TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

Crete

16 - 23 April 2002


Leaders:
Jim Coghlan
Mike Langman

DIARY

Tuesday 16 April

The group travelled in two separate parties: Jim and four from Manchester; Mike and seven from Gatwick. The Manchester party arrived early for the 5.30 check-in time for an 8 o'clock flight. Processing was efficient; we all met and had a breakfast snack. Boarding was punctual, but the departure time came and went with no activity. The captain told us the engineers were looking at a little something: he would keep us informed. Good as his word, he reported that it would take a couple of hours. All off and queue for our second breakfast vouchers. A mobile phone message to Jo at Travelling Naturalist - "We are off the plane". However Monarch did well, and had us back on an identical plane, with the same seat numbers, more quickly than they had first promised. (Mobile call to Jamie at TN "We are on the tarmac"). The good news - we left at 11.15, only 3¼ hours late, with the same crew. Less good - they had transferred the catering so breakfast No.3 would be along shortly at about 1 o'clock.

Arriving at Heraklion soon after 5, we met the party from Gatwick who had arrived not long before. Tanya from Lyttos Travel met us and took us off to our big coach, driven by Zacharias who has been our driver on 2 previous tours. Introductions followed as we drove west past Rethymnon and Hania to get to the Chrispy Hotel in 2½ hours. The hotel has grown since last year, with a new Reception block at the lower end next to a new area of coach and car parking. The seaward block has an L-shaped extension and there is a new large swimming pool. Rooms are allocated, and Jean, Margaret and Nancy enjoy the use of a lift in the old building. We dine in the Ariadne restaurant, formerly the bar and reception area, and are organised by our cheerful and efficient waitress Steffi. A buffet meal with lots of choice, followed by a welcome from the manager and a shot of the local Raki as a night cap. And so to hot water and bed.

Wednesday 17 April

A 7 o'clock walk to the sea was well attended. The morning was mild but quite overcast, wind SW and fresher away from the hotel. The track to the sea has been widened and laid with tarmac to get coaches in to the new parking area. However vigorous shoots of Giant Reed are coming through the tarmac and starting to reclaim the margins. We started with a good selection of birds: a perched Buzzard, Stonechat, and Blackbird were followed by a good Marsh Harrier, Wheatear and Whinchat, and a Cetti's Warbler was heard. There was also a steady stream of birds heading west along the coast, on the typical migration route towards the Rodopi peninsula. These included Turtle Doves, Yellow Wagtails, Barn Swallows and House Martins. So much in fact that we did not get far before returning for an 8 o'clock breakfast. We departed at 9.15 with our lunch boxes and set off for a local tour.

First call was the seashore and the Tavronitis river mouth pool. There were waders in the pool, Woodchat Shrike and Glossy Ibis nearby, but the real gem was the arrival of 2 Collared Pratincoles which provided delightful views for some time. All the better for improving weather which became hotter as the morning wore on. Eyes down on the flowers produced Three-horned Stock and Silene colorata, and Alan found Prickly Saltwort as we returned from inspecting the little wood along the beach.

Back on the coach to the harbour town of Kolimbari where we stopped for drinks at a Greek speaking taverna and a first lesson in basic tourist Greek. Also the excitement of spending our first Euros (in Greek, pronounced "Evro", plural "Evra") and handling the new coins. Bills paid, we stopped off at the little harbour for flowers. Some good typical plants were located including Salsify, White Henbane, Common Mallow, Jerusalem Sage and White Asphodel. No orchids however, despite good numbers there last year. It is said that the unusually cold and wet winter has delayed the season considerably in many places.

Our picnic spot at the Evelpidon war memorial was rejected due to very high winds, an aroma of sheep, and locked gates. An excellent alternative, in shade from the strong sun, was found by the seashore below the old Monastery of Gonia (visited and sketched by Edward Lear in his Cretan visit of 1866). Two Bee-eaters flew past offshore, their wings translucent in the strong sun. Continuing to the little village of Afrata we set off in the general direction of the gorge and the sea. The party slowly divided into what soon became its usual pattern. Eager birdwatchers at the front with Mike located Collared and Pied Collared and Pied Flycatchers in the groves, and Blue Rock Thrush and nesting Kestrels in the Gorge; enthusiastic botanists at the rear accompanied by Jim examined the flowery fields and turned up Cretan Houndstongue, Navelwort and Figworts, Carob trees with green fruit, and Tassel Hyacinth. Dragon Arum plants were seen but were not yet in flower - another indication of the late season. However the leisurely botanists also had good views of a Peregrine flying over and carrying prey.

