Trip Report: Greece, August 5-15, 1998

Roderich Moessner;

I have just returned from my trip to Greece and since there may be some other people travelling there this summer, here's my report.

Thanks again very much to everyone who helped in the preparation.

This is a brief report of a trip (by bus, train, bike, taxi and on foot) through Greece, August 5-15.


August 5: arrival Athens early morning. Taxi to Liosion bus station. 0615 bus to Agios Konstantinos. 0900 ferry to Alonissos. Overnight at Patiri.

August 6: cycle tour to Gerakas at northern end of island (40 km round trip). Hike near Gerakas.

August 7: hydrofoil to Thessaloniki (cancelled at second port -> ferry to Volos, bus Volos->Thessaloiniki); train Thessaloniki-Vironeia at NE corner of Lake Kerkini. Hotel next to station.

August 8: long hike in northeastern corner of Lake Kerkini.

August 9: long hike in mountains north of Vironeia. Overnight train to Livadhia, from there taxi to Delphi.

August 10: Delphi

August 11: Bus to Agios Nikolaos. Long wait for ferry to Eyio, which runs hourly in the evening but only every three hours in the morning. Taxi to Diakopto. Evening hike up the gorge.

August 12: Little Railway up the gorge from Diakopto, hike from Mega Spilio. Train to Mycenae.

August 13: Mycenae

August 14/15: Athens


  1. Ferry timetables are available from Greek tourist offices, or, even better (since more complete and easier to use) at Car ferries are a pleasant way to travel, the 'flying dolphin' hydrofoils at twice the speed and price offer much worse birding and are frequently cancelled in bad weather.

  2. Taking taxis is cheap in Greece and makes birding by public transport much easier. Unfortunately, taxi drivers are typically quite dishonest and they usually tried to overcharge us by e.g. not setting the meter properly (or at all) or driving unnecessary distances. This is especially a problem for airport taxis. We found that complaining straight away usually helps even though one driver got very aggressive. For more advice, consult travel guides and the leaflet on taking taxis available from Greek tourist offices.

  3. Long-distance buses are reasonably cheap and efficient. The local ones require a lot of patience, and connections can be time-consuming. It tends to be difficult to obtain reliable information on local buses, and -- if shared between 3-4 people -- a taxi may be competitive in price.

  4. Despite their frequent delays, trains are an excellent means of transport: they are very cheap, are good opportunities for meeting local people, and offer good birding along the way. Using overnight services is relaxing and timesaving provided you take a sleeper at a very modest extra charge.

  5. Our experience was that booking rooms in advance and first-come-first-serve are compatible in Greece.

  6. The heat in summer makes a siesta inevitable.

  7. The train from Diakopto into the mountains requires advance booking in high season. We got off at the intermediate station and walked up the hills on the west but we were too late (in the day and in the year) to see anything of note up there.


