Birding Tour Greece: The North and optional extension to Lesvos April 2020

Tour Details

Duration: 9 days
Group Size: 6-8
Date Start: April 23, 2020
Date End: May 01, 2020
Tour Start: Main tour: Athens, Lesvos extension: Lesvos
Tour End: Main tour: Thessaloniki, Lesvos extension: Lesvos

The dates for the 5-day Lesvos extension are 1 – 5 May 2020.

Tour Costs

Price: Main tour: €4,153 / $4,957 / £3,877 per person sharing;
Lesvos extension: €2,473 / $2,952 / £2,309 per person sharing, possible surcharges for smaller groups

Single Supplement: Main tour: €444 / $530 / £415 , Lesvos extension: €246 / $294 / £230

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to base price when making final payments.

Main tour:

Price includes:
Meals
Accommodation
Park entrance fees
Boat rides on Lake Kerkini and Evros Delta
Museum entry fees for Athens cultural attractions
Domestic flight from Athens to Thessaloniki
Guiding fees
All transport in Greece from your hotel in Athens on day 1 until we get back to Thessaloniki on day 9

Price excludes:
International flights
Personal insurance
Drinks
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts
Gratuities

Extension:

Price includes:
Meals
Accommodation
Park entrance fees
Guiding fees
All transport while on Lesvos Island

Price excludes:
International flights
Domestic flight from Thessaloniki to Lesvos and back to Athens or Thessaloniki
Personal insurance
Drinks
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts
Gratuities

Greece: 9-day Birding Adventure, with optional extension to Lesvos 2020

Greece has one of the highest bird densities in Europe and offers wonderful cultural possibilities.

On this 9-day trip we will start off in Athens, one of the cultural capitals of the world, where we will familiarize ourselves with the more common European birds as well as visit some of the best cultural spots in the city.

From here we make our way north to beautiful Lake Kerkini, which offers wonderful opportunities to view breeding Dalmatian Pelican and Pygmy Cormorant. The surrounding forest is home to six Woodpecker species, including Syrian, Grey-headed, and Middle-Spotted.

Our next stop is Mount Pangaion, where we will target alpine species that include Rock Bunting, Alpine Chough, and Rock Partridge.

We visit the Nestos Delta on our way to the Evros Delta. There, on the Turkish border, we will spend a few days. The vast Evros Delta offers a real opportunity to find a rarity or two, as well as Mediterranean Gull, Eurasian Bittern, and Slender-billed Gull. We also visit nearby Dadia Forest, which is the best location in Europe for raptors, with thirty-five out of the possible thirty-eight diurnal species in Europe possible!

We then drive back to Thessaloniki, where you can catch a flight back home or take a plane to bird the island of Lesvos.

 

Itinerary (9 days/8 nights)

Day 1. Cultural highlights and European birding introduction in Athens
After breakfast at your hotel you will be picked up and we will depart for a full-day tour to see the highlights of Athens, including the Acropolis with all of its famous monuments, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, the Acropolis Museum, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and possibly a visit to Marathon and the nearby wetland of Schinias, if time allows. From a birding point of view, we will familiarize ourselves with the common garden and city birds of Europe, which include Common Kestrel, Common Blackbird, European Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Eurasian Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, and Little Owl. We will enjoy lunch in the famous Plaka area, and dinner will be at one of the local tavernas, offering a great introduction to authentic Greek dishes.
Overnight: Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel, Athens

Day 2. Athens birding and flight north to Thessaloniki
We will spend most of the morning at Mt. Immitos near Athens, looking for specials like Rock Nuthatch, Rüppel’s Warbler, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Barred Warbler, Black-eyed Wheatear, and Eastern Orphean Warbler. After enjoying lunch in Athens we will make our way to Athens International Airport for our short domestic flight to Thessaloniki, from where we will be transferred to our guesthouse at Lake Kerkini. A special presentation about Lake Kerkini in the guesthouse will prove to be a great introduction to this place, before we will settle in and then enjoy the local speciality cuisine at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Guesthouse Limnaio, Kerkini

