Written by and photo courtesy of Dean Jones
The song of Crested lark, Eastern Olivaceous and Cetti’s Warbler are filling the air… YES we have made it to Greece and what an excellent two and a half weeks birding we have had! Already some wonderful students and volunteers have come and gone here on the islands, all of which seem to have really enjoyed their experience affirmed by big smiley faces and reluctance to leave. All in all the projects within this newly established expedition are going really well regardless of the very windy conditions we have been having on some of the islands over the past two weeks. As mentioned in a previous post students have had the chance to take part in a huge array of exciting dissimilar scientific projects within this expedition ranging from seagrass monitoring surveys to terrestrial invertebrate sampling. This provides the students with a real variety of field experience as well as an overall well rounded understanding of Greek island ecology.
The lucky students also get to wake up at 05:30 some mornings (you should see some of their faces) to help contribute to a number of avian projects set up on the islands. In Samos teams are led out every day to the Psilli Amos Saline lagoon which is a special protected area on Samos due to the presence of breeding birds such as the near threatened Ruddy Shelduck and in previous years Greater Flamingo. Monitoring of this area is very important as it is under threat from illegal hunting, dumping of pesticides as well as damage from encroaching developments leading to this area being drained (as well as many other important wetland areas on this island). Here it has been the job of the students to help monitor this area using specific point count survey methods in order to get a better idea of what and how this unique habitat is utilized by the birds as well as possibly highlighting ways to improve protection of this site. So far the students have been lucky to grace their peepers on such birds as Green Sandpiper, Spur-winged Plover, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt (some of which have just produced young) Fan-tailed Warblers and a stunning Black stork.
Lipsi, Arki and Marathi have also produced some truly exciting events as students sleep and sail between the islands on one of the three fantastic boats provided by Archipelagos. Here again we have been lucky enough to enjoy some really special birds like the Audouin’s gull which is one of the world’s rarest seagulls as well as some jaw dropping scenery, star lit night skies and yummy spaghetti in Marathis tavern owned by the islands infamous pirate. Yarrr harr harrr.