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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary

Greece: Mainland Spring Migration

Wednesday 16 April to Sunday 27 April 2025
with Oli Reville as leader
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Lake Kerkini is home to the elegant and impressive Dalmatian Pelican. Photo: Oli Reville

Greece is sandwiched between the Ionian Sea to the west, Turkey and the Aegean Sea to the east, Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the countries of Albania, North Macedonia, and Bulgaria to the north. The maritime location and varied landscapes not only helped shape Greece’s history and culture but are, along with its location on the eastern European migration flyway, key reasons for its wide diversity of birds.

Our tour should witness bird migration at its peak and could include 20+ species of birds of prey including Eastern Imperial Eagle and Levant Sparrowhawk, Audouin’s Gull, and large numbers of passerines including multiple species of wheatears, warblers, and shrikes, among many others. We’ll also pay attention to the many reptiles, insects, amphibians, mammals, and flora which inhabit this wonderful country.

Please note that this tour runs back-to-back with our tour Bulgaria in Spring: Birds and History tour which offers many different species and includes visits to some of the region’s most important cultural sites.

Day 1: We’ll begin in Thessaloniki before making a group transfer to Lake Kirkini, about two hours away. If time permits, we’ll take a short walk around the lake to get our first impressions of this scenic and bird rich area. Night at Lake Kerkini.

Days 2-3: We’ll explore Lake Kerkini and its surrounding areas. An optional pre breakfast walk should encounter Little Bittern, Penduline Tit, Great Reed Warbler, and, with luck, Little Crake, among others. After breakfast we’ll more fully explore the almost fifty square mile lake area and its adjacent habitats.

We’ll begin by investigating wet areas close to the Strymonos River. These habitats are full of birds, with highlights including Dalmatian and Great White Pelicans, all the European egrets and herons, Ferruginous Duck, and Black Stork. We should see as well multiple species of raptors including Pallid Harrier along with stunning passerines such as Eurasian Golden Oriole, Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes, and Sardinian Warbler.

On day 2, we’ll take a boat trip on lake where our experienced local guide will get us close to the pelican colony found here, giving us wonderful views and good photographic opportunities. We’ll also visit lakehore riparian forests where colonial waterbird breeders include Squacco Heron, Pygmy Cormorant, Little Egret, and Eurasian Spoonbill.

In the afternoon we’ll drive to Belles Mountain where a different range of species awaits including Sombre Tit, Black-headed and Cirl Buntings, Woodchat Shrike, and Hawfinch. We’ll also explore an old quarry where Blue Rock Thrush, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, and Western Rock Nuthatch can usually be found. Our final birding around Lake Kerkini will be near the town of Siderocastro whose picturesque hillsides support Masked Shrike, Short-toed Snake Eagle, and Olive-tree and the striking Eastern Subalpine Warblers. Nights in Lake Kerkini.

Days 4-6: We’ll transfer east to the vicinity of Nestos National Park, a journey of around three hours. En route we’ll stop at good birding locations, one of which will hopefully bring us face to face with one of the top targets of the tour, Spur-winged Lapwing. The coastal area near the Nestos River valley is as well home to a wide range of terns and gulls, including the elegant Slender-billed Gull.

The next day we’ll explore the south face of the Rhodopes Mountains along the Nestos River gorge. In this arresting location we’ll look for Sardinian Warbler, Woodlark, Northern Wheatear (of the localised Balkan subspecies), Crag Martin, and Griffon Vulture. We’ll also search for one of Europe’s most elusive birds, Rock Partridge.

On our last day we’ll explore the coastline around Porto Lagos, a wonderful wetland landscape with huge flocks of shorebirds, gulls, and terns. Out to sea we may observe passing seabirds such as Yelkouan Shearwater, while in the lakes and shallow lagoons nearby, we should encounter groups of Greater Flamingo. We also stand a good chance of seeing Collared Pratincole. Nights in Fanari.

Days 7-8: We’ll travel east to the Dadya Forest, a natural area of mostly pine and oak which hosts the only breeding colony of Cinereous Vulture in the Balkan region. We’ll visit a vulture feeding center, where from a blind we can observe these amazing birds at close quarters. The feeding center also attracts many other birds of prey and great views can be had of Black Kite, Long-legged Buzzard, and White-tailed and Eastern Imperial Eagles. We’ll spend the balance of the day in other parts of the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli National Park where a range of woodland and forest species can be found.

We’ll dedicate our next day to the Evros Delta, on the Greek border with Turkey and one of Europe’s largest wetlands. We’ll have special permits and guides which grant us access to zones normally off limits. Spectacular birding is possible here with thousands of shorebirds, waterfowl, gulls, and terns on offer as is Europe’s only stable breeding population of Spur-winged Lapwing. Other species include Ruddy Shelduck, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Red-footed Falcon, European Roller, Red-throated Pipit, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Eastern Orphean Warbler, and Isabelline Wheatear. Nights in Dadya Forest.

Days 9-10: We’ll begin our journey back to Thessaloniki and explore the wonderful landscapes around the village of Maroneia. The habitat here could includin Barred Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Alpine Swift, Tawny Pipit, Eurasian Wryneck, Collared and Semicollared Flycatchers, and Syrian Woodpecker. We’ll also search for the impressive Eurasian Eagle-Owl.

On the following day we’ll explore more of this arresting habitat with Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin being a prime target. As we move close to the sea, we’ll once again scan for passing seabirds like Yelkouan and Scopoli’s Shearwaters, and Audouin’s Gull. Nights in Maroneia.

Day 11: We’ll return west along the Aegean coast to Thessaloniki, arriving in time to return to Kalochroi Lagoon where who know what new birds might have appeared. Night in Thessaloniki.

Day 12: The tour concludes this morning in Thessaloniki.

Updated: 17 February 2024

Prices

  • 2025 Tour Price : $4,150
  • Single Occupancy Supplement : $290

Notes

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Questions? Tour Manager: Matt Brooks. Call 1-866-547-9868 (US or Canada) or (01) 520-320-9868 or click here to email.

* Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here.

This tour is limited to 10 participants with two leaders.

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