We agree with Danae Portolou, the Greek atlas coordinator, that atlas fieldwork can become addictive. Visiting new regions in Europe also provides new insights and background information for the overall European picture. Here are a few impressions from our recent trip to Macedonia and northern Greece.
On Lake Ohrid in Macedonia Goosanders are breeding regularly. We also saw pairs in three different places along the river downstream of Lake Ohrid. Are these new breeding sites?
This habitat near Popova Sapka in northwest Macedonia looks perfect for Black Grouse but we searched in vain. Have they really disappeared from the region as suspected?
The April cold hit not just Switzerland but also Macedonia. The birds here in the Galicica National Park were singing in the snow at temperatures around freezing but entering the data into NaturaList with cold fingers was rather difficult.
Looks just like my Common Bird Monitoring square in southern Switzerland – but where are the Water Pipits? They were very rare in the South Pindos mountains in Greece. Rather different from the southern Alps, however, was the high density of Ortolan Buntings.
Sometimes we were just lucky. At the end of a timed visit near Ioannina in northern Greece we approached this rock. A Blue Rock Thrush was singing on the handrail of the bridge, Crag Martins approached a nest just above, a Dipper and a Grey Wagtail were seen down in the Gorge, and a Common Kestrel was probably nesting near the top.
The timed visit along a 2 km stretch of the Louros River at Amvrakikos provided an amazing 41 singing Great Reed-warblers in 90 minutes. Only when they were getting a bit more quiet could we hear the Bittern as well.
Verena Keller, 6.6.2017
In the case you wish to make your own atlas fieldwork adventure and hep us fill the gaps, and gain the opportunity to win one of three Meopta binoculars, do not hesitate to apply for our new challenge!