  1. Great Crested Grebe
  2. Little Grebe
  3. Manx Shearwater (P. puffinus yelkouan)
    seawatching from Alonissos (Akr. Marpounda)
  4. Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea)
    from ferry to/from Alonissos
    ferry Ag. Nikolaos->Eyio
  5. White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus)
    >100 in flooded forest at Kerkini, viewed from mountains north of lake
    several seen in evening from eastern bank of Lake Kerkini -- evening seems best at this location
  6. Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus)
    several dozen seen from eastern bank of Lake Kerkini
  7. Cormorant
  8. Shag
  9. Pygmy Cormorant
    common at Lake Kerkini
  10. Little Bittern
  11. Little Egret
  12. Great White Egret
  13. Squacco Heron
  14. Grey Heron
  15. Purple Heron
  16. Night Heron
  17. Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
    species 10-17 all eastern bank of Lake Kerkini
  18. White Stork
    common at Kerkini
  19. Black Stork
    6 in dried river south of Vironeia
  20. Spoonbill
    common at Kerkini
  21. Mallard
  22. Garganey
    flooded meadow at Kerkini
  23. Pochard
  24. Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
    from eastern bank of Lake Kerkini
  25. White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
    one over monastery north of Vironeia
  26. Golden Eagle
    one on way to monastery north of Vironeia
    three at Delphi
  27. Lesser Spotted Eagle
    one attacking White-tailed Eagle over monastery north of Vironeia
  28. Buzzard
  29. Sparrowhawk
  30. Levant Sparrowhawk
    one in floodplain forest south of Vironeia
  31. Peregrine Falcon
    one at Kerkini
  32. Eleonora's Falcon
    several from ship to/from Alonissos
    several on Alonissos
  33. Kestrel
  34. Pheasant
  35. Quail
    calling near eastern bank of Kerkini
  36. Coot
  37. Moorhen
  38. Little Ringed Plover
  39. Snipe
  40. Black-tailed Godwit
  41. Common Sandpiper
  42. Green Sandpiper
  43. Wood Sandpiper
  44. Greenshank
  45. Black-winged Stilt
    river east of Lake Kerkini
    flooded meadow at Kerkini
  46. Black-headed Gull
  47. Mediterranean Gull
  48. Herring Gull
  49. Whiskered Tern
    eastern bank of Kerkini
  50. Feral Pigeon
  51. Collared Dove
  52. Turtle Dove
  53. Cuckoo
  54. Swift
    possible Pallid Swift at ferry stop in Skiathos
  55. Alpine Swift
    Delphi and Athens
  56. Kingfisher
  57. Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)
    common in north
  58. Roller (Coracias garrulus)
    two from train Thessaloniki-Vironeia
  59. Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
    common in dried-up river near Vironeia
    singles everywhere else
  60. Green Woodpecker
  61. Great-spotted Woodpecker
  62. Syrian Woodpecker
    station of Vironeia
  63. Crested Lark
    not uncommon in north
  64. Sand Martin
  65. Crag Martin
    in quarry north of Vironeia
  66. Barn Swallow
  67. Red-rumped Swallow
    locally common (e.g. several at Kerkini and Mycenae)
  68. House Martin
  69. Yellow Wagtail
  70. White Wagtail
  71. Grey Wagtail
  72. Red-backed Shrike
  73. Woodchat Shrike
    singles near Kerkini
    one at Mycenae northeast of archeological site
  74. Lesser Grey Shrike
    very common along railway Thess.-Vironeai
    common at Kerkini
    singles elsewhere
  75. Golden Oriole
    common at Kerkini
  76. Starling
  77. Jay
  78. Magpie
  79. Jackdaw
  80. Hooded Crow
  81. Raven
  82. Dipper
    in gorge near Diakopto (seen from train)
  83. Wren
  84. Olivaceous Warbler
    two along east bank of Lake Kerkini
  85. Rüppell's Warbler (Sylvia rueppelli)
    ad. male east of stadium, just outside compound, Delphi
  86. Sardinian Warbler
  87. Subalpine Warbler
    in foothills near Vironeia
  88. Spotted Flycatcher
  89. Mediterranean Wheatear
    common in foothills north of Vironeia
    archeological sites in south
  90. Stonechat
  91. Blue Rock Thrush
    quarry north of Vironeia
    archeological sites in south
  92. Nightingale
  93. Blackbird
  94. Sombre Tit
    Delphi around archeological site
    Mycenae northeast of archeol. site
    in gorge south of Diakopto
  95. Blue Tit
  96. Great Tit
  97. Long-tailed Tit
  98. Penduline Tit
    one at eastern bank of Kerkini
  99. Rock Nuthatch
    one in quarry north of Kerkini
    very common at archeological sites in south
  100. House Sparrow
  101. Tree Sparrow
  102. Spanish Sparrow
  103. Chaffinch
  104. Hawfinch
  105. Serin
  106. Greenfinch
  107. Goldfinch
  108. Linnet
  109. Cirl Bunting

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This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser;; August 20, 1998