Thursday 18 April

A mild morning, but windier than yesterday; a cloud cap on the Rodopi peninsula. The morning walk produced Red-throated pipits Pipits in the fields and a Marsh Harrier flying steadily north out to sea, and a Quail was flushed from the roadside.

The day was becoming hot as we left at 9.00 for our grand tour out. First stop was at the Petres river, and gorge, which produced a Raven being mobbed by a small falcon, Wall butterfly and Greek Spiny spurge. On then to the Late Minoan rock-cut tombs at Armeni, in a lovely shady grove of Valonia oaks, with their huge acorns and curious gnarled acorn cups. The fields here were in full bloom, with masses of Salsify to be seen in the field outside and Gagea greca inside. And here at last we found a good supply of orchids, the first being a fine Woodcock Orchid followed by Bumblebee, Yellow Bee, Italian and Giant orchids. There were also many Serapias orchids, identified as mainly Small-flowered and Tongue orchids. A school party visiting treated us to some singing, and were intrigued to see that we were inspecting the orchids so closely. Predictably, they started to present us with picked orchids as gifts.

We paused for drinks in the village of Armeni and our order was brought and delivered with a flourish; the dozen or so glasses of water were stacked in a pyramid reminiscent of the motorcycle display teams of old.

In the Kourtaliotko gorge we stopped at a very good vantage point to view the Griffon Vultures and Chough floating overhead. As it was also a picnic spot, we decided to stay for lunch and this gave time to admireto admire the views down to the gorge and to identify the new plants on scree and cliff wall, We we made a further stop below the Kotsifos gorge in the middle of a delightful maquis-covered slope. Afterwards we drove on over the spectacular gorge bridge at Rodakino before having a setback as we negotiated the narrowest part of the village above: a length of timber protruding from a pickup truck driven by the local cowboy builders made contact with the side of the coach . Poor Zacharias! The timber had to be sawn through, and thereafter followed a fine stream of colloquial Greek and exchange of pleasantries. We had time to admire the roadside flowers and a fine flock of white turkeys until the local insurance man came and we could continue to make an abbreviated visit to the fort at Frangokastello. The taverna known for its excellent washrooms was only just being prepared for the season, and they apologised because the washrooms were not clean - but there was water and we could look. The intrepid leader looked, and the only problem was that the limewash had been scraped off in the process of redecoration. A quick wipe around with a packet of tissues removed the debris and the day was saved.

After that we enjoyed the sea and gorge views as we drove on up the Imbros gorge, past Askifou, down to the North coast and home for 6.15. Here we found an influx of young Greek adults on end-of-year school excursions; unfortunately the enlarged hotel is now big enough to take them. The dining room was very crowded for the buffet; and there were now other long tables in the dining room.

Friday 19 April

Outside, a still and cool morning, with pink cumulus on the mountains and some very dark cloud out to sea, which became blacker and started to show lightning flashes as a storm moved closer. Overhead there was a steady movement to the west of Barn and Red-rumped swallow, a Marsh Harrier and Yellow Wagtails.

After breakfast and a few drops of rain as the storm passed by, we set off to Chania and parked by the harbour. The air was fresh after the storm and the day became fine again. The harbour wall had one Common Sandpiper. We then spread out to do the town. Some joined Jim for a stroll to see the fascinating building details in the old Turkish quarter. The Archaeological Museum was a popular destination, as was the bookshop by the harbour. At least 3 copies of a fine new guide to the Flowers of Crete were purchased. A little light shopping was also completed.

