TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

Crete

15 - 22 April 2003


Leaders:
Jim Coghlan
Mike Langman



Diary
Tuesday 15 April
The group assembled in Gatwick at 4.00 to check in. We were all disappointed for Geoff and Joyce who unfortunately had to withdraw from the tour at the last minute. The flight got away promptly at 6.05 and we enjoyed breakfast, the latest Harry Potter film and glimpses of snow-covered Alpine ranges before arriving early at Heraklion at 11.35. The weather outside left something to be desired – a cool 15ºC, northerly wind off the sea, overcast, murky and no sign of the high mountains inland. Ursula from Lyttos Travel met us, introduced George who would drive our minibus and we agreed that German would be the best communication language, with English and Greek interludes as required.
We headed west towards Chania along roads with lush green verges holding Crown Daisy, Salsify and Mallow. The sea was rough in the wind as we turned off the main road and went in to Rethymnon harbour for a lunch stop, along the way passing tourists huddled for warmth at bus stops. We were easily enticed by a restaurant proprietor who offered "central heating" inside a screened taverna. Things looked up however as we set about some Greek salad, Tsatziki and stuffed vine leaves, and the sun came out, the sun blinds were drawn and the temperature rose at last. A walk to the Venetian harbour walls after lunch, where Henbane and Yellow-Horned Poppy were among our first plant finds. We made use of Tony’s mobile to contact George when we were ready to continue after our exploration.
We stopped briefly at Petres Bridge to see what might be there: Griffon Vulture, Peregrine, two Kingfishers and Wood Sandpiper made a good start to the bird list, while Blue Houndstongue, and Yellow Bee Orchid, were added to the plants. Further along our route we started to see fruit trees in blossom, red and white flowered Cistus, Jerusalem Sage, Spanish Broom and patches of Purple Viper’s Bugloss.
We located the Silver Beach hotel at 5.30 after a few small detours, and arrived alongside a small stream and parking just yards from the beach. The afternoon had improved considerably since leaving Rethymnon and was now hot.
Drinks in the lounge were followed by a self-service buffet meal of salad, various hot main courses in a good local style and desserts including Walnut and Honey cake for dessert. We made for bed after a long day, with the sound of the surf outside giving a soothing background noise



Wednesday 16 April
A perfect morning, with light wind as the sun rose just before 7.00 am, but a bank of cloud obscured the mountains. The morning walk group found Common Sandpiper on the stream outside, Cetti's Warbler was heard, a Squacco Heron flew, Goldfinches were in the Giant Reed and Swift, Whinchat, Sardinian Warbler and Serins helped to make a good start to the day. The ground too was interesting, and plants included sheets of red Silene colorata, Three-horned Stock, Sea Holly and the leaves of Sea Daffodil.
After a good breakfast we set off to explore locally. First stop was for a walk below the bridge at the Tavronitis River. A mass of flowers in the fields and on the river bank included Pale Flax, Blue and Red version of Scarlet Pimpernel, and Ramping Fumitory. Buzzard, Whinchat and Bee-eaters kept the bird list going. Continuing down to the Tavronitis river mouth, we added a flock of Common Sandpipers, Red-footed Falcons, Red-throated Pipits and Blue-headed Yellow Wagtails. Insects were starting to move in the warmth and 22-spot Ladybird and Carpenter Bee were noted. Our coffee and drinks morning break was taken in the sun outside a taverna near Kolimbari, then we stopped near the harbour to explore the little chapel above the road and the flowery area below which had Small-flowered Serapias and Early Spider Orchid; Henbane, Salsify and Jerusalem Sage and many others were also seen. A Blue Rock Thrush sang from a small gorge and the harbour had attracted a ‘Mediterranean’ Shag.
We enjoyed our picnic by the sea near Gouvernetou Monastery before heading for Afrata. Here George became both helpful and mystified. He drove us down to the sea and then back up towards the village. Some of the group got out at the half-way stage to look at the chapel and gorge, while the rest of us were taken back up to the village to walk back down again more slowly; George was to await a call on his mobile to pick us up at the half-way point. The groves held a lot of birds including Pied and Collared Flycatchers, Whitethroat, a flock of Spanish Sparrows and Nightingale and there were wonderful close views of Wood Warblers to enable Mike to point out the identification features. The flowers also were a treat, and Carol and Jim had quite a list which included Lesser Snapdragon, a Figwort, Golden Drop and Black Bryony.
The party regrouped as arranged near the chapel, but finding a steady mobile signal proved elusive. Tony’s mobile was carried about and George was rung numerous times, but the signal was always lost. However, the series of calls without messages had the desired effect, and George soon appeared to take us back to the hotel. The log session was held in the lounge, followed by another good dinner.

