A relaxing holiday filled with birds and other wildlife, at one of the best places in northern Greece & the whole of Europe for birdwatching!
This is a relaxing holiday, for the discerning bird lover, visiting one of the best places in northern Greece for birdwatching and other wildlife! In order to allow you to enjoy this amazing location and wonderful bird watching at leisure we spend a full week staying near the lake and exploring it fully, along with nearby hills, mountains, rivers and fields.
The uniqueness of our holiday is further enhanced by a direct contribution towards the valuable conservation work done in the area by wildlife charity Birdwing (Birdwatching in Northern Greece), as 10% of the proceeds will be donated to them. Steve and Hilary, who run the charity and produce field guides for the region, will guide the tour.
Lake Kerkini, situated close to the border with Bulgaria. In spring it is a magical place and an early morning by the shore, watching pelicans, egrets and herons whilst being serenaded by Nightingale, Golden Oriole and Turtle Dove as the sun rises above snow-capped mountains reflected in a still lake is simply stunning! The overall beauty and richness of the area for wildlife is why the lake forms the heart of Lake Kerkini National Park.
Not only is the birdlife brilliant, the setting for this trip makes it all the more special. The serene waters of the lake form the stage upon which the drama for our visit will unfold; it is also surrounded by the imposing backdrop to the north Mount Belles, which rises up into the landscape at over 2,000m. Taking centre stage will be the bird for which the lake is perhaps best known, the globally threatened Dalmatian Pelican. A highlight of our visit will be a boat trip on the lake to see the Dalmatian Pelican breeding colony and the many other wetland birds that breed in the drowned forest such as Pygmy Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern and Squacco Heron.
Our home for the holiday will be less than a mile from the lake shore, at the very hospitable and environmentally aware, Hotel Limneo, on the eastern side of the lake, which is the best area for wildlife and perfectly positioned for our exploration of the lake and surrounding mountains. Our host, Nikos, will welcome us as friends to his home in the charming village of Chrysohorafa (meaning golden fields).
Kerkini is also an excellent site for raptors. Our main targets will be the rare and endangered Lesser Spotted Eagle and Golden Eagle. Other raptors to look out for include will be White-tailed Eagle, Black Kite, Honey Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Short-toed Eagle, and Booted Eagle. Imperial Eagles turn up occasionally too! And Eagle Owl can often put in an appearance. Little Owls will certainly be seen right by the hotel. We also can hope to see Black Storks gliding effortlessly into their forest homes behind the lake and we have breeding White Storks in the village. We will also spend some time away from the excitement at the lake, to explore other habitats and increase the range of possible species! The sites we’ll visit include a mixture of habitat at different altitudes; from wet woodland, to Beech woods, montane forest and grassland meadows above the tree line. There are 7 possible Woodpeckers to see, including Grey-headed, Black, Syrian, Middle Spotted, Lesser and White-backed. A rich variety of the Passerines we’ll see include Skylark, Crested Lark, Water and Meadow Pipit, White and Grey Wagtail, Cirl and Rock Bunting, Serin, Linnet, Hawfinch, Great Grey Shrike, Sombre Tit, Rock Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Golden Oriole, European Bee-eater, Roller, Blue Rock Thrush, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Masked Shrike, Penduline Tit, Hoopoe and Black-headed Bunting.
Please note: We are able to offer a second week based at Dadia Forest and Evros Delta as a seperate and optional extension. The extension will be led by George Spiridakis. If this appeals to you please read on for more information and then contact us to discuss the details.
The extension to this tour is based in a comfortable ecotourism hotel on the edge of the vast Dadia Forest, near to the border with Turkey. The entire area is known as “The Evros Mountains”. It is located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, near the easternmost migratory route of numerous species of avifauna. It is justifiably labelled as “the best place to go in Europe for raptors”, with 36 of Europe’s 39 species recorded and 20 that breed there. Here you will be able to observe some of the rarest European birds of prey! Highlights of this raptor fest will include some or all of Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle, Imperial Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Honey Buzzard, Red-footed Falcon, Goshawk, Levant Sparrowhawk and Black Kite.
We’ll also visit the wetland complex of the Evros Delta, on the eastern border with Turkey. It is a huge site of over 188 square Kilometres and designated as a Ramsar site for its international importance to birds. It offers the chance of some great rarities and a rich diversity of habitats; freshwater lakes, brackish and seawater lagoons, reedy ditches, Tamarisk forest, sandy islets, swamps, reed beds and a small area of riverine forest. More than 300 species have been recorded here. Spring is probably the richest time of year with large number of passage waders in evidence, alongside those birds that have returned to breed; Montague’s Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Lanner and Eleonora’s Falcon and a feast of other birds including all 3 marsh terns, Spur-winged, Kentish, Ringed and Grey Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Great Egret, Tawny Pipit, Black Stork, Black Headed Bunting, Isabelline Wheatear, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Marsh Harrier and White -tailed Eagle.