Later we drove up to the splendid viewpoint of the Venizelou Graves memorial park; Serin was seen as we arrived. Less difficult to see were the groups of schoolchildren on a visit. However, one of them helpfully took some photos of the group by the bronze flag-raising memorial before we lunched in a reasonably quiet corner. We finished and left just as a very heavy shower swept in from the sea. It kindly cleared when we got to the coast at Gouvernetou monastery and walked down towards the sea. Flowers were rather sparse but some interesting items included the small flowered version of the "halfday" Sisyrinchium iris, Cistus creticus and Pyramidal Orchid. Birds included Redstart, Black-eared Wheatear and some excellent views of a pair of Chuckar. Driving back towards Agia Triada Monastery we stopped in a lovely flowery meadow to photograph the best Dragon Arums we had seen; these were fully out and the flowers were quite profuse here. We visited the monastery and its gardens, and had a stroll in the vineyard and orchards outside: 3 Marsh Harriers were reported and a Blue Rock Thrush made several visits to it's nest carrying food. Alan and June finally got a long-desired photo opportunity for a fine specimen of Giant Fennel and so back to the hotel just before 6. The log was held over drinks by the pool.

Saturday 20 April

A perfect morning for the early walk. The Red-throated Pipits were again seen well in the fields, a Montague's Harrier flew over and we also had a Hobby. A Little Crake Bittern was enjoyed by the rearguard as the main party came back for breakfast.

In perfect weather, we left at 9.00 for Agia reservoir, through the orange groves. The "illegal" taverna below the dam must have a good lawyer. From the foundation stages of last year, it has now become ready for guests, although not open at the time of our arrival. However, the reservoir produced its usual riches. A mixed flock of Black Common and Alpine Swifts swooped over the water, and Marsh Harriers soared above the reeds and no less than eight Little Crakes skulked in the marsh . The newly landscaped dam is rapidly being re-colonised by plants, but we have to leave the flowery field behind the dam until tomorrow.

The coach climbed on up through the maquis on roads edged with a profusion of white-flowered Sage-leaved Cistus, to reach the high plateau of Omalos. Morning coffee was followed by a short walk near the taverna. Increased fencing has limited access to some of the better flower areas, but numbers of pink tulips could be seen in places particularly at the uncultivated field edges. Woodlarks sang all round and were well seen. Our next stop was lunch at the top of the Samaria gorge to enjoy the views up to the peaks and down into the Gorge. The ubiquitous school parties were here also, but most departed fairly soon. We enjoyed Griffon Vultures circling over the peak and Red-billed Chough calling as they flew over. On the ground were the yellow few-flowered orchid O. pauciflora and the Yellow Bee orchid. After lunch we drove down slightly to the plateau and found many more tulips, considerable numbers of blue Crown Anemones and fine examples of Widow (Snake's Head) Iris. The birdwatchers managed to find several Cirl Buntings and a very elusive Nightingale.

Our next stop was by the swallow hole, which produced Wood Sandpipers, Grey Heron, Tawny Pipit and BlueBlack-headed Wagtail, and where Alan found one nice sand crocus, Romulea bulbocodium. The local shepherd felt that we were blocking the preferred route of his sheep which were drifting that way, so we reluctantly moved on. A very windy stop on the ridge crest near Agia Irini for a quick look at the view, and to be amused by a flock of variegated goats and then on down to the valley and back to the hotel. As we paused at the T-junction in Tavronitis, a cafe customer spotted the Travelling Naturalist logo on the bus window, and promptly opened his shirt to bare his chest! June waved her binoculars at him, but could he have misinterpreted the company name?

Back to the joy of a fully restored hot-water supply.

Sunday 21 April

Still morning with some light cloud. The morning walk produced another good selection, including several Great Reed Warblers and Red-throated Pipits seen well with Yellow Wagtails. As we boarded the coach, two Red-footed falcons Falcons and Aa Woodchat Shrike were seen.

As we reached Agia Reservoir, the amplified sound of the Sunday morning church service floated over the water. We rapidly had very good close views of Baillon's Crake and Little Bittern. We also had Little Crake, Pallid Harrier and an excellent Golden Oriole in the telescopes. The flowery field below the dam produced masses of Salsify, French Lavender, Sage-leaved Cistus and Serapias orchids.