Thursday 17 April
The weather was not too promising at 7.00 am for our walk under a low cloud-filled sky and light north-easterly wind. Little Egret, Little Ringed Plover started the day followed by Swifts and Yellow Wagtails as we walked along the beach. A bare, recently cultivated field surrounded by good scrub cover held more Yellow Wagtails, Tree Pipit, Woodchat Shrike and Crested Lark amongst others. The flowers too were very interesting, and we noted Yellow-horned Poppy, Agave, Common Fumitory and Buckshorn Plantain on the way back. The White Mountains were now visible, but looking grey despite their snow-covered tops.
We set off at 9.00 for a two-gorge tour with the weather still cool and grey. However, only a few drops of rain fell before we made a short stop at the Petres River. No raptors this morning, but Spotted Flycatchers, Whinchat, Wood Warbler and Common Sandpiper and Anchusa with lots of Thistle Broomrape on the ground. Our next stop was at the Armeni Minoan cemetery. Few visitors here, and the Vallonia Oaks were barely coming into leaf but a nice selection of flowers included Gagea graeca, Salsify, white Anemones, Star of Bethlehem and Proliferous Pink. A pleasing variety of orchids too: Yellow Bee, Bumble Bee, Woodcock, Italian Man, Small-flowered Tongue, Sawfly, and Giant Orchids. Not too many birds to be found but Cirl Bunting was a new addition and several more Wood Warblers.
But the rain started as we left at 12.00 and was falling very heavily when we stopped at Armeni village for refreshments. Our chosen taverna was full of locals and smoke-laden air, but they rapidly cleared tables for us and commiserated about the weather. Once the coffees had arrived, the proprietor turned up with a small flagon of Raki and sticks of cheese to warm and nourish the inner tourist.
Not much sign of the rain easing, so we continued in the hope of finding better conditions lower down near the south coast. Despite the rain and wind, the imposing and richly coloured cliffs and ravine of the Kouraliotikos gorge impressed greatly, and even inspired George to gasp in admiration. Driven back by the heavy rain, we had our picnic in the bus. A short venture outside found Crag Martin and Griffon Vultures in the mist, few flowers other than O. Italica and Silene colorata; everything else still waited for warmer conditions. On slowly then, over a road badly degraded and undercut in places (the same all over Greece after the wet winter, says George) to the village of Mariou for a further coffee stop and to look down towards the Libyan Sea and the cliffs near Plakias. Driving on, we came back up the Kotsifos Gorge, impressive in the rain but smaller than the Kourtaliotikos; glimpses of Cretan Arum here. A drive on through small villages was slowed when we encountered the aftermath of an impact between some local vehicles. The muddy skid marks on a wet road at a sharp curve showed the history; nobody injured but the road blocked to the large coach in front of us. Here we had the benefit of our smaller vehicle, and were able to edge past and continue towards Rethymnon and the North coast. The rain had stopped when we reached Georgioupolis so we made a detour to the fresh water lake to view a large number of hirundines (mainly Sand and House Martins), two Little Stints, Coots and Moorhens as well as a Little Egret in breeding plumage. There was also a nice Red-flowered Houndstongue at our viewing point.
Back to the hotel for a log in the lounge with drinks, and on to dinner.

Friday 18 April
We were woken at 3.45am by torrential rain and a thunderstorm immediately overhead which lasted for some time. At 6.15 it was little better: lightning flashes, heavy rain from the North, a very misty atmosphere and no power, so the morning walk was abandoned. The power returned at breakfast-time, but the day’s plans were in doubt because of the weather. However, it eased later and we set off to Chania at 9.30 via the coast road. Some unintended diversions took us through the main square and gave an opportunity to orientate ourselves and locate some cash machines for later use. Having parked near the old town walls, we headed for town in light rain past the harbour, where a strong northerly wind sent heavy seas washing over the edge. Bookshops, the Archaeological Museum, the Market and assorted coffee shops were popular destinations for the next couple of hours. The return to the bus later gave some exciting dashes along the harbour as the water washed well over when a wave came in. Before leaving we had a very good view of a Kingfisher sheltering from the wind on the edge of an empty swimming pool near the sea.
Arriving at the Venezelou Graves Park overlooking the town, we found a reasonably wind-free spot outside the souvenir shop and had our lunch with only occasional spots of rain. Several species of flycatcher and Serins fed among the olive trees.
Continuing as planned, we headed out to Akrotiri past the airport, and out to the headland monastery of Gouvernetou. The very strong Northerly wind persisted, but we had seen glimpses of birds in the woody area and valley below the monastery as we arrived so we had a closer look there and farther down the sheltered valley. Sheltering like us were Golden Orioles, Cuckoos, Turtle Dove Black-eared Wheatear and Woodchat Shrike amongst others. The flowers here had barely started, but we did find Yellow Bee Orchid and Turban Buttercup. Having returned slowly to the orchards of Agia Triada monastery, we found more Golden Orioles and a nice set of Hobby, Kestrel and Red-footed Falcons close together. The vineyard held Yellow Wagtails of several races and a Tawny Pipit. We had time for a visit to the monastery and see the famous Orange / Lemon / Grapefruit tree as well as Cretan Mullein growing on the walls.
George leaves us tomorrow, so we had a little presentation before driving back to the hotel for 6.00. We felt wind-blown, but pleased to have achieved so much despite the weather.

