Wednesday 13 May 2015

Lindos, Rhodes, Greece - The Birds

As I said in my first post, this was a Honeymoon and not a birding trip.  The binoculars were always with me though so I couldn't help but see some birds!  I started every morning with a balcony watch (we stayed at the Lindosmare Hotel), often sitting there for about an hour from 05:45. Even if there were no different birds, it was always nice to see the sun rise over Turkey...

We didn't hire a car and went most places on foot, although did get a taxi on a couple of occasions. I can really recommend the taxi service here, very reasonably priced and our hotel arranged them for us so all very easy.

Each day we did something different. Some we just spent the day around the hotel and Vilcha Bay, on two days we went into Lindos Town, spending time on both the beaches and up at the Acropolis, on another day we went into Pefkos, and my most prolific birding outing was a 7 mile walk when we were dropped off by a taxi at Charaki and walked along the beach to Kalathos, and then back along the roads to our hotel.  

The research I did showed Rhodes is a very dry island, where the heat and lack of rain kills off a lot of the vegetation by mid summer. This is why some Mediterranean species that you would expect just weren't there, no Serin, Hoopoe, Golden Oriole, only one species of Shrike and just four species of Warbler. Also the lack of fresh water really made a difference, water birds in general were very few and far between, except for Yellow-legged Gulls that were everywhere!  Saying this though, there was still plenty around  and made for some very enjoyable birding.

The best birding spot was the walk between Charaki and Kalathos, here there is a river bed which although was mostly dried up, the surronding area was obviously much greener than everywhere else.  There were still two streams trickling out into the ocean, one right up at Charaki with the other about half way between the two towns.  Kalathos itself also seemed quite busy for birds, with a large number of trees and areas of short grass.  The mountainous areas in general were very quiet for birds.  

From our balcony there was a lovely view over Vilcha Bay, the vegetation in the foreground had quite a bit of bird life in. This was a great view point and a fine way to start every day.

Mid way along Vilcha bay was a small pond surronded by reeds and willow trees, which I named Vilcha pool. This area looked really good and did produce a few nice birds, to be honest I couldn't stop being drawn to it. I reckon a few weeks earlier there would have been plenty of migrants dropping in here.

To help, here's something of a map listing all the areas I mention in the species list below.

And this is what I saw, 3rd - 9th May 2015:

Scopoli's Shearwater - singles seen offshore from Vilcha Bay on two nights.
Cormorant - small numbers off most beaches.
Night Heron - a flock of 13 (11 ads, 2 first-summers) early one morning from the hotel flew in from north, failed to find anywhere to settle, then flew off back north.
Squacco Heron - one flew in off the sea and landed at Vlicha pool, with three the following day between Charaki and Kalathos.

Little Egret - one at Charaki
Pallid Harrier - a female from the hotel flew south over Vilcha Bay, a Rhodes rarity! Really pleased as from the first moment I picked it up when it was distant it just didn't seem right for a Monties, the birds wings looked broader and somewhat thicker. And when it came closer plumage confirmed it was indeed a Pallid.
Montagu's Harrier - a gorgeous immature male and female hunting between Charaki and Kalathos, got stunning views of both birds.
Long-legged Buzzard - a pair around the hotel, nest building by the end of the week, plus another single at Charaki. I have only ever seen the smaller North African race cirtensis before and was amazed at how long-winged rufinus actually is. I could imagine cirtensis being over looked in the UK, but surely not one of these lanky winged buteo's!


Stone Curlew - 12+ on the beach between Charaki and Kalathos, clearly a good breeding site.

Little Ringed Plover - two on the beach between Charaki and Kalathos
Little Stint - one at Charaki

Common Sandpiper - one on the beach at Vilcha Bay early one morning.
Wood Sandpiper - three singles between Charaki and Kalathos (note the Squacco in the back ground in the below photo!).

Yellow-legged Gull - the only species of gull with small numbers at all coastal locations and a max of 170+ on beach between Charaki and Kalathos.


Feral Pigeon - a small group seen a few times in mountains just west of hotel.
Collared Dove - very common.

Turtle Dove - singles seen near the main beach at Lindos and on edge of mountains just west of the hotel.

Scops Owl - up to three heard calling every night from our hotel. On the last morning a day-time calling bird enabled me to hoan in on a roosting bird in a small group of conifers in the rocky valley just east of the hotel. I was absolutely delighted by this as I really wanted to show Jess her 6th species of Owl.


