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Rhodes

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator ©Panos Oikonomou Website

Rhodes (Rhodos or Rodos in Greek); the beautiful island of roses, has unique physical scenery that never ceases to impress visitors. Rhodes is known as the isle of the Sun due to a unique climate with more sunny days (260/year) than any other place in Europe. It was the combination of friendly natives, a beautiful landscape with some magnificent beaches/shores, the amazing medieval walled town in its capital and some beautiful birding-moments, that made me fall in love with this island, sorry, this fascinating island, the first time I went there. Rhodes is at the meeting point of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa and is a part of the Dodecanese group of islands at the southeastern end of Greece. The island, with a maximum length of 78km, and a maximum width of 38km, has a total area of 1.400 sq km, and is mainly hilly. There is no permanent fresh water, except for a few lagoons in the mouth of some rivers and the obligatory fresh water reservoir (Appolakia).

When you go birding on Rhodes, don`t expect quantity, it`s the quality of the birding that counts. April is the best month to watch birds; when you may see 80 species in other months, you`ve done well! Rhodes is a holiday-destination so most European birdwatchers visit during the months July, August and September and information abounds for that period. All the gathered information results in a list of 250 species seen at or mentioned at the island. Mentioned refers also to some literature, which accuracy is in doubt. A critically evaluated list results in 228 species. Rhodes is home for about 80 breeding species.

Birds which may be seen.
Among the breeding species:
Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis): a few pairs in the south-east; Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus): a few pairs (Gadouras and Afandou); Long-Legged Buzzard (Buteo ruffinus) (> 15 pairs); Bonelli`s Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus) (1-2 pairs); Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) (a handful of pairs); Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) (about ten pairs); Eleonora`s Falcon (Falco eleonora) ( a few dozen pairs at the islands on the west coast) Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) ( a few pairs); Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) (irregular breeder, one pair); Chukar (Alectoris chukar) (about more than a hundred pairs, but declining); Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) (a few pairs); Scops Owl (Otus scops) ( at least a few dozen pairs); Alpine swift (Apus melba) (a few hundred pairs); Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus) ( a few hundred pairs) Bee-Eater (Merops apiaster) (at least a few dozens pairs); Hoopoe (Upupa epops) (about a few pairs, not likely to breed every year); Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla) (quite common); Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica) (at least a few dozen pairs); Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris) (at least a dozen pairs); Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin (Cercotrichas galactotes) (at least ten pairs, especially Afandou and Gadouras); Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica) (a few hundred pairs)

Black-headed (yellow) wagtail (Motacilla flava feldegg) (a few dozen pairs in the north-east); Cetti`s Warbler/Cettia cetti/Cetti`s zanger (at least a few dozen pairs); Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) (a few pairs); Olive-tree Warbler (Hippolais olivetorum) (about ten pairs); Olivaceous Warbler (Hippolais pallida) (a few dozen pairs); Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans) (at least a few dozen pairs); Rüppell`s Warbler (Sylvia rueppelli) (a few dozen pairs in the south-east, not likely to breed every year); Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) (about a few thousand pairs); Orphean Warbler (Sylvia hortensis) (a few hundred pairs); Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) (a few pairs, not likely to breed every year); Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor) (a few pairs, not likely to breed every year; Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) (quite common, at least a few dozen pairs); Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) (at least about ten pairs); Raven (Corvus corax) (a few dozen pairs); Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana) (at least a few dozen pairs); Cretzschmar`s Bunting (Emberiza caesia) (at least a few dozen pairs); Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala) (at least a few hundred pairs).

The EBCC Atlas of European Breeding Birds also mentions Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos); Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus); Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius); Calandra lark (Melanocorypha calandra); Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon); Eastern Bonelli`s Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli orientalis) and (Western) Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer) as breeding birds. But until 1997, there was no confirmation, knowledge or evidence of those species as breeding birds (See also Handrionos, G. & T. Akriotis, 1997. The Birds of Greece). Calandra lark (Melanocorypha calandra) and Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon) are definitely winter visitors on Rhodes.

The following passage migrants are worth mentioning: Night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) (regular); Squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides) (regular); Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) (regular); Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) (quite regular); Garganey (Anas querquedula) (rare); Black Kite (Milvus migrans) (rare); Montagu`s Harrier (Circus pygargus) (regular); Booted Eagle (Hierraaetus pennatus) (rare); Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) (regular); Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) (regular in great numbers); Black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) (quite regular); Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola) (rare); Temminck`s Stint (Calidris temminckii) (quite regular); Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) (quite regular); Audouin`s Gull (Larus audouinii) (regular west and north side); Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) (regular); White-winged Black Tern (Chlidonias leucoopterus) (regular); Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus) (quite regular); Roller (Coracias garrulus) (regular, former breeding bird); Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus) (regular); Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina) (quite regular); Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka) (rare) and Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis) (regular).

In Rhodes it`s possible to see every species that can be seen on the north-western side of Turkey (the shortest distance between the two is about 20 km). The list of some vagrants or very rare migrants confirms this assumption, at least partly: Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus); Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis); Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus); Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo); Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii); Spur-winged Plover (Lapwing) (Hoplopterus spinosus); White-tailed Lapwing (Chettusia gregaria); Pomarine Skua (Stercorarius pomarinus); Arctic Skua (Stercorarius skua); Little (or House) Swift (Apus affinis); Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Meriops persicus); Thrush nightingale (Luscinia luscinia); Cyprus Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe cypriaca); Semi-collared flycatcher (Fidecula semitorquata); Rosy (or Rose-coloured) Starling (Sturnus roseus); Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus) and Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica).