Saturday 19 April
A clear cool, morning with light wind and the mountains and the Rodopi peninsula clear. Sand Martins and Swallows flying close. Four Golden Orioles and 22 Turtle Doves flew west, eight Squacco Herons in the stream and a Pied Flycatcher.
Dimitris our new driver turned up with a small coach and we left for Agia Reservoir after a somewhat tongue in cheek call ‘is it a two or three jumper day’. It was a lovely sunny morning when we arrived, with sounds of a service coming over the water from the village church. A lot of birds were seen, including Alpine and Common Swift, a flock of Garganey, Marsh Harrier, 6 Squacco and a Purple Heron and at least 10 Little Crakes. The rough area below the dam was only just starting to flower, but had French Lavender, Pale Flax, Orchis laxiflora, and Small-flowered Serapias. Taverna coffees followed, giving time to admire the snow-covered mountains, and to search for tree frogs in the taverna garden wall.
On towards the mountains, we made a stop above the village of Laki and found a few flowers of interest coming: Anemone heldreichii, Picnomon Thistle, and Sun Spurge. The Omalos plateau looked impressive but rather bleak when we arrived, and with few flowers visible as yet. A stop near the hotels however did find two attractive types of sand crocus: the white Romulea bulbocodium and a purple version. A few birds were found in the fields including Northern Wheatears, Tree Pipits, Woodlark and a Redstart. Lunch was taken at Xyloskala at the top of the Samaria Gorge in very cool but still air. This area was of interest to Sue and Alastair who had last passed this way at a very early hour en route to walk down the Gorge to the sea. Various parties then went to look for flowers (little other than multicolored buds of Crown Anemones) and up to the nearby mountain hut to look without success for Alpine Accentor, however several Red-billed Chough, Raven and a pair of calling Chukar were noted. All then adjourned for hot drinks in the comfort of the cafe nearby.
Driving down we stopped on the plateau. A diligent search found a few plants of interest: Widow Iris, Yellow Gagea, more Sand Crocus and some Tulip buds just starting, growing in the lee of steel-mesh field fencing and in the shelter of some small trees. Tony glimpsed a Hoopoe and led a pursuit up the hillside in chase. As it was now clouding over and getting quite cool, we continued on to pause at the swallow hole - lots of water there. Woodlarks, Wheatears, Yellow Wagtails and a fine Rock Thrush were seen from the comfort of the small coach which gave excellent visibility. A further stop on the ridge near Agia Irini gave very hazy views to both North and South, and views of Strawberry Tree and Tree Heather. On past Prasses and the orange groves where we passed large numbers of hirundines. Back to the hotel soon after 6. Hotel is quiet tonight. We viewed Tony's digital camera images of Squacco Heron (hand-held through the telescope) and the flowers of Omalos before heading for dinner.