Moving on to Therisso, we drove through the impressive gorge and saw the blue spikes of the endemic Petromarula pinnata (Cretan Rock Lettuce) and then to a taverna in the village for morning refreshments. As ever this week, the school parties were there before us but soon left. We ate our lunch near the church and then walked down the hill towards the gorge. The roadside flowers were attractive and we saw our first Cretan Cyclamen as well as Giant and Yellow Bee orchids. Blackcap was added to the trip list with several more Serins and Blue Rock Thrush. Zacharias brought the coach down for us, and we drove back to the hotel in mid-afternoon to have some leisurely pottering about at will. Mike settled under a tree near the beach to sketch the Red-footed Falcons, some looked at the flowers in the fields, and others just put their feet up.

To complete a fine day, Jean very kindly presented the group with wine for dinner, to mark her enjoyment of the week and the company of the group.

Monday 22 April

A clear morning, but a strong wind from the North East and dark cloud on the mountains. Red-footed Falcons still here on the morning walk, and a Red-throated Pipit flock was seen in flight. The sea was rough and a very distant shearwater was glimpsed. There were good telescope views of a Tawny Pipit but the delight of the walk was a fine Rock Thrush perched on a fence post.

After breakfast we left the Chrispy Hotel and went back towards Heraklion. First stop was at Souda Bay cemetery where there were small sheets of Tongue Orchids, some Blue Lupin, and a Fragrant Orchid and an Osprey showed off its lack of skill at fishing. A quick stop at Georgiopouli lake, where the main interest was one Mute Swan. We arrive at Lake Gourna just after yet another load of schoolchildren who were descending to the lake. We preferred to go for refreshments at the nearest taverna where we had a good view down on the very empty lake. In good time (or so we thought) for the remainder of the day's activities we pressed on. However, something was obviously amiss at the Petres river bridge. The road was blocked with pickup trucks by a group of about 40 shepherds/farmers. Totally relaxed by a week of Cretan life, we sat back and watched the proceedings with interest. Increasingly senior police officers arrived in sequence, strode around a lot and had no effect at all. Zacharias said the protest would be over in due course, and suggested that we eat our lunch in the bus as it was cool and windy outside. We had a fine vantage point on the bridge, and had views of up to 5 7 Griffon Vultures overhead and Peregrines in the gorge. At 2pm as promised the protest ended; the only visible sign that remained was a car stuck in wet sand where it had attempted to cross the river and return to Chania. However, the 1½ hour holdup had affected the day's plan so there would not be time for a visit to the Heraklion museum.

Knossos was reached about 4pm, and a guide Chris was engaged for a tour. She expanded it to last 90 minutes instead of the usual hour. Knossos was quiet apart from one or two calls on her mobile (babysitter emergencies, she said) and there was time for Verginia to do some sketches of the ruins while Alan picked up a few more items for the plant list and Mike did some detailed Sparrow studies..

The tour over, we tried the bookshop and enjoyed ice creams. Chris had negotiated a lift home with our coach, and our relaxation was interrupted by an announcement from an attendant that "Our bus driver is waiting". As if Zacharaias would ever send such a message! Chris told us that the protest at Petres was one of a series nationally about farmers' pensions and the prices of farm produce. She left the bus a little later just as her mobile started to ring again, and she faded out appropriately to the tune of Auld lang syne.

Having said farewell to Zacharias, we settled in to the Creta Sun hotel at Gouves before doing the checklist outside by the sea in the lee of a verandah windbreak. Arranged at 2 tables we then explored the many and delightful variations of the huge buffet before adjourning.

Tuesday 23 April

A still morning but grey and overcast. A morning walk went through the gardens to the beach and on to the various pools and the mouth of the Aposelemis river. Main items were 3 Garganey with a Pintail, 5 Glossy Ibis, Short-toed Larks and lots of Yellow-horned poppy Poppy in flower. Some also had views of a Stone Curlew.

Breakfast again had a fascinating spread of food to browse through. This was followed by a further walk in the same general direction as the first, but directed more towards the river upstream. Cory's Shearwaters were seen by many, and the Glossy Ibis were well seen by all as was a perched and very obliging Red-footed Falcon. On the marshy area we found Saltwort and good examples of Squirting Cucumber and the red Echium angustifolium. An intriguing grasshopper that looked somewhat like a stick-insect proved to be a Long-nosed Grasshopper - Acrida ungarica. Access to the river was blocked off by new wire fencing with signs indicating a reserved section - good news for the area but it means that the river needs to be approached from the upstream side. The route back to the hotel produced a Snipe, a Squacco Heron standing on the gravel surface of the football pitch, and a flock of Spanish sparrowsSparrows.