Day 3. Lake Kerkini and the Dalmatian Pelican
Lake Kerkini is simply magical. An early morning sitting by the shore, watching pelicans, egrets, and herons whilst being serenaded by Common Nightingale and Golden Oriole, as the sun rises above snow-capped mountains reflected in a still lake, is absolutely stunning. The lake and the surrounding area have a bird list of over 300 species, and we will spend a full day exploring the Lake Kerkini area. The main target species at the lake are Dalmatian Pelican and Pygmy Cormorant. The surrounding forest area holds a wonderful diversity of Warblers, including Eastern Orphean, Sardinian, Subalpine, Olivaceous, and Eastern Bonelli’s, as well as Common and Lesser Whitethroats. Common Nightingale and Common Cuckoo are never too far away.
Overnight: Guesthouse Limnaio, Kerkini

Day 4. Lake Kerkini boat cruise and woodpeckers
After an early breakfast we will wrap up our lakeshore birding before departing for a morning boat cruise on Lake Kerkini, where we will witness an incredible number and diversity of waterbirds. We will visit the special raft where Dalmatian Pelicans breed, which allows for wonderful close-up views. Other waterbirds include Great White Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, and Eurasian Spoonbill. After a picnic lunch we will spend the afternoon birding in the forests on the Bulgarian border, where we have the opportunity to see seven different Woodpecker species: Great Spotted, Middle Spotted, Little Spotted, Grey-faced, European Green, Syrian, and Black. Other interesting birds to be found here include Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Eurasian Penduline Tit, and Short-toed Treecreeper.
Overnight: Guesthouse Limnaio, Kerkini

Day 5. Alpine birding on Mt Pangaion and at Kavala
After breakfast we will depart for Mount Pangaion, where we will bird as we ascend, but the main focus will be on the higher slopes, looking for, among others, Alpine Chough, Ortolan Bunting, Yellowhammer, Water Pipit, Rock Partridge, Rock Bunting, Coal Tit, and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush. From here we will depart for Kavala, amphitheatrically built on the slopes of Mt. Symvolo, one of the most picturesque cities in Greece with a very rich cultural heritage. After arriving by late afternoon we will wander on the cobbled streets, admire the medieval castle, and enjoy dinner in a fish taverna along the shore.
Overnight: Egnatia City Hotel & Spa, Kavala

Day 6. Nestos Delta to Evros Delta
After a relaxing breakfast we will start two days of birding in the brilliant delta habitats in north-eastern Greece. First we will visit the Nestos Delta, where we will look for species like Mediterranean and Slender-billed Gulls, European Shag, and Little Tern. This area is also really good for shrikes, and we should see Woodchat, Lesser Grey, and Red-backed Shrikes without difficulty. After wrapping up the morning birding and enjoying a picnic lunch we will make our way to the Evros Delta. The huge Evros Delta offers you the chance to see real rarities, due to its eastern location on the border with Turkey. We have organized a video presentation, a tour, and a boat trip on the delta for us, which will be a great introduction to the area.
Overnight: Hotel Isidora, Loutra Trianoupolis

Day 7. Evros Delta
Today we have a full day birding in the Evros Delta, exploring the mixture of birding habitats. Some of the species that we should encounter include Spur-winged Lapwing, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Pied Avocet, Eurasian Stone-curlew, Grey Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, and other species like Eurasian Bittern, Purple Heron, Greater Flamingo, Long-legged Buzzard, European Roller, Little Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Tern, Whiskered Tern, and Isabelline Wheatear.
Overnight: Hotel Isidora, Loutra Trianoupolis