Sunday 20 April
7.00 walk with the sun rising behind Ag Theodori island: mild with a light NW breeze, but the mountains a little gloomy and unclear. First a Common Sandpiper on the stream then we picked up Cory’s Shearwater following a trawler out to sea. A splendid V-formation of 18 Glossy Ibis flew past. The bare field had Corn Bunting perched and Short-toed Larks on the ground. Whinchat, Yellow Wagtails and Woodchat Shrike followed. Returning to breakfast we passed masses of Silene Colorata and Ramping Fumitory, and were able to spot several Cory’s Shearwaters close to the same trawler as it hauled its nets.
Easter Sunday at home, and Elizabeth presented us all with chocolate eggs to mark the event.
Dimitris turned up at 9.00 with a somewhat larger coach – a tyre problem with the other, unfixable on a Sunday – and set off for another visit to Agia reservoir. As yesterday, the chanting of the morning service floated across the water to us. More Little Crakes were found, 8 Squacco Herons, a couple of Red-rumped Swallows and Penduline Tits which were well seen by all. The flowers seemed to have come on even since yesterday, and Pale Flax, Spotted Rockrose, Small Melilot and both Dove’s foot – and Cut-leaved Cranesbills were found. Morning coffee time gave us Marsh Harrier and good telescope views of Penduline Tits.
The village of Therisso reached via the edge of Chania was our next destination and gave views of the narrow and impressive Therisso gorge. We enjoyed our picnic lunch on the walls above the stream by the church where we could see Cretan Cyclamen and Nettle-leaved Figwort. As we ate, a bat (larger than a Pipistrelle) arrived and started to fly around hunting as though it were dusk rather than mid-day. After lunch we strolled downhill through the village and towards the gorge, finding Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, Griffon Vulture and Raven along the way. Wayside verges and fields held Milk and Picnomon Thistles, Graceful Buttercup, Shiny Cranesbill, Bur Forget-me-not and Ivy-leaved Speedwell.
Dimitris drove down to collect us as arranged, and we were back at the hotel by 4 o’clock on a lovely sunny afternoon. Time for swimming, lazing by the pool in the sun, or just pottering along the beach.
A final log for this location and off to dinner.

Monday 21 April
The day started with a clear but with a hazy mist over sea and mountains. Sheila’s birthday started with a feeling of déja vu with a fly-past of 18 Glossy Ibis as we took our morning walk. We also saw Spanish Sparrows and a flock of 15 Turtle Doves. After breakfast, it was time to say farewell to the Silver Beach hotel and move east again. Dimitris arrived with his original bus and we headed for the British Cemetery at Souda Bay. It was a perfect morning at this beautiful location. The grassy area near the Bay produced lots of Serapias orchids, with Lupin and Rosy Garlic which were still in bud. Birds included several Tree Sparrows, Little Egret, Hoopoe and White Wagtail.
After the best part of an hour we moved on to the round, freshwater, Lake Kournas which was empty of birds as it often is in springtime. We enjoyed coffees here, and the small flask of Raki provided by the management. So we continued to Knossos and arrived there about 1.45. The picnic was eaten in the shady area outside the entrance, and we then went on a tour of the ancient site. This was led by our guide Katerini who wore a splendid all-black outfit in traditional Cretan style. Her presentation of the complex site was very good. Competition among guides is obviously keen, as we were later quizzed by two of her colleagues about the price paid; we were suitably vague in reply. The drinks kitty provided ice-creams for all in a last flourish, and we continued to the Creta Sun. Not quite directly however, as Dimitris did not know the hotel as well as he said he did. A slight detour round the nearby resort of Gouves gave another touch of local colour before we finally reached our destination. The light in the west was good for birdwatching over the saltmarsh, so we found our rooms and then set off along the beach for the lagoon areas. First sightings were of Cory’s Shearwater following a trawler in the bay. Although distant the birds were readily seen in a telescope. There was a lot of water in the marshy area and the pools held a good variety of waders including Ruff, Wood and Marsh Sandpiper but even more surprising was a breeding-plumaged Cattle Egret with Little Egrets.
We felt we had done well when we adjourned to change for dinner. And then we were disappointed by the normally impecccable Crete Sun - the water was at best lukewarm i.e. cold. They did say that it was a hotel wide problem and technicians were working on it. Indeed they were, as the water was hot later in the evening. The buffet dinner was the chance to make good. Although we had got the general idea of labyrinths from the Knossos tour, we still found it difficult to find our way around the huge selection of dishes available. Tasting notes and selection suggestions were compared, and we did well. Just as we sat back at last, the hotel manager and a waitress stepped forward with a birthday cake complete with sparkler and token candle to celebrate Sheila’s birthday. The cake was cut and demolished quickly to end a good day. And so final packing and bed.

