda with around another 15 photographed and still to identify. These included a range of species recorded as migrants to the UK as well as some unfamiliar species. Those identified to date are: vestal, obscure bar, hummingbird hawk-moth, eastern bordered straw, small mottled willow, pale mottled willow, dark mottled willow, shuttle shaped dart, dark sword grass, Mythimna ruparia, Opthiusa tirhaca, Devonshire wainscot, cosmopolitan, golden twin-spot, pale shoulder, purple marbled, Udea ferigalis, Nomophila noctuella and Palpita vitrealis.

Devonshire wainscot, Crete- The Desktop Birder, Simon Colenutt
Devonshire Wainscot

Pale Shoulder, Crete - The Desktop Birder, Simon Colenutt
Pale Shoulder

Palpita vitrealis, Crete -- The Desktop Birder, Simon Colenutt
Palpita vitrealis

Opthiusa tirhaca, Crete - The Desktop Birder, Simon Colenutt
Opthiusa tirhaca 

Purple Marbled, Crete - The Desktop Birder, Simon Colenutt
Purple Marbled

Golden Twin-spot, Crete - The Desktop Birder, Simon Colenutt
Golden Twin-spot

I have to say my experience of birding on the island was not astounding. We saw very little and not really through lack of trying (or through to much relaxing by the pool with a glass!). There appeared to be a lack of migrants on the island at the time of our stay (possibly due to the presence of a long settled high pressure system over the eastern Mediterranean) and relatively few resident birds. Highlights included: griffon vulture, Eleanora’s falcon, booted eagle, golden eagle, yellow-legged gull, crested lark, red-throated pipit, Sardinian warbler, red-backed shrike, chough, Italian sparrow and cirl bunting. Most of these birds appeared to be generally distributed and we did not visit any specific sites to see these birds. There are no endemic bird species on the island which is a little surprising given its relative isolation especially when considering an island such as Corsica. The races of jay (race cretorum) and great tit (race niethammeri) are endemic.

Griffon Vulture, Crete - The Desktop Birder, Simon Colenutt
Griffon vulture

Sardinian Warbler, Crete - The Desktop Birder, Simon Colenutt
Sardinian warbler

Further Information
If you are considering a birding trip to Crete then the following websites are useful:

For moths I used Volumes 1, 2 and 3 of Patrice Leraut's 'Moths of Europe' published by N.A.P Editions.