Greece Birding Tours
Greece is one of Europe’s oldest nations. Known also as the Hellenic Republic (its official name), or Hellas, it is a country where the sea influences life, as it has done for thousands of years. The capital, Athens, sits in the southeast corner of the country, adjacent to the Saronic Gulf. Its 3.7 million population makes up around 35% of the entire population of Greece which stands at 10.7 million people, as of 2018. Greece shares land borders with Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey, while it is flanked to the west by the Ionian Sea and to the east by the Aegean Sea. Greece has a huge number of islands with Corfu, Crete, Lesvos, and Rhodes, among its most well-known to visitors.
The history of Greece is simply too long and varied to do any justice in a summary such as this. It is widely seen as the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, and literature, amongst many other things. Alexander the Great is arguably Greece’s most famous son and his dynasty spread as far as India in the 4th century BC. Greece was integrated into the Roman Empire in the 2nd century BC before becoming part of the Byzantine Empire upon the collapse of Rome. This history has led to Greece having some of the greatest ancient wonders of the world such as the Parthenon and the theatre of Epidaurus. In more modern times Greece has been ruled by several factions before gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1822. In recent years, Greece has suffered financial hardship because of the global economic crash but is now on the road to recovery.
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Mainland Greece is dominated (80% of the country) by mountains or hills. Mount Olympus is the peak of these, at 9,573 feet (2,918 meters), and is steeped in mythology as the home of the Greek Gods. The climate on the mainland is typically Mediterranean with mild, wet winters, and hot, dry summers. The Pindus mountain range, along the spine of Greece, greatly affects its climate with the land to the west far wetter than that to the east. Despite its latitude, Greece can see heavy snowfall in the north of the country, especially in the high elevation borders it shares with its neighboring nations. The Greek islands share the mostly Mediterranean climate of the mainland.
Following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy (v10.2 in October 2020), the bird list of Greece stands at 471 bird species, with 26 of these being globally threatened. Our Greek tours will take us to a number of Important Bird Areas (IBAs), sites identified by BirdLife International and local partner Hellenic Ornithological Society for their value to birds, and these vital areas are a haven for wildlife. Greece’s total of 204 IBAs is significant by European standards and sites such as Evros Delta IBA, Nestos Delta IBA, and the vast Lake Kerkini IBA will all be visited on our tours.
Birding in Greece offers a lot of variety with Greece’s bird highlights too extensive to list here, however we have picked out a few of the star species we hope to come across on our three exciting bird watching tours.
The threatened Dalmatian Pelican is a real star species and a supporting cast of Black Stork, Pygmy Cormorant, and Great White Pelican, plus many species of egrets, herons, and shorebirds will keep us entertained in wetland areas. Passerines such as Alpine Chough, Sombre Tit, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Ruppell’s Warbler, Western Rock Nuthatch, Common Rock Thrush, and Cretzschmar’s Bunting are supported by a wide variety of more common species, please see the detailed itinerary for full details. Birds of prey highlights on this tour include Egyptian Vulture, European Honey Buzzard, Griffon Vulture, and Cinereous Vulture to name a few of the best.
This five-day extension offers the chance to witness the impressive northbound spring migration as well as pick up some localized resident and highly sought-after passerines. We will look for a sensational set of birds, including Red-footed Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, Masked Shrike, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Kruper’s Nuthatch, Western Rock Nuthatch, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, and Cinereous Bunting, plus much more.
An exciting short tour of Northern Greece, aimed at finding exciting fall migrants and high-quality resident species. Some of the potential highlights on this tour include Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Red-breasted Goose, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Ferruginous Duck, Greater Spotted Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Cinereous Vulture, Levant Sparrowhawk, Slender-billed Gull, Syrian Woodpecker, Alpine Accentor, Sombre Tit, Alpine Chough, Rock Partridge, and Western Rock Nuthatch. This tour also combines beautifully with our preceding Poland: Birding the Baltic Coast and East in Fall tour to give an excellent mix of species.
A birdwatching holiday in Greece offers so much more than just the birds though. This wonderful, ancient country is one of Europe’s highlight destinations and its national parks, historical landmarks and cities make for a wonderfully rounded trip for any visitor.