Tuesday 22 April
The entire party gathered at 7.15 for a morning walk in still conditions with high flat cloud, and a calm sea with light mist. Shearwaters flying near the island of Dia were visible in the telescope and a fine selection of birds were found on the saltmarsh: a flight of three Squacco Herons, a flying Purple Heron, and two Greenshanks were heard and seen. The vegetation was quite similar to our previous location: a lot of Sea Holly, Sea Medick and Sea Daffodils with Glasswort on the salt marsh area. Interesting birds kept on appearing in style: Marsh Sandpiper with a fine reflection in the water, flights of Ruff and a good view of them when they landed in a long strip of vegetation between pools. Likewise Wood Sandpipers and Little Stint waded together for size comparison and finally a Little Bittern and Cuckoo shot through the sedge grass for quick sightings.
At last, to the sound of Crested Lark song, we went off to another phenomenal buffet. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and last discussion before adjourning to collect cases and assemble in the lounge for a final checklist. The Lyttos coach, driven by Lefteris, arrived promptly at 10.30 and it seemed enormous after our other transport of the week. Jim, who was staying on in Crete, said farewell at this stage and Mike and the group headed off to the airport as a flight of twelve Glossy Ibis dropped into the lagoons. The disappointment of the ‘Duty Free’ shops being shut was made up for when the Gatwick flight departed and arrived home earlier than scheduled. Luggage collected, we said our final goodbyes and headed our separate ways.



