Saturday 26 October 2013

Lindos, Late In The Year

Lindos seems to be becoming an annual fixture of late, though the timing of the trip seems to vary, this year being scheduled within October, which is the latest I've ever been there. As before, it was supposed to be a family, relaxing break, not one for chasing wildlife. That said, I get bored sat beside a pool, so before going, I checked the net for any recent blogs covering the location and noted some ideas. As before, I took over my 7d and 100-400mm lens.

The only area that interested me, which had to be within walking distance (we don't hire cars), was down near St Paul's bay, at a water treatment site. On the walk down the hill, I heard and then spotted a blue rock thrush, perched up on some boulders above the path. Grabbed a couple of shots before it flew out of sight.

The site itself stunk, so I headed closer to the sea, and scanned the surrounding rocks. On the shore in the distance was an egret, though too much heat haze shimmer to work out what sort. Calling from between the rocks were crested larks, and there were sparrows and linnets around, feeding from the wild bushes. Flocks of finches (including sparrows) periodically flew overhead, and off south, down the coast.

The site was supposed to be good for shrikes, as there are many insects around. Indeed there were butterflies, including the stunning swallowtail, and dragonflies too. But no shrikes, that I could see. A rock thrush called from nearby, but I didn't fancy climbing over rocks to get closer.

There was also a warbler feeding on small insects - a chiffchaff perhaps?

Unlike earlier in the year, there were very few kestrels flying overhead, though I did see a pair of sparrowhawks hunting frequently, and later in the week, a hobby too. The local peregrine falcons occasionally shot by, scaring the rock doves from their perches on the hillside.

As before, Dad and I spent the afternoons on the balcony of the apartment, hoping to see something interesting fly over the hills. However it was a morning when we got out first view of a long-legged buzzard, which was gorgeous. We were even more pleased when a second one came into view soon after, and it wasn't the only time we saw them.

We even saw them perched on the hillside at times, seemingly enjoying the view!

On a walk down into the town one evening, I saw a bird perched high on a tree top, fluttering upwards to catch flies. Using Dad's compact camera I managed to get a shot, zoom in and identify it as a spotted flycatcher. Then later, when we were sat outside a favourite bar (the Rain Bird) I couldn't help but notice a number of birds flying about amongst the trees below, in an area behind the main beach. One for the next day, perhaps?

Curiosity tempted me down there the next morning, and I found the area to be alive with birds and insects. Large flocks of sparrows were feeding on the fruit, both on and off the trees. There is a small garden by a stone chapel and this has a tiny pool, kept full with a hose pipe. This as a focal point for the birds, bringing in the sparrows mainly, but also collared doves, hooded crows and jays.

The insects around attracted both grey and pied wagtails (maybe white?), plus some unidentified warblers, possibly chiffchaffs. It didn't take me long to spot one of the spotted flycatchers, and I soon realised that several were around the area.

A fleeting glimpse of a Sardinian warbler was a treat, but a stranger wandered up the path, peered over the wall to look at what I was photographing, scared it off, and then returned to the beach again. Where do these people appear from?

Whilst trying to get a decent shot of the flycatcher out in the open, I thought I'd got it on a twig, when I realised it had a dark band across its eye. It wasn't the flycatcher but a red-backed shrike. Excellent!

It seemed to be catching insects, caterpillars generally. And after I had got a clearer view, I realised it had a deformed beak; the lower part being overly long. Sort of looked like a crossbill! Didn't affect it catching food though.

Hence I then spent a good couple of hours trying to get a clear shot, with my luck finally changing further up the path when it flew towards me, and posed for a few seconds on a small sprig. Fab.

Taking the long walk back, I went over to the headland beneath the Acropolis and found more rock thrushes and crested larks, plus crag martins which were far too fast to get shots of, at such close range. By now I was rather hot and in need of a break, so I didn't try too much, to be honest! Besides, I got a shot from the apartments already...

Later in the week, a stroll along the back of the beach resulted in great views of another Sardinian warbler, right when I had an extension tube on my lens, so couldn't get a shot, and another spotted flycatcher near the path.

Little else though, and I was glad to meet up with my brother to enjoy a couple of ice cold beers in the Dolphin bar behind the beach!

Aside from the usual lizards, we didn't see any huge crickets, nor any wheatears eating them. I did see a robin one afternoon and plenty of large moths. No sign of the little owl on the hills which was a shame too. I guess it was a bit late in the year. Still, it wasn't a wildlife trip, so getting any photos were always going to be a bonus.

Maybe my favourite shot of the trip came after being advised to watch the sun rise, by my brother who had seen it one morning. The sun appears over the Acropolis and turns the sky and sea a fabulous colour. And at that time of the year, getting up for the sunrise wasn't such a hardship!

Not sure when we will return to Lindos - maybe it's time for somewhere new?

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