Day 8. Dadia Forest
We will leave early in the morning and drive to the nearby Dadia Forest, where we will spend a full day birding. This mountainous area is one of the best places in Europe for the observation of birds of prey. Thirty-five out of thirty-eight diurnal raptors have been recorded here, along with seven out of nine owl species. To find as many of them as possible will be our main focus. Some of the species we should see include raptors such Cinereous Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle, Booted Eagle, European Honey Buzzard, as well as Black Stork, and passerines including Long-tailed Tit, European Siskin, and Masked Shrike. In the afternoon we will have a short drive back to our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Isidora, Loutra Trianoupolis

Day 9. Drive to Thessaloniki and departure
Today will see our departure for Thessaloniki, with stops at wetlands along the way, as well as a picnic lunch. Then we will make our way straight to Thessaloniki Airport for your outbound flight.

5-day extension to Lesvos

Lesvos has been a famous birdwatching destination for the last two decades. Located at the borders of two continents, the island has a great diversity in bird species of both European and Asian origin, which simply takes off during the migrating season (especially in the spring). On the third-largest island of Greece extensive areas of very different habitats are found (olive groves, pine forest, garrigue, maquis), while another very important aspect to add to the island’s avian richness is the fact that a great number of wetlands are found here. Some of the specials that we might see include Krüper’s Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Cinereous Bunting, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, and Isabelline Wheatear.

Itinerary (5 days/4 nights)

Day 1. Departure to Lesvos
Once we have arrived back in Thessaloniki and stopping for lunch we will make our way to the airport for our domestic flight to the Island of Lesvos where we will spend the next four nights. We will be met at Lesvos airport and transferred to our Hotel, where we will discuss the various birding habitats as well as the birding itinerary for the next three days.
Overnight: Malemi Organic Hotel, Skala Kalloni

Day 2. Achladeri Pine Forest and Kalloni Gulf wetlands
Lesvos is the only area in Europe where Krüper’s Nuthatch can be found, and we have a wonderful chance to get close-up views. Other forest species that we might see are Short-toed Treecreeper and Long-tailed Tit. The Kalloni Gulf is surrounded by different types of coastal wetlands (salt and freshwater marshes, river mouths, lagoons, and two salt-pans), making it an ideal place to search for migrating and breeding waterbirds. We will be able to see Black-winged Stilt nesting, Little Egret, Great Egret, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Black Stork, and Ruddy Shelduck at their breeding grounds, together with a variety of waders. At the Lisvori olive grove area we should get good sightings of Masked Shrike, Olive-tree Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, and Middle Spotted Woodpecker.
Overnight: Malemi Organic Hotel, Skala Kalloni

Day 3. Kalloni Gulf wetlands and the central island – Mount Lepetimnos 
We will start the day searching the wetlands for species such as Pied Avocet, Common Tern, Little Tern, Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Tern, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers. Black-crowned Night Heron and Little and Spotted Crakes are also a possibility. From here we will make our way to the central island area, where we have the opportunity to observe  Masked and Woodchat Shrikes, Sombre Tit, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Rüppell’s, Subalpine, and Olive-tree Warblers, Black-headed Bunting, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Little Owl, and Eurasian Scops Owl.
Overnight: Malemi Organic Hotel, Skala Kalloni

Day 4. Western Lesvos
Lesvos is one of the few islands to find the Cinereous Bunting, and this species will be our main target for today. While searching for it we will be able to see a variety of species occupying the extensive garrigue areas of the western island with scattered and thin oak forest. We will also look for Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Isabelline and Black-eared Wheatears, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Blue Rock Thrush, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Rufous Bush Robin, and Little Owl. Throughout the three days birding on the island we will keep an eye open for raptor species like Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, Red-footed Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, and Montagu’s Harrier.
Overnight: Malemi Organic Hotel, Skala Kalloni

Day 5. Departure
After breakfast we will make our way to Lesvos Airport for the flight back home.

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors.

Download Itinerary
Greece and Lesvos Extension May 2016

This is a sample trip report. Please email us (info@birdingecotours.com) for more trip reports from this destination.