Finally back to the hotel to pack and checkout at 12 and we adjourned for a last drink together in the lounge. The dining room opened at 12.30 and the Manchester party had time for a quick meal before the bus arrived for the airport - not Zacharias this time, as he was having a well earned day off. Following the departure of the Manchester flight and Jim Coghlan, the rest of the group chose to spend the last two hours either resting, shopping or taking a stroll back to the Creta Sun Marshes. The walk produced some good views of Marsh Sandpiper, Pied Flycatcher, a pair of Tawny Pipits and finally the almost tame Squacco Heron.

The airport coach arrived on time, goodbyes were said to Jim and Moyra who were spending another week on the island. The London flight left ahead of schedule and arrived at Gatwick 40 minutes early! After our final good-byes everyone set off for home.

Finally, many thanks to all who helped to find, discuss and identify the various plants in the field. The Plant List includes the highlights, but we are sure that individual lists will include many additional and alternative gems.

Jim Coghlan & Mike Langman

SPECIES LISTS

BIRDS

Little Grebe: 20+ at Agia Reservoir on 20.4 and 21.4.

Cory's Shearwater: 3 or 4 from Creta Sun Hotel.

European Shag: 2 of this Mediterranean sub species at Kolimbari on 17.4.

Grey Heron: 4 at Agia on 20.4 and 1 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Purple Heron: 1 at Rapaniana on 21.4.

Little Egret: 1-3 seen most days with 4 at Agia Reservoir on 22.4 and Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Squacco Heron: 2 at Rapaniana on 21.4 and 2 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Black-crowned Night-heron: 1 at Agia Reservoir on 21.4.

Little Bittern: Singles at Rapaniana on 20.4, Agia on 21.4 and Souda bay on 22.4.

Glossy Ibis: 1 at Tavernitis River on 17.4 and 5 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Mute Swan: 1 at Georgioupolis Lake on 22.4.

Pintail: a pair at Agia on 20.4 and 21.4. also 1 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Mallard: 2 at Agia on 20.4 and 1 0n 21.4.

Garganey: 3 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Northern Shoveler: A pair at Agia on 20.4 and 21.4.

Ferruginous Duck: 2 at Agia on 20.4 and 3 on 21.4.

Osprey: 1 at Souda Bay on 22.4.

Eurasian Griffon Vulture: 15+ at Kourtaliotiko Gorge on 18.4, 7 at Samaria Gorge on 20.4, 1 at Therisso Gorge on 21.4 and 6 over Petres River on 22.4.

Pallid Harrier: 1 female at Agia on 21.4.

Montagu's Harrier: one noted at Rapaniana on 20.4.

Eurasian Marsh Harrier: Several seen each day, mostly along the coast, with a maximum daily count of 6 on 17/4.

Common Buzzard: Common, noted daily.

Common Kestrel: Common; recorded daily.

Hobby: 1 over Rapaniana beach on 20.4.

Red-footed Falcon: At Rapaniana 6 on 21.4 and 3 on 22.4 also 1 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Peregrine: Singles at Afrata on 17.4, Rodakino village on 18.4 and 2 at Petres River on 22.4.

Chukar: 5 at Akrotiri on 19.4

Common Quail: 1 at Rapaniana on 18.4

Little Crake: At Agia Reservoir 8 on 20.4 and 4 on 21.4 also 1 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Baillon's Crake: A fine male at Agia on 21.4.

Common Moorhen: Singles seen at most wetlands with a maximum of 30+ at Agia on 21.4.

Common Coot: Most common waterfowl at Agia with over 80 seen on 20.4 and 21.4.

Black-winged Stilt: A single at Agia on 20.4 and 21.4 also 1 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Stone-curlew: 2 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Collared Pratincole: 2 in fields by Tavernitis River on 17.4.

