Birding Corfu / Kerkyra, September 2019

In September 2019, we spent a couple of weeks in Agios Gordios on Corfu’s western coast (from the 14th to the 28th). This wasn’t exactly a birding holiday, but I managed to drive over the island a couple of times on my own in our rental car (thanks Spiros of for the great service) to explore some areas that weren’t exactly adjacent to a beach. 🙂

I brought with me my trusty Nikon Monarch 10x56DCF binoculars, my Nikon P900 superzoom camera and my Celestron C-90 spotting scope (always a hoot with airport security if you carry it in your hand luggage) on a very shaky cheap plastic tripod for obvious weight reasons which was used exclusively on our balcony overlooking Agios Gordios bay:

Agios Gordios Bay, “Ortholithi” rock formation on the right

Main observing spots where the bay pictured above, Lake Korision and the Roda Valley near Ermones (both visited twice).

Roda Valley near Ermones
Lake Korision as seen from the Northern mudflats

What follows is a loose account of the species observed and the places visit, I hope you may find it useful in planning your stay on Corfu if you’re interested in birdwatching or observing wildlife in general.

List of observed species:

Little Grebe
(Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
European Shag (Phalacrocorax Aristotelis)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
CormorantKorfu, Agios Gordios
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
European KestrelCorfu, Ermones
Peregrine FalconCorfu, Agios Gordios
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Black-headed GullKorfu, Kerkyra
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
Feral pigeonKorfu, Kerkyra
Scops Owl (Otus scops)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Bee eater (Merops apiaster)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
Sand MartinKorfu, Kerkyra Town
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
StonechatCorfu, Ermones
White throated warbler (Sylvia curruca)Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
WagtailAgios Gordios
Red Backed ShrikeErmones, Korfu
Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
Blue Jay (Garrulus glandarius)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)
RavenAgios Gordios
European Sparrow (Passer domesticus)Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)
European GoldfinchCorfu, Ermones
JackdawAgios Gordios
MagpieAgios Gordios
Coal TitAgios Gordios

Observation details

This list is not complete, I’ve tried to focus on the more interesting species on the island.

Little Grebe: observed on one occasion at Lake Korision (LK); 6 ind. hunting on the lake.

Shag: two ind. resting & feeding on a rock near Orthoilithi, Agios Gordios Bay (AGB) observed during 2 consecutive days.

Cormorant: few observed over the course of 2 weeks in AGB

Little Egret: Quite common, seen over AGB, LK, and near a small pond in the Roda Valley (RV) this species seems to replace the white heron common in central europe on Corfu.

Grey Heron: Quite common, occured over AGB, RV and LK.

Greater Flamingo: Observed one right at the Airport lagoon in Kerkyra Town (KT) on arrival, also a few hundred present during both visits to LK.

Marsh harrier: 2 ind. over AGB during the first week on one occasion, not seen again.

Pallid Harrier: observed one adult male over the RV near Ermones on one occasion; 2nd visit a day later to take a good photograph sadly wasn’t successful. (migrant) Crappy photo only I’m afraid.

Common Buzzard: seen on a few occasions over AGB and the RV, not as common as in central europe though.

Kestrel: 2 ind. observed over the RV near Ermones on one occasion

Peregrine Falcon: One ind. over AGB (observed once)

Osprey: One ind. passing North over AGB; another one hunting over LK a week later (may have been the same bird)

Stilt: Single imm. bird on the first visit to LK; not seen again during the 2nd visit a week later. I was very happy to hear its distinctive call when it flew off. I’ve been chasing this bird for a few years now!

Kentish Plover: 5-6 during my first visit to LK on the northern mudflats (lifer), not seen again the 2nd time around.

Cory’s Shearwater: 5 birds hunting over ABG on the very first morning, possibly migrating south; this was the only occasion I saw this bird in spite of many hours spent on the eyepiece of the C-90 spotting scope scanning the bay. (lifer)

Gulls: Herring and yellow-legged seen regularly all over