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Saturday, 11 September 2010

Kefalonia Turtles & Insects

Tuesday 7th September
Just back from a week's holiday on the Greek island of Kefalonia, next door to Zakynthos (or Zante) and South of Corfu, it forms part of the Ionian islands. Kefalonia is perhaps best known for the novel and movie; Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
We experienced changeable weather conditions with strong north- west winds on the first 2 days and stormy weather and a rainstorm on the day, Saturday  of our boat trip looking for Dolphins, needless to say we didn't see any. The rest of the week was fine and sunny.
On Wednesday 1st September, a trip to Old Scala revealed 2 fine Red- rumped swallows flying overhead and an Icterine Warbler flying to an Olive tree. An eastern Rock Grayling posed well on the rocks. At Katelios by the newly constructed harbour 3 Red- rumped Swallows flew over as did a House Martin. Around the bush a Hummingbird Hawk moth probed the flowers. Round the back of the village, 3 Two- tailed Pashas, stunning butterflies flew round a garden and a fig tree.
Finally locating the Katelios Turtle Conservation project group on Mounda Beach, I was able to witness them excavating a recently erupted Turtle nest. They found many opened egg cases (proof that the Turtles had broken out of the nest and hopefully reached the sea), sadly 4 dead baby Turtles and 1 hatchling which was still alive and it eventually made its way down to the sea.
On Thursday 2nd September, a trip to Avithos lake revealead a singing Cetti's warbler (heard only), 2 Silver washed Fritillaries flying around the fence-bushes and a few Clouded yellows, bathed in sunshine and 6 Brown Argos, Sooty Coppers by the short grass where I had parked the car.
At Sami, along the seafront as we were having lunch we counted 6 Two-tailed Pashas flying south past us. At the bushes area, a further 3 Two-tailed Pashas seen, plus a Sage Skipper and Lesser Purple Emperors. Whilst overhead a flock of 12 Alpine Swifts flew north.
At antisami beach, by the wasp traps (drink bottles filled with a small amount of Honey), they attracted 3 Two- tailed Pashas using the long probiscuses to drink the honey.

On Friday 3rd September, a trip to the capital Argostoli, included an early morning trip to the harbour, the fishermen were in harbour on the boars gutting the fish they had caught which in turn famously attracts Loggerhead turtles and we saw 2 full grown adults, 1 male (with a curled tail!) and a female. watching these Turtles at close range (within a few feet!) was the highlight of the holiday and it was wonderful to watch these glorious creatures swim so gracefully in the sea and break the surface to breathe and eat fish titbits. Both were seen together on several occasions.
A trip back to Mounda beach, Jenny went swimming and I looked around the watery outlet by the Marina Bay hotel and saw a very obliging Wall Lizard, 4 Southern skimmers and by the bushes on the beach, 5 Lang's Short- tailed Blue, 2 Long-tailed Blue, 3 Painted Ladies, a Skipper sp and a Marbled White flew briefly into a bush. Whilst a Spotted Flycatcher perched on top a bush briefly.
On Saturday 4th September, the boat trip revealed very little save for a Turtle in the harbour again and 2 Grey Herons. Afterwards a large eagle seen over distant mountains looked like a Golden Eagle.
On Sunday 5th September, a trip up to the highest point of the island Mount Einos, was so far the most productive birding of the trip, it revealed a Cirl Bunting flying over the road and a Wheatear by the circular concrete martello tower type constuction. Taking the track to the radar station revealed a further wheatear, a pair of striking Black- eared Wheatears and a male Stonechat. Travelling down I heard a Firecrest.
Back at Antisami, Jenny going swimming again, I saw a female Woodchat Shrike on a fence as we were driving in, Two-tailed Pashas again by the wasp traps and several Grasshoppers and a Lesser Purple Emperor. That night walking back to the Crystal Palace hotel at Scala, on the steps up to the hotel I saw a big Bush Cricket sp.
On Monday 6th September, looking from the balcony of the hotel, we saw up to 5 calling Crested larks, 2 Wheatear on a sand spoil. At the back field of Katelios, a Red- backed Shrike flew from the wire to distant bushes, an Olivaceous warbler flew into an olive tree. 2 Blue- headed Yellow wagtails flew out of the field and there were 2 Yellow- legged gulls in the harbour.
At Mounda beach, a Mediterranean Skipper, 2 Clouded Yellows, a Grasshopper sp on a back track and a Buzzard seen.
Back at Scala in the early evening, 2 separate Cory's shearwaters seen flying out to sea, 11 Yellow wagtails flew out of a field and a male Woodchat Shrike seen perched on top of a mound in a field. Walking back to the hotel, a fine Preying mantis was seen on one of the light posts by the path leading back to the hotel. 
Our last day Tuesday 7th September, an early morning walk around the maquis around the hotel revealed 5 swallow flying past, then a female Sparrowhawk, a Hare that almost ran up to me before scampering off,
Sardinian warbler, Spotted flycatcher and a gunshot revealed 1 flying Chukar and I was sprayed by stones (I was being shot at!!!) walking away, a further gunshot revealed another flying Chukar, further stones spraying past me (shot again, pellets!!!) and a male Blue Rock Thrush that flew away. a female Red- backed Shrike perched on a distant bush. Crested Lark and Whinchat also seen.
Back at the hotel, a Bush Cricket sp seen on the door jamb, it was well photo'd!
Driving back to the airport near Katelios we saw a further Woodchat Shrike by the roadside.

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