Common Swift -  lots of Swifts about but often high meaning identification tricky, but the majority seemed to be Common Swifts.
Pallid Swift - see above, but had definite Pallid's low over the hotel on a couple of days (including a mating pair) and saw several over St. Paul's Bay.
Alpine Swift - the occasional bird seen from the hotel, and small flocks (c6) noted over the mountains west of the hotel and over Lindos town and St. Paul's Bay.
Bee-eater - on the first morning had four over the hotel, none others were seen here except for the penultimate morning when a flock of 22+ dropped in right out side our balcony and spent fourty minutes feeding and resting here before moving off north. Also came across a small colony at Kalathos of c12 birds.


Lesser Kestrel - c8 around the Acropolis at Lindos.

Kestrel sp. - distant views of several Kestrels, including a group of 20+ hunting over mountains south of the hotel, but unable to confirm species.
Peregrine - singles seen at Charaki and once from the hotel.
Woodchat Shrike - two singing males between Charaki and Kalathos and two around the hotel all week (two species in the lower photo).


Jay - heard calling from the hotel and saw two between Charaki and Kalathos.
Hooded Crow - common with small numbers everywhere.


Raven - a pair seen on a couple of occasions from the hotel.
Blue Tit - six seen during the week.
Crested Lark - common, with an especially dense population between Charaki and Kalathos.

Sand Martin - six at Charaki.
Crag Martin - a single seen from the hotel on three different days.
Swallow - very common, this species clearly benefit from the open Greek buildings.

House Martin - very common.
Red-rumped Swallow - a pair around the hotel every day, with five seen one evening. Also one at Pefkos.

Blackcap - one singing above Vilcha Bay on one morning.
Sardinian Warbler - by far the commonest species of warbler though often remarkably elusive.


Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - second commonest species of warbler, with three on territory in Vilcha Bay, a couple in Pefkos and at least eight singing males between Charaki and Kalathos. Their song always sounded very acro-like to me!

Olive-tree Warbler - an elusive singing male in garden by the beach at Pefkos, again quite an acro-sounding song but much slower, harsher and louder than EOW. Heard to call also which was pretty distinctive, and in fact first alerted me to its presence.
Reed Warbler - a couple of singing males between Charaki and Kalathos.
Blackbird - small numbers scattered about.
Blue Rock Thrush - a male singing around the hotel every day with another singing male near St. Paul's Bay.


Whinchat - a female at Kalathos.
Northern Wheatear - a male at Kalathos.
Black-eared Wheatear - two males and a female (sub sp. melanoleuca) around the hotel, most often seen in rocky valley just to the east. I didn't see any for the first couple of days, and my first sighting was simply magical as a male landed in front of me on a flat roof beside our balcony at point blank range. My bird of the trip.

House Sparrow - the commonest bird, they were everywhere!
Yellow Wagtail - the odd fly over and three females at dusk beside Vilcha pool, unsure of what variation but they were certainly dull headed.

White Wagtail - fairly common, including a breeding pair and a fledged youngster at the hotel.

Chaffinch - fairly common, often heard giving an odd two-toned call that I've never heard before.
Greenfinch - fairly common.
Linnet - the odd pair noted flying over.
Cretzschmar's Bunting - an all too brief singleton at Kalathos.
Corn Bunting - five singing males between Charaki and Kalathos.

Hope someone somewhere finds this useful!


  1. It's truly amazing that you know about all these birds. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wish I'd found this before I spent a week in Pefkos in July when it was extremely dry and warm. Only saw about 30 species of bird all week and we did drive around! The Apolakkia area on the west side of the island had 100s of Beeater, We also found Red-footed Falcon on that side of the island and some large raptors - probably the Long-legged Buzzards but views were brief. Best were 5 Lanner Falcons towards the south of the island where the Greeks are planning to build a Power Station. We saw Crag Martin, Short-toed Lark and a few Swift around Lindos plus a few YL Gulls. I'm sure its much better in the Migration Season.

  3. Hi Charlie, well you still managed some species that I didn't. I think it becomes very dry and baron during the summer so there aren't many breeding birds on the island.

  4. When I was in rhodes I saw a incredibly small hummingbird; I didn't get a good look at it but what species are there?

    1. Most likely a Hummingbird Hawk Moth, a Moth, and insect rather than a bird, common in the Med.

  5. Hi Steve i am going to Rhodes first week in May and although your blog is 2016 hoping some of it still relevant, i wondered what lens you had as i am gonna take 400mm and 560mm. hoping also for rain, missus won't be happy but she can alway sunbathe under the brolly !lol

  6. Just clocked your blackeared wheatear. Gorgeous critter.