Apart from the top sites described below here are more tips:
- in spring every rivermouth - if there`s some water left - can be rewarding: Loutani, Lirono, Makkaris, Kontari
- Attavyros and Profitis Ilias are interesting for the mountain birds, but can be disappointing
- the valley of the butterflies is interesting, but not for birds
- good combinations culture & birdwatching are: Ancient Acropolis Lindos, Ancient Kamiros, Filerimos, Kritica castle, Koskinou-Kalithea and Monolithos.

Top Sites

Afandou

Satellite View

This place is interesting for the combination of various habitats: olive groves, scrub, two riverbeds, small pools with small reed beds, some wasteland and a golf course. This site is interesting during migration for waders (Wood sandpiper, Dunlin, Little ringed plover, Little stints); Egrets (Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Litte Egret, Glossy Ibis, Little Bittern) and Garganey. The golf course and surroundings are likely to produce some interesting species like Short-toed Larks, Tawny Pipit, Red-throated pipit (the latter during migration). During the breeding season Red-backed Shrike, Stone Curlew, Rufous Bushchat and Kingfisher are almost certainties, together with species like Bee-eater, Quail, Reed Warbler and Olivaceous warblers. The place to be, is just the area between the two riverbeds.

Appolakia Reservoir

Satellite View

The only deep and permanent freshwater can be found at the Appolakia Reservoir. It was built in the late eighties. So therefore it is not indicated at most of the maps. Take the road from Appolakia to Gennadia. Just outside the village there is a small road on the left side, with a sign for the dam (about 3 km). This reservoir seems to get better every year, although a visit cannot be rewarding sometimes. At the north end of the reservoir, there's an area of marsh and reed beds. During migration the latter attracts species like Grey Heron, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint. It is the most certain place to see species like Little Grebe, Coot and Moorhen, sometimes accompanied by Garganey, Mallard, Black Necked Grebe or Kingfisher. It's also an interesting place, especially in hot afternoons, to see birds drink and bath like the Swifts (three species); Swallows (three species) and Bee-eaters. You can get very close sightings of them. Eleonora's Falcon and Roller are other interesting species that can be spotted here.

Plimmiri

A place that is not often mentioned in reports, is the surrounding of Plimmiri, but it`s just one of my favourites. Just south of Plimmiri there`s a long and beautiful beach. The beach flows over into sandy dunes followed by small sized arable land. In combination with the interesting migration point of Cape Viglos, this area can be very rewarding. This site can only be visited by foot. Just follow the road from Plimmiri to the beach and walk in southern direction alongside the sandy dunes. The certain rewards are: Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Tawny Pipit, Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike and Black-headed Bunting. The chain of little fields, sometimes irrigated, provide good habitats for larks and pipits during migration and winter (Calandra Lark, Sky Lark). In autumn a sea-watch can be satisfactory with species like Shag, Eleonora`s Falcon, Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Honey-buzzard and Cory`s Shearwater.

Rhodos town area

A place that does not look quite interesting, but that absolutely is, are the immediate surroundings of Rhodos town, especially during migration. The beach on the north side of the town (neighbourhood Aquarium) can be good for migrating birds, egrets and seabirds, like Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Red-throated pipit, White-winged Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Common Tern, Balearic Shearwater, Cory`s Shearwater. During migration Monte Smith is very interesting for songbirds (Blackcap, Wood Warbler, Icterine warbler, Subalpine warbler, Flycatchers); Wheatears and Shrikes. Monte Smith holds also a strong population of Olivaceaous warblers. The old town of Rhodes has a population of Crag Martin. On or between the old walls of Rhodes-town, Litte Kestrel and Hoopoe can be seen regularly. The harbour of Rhodes-town can be interesting for terns and gulls, especially Audouins Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Common gull, Common Tern and even Gull-billed Tern.

River Gadouras

Satellite View

Valley and mouth of the river Gadouras (about 10 km north of Lindos, about 8 km south of Arhangelos); east of the main road Arhangelos-Lindos. Combination of river valley with a stoney/sandy bed, some fresh water pools, scrub, a kind of lagoon with high reed and various shrubs, and in the neighbourhood: arable land, olive groves and grassy fields. Sadly, the last years there seems to be more disturbance from the industrial activity (a kind of gravel winning) This place is good for waders in spring and autumn (Little stint, Little ringed plover, Ringed plover, Wood sandpiper, Green sandpiper, Marsh sandpiper, Collared Pratincole); Egrets (Glossy Ibis, Little Egret, Grey Egret, Squacco Heron); Terns (White-winged black tern, Gull-billed tern). Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Olivaceaous warbler, Bee-eater, Quail, Woodchat-shrike and Short-toed Lark should be certainties in the breeding season. It's also one of the best places for Stone Curlew and Rufous Bushchats. You have to visit this site by foot. It is best to park your car in the neighbourhood of the bridge. It takes at least two hours to visit this site. In the morning, the sun can be disturbing. The best to do is to enter this area on the south side of the river.

Contributor

Jos Rutten

Regular Visitor

Belgium

jos.rutten@vlaanderen.be

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 228

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Rhodes, the capital and largest of the Dodecanese islands, is situated close to the south-west coast of Turkey. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s no surprise that it is a popular destination for tourists, who flock to the island for its sunny beaches or perhaps to visit its ancient and Medieval ruins, of which there are plenty. However, its location and geology of schist and limestone means it is also blessed with an interesting mixture of Mediterranean and Asia c ora and fauna.