Jim Coghlan and Mike Langman

Species Lists
Birds
Little Grebe
: 2-3 Georgiopoulis 17.4. 20-30 at Agia Reservoir on 19.4 and 20.4.
Cory's Shearwater: 10+ from Silver Beach Hotel 20.4. 5 or 6 from Creta Sun Hotel 21.4 and 1 there 22.4.
Great Cormorant: 1 immature Souda Bay on 21.4
European Shag: 1 of this Mediterranean sub species at Kolimbari on 16.4. 2 in Chania Harbour 18.4 and 1 from Silver Beach Hotel 20.4.
Grey Heron: 3 at Agia on 19.4 with 2 there on 20.4.and 1 in tree near Chania on both 17.4 and 21.4.
Purple Heron: singles at Tavronitis 16.4. Agia Reservoir 19.4 and Creta Sun Lagoons 22.4.
Little Egret: 8 or 9 near Kolimbari 16.4. 2 Silver Beach Hotel 17.4. 3-4 at Agia Reservoir on 19.4 and 2 Creta Sun Lagoons on 21-22.4.
Cattle Egret: one breeding plumaged bird with little Egrets Creta Sun Lagoons on 21.4.
Squacco Heron: 1 at Silver Beach Hotel on 16.4 and 8 on 19.4. Then 6 at Agia Reservoir 19.4 and 9 there on 20.4. 2 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 21.4 and 3 there on 22.4.
Black-crowned Night-heron: 1 at Silver Beach Hotel during dinner on 20.4!
Little Bittern: 1 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 22.4.
Glossy Ibis: 18 over Silver Beach Hotel on 20.4 and 21.4. 6 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 21.4 and 12+ there on 22.4.
Mallard: 4 ‘farmyard types’ at Georgiopoulis on 17.4. 4 at Agia Reservoir on 19.4 and 5 on 20.4.
Garganey: 15+ Agia Reservoir on 19.4 and 8 there on 20.4. 2 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 21-22.4.
Northern Shoveler: 6 at Agia Reservoir on 20-21.4.
Eurasian Griffon Vulture: 8-9 over Petres Gorge on 15.4. 6 at Kourtaliotiko Gorge on 17.4, 2 at Samaria Gorge and 2 Agia Irini pass on 19.4, 4 at Therisso Gorge on 20.4.
Eagle Sp: 1 Probably Golden Eagle over Samaria Gorge 19.4.
Eurasian Marsh Harrier: 3 at Agia Triada Monastery 18.4, and two at Agia Reservoir on 19-20.4.
Common Buzzard: several, noted most days.
Common Kestrel: common; recorded almost daily.
Hobby: 4+ at Agia Triada Monastery 18.4.
Red-footed Falcon: 6 briefly at Tavronitis River 16.4 and 12+ at Agia Triada Monastery on 18.4.
Peregrine: 1 over Petres Gorge on 15.4.
Chukar: 2 heard at Samaria Gorge on 19.4.
Little Crake: at Agia Reservoir 10+ on 19.4 and 7-8 on 20.4.
Common Moorhen: singles seen at most wetlands with good numbers perhaps 20+ at Agia on 19-20.4.
Common Coot: most common waterfowl at Agia with over 40 seen on 19.4 and 21.4.
Little Ringed Plover: noted at most coastal wetlands with a maximum of 4-5 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 21.4.
Marsh Sandpiper: 1 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 21-22.4
Common Greenshank: 1 Agia Reservoir 2 Creta Sun Lagoons on 22.4.
Wood Sandpiper: 1 Petres River 15.4. 6 Creta Sun Lagoons 21.4 and 4-5 there on 22.4.
Common Sandpiper: in small numbers at most wetlands.
Little Stint: 2 at Georgiopoulis on 17.4. 5 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 22.4.
Ruff: 18 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 21-22.4.
Yellow-legged Gull: Common.
Sandwich Tern: 4 Petres Beach 15.4.
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon): plenty of Feral Pigeons daily.
European Turtle Dove: 1 at Silver Beach Hotel 18.4 with 20+ there on 19.4 and 11 on 21.4. Also 7 at Gouvernetou Monastery on 18.4 and 1 at Creta Sun Hotel on 22.4.
Eurasian Collared Dove: common in most towns.
Common (Eurasian) Cuckoo: 2 at Venizelou memorial park and 6+ at Gouvernetou Monastery on 18.4 and 1 at Creta Sun Hotel 22.4.
Alpine Swift: 2 at Agia Reservoir on 19.4.
Common Swift: common.
Bee-eater: 3 over Tavronitis River on 16.4.
Kingfisher: 2 Petres River 15.4, 1 Chania swimming Pool 18.4 and 1 Silver Beach Hotel 20.4.
Hoopoe: 1 Omalos Plateau 19.4, 1 Souda Bay War Cemetery 21.4.
Greater Short-toed Lark: 2 at Silver Beach Hotel 20-21.4. 7-8 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 22.4.
Crested Lark: Common along coast.
Wood Lark: 1 heard in Gorge below Gouvernetou Monastery, 6-8 seen on Omalos Plateau.
European Sand Martin: Small numbers noted migrating most days with 200-300 at Georgiopoulis on 17.4.
Eurasian Crag Martin: 2 Kourtaliotiko Gorge 17.4, then 1 Therisso 20.4.
Barn Swallow: Good numbers migrating west along the coast each day, also breeding in many villages.
Red-rumped Swallow: 2 Agia Reservoir 20.4.
House Martin: Good numbers noted most days.
Yellow Wagtail: good numbers almost noted daily of at least 2 races, several fine black-headed specimens.
White Wagtail: just 2 singles seen at Souda Bay on 21.4.
Tawny Pipit: 1 Afrata 16.4, 1 Agia Triada Monastery 18.4 and 3 at Creta Sun Lagoons on 21.4.
Tree Pipit: Several seen on most days, the best count was 12 on the Omalos Plateau on 19.4.
Meadow Pipit: 1 at Gouvernetou Monastery on 18.4.
Red-throated Pipit: 20+ at the Tavronitis River on 16.4.
Woodchat Shrike: ones and twos seen daily at numerous sites.
Winter Wren: Singles heard and sometimes seen at several mostly inland sites.
Rock Thrush: 1 male near Agia Irini Pass on 19.4.
Blue Rock Thrush: Singles at Kolimbari and Afrata Gorge on 16.4, 1 Kourtaliotiko Gorge on 17.4 and 5 in Therisso Gorge on 20.4.
Common Blackbird: Common.
Common Nightingale: 1 singing at Afrata 16.4, 2 Agia Reservoir 19-20.4.
Common Redstart: 1 female on Omalos Plateau 19.4 and a male at Therisso 20.4.
Whinchat: quite numerous at all coastal locations.
Common Stonechat: 1 Georgiopoulis and 1 from coach near Kourtaliotiko on 17.4, 1 Agia Reservoir 19.4.
Northern Wheatear: Only singles noted around coast but 15-20 on Omalos Plateau on 19.4.
Black-eared Wheatear: singles at Afrata 16.4, and Kourtaliotiko 17.4. 5 Gouvernetou Monastery and 2 at Agia Triada Monastery on 18.4. 5-6 on Omalos Plateau on 19.4.
Cetti's Warbler: common in most wetland sites.
Great Reed Warbler: 1 at Agia on 19.4.
Sedge Warbler: Singles at Silver Beach Hotel on 19.4 and Creta Sun Hotel 21.4.
Wood Warbler: 10+ at Afrata 16.4, 4 Armeni 17.4, 1 Venizelou Memorial Park 18.4, 1 Omalos 19.4 and 2 Therisso Gorge 20.4.
Whitethroat: ones and two’s seen most days around the coast.
Sardinian Warbler: Common.
Spotted Flycatcher: Several noted Daily.
Collared Flycatcher: 7+ males at Afrata 16.4, 5+ males again at Venizelou Memorial Park and two at Agia Triada Monastery on 18.4, 4-5 males Therisso Gorge 20.4 and 2 males Souda Bay 21.4. Small numbers of Females also noted at all of the above sites but identification not always straightforward!
Pied Flycatcher: Good numbers noted daily and numerous locations, the best count being 10+ males at Afrata on 16.4.
Great Tit: Small numbers noted at many locations.
Blue Tit: Small numbers noted mostly inland.
Penduline Tit: 2 males at Agia Reservoir 20.4.
Red-billed Chough: 6 at Samaria Gorge on 19.4.
Eurasian Jackdaw: Several noted on cliffs near Petres River 15.4 and 6 Kourtaliotiko Gorge 17.4.
Hooded Crow: Common
Common Raven: 1-2 noted in most hilly or mountainous areas.
Starling: 2 Tavronitis River 16.4.
Golden Oriole: 5+ Gouvernetou Monastery 18.4 and 4 flew over beach at Silver Beach Hotel on 19.4.
Corn Bunting: 1 at Silver Beach Hotel 20.4.
Cirl Bunting. 1 Armeni 17.4, and 1 Omalos Plateau 19.4.
Common Chaffinch: Common.
European Serin: 3 Tavronitis River 16.4, 3 at Venizelou Memorial Park on 18.4, 4 at Therisso on 20.4 and 10+ at Souda Bay on 21.4.
European Greenfinch: Common.
European Goldfinch: Common.
Common Linnet: 1 Silver Beach Hotel and 3 Omalos Plateau 19.4.
House (Italian) Sparrow: Common nesting everywhere.
Spanish Sparrow: 30+ at Afrata 16.4, 20+ in two groups Silver Beach Hotel 17.4, 10+ Silver Beach Hotel 20.4, 20 Silver Beach Hotel 21.4.
Tree Sparrow: 12+ (some displaying) at Souda Bay War Cemetery mostly in Poplar Trees on 21.4.