Little Ringed Plover: noted at most coastal wetlands with a maximum of 6 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Marsh Sandpiper: 1-2 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4

Common Greenshank: Singles over Rapaniana on 17.4 and 18.4, Tavernitis River on 17.4 and Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Redshank: 1 at Tavernitis River on 17.4.

Wood Sandpiper: Common in small numbers at Tavernitis, Omalos Plateaux and Creta Sun Lagoons

Common Sandpiper: Common in small numbers at most wetlands.

Common Snipe: 1 at Creta Sun Marsh 23.4.

Little Stint: 2 at Tavernitis River, 1 on Omalos Plateaux and 4 at Creta Sun Lagoons.

Curlew Sandpiper: 1 at Agia on 21.4.

Ruff: 8 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Yellow-legged Gull: Common.

Black-headed Gull: 1 at Souda Bay on 22.4.

Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon): Possibly 'Real' Rock Doves noted at Kourtaliotiko Gorge, otherwise plenty of Feral Pigeons.

European Turtle Dove: Small movement noted most days at Rapaniana with a maximum of 12 on 17.4.

Eurasian Collared Dove: Common in most towns.

Common (Eurasian) Cuckoo: 1 possibly heard at Venizelou memorial park on 19.4 and 1 over Agia on 20.4.

Barn Owl: 2 heard at Chrispy Hotel on 18.4

European Scops Owl: 1 heard at Moni Agiatrada.

Alpine Swift: Good numbers noted away from coast with close views of 30+ at Agia on 20.4.

Common Swift: Common.

Bee-eater: 2 over Kolimbari on 17.4

Greater Short-toed Lark: 5 at Rapaniana on 18.4 1 on 21.4 and 6 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Crested Lark: Common along coast.

Wood Lark: The most numerous bird on Omalos Plateaux.

European Sand Martin: Small numbers noted migrating most days.

Eurasian Crag Martin: Small numbers noted in most of the inland gorges.

Barn Swallow: Good numbers migrating west along the coast each day, also breeding in many villages.

Red-rumped Swallow: 2 at Rodakino on 18.4 and a flock of 11 at Rapaniana on 19.4

House Martin: Small numbers noted on the first few days only.

Yellow Wagtail: Good numbers almost noted daily of at least 2 races, several fine black-headed specimens.

White Wagtail: Just 2 singles seen at Rodakino on 18.4 and Chania on 19.4.

Tawny Pipit: 2 on Omalos Plateaux on 20.4, 1 at Rapaniana on 22.4 and 2 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Tree Pipit: 1 at Rapaniana on 20.4.

Red-throated Pipit: Regularly 15-20 at Rapaniana each morning and 2 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Woodchat Shrike: 1 at Tavernitis River on 17.4, and a single at Rapaniana on 21.4 and 22.4.

Winter Wren: Singles heard and sometimes seen at several mostly inland sites.

Rock Thrush: 1 male at Rapaniana on 22.4.

Blue Rock Thrush: Small numbers recorded in gorges at Afrata, Therisso, Akrotiri and with 8 at Kourtaliotiko on 18.4.Also at Moni Agiatrada.

Common Blackbird: Common.

Common Nightingale: Singles singing at Afrata, Agia - seen at Rapaniana on 19.4 and Omalos on 20.4.

Common Redstart: 1 male at Akrotiri on 19.4.

Whinchat: Between 3-8 noted daily at Rapaniana.

Common Stonechat: Common already breeding.

Northern Wheatear: Only small numbers noted along coast but 15+ on Omalos Plateaux on 20.4.

Black-eared Wheatear: Small numbers away from coast with a maximum of 3 on Omalos Plateaux on 20.4.

Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola): Just one noted at Rapaniana on 20.4 and 22.4.

Cetti's Warbler: Common in most wetland sites.

Great Reed Warbler: 2 at Agia on 2.4 and 21.4 and 2 at Rapaniana on 21.4.

Sedge Warbler: 3-4 at Agia on 20.4 and 21.4 and 1 at Georgioupolis lake on 22.4.

Common Chiffchaff: Singles Omalos on 20.4 and Souda Bay on 22.4.

Blackcap: 3 heard in Therisso Gorge.

Whitethroat: Singles at Rapaniana on 22.4 and Creta Sun Hotel on 23.4.

