A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Birding in Rhodes by Erik Tambuyzer

 Birding in Rhodes - Erik Tambuyzer, Oud-Heverlee, Belgium – April 5, 2014

Photography with Nikon D7000 with 18-300 mm objective, or D700 with 70-200 mm objective  plus 2x teleconvertor.

With the aim to combine my interest in culture and in birding, I was visiting Rhodes during the week of March 22-29th, 2014. This should be a good period for birdphotography there. I had read some birding reports on the internet (just google ‘birds in Rhodes’ and you get many), but to my surprise, I did not see (m)any birds at the therein recommended sites like Afandou, Plimmyri , Apolakkia reservoir or Monte Smith. And the birds that showed up there were common pied crows (Corvus cornix) (picture 1), yellow-legged Gulls (picture 2), great cormorants (picture 3) , or even

 

Eurasian jays (Garulus glandarius).

A welcome difference, proving to me that there were more interesting birds on Rhodes after all, was Gadouras river mouth. In order to get to the spot where I found the birds, I left the main road after just having traveled over the bridge coming from the direction of Lindos (or Lardos), and turning sharply into a dusty, stony path with some holes, just when the yellow railing of the bridge ended. The (dry) river sides were full of Crested Larks (Galerida cristata – photo 4), literally hundreds of them, and there were also some great other birds: Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe – photo 5) and Woodchat Shrike (male Lanius senator – photo 6).  

 

 

                                                                     

I learned, coming back to the same spot at the Gadouras  several times, that probably the same woodchat shrike had a specific show time: he wasn't there in the morning or at noon, but every day at 4pm, he was back to sing his song on roughly the same spot, and he did so for some time, so I was happy to be able to make many pictures before he flew away as I came too close for his taste.

 

 

While driving on the ‘highway’ from Lindos, we were spotting a pair of large, exotic birds of prey, which turned out to be long-legged buzzards (Buteo rufinus). I was happy to have a large telelens with me, so I could take some great shots 

On the next day, driving from Apolakkia to Arnitha, we spotted another buzzard type, which I believe to be a Buteo buteo vulpinus (pallid buzzard, looks much like a common buzzard – see below). This buzzard crosses over the region between the Bosphorus and Israel as a migrant.  

Close to intersection between the new road to the just recent Gadouras dam, and the road to Laerma, we heard a couple of singing Rock Sparrows (Petronia petronia), which allowed us to come close for a close-up.

 

 

But the best surprise was Rhodes old town, where I made great pictures of Eurasian Crag Martins  (Ptyonoprogne rupestris in flight and resting at the Castello, where I also spotted their nest  under a gallery that I could enter.

 

A pair of Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni ) were flying over the old walls of Rhodes as well, and in a narrow street on some ruins earmarked to be restored with European money, but full of wild flora, I unexpectedly met a small, patient, beautiful Rüppell’s Warbler (Sylvia ruppeli).

 

Close to Archangelos, we spotted another pair of long-legged buzzards , as just before, we saw a couple of Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica  resting on a wire. And on our last day on Rhodes, we were able to ultimately find Rodini park with its peacock colony.

 

Our first Rhodes trip was pleasant and remarkable, and revealed that, apart from very friendly people, there are some very interesting birds to be discovered, and they can be found at unexpected places.

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