5+1 helpful tips to practice social distancing in birdwatching

5+1 helpful tips to practice social distancing in birdwatching

Sooner or later, depending on each country’s status, lockdowns will end, hence we will be able to do again our favorite hobby. However, after COVID-19, our life will never be the same again due to a brand new normal; Social distancing.

Social distancing means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home in order to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. Here are some helpful tips you need to have in mind next time you go for birdwatching:

Chose less crowded spots

Avoid visiting crowded spots like parks, small wetlands, etc. Take it as a good opportunity to explore new places and who knows maybe you will be impressed!

Prefer to go on your own or at a maximum of 2-3 persons

In any case do not follow large groups for the next period and avoid travelling with other people.

Keep 2 meters (6 feet) distance

Rule number one no matter if you are birding or not, is to keep 2 meters (6 feet) distance from other people even your birding pall.

Do not share or use personal items

It is very common in birdwatching to share items such as pair of binoculars, cameras, scopes, field guides or whatever. These items are of a high risk, as most of them are used around the area of the face. Hence do not in any case share or use such items for the next period.

Avoid greeting friends you meet in the field

In case you meet people in the field do not shake hands or hug each other. Avoid greeting people, but if this is not possible, always keep a 2 meters (6 feet) distance.

Wash your hands often

Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub. Last but not least, this rule applies to any outdoor activity! Keep your hands clean, avoid touching your face and carry with you alcohol-based hand rub or hand sanitizer.

Stay safe and healthy!

MEGA RARITY ALERT: Hume’s leaf warbler (Phylloscopus humei) in Athens!

MEGA RARITY ALERT: Hume’s leaf warbler (Phylloscopus humei) in Athens!

On the 5th of February, late in the afternoon, our friend Aris Vouros spotted some unfamiliar bird calls from a warbler, near the stream of Pikrodafni, a small wetland in Athens that has been suffering a lot due to urbanization. His first thoughts where soon confirmed, when he also saw the Hume’s Leaf Warbler!

As always, the good news spread in a very short time and next days many birders visited the pond in order to see and photograph the rare bird. There, with the help of Aris it was rather easy to see the tiny little visitor from central Asia in his just 2nd record for the country.

MEGA RARITY ALERT: Striated Heron (Butorides striata) at Crete!

MEGA RARITY ALERT: Striated Heron (Butorides striata) at Crete!

A first winter Striated Heron (extremely rare heron for our continent) was spotted on the 15th of November near the city of Chania by Fotis Samaritakis. Birdwatcher and member of the Hellenic Ornithological Society, he photographed the bird and informed other birders immediately.

The news were spread very fast and soon enough local birders visited the place in order to spot the bird, which is the 1st record for our country. Although the trip to Crete is long enough, the next days many birders from different places of Greece visited the area and enjoyed the extremely rare visitor from breathtaking distances.

MEGA RARITY ALERT: Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) at Axios Delta!

MEGA RARITY ALERT: Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) at Axios Delta!

A juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher (a very rare species for Greece) has been spotted on the 2nd of October at Axios Delta. The bird was seen and photographed by Kostas Stafylidis, birdwatcher and member of the Hellenic Ornithological Society, who then informed the birding community in Greece.

This is the 3rd record of this species for the country (previous records were in 1962 and 2003) at a wetland where quite often rare species are recorded. This is the reason that Axios Delta is in the top of the list of our excursions.

Fall migration in Naxos during September

Fall migration in Naxos during September

The largest island of the Cyclades, Naxos, offers an excellent combination of holidays and birdwatching & birdphotography in autumn.

During the end of the first week of September, we visited again this amazing island of the Aegean Sea for a 3-days birdwatching tour, together with two experienced birders, Andrea and Troy W. from the United States.

Because of the very high wind (more than 5 Beaufort) and the little water left in the wetlands after the hot and dry summer season, our quest to find as many birds as possible was definitely not an easy one. Therefore, we organized a plan that would allow us to search at less windy areas in order to focus more on the quality of birds we see, rather than quantity. The well designed plan, combined with the good mood of the team and the beautiful landscapes that Naxos offers in every point, made the tour a big success.

We visited all the wetlands of the eastern part, the olive trees of Tragaia, the mountains of Fanari and Zas, the streams of Potamia and Keramoti, the fields of Eggares and Agiassos and the marsh of Kalantos, with a small stop at the emblematic remnants of the Cheimarros Tower.  Our visitors were very happy from the places we visited, the birds we spotted as well as the stunning landscapes we drove through.

The most interesting species we spotted during our trip are the following:

Grey Heron, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Bonelli’s Eagle, Eleonora’s Falcon, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Green Sandpiper, Turtle Dove, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, Tawny Pipit, White Wagtail, Winchat, Stonechat, Isabelline Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Pied Flycatcher, Great Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting.