Sardinian Warbler: Common.

Spotted Flycatcher: 1 at Souda Bay.

Collared Flycatcher: One male at Afrata.

Pied Flycatcher: One male at Afrata and another at Creta Sun Lagoons on 23.4.

Great Tit: Common

Blue Tit: Small numbers noted mostly inland.

Red-billed Chough: Pairs noted at Kourtaliotiko and Samaria Gorge also on Omalos Plateaux.

Eurasian Jackdaw: Several at distance from Knossos on Aqueduct.

Hooded Crow: Common

Common Raven: 1-2 noted in most hilly or mountainous areas.

Jay : One at Samaria Gorge and on Omalos Plateaux on 20.4.

Starling: 1 at Agia Reservoir on 21.4.

Golden Oriole: 6 at Agia on 20.4 an 1 on 21.4.

Corn Bunting: 1 at Rapaniana and 5 or more at Frangocastello on 18.4, also 2 Rapaniana on 21.4.

Cirl Bunting. 10+ seen and heard on Omalos on 20.4.

Common Chaffinch: Common.

European Serin: 2 at Venizelou Memorial Park on 19.4, 3 at Therisso on 21.4 and 2 at Souda Bay on 22.4.

European Greenfinch: Common.

European Goldfinch: Common.

Common Linnet: Small flocks in mountains and Akrotiri.

House (Italian) Sparrow: Common nesting everywhere.

Spanish Sparrow: 60+ in groups of 20+ moving west at Creta Sun Hotel.

MAMMALS

Eastern Hedgehog Erinaceus concolor: Dead on road.

Beech Marten Martes foina: Several dead on roads.

Badger Meles meles: one dead on road

Mouse Sp.: one dead on road.

AMPHIBIANS

Marsh Frog Rana ridibunda: Sounded like this sp. heard around Agia Reservoir.

REPTILES

Erhard's Wall Lizard Podarcis erhardii: Several seen at various locations.

Balkan Green Lizard Lacerta trilineata: Several noted at various locations.

Stripe-necked Terrapin Mauremys leprosa: many at Agia Reservoir.

BUTTERFLIES

Swallowtail Papilio machaon: 1 in Chania.

Eastern festoon Zerynthia cerisyi: Several noted at various locations.

Large white Pieris brassicae: Common.

Small white Artogeia rapae: Common.

Clouded yellow Colias croceus: Locally common.

Small copper Lycaena phlaeas: 1 at Armeni Tombs.

Small blue Cupido minimus: Possibly noted.

Holly blue Celastrina argiolus: Common.

Red admiral Vanessa atalanta: 1-2 seen most days.

Painted lady Cynthia cardui: several noted most days.

Wall brown Lasiommata megera: 1 at Petres River.

MOTHS

Processionary Moth: Caterpillar nests noted in many pine trees.

DRAGONFLIES

Damselfly Sp.: Noted at Agia Reservoir.

Hawker Sp.: Noted at Agia Reservoir.

Darter Sp.: Noted at Agia Reservoir.

OTHER INSECTS

Egyptian Grasshopper Anacridium aegyptium: several noted.

Long-nosed Grasshopper Acrida ungarica: one at Creta Sun Lagoons.

Violet carpenter bee Xylocopa violacea: noted on several days.

Cretan Soldier Beetle Lygaeus saxatilis: presumably this sp. common.

7-spot Ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata: Common.

Hornet sp: one on 17.4.

OTHER TAXA

Banded Snail Cernuella virgata: common

PLANTS

Numbers refer to Grey Wilson & Blamey "Mediterranean Wild Flowers".

