Hell is Closed for Renovation – 10,000 Birds

We tried yesterday to go to the Nekromanteio of Afyra, the very entrance of historical Greek’s Hades, however the world of the lifeless was locked up (effectively, probably not for renovation, however for additional analysis at this archeological website, after the peak of a vacationer season). Nonetheless, it’s someway reassuring to know that Hell is closed: one Albanian proverb says that there aren’t any keys for the Hell’s Gates – they’re open to all.

And right here I’m now, avoiding the 2 barking canine attempting to chunk my tires whereas I’m driving by means of pre-dawn darkness in the direction of the delta of the river Styx, or Acheron, as it’s identified right now on the Ionian Coastline of Greece. The coastal delta contains low, scrub-dominated hills and brackish marshes, the habitats with the best species richness in average zones.

The Acheron Delta lies some 10 miles to the south of the Parga resort and a mile downriver from Nekromanteio; its entrance being the small resort of Ammoudia. On a wire by the highway, one European Bee-eater awaits me. These birds have already left my native Serbia, additional north, and this isn’t simply the one one I’ve seen in Greece, however my final bee-eater of the season. Quickly I go away tarmac behind and enter the dust observe of the delta correct.

By now, the Solar is above the horizon – however not but above the hills behind the marshes. I drive as slowly as potential – any slower and the engine would cease. The primary Little Egrets and Gray Herons in flight above the misty delta. That is probably the one European wetland I’ve birded the place Widespread Moorhens outnumber Eurasian Coots. In Serbia, there could be just a few dozen or lots of of coots and, on the similar time, from just a few as much as a dozen moorhens, however right here they’re even-numbered, with just a few extra moorhens (principally younger).

A number of Little Grebes and one Widespread Greenshank additional, I encounter two Squacco Herons and attain for a digital camera, with out success: there is no such thing as a direct daylight, and the telephoto lens likes loads of gentle. Motion behind the herons and I scan the reeds with my binoculars to search out one other younger moorhen, however by means of the binocs I discover one other motion deeper within the reeds, the smallest and – in my view – essentially the most stunning heron of the area, Little Bittern. Now I’m already sorry there is no such thing as a daylight for a photograph.

Lastly, the rising solar is thinning the mist, giving some colors to the scene, and the primary Barn Swallows seem low above the water, ingesting in flight, typically plunging their bellies and having a morning tub, earlier than they relaxation in a bush preening their feathers (on the similar time, my FB mates have been lamenting how these birds have already left Serbia).

I can hear the mooing of cows, interrupted by gunshots, whereas two scared flocks of geese fly above the delta. Excessive ’tsi-tsi-tsi’ and one turquoise Widespread Kingfisher flies by. A Muskrat (Ondatra zibethica) shadowed by the reeds, whereas one feminine Bearded Tit (with out beard, thankfully) disappears among the many reed seed-heads.

The cows, let free to stroll to the closest moist meadows, are coming in my path. I park by the aspect of the dyke, leaving them as a lot house on one aspect as potential, however they go by on either side. The primary one to succeed in me is one calf, confused by the surprising sight, so it lets its mom take the lead. Amongst them, I acknowledge a large-headed bull (or was it an ox? I wasn’t checking that low), however he, too, passes calmly.

Again to Ammoudia to succeed in the second dyke. Electrical wires at either side of the road are stuffed by each Barn and Pink-rumped Swallows. The dyke gate is open and I squeeze in – this dyke ought to take me to the center of the delta. Or of the one fourth of it nonetheless surviving the a long time of draining and turning marshes into arable land. I can nonetheless hear the gunshots and hope that the hunters actually do shoot solely the flying birds.

Barn Swallows

One unusually darkish feminine Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Black-crowned Evening Heron, Eurasian Jay… I can hear the Widespread Raven from someplace above. Tiny chook disappearing into the thicket, then displaying on a department – Willow Warbler. I veer into the very coronary heart of the delta… and discover myself within the Garbage Alley, an unlawful dumping website the place folks of Ammoudia go away previous bricks and ceramic tiles, plastic chairs and toys, rest room seats, lower palm tree trunks and much more. From their perspective, I suppose, they’re placing these marshes to a very good use (to be utterly trustworthy – just about like birding Serbia).

Round me is a moist meadow utilized by the cows whose path I dared to cross. There’s a Whinchat on a low stem and a bit additional a Northern Wheatear, too. By the tire tracks within the grass, one smallish chook runs in comically shorts strides – Little Ringed Plover. To finish this pastureland idyll, there’s a Pink-backed Shrike on a close-by tree.

By now, I exploit the identical dyke to return to the city to succeed in the following one; however now there’s a hunter standing at each hundred metres. I drive by, wave my greetings, a few of them wave again.


A brief tarmac part and a brand new dust observe, this time the one bordering the marshes on one aspect and the maize fields on the opposite aspect. In a low tree crown above the highway stands an Icterine Warbler, whereas a smaller flock of Sand Martins hunts bugs low above the reeds.

There’s a pickup truck parked by the dust highway, subsequent to it stands a bored hunter. A man on a motorcycle is approaching me… maybe a frontrunner of the hunt to warn me off the world for security causes? I wave my greeting; he waves again and passes on.

Nonetheless, there is no such thing as a level in going any additional. On a earlier dyke, there have been six hunters, all trying on this path, and right here I can see the primary in a line trying in the direction of the earlier dyke. There can not probably be any birds left on the canal by the highway.

I quit. Three European Turtle Doves wave their goodbyes from a roadside wire and, a bit additional alongside the highway, one Brief-toed Snake Eagle is devouring a snake in mid-air.

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