Eagles and tigers

The short-toed eagles or short-toed snake eagles continue to be very noisy, circling low with outstretched wings and dangling feet and sometimes some talon grappling. From the wonderful but empty amphitheatre at Platsos, having avoided the barking sheepdogs, we watch a bird hunt the olive groves and maquis that run down to the coast. The eagles hunt close to the ground and hover frequently and effortlessly. A single immature golden eagle stays high over the hills and soars endlessly often chased by a buzzard or raven.

A pair of ravens are nesting on the cliffs along the coast road as are many pairs of blue rock thrushes. The ravens kronk kronk on arrival and sit and watch us below. A kestrel has a nest here too and birds mate high on a nearby cliff; the male flying in circles with shallow wing beats in an understated display. A peregrine brings in prey, perhaps a wheatear, but there is little noise as the male circles the high cliff but this is a good sign that nesting is likely to be still ongoing.

New arrivals include turtle doves and since the 22nd bee-eaters are flying over from the south in large loose flocks giving themselves away by their far-carrying, short trill contact call. Spotted flycatchers are along the road to Trachelo from the 23rd and also a probable red-breasted flycatcher and two pairs of woodchat shrikes have territories. The blue rock thrushes are now feeding young and give the game away by giving a short, sharp whistle or peep, which is a danger signal to the young somewhere in a nest high in large cave.

Beyond Trachelo and more butterflies are beginning to appear; no fritillaries yet but the tiny eastern baton blue is on the path in some numbers. The Ophrys orchids are disappearing into the tall sward of meadow grasses and herbs on the coast but now appearing in the mid and high hills. It’s an exciting time for both arrivals and emergences and, as usual, spring is too busy and the feeling is that the surface is only being scratched.

The weather is very mixed; the wet days, whilst warm, are not much good for soaring eagles or flying insects and so spring seems to stand still. The wind sometimes gets up and when it is in the south it pounds the harbour at Agios Nikolaos, long waves sweep in and up across the rocky beach. But the bad weather seems to bring the migrants, every cloud…

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