MAMMALS
Beech Marten
Martes foina: Several dead on roads.
Badger Meles meles: one dead on road.
Mouse Sp.: one dead on road at Therisso.
Bat sp.: one flying around at lunch time in Therisso!
Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus: one at Venizelou Memorial Park.

AMPHIBIANS
Cretan Frog
Rana cretinsis: probably this sp. heard at Agia Reservoir.
Common Tree Frog Hyla arborea: several heard but two seen at Agia Reservoir.
Green Toad Bufo viridis: one caught at Silver Beach Hotel, 6-7 calling at Creta Sun Hotel.

REPTILES
Erhard's Wall Lizard
Podarcis erhardii: one at Kolimbari.
Balkan Terrapin Mauremys rivulata: several at Agia Reservoir.

BUTTERFLIES
Eastern festoon
Zerynthia cerisyi: one at Kolimbari.
Small white Artogeia rapae: Common.
Clouded yellow Colias croceus: several noted on first two days only.
Red admiral Vanessa atalanta: just one noted on 16.4.
Painted lady Cynthia cardui: 2-3 noted on 16.4.
Wall brown Lasiommata megera: noted on 15.4 and 16.4.

MOTHS
Processionary Moth
: Caterpillar nests noted in many pine trees.
Silver-Y Moth Autographa gamma: seen on 24.4

DRAGONFLIES
Hawker Sp
.: Just one noted at Agia Reservoir.

OTHER INSECTS
Egyptian Grasshopper
Anacridium aegyptium: one noted on 16.4.
Violet carpenter bee Xylocopa violacea: noted on several days.
7-spot Ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata: recorded on 3 dates.
22 Spot Lady bird Psyllobora 22-punctata: Tavronitis River.
Pollen Beetle Oxythira funestra: several at Agia Reservoir.
Assassin Bug sp.: Reduviidae sp. One at Armeni.
Land Bug sp. : similar to fire bug Pyrrhocoridae at Agia Reservoir
Leaf Beetle sp.: Chrysomelidae sp. Omalos Plateau.
Scorpion Fly Panorpa cognata: one at Silver Beach Hotel.
Velvet Ant sp. Mutillidae sp.: Agia Reservoir.

OTHER TAXA
Banded Snail
Cernuella virgata: common
Mediterranean White Snail Albea candidissima: common


PLANT LIST
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
Parietaria judaica Pellitory of the Wall 50
Rumex bucephalophorus 78
Salicornia europea Glasswort 85
Bougainvillea glabra Bougainvillea 110
Caprobrotus edulis Hottentot Fig 115
Silene gallica Small-flowered Catchfly 176
Silene colorata 180

Kohlrauschia velutina Proliferous Pink 187

Anemone coronaria Crown Anemone 211

Anemone heldreichii 215

Ranunculus gracilis 247
Ranunculus ficaria Lesser Celandine 252a

Ranunculus asiaticus Turban Buttercup 257
Papaver rhoeas Common Poppy 283
Glaucium flavum Yellow-horned poppy 293
Fumaria capreolata Ramping Fumitory 303

Fumaria officinalis Common Fumitory 306
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 sp. Navelwort 396

Platanus orientalis Plane 400
Sarcopoterium spinosum Thorny Burnet 411
Prunus dulcis Almond 421

Eriobotrya japonica Loquat 429

Cercis siliquastrum Judas Tree 430
Psoralea bituminosa Pitch Trefoil 508
Vicia hybrida Hairy Yellow Vetchling 527

Melilotus indicus Small Melilot 579
Medicago marina Sea Medick 605

Trifolium tomentosum Woolly Trefoil 658
Trifolium stel1atum Starry clover 662
Anthyllus vulneraria Mediterranean
ssp praepropera (Red) Kidney Vetch 690

Oxalis pes-caprae Bermuda Buttercup 735

Geranium molle Dovesfoot Cranesbill 741
Geranium dissectum Cut-leaved Cranesbill 745

Geranium lucidum Shining Cranesbill 749

Erodium chium 751
Linum bienne Pale Flax 777
Euphorbia dendroides 792
Euphorbia acanthothamnos Hedgehog spurge 794
Euphorbia characias 818

Mercurialis annua Annual Mercury 820

Citrus limon Lemon Tree 832
C. sinensis Orange 836
Melia azederach Indian Bead Tree 843
Pistachia lentiscus Mastic Tree 865
Malva sylvestris Common Mallow 898
Cistus creticus Cretan Cistus 962

Cistus salvifolius Sage-leaved Cistus 965
Tuberaria guttata Spotted Rockrose 985

Ecballium elaterium Squirting Cucumber 1032
Ferula communis Giant Fennel 1141
Tordylium apulum Tordylium 1149
Arbutus unedo Strawberry Tree 1176
Erica arborea Tree Heather 1178
Anagallis arvensis Scarlet Pimpernel 1198
var .caerulea Blue Pimpernel 1198
Anagallis monelli Shrubby Pimpernel 1202
Cyclamen creticum Cretan Cyclamen 1208
Olea europea Olive 1248
Suscuta epithymum Common Dodder 1311
Onosma erecta Golden Drop 1362
Echium italicum Italian Echium 1380
Echium angustifolium Red Echium 1382
Echium plantagineum Purple Viper’s Bugloss 1383
Lappula squarrosa Bur Forget-me-not 1398
Cynoglossum creticum Blue Houndstongue 1402
Anchusa variegata Anchusa 1415
Prasium majus Prasium 1444
Phlomis fruticosa Jerusalem sage 1455
Lamium amplexicaule Henbit Deadnettle 1478
Lavandula stoechas French Lavender 1528
Hyoscamus albus White Henbane 1555
Scrophularia peregrine Nettle-leaved Figwort 1586
Misopates orontium Lesser Snapdragon 1611
Veronica hederifolia Ivy-leaved Speedwell 1645
Parentucella viscose Yellow Bartsia 1651
Orobanche ramosa Branched Broomrape 1655
Orobanche reticulata Thistle Broomrape 1663
Plantago coronopus Buck’s-horn Plantain 1696
Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain 1701
Petromarula pinnata Petromarula 1786
Chrysanthemum coronarium Crown Daisy 1895
Picnomon acarna Picnomon 1965
Galactites tomentosa Galactites 1971
Silybum marianum Milk Thistle 1982
Tragopogon porrifolius Salsify 2055
Asphodelus aestivus Common Asphodel 2089
Asphodeline lutea Yellow asphodeline 2092
Gagea graeca Greek Gagea 2102
Gagea fistulosa Yellow Gagea 2105
Tulipa sp. Tulip (bud only) 2146
Ornithogalum umbellatum Star of Bethlehem 2171
Muscari comosum Tassel Hyacinth 2201
Allium roseum Rosy Garlic 2224
Tamus communis Black Bryony 2283
Gynandriris sisyrinchium Barbary Nut Iris 2305
Gladiolus italicum Field Gladiolus 2307
Romulea bulbocodium Sand crocus 2314
Romulea sp.
Dracunculus vulgaris Dragon Arum 2358
Arum creticum Cretan Arum 2368
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 tenthredinifera Sawfly Orchid 2442
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
Briza maxima Large Quaking Grass 2460
Lagurus ovatus Haresfoot grass 2473

Arundo donax Giant Reed 2494



© The Travelling Naturalist 2003