A “top 5” from a different perspective!

A “top 5” from a different perspective!

The fall migration is one of the best periods for most birders! We asked Chris H. to highlight the 5 most interesting species he saw with us during a trip Around Athens and Mesologgi at the end of August! And this is what he replied to us:

Broad-billed Sandpiper

I was delighted, yet somewhat stunned by an unlikely encounter with a photo-friendly Broad-billed Sandpiper at the Skala Oropos coastal wetland; this was our first stop on the tour, portending an exceptional day of birding ahead.


Although the Hoopoe is not particularly uncommon, it is an iconic bird, and it was a genuine pleasure to see one for the first time.

Short-toed Snake Eagle

My guide instructed me to be alert to possible Short-toed Snake Eagles as we passed through an area of stony scrub near Varnavas, and sure enough we espied one looking characteristically disheveled as it coasted low in search of a late breakfast.


A day after laboring in the August sun to find the Stone-curlews of Kleisova lagoon, we had a serendipitous encounter with five of them along one of the rocky roads that lead to the Delta of Louros.

Woodchat Shrike

I was unprepared for how striking the adult male Woodchat Shrike would be in the field; my guidebook does not do justice to the beauty of this bird.

Thank you so much Chris. Hope to see you again in the future!

Mid-summer birdphotography at the island of Crete

Mid-summer birdphotography at the island of Crete

The beautiful and imposing island of Crete always offers amazing opportunities for birdwatching and birdphotography, even in the middle of summer, when heat is on its peak!

This is what Maria and Ekarerina F. thought when they decided to explore the unique landscape and the birds of this very special island. They ignored the heat and chose Birding in Greece to guide them at the eastern part of the island.

The day tour was very well organized and the visited places were chosen very carefully, due to the difficult weather conditions (heat and sun). Both visitors were very happy with the trip as they got a good glance of Crete’s nature and birds. They also spotted many interesting species, some of which are: Ruddy Shelduck, Little Grebe, Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Egret, Bearded Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Eleonora’s Falcon, Little Ringed Plover, Audouin’s Gull, Crested Lark, Woodlark, Crag Martin, Stonechat, Cetti’s Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Red-billed Chough and Cirl Bunting.

RARITY ALERT: Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus) in Attica!

RARITY ALERT: Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus) in Attica!

Α rare visitor was sighted on the 6th of July at the Loutros fields, close to Spata; a juvenile Isabelline Shrike. The bird was spotted during an around Athens tour by Nikos Probonas, co-founder and guide of Birding in Greece, and William E.

Although the news was spread fairly fast, unfortunately the bird was not spotted again.

The Hellenic Rarities Committee has already received the relevant form, which in case it will be approved it will be the 11th record of this species in Greece and the 3rd in Attica (previous records in 2008 and 2009).

We hope the bird has a safe trip to its wintering grounds!

Birding in Attica at the end of Spring

Birding in Attica at the end of Spring

Dominic R. visited Athens for a few days in order to spot some specific species. As this was his first trip in the Mediterranean, he chose Birding in Greece to help him in his quest.

Being a guide in one of the world’s most famous birding agency, except from being an excellent birder he also proved to be a very experienced traveler and partner from the very beginning of our trip!

Since we had many things in common, time flied very fast, while visiting places in central, south and eastern Attica. At the end of our trip, species such as Bonelli’s Eagle, Firecrest, Rock Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Serin, Cirl and Black-headed Bunting had been observed from safe distances for relevant amount of time and hence had been added to Dominic’s large birding list.

See you in the near feature Dominic, in Athens, Greece, or maybe somewhere else!

Searching for lifers in Attica

Searching for lifers in Attica

Dennis H. is an excellent birder, with a lot of experience and knowledge, as well as many birding trips in more than 30 countries. His business trip in Athens was combined with an excursion for lifers with Birding in Greece.

Our itinerary was to visit Ymittos mountain and some areas of eastern Attica, such as Spata and Loutros, Artemida (Loutsa), Rafina and the National Park of Schinias. The weather was perfect and the spring migration on its peak. The result was that we managed to spot 23 lifers together with Dennis, on top of the other birds that we saw:

Garganey, Ferruginous Duck, Chukar, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Black-winged Stilt, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Redstard, Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Sedge Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Ruppell’s Warbler, Coal Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Cirl Bunting.

By the term “lifers” in Birding in Greece we mean the new species that our guest had the opportunity to spot for a reasonable amount of time and to see clear. Birds that flew away or in distances that are not easy to identify, or even just listening only their call, do not count.