Pinus brutia 2

Pinus pinea Stone Pine 3

Cupressus sempervirens Italian Cypress 11

Quercus coccifera Kermes Oak 24

Quercus aegilops Valonia Oak 28

Morus alba White Mulberry 41

Ficus carica Fig 42

Urtica pilulifera Roman Nettle 48

Salicornia europea Glasswort 85

Salsola kali Prickly Saltwort 102

Bougainvillea glabra Bougainvillea 10

Caprobrotus edulis Hottentot Fig 115

Silene sedoides 163

Silene colorata 180

Kohlrauschia velutina Proliferous Pink 187

Anemone coronaria Crown Anemone 211

Ranunculus gracilis 247

Ranunculus ficaria Lesser Celandine 252a

Ranunculus asiaticus Turban Buttercup 257

Papaver rhoeas Common Poppy 283

Glaucium tlavum Yellow-horned Poppy 293

Ricotia cretica Ricotia 319

Arabis verna Spring Rockcress 322

Aubretia deltoidea Aubretia 324

Matthiola tricuspidata Three-horned Stock 329

Biscutella didyma Biscutella 341

Eruca vesicaria Eruca 361

Reseda alba White Mignonette 375

Umbilicus rupestris Navelwort 396

Platanus orientalis Plane 400

Prunus dulcis Almond 421

Eriobotrya japonica Loquat 429

Cercis siliquastrum Judas Tree 430

Ceratonia siliqua Carob, Locust Tree 431

Psoralea bituminosa Pitch Trefoil 508

Medicago marina Sea Medick 605

Trifolium stel1atum Starry Clover 662

Oxalis pes-caprae Bermuda Buttercup 735

Erodium chium 751

Euphorbia dendroides 792

Euphorbia acanthotharnnos Hedgehog Spurge 794

Euphorbia characias 818

Citrus limon Lemon 832

C. sinensis Orange 836

C. paradisi Grapefruit 839

Hypericum empetrifolium 950

Cistus creticus Cretan Cistus 962

Cistus salvifolius Sage-leaved Cistus 965

Ecballium elaterium Squirting Cucumber 1032

Smyrnium perfoliatum Perfoliate Alexanders 1088

Smyrnium connatum Yellow Alexanders 1092

Ferulacommunis Giant Fennel 1141

Tordylium apulum Tordylium 1149

Arbutus unedo Strawberry Tree 1176

Erica arborea Tree Heather 1178

Anagallis arvensis var .caerulea Blue Pimpernel 1198

Cyclamen creticum Cretan Cyclamen 1208

Olea europea Olive 1248

Echium italicum Italian Echium 1380

Echium angustifolium Red Echium 1382

Cynoglossum creticum Blue Houndstongue 1402

Anchusa variegata Anchusa 1415

Phlomis fruticosa Jerusalem Sage 1455

Lavandula stoechas French Lavender 1528

Hyoscamus albus White Henbane 1555

Hyoscamus niger Henbane 1556

Scrophularia lucida Figwort 1587

Orobanche purpurea Purple Broomrape 1659

Orobanche reticulata Thistle Broomrape 1663

Petromarula pinnata Petromarula 1786

Chrysanthemum coronarium Crown Daisy 1895

Galactites tomentosa Galactites 1971

Picnomon acarna Picnomon 1965

Tragopogon porrifolius Salsify 2055

Asphodelus aestivus Asphodel 2089

Asphodeline lutea Yellow Asphodeline 2092

Gagea graeca Greek Gagea 2102

Gagea fistulosa Yellow Gagea 2105

Tulipa bakeri Tulip 2146

Muscari comosum Tassel Hyacinth 2201

Allium roseum Rosy Garlic 2224

Iris tuberosus Widow Iris 2283

Gynandriris monophylla One-leaved Nut Iris 2306

Romulea bulbocodium Sand Crocus 2314

Arum sp

Dracunculus vulgaris Dragon Arum 2358

Orchis coriophora subsp. fragrans Fragrant Orchid 2405a

Orchis italica Naked Man Orchid 2409

Orchis pauciflora Provence (Few-flowered) Orchid 2417a

Orchis laxiflora Lax-flowered Orchid 2420

Ophrys lutea Yellow Bee Orchid 2423

Ophrys scolopax Woodcock Orchid 2436

Ophrys bombyliflora Bumble Bee Orchid 2444

Barlia robertiana Giant Orchid 2446

Anacamptis pyramidalis Pyramidal Orchid 2447

Serapias lingua Tongue Orchid 2451

Serapias parviflora Small-flowered Tongue Orchid 2452

Lagurus ovatus Haresfoot Grass 2473

Arundo donax Giant Reed 2494


© The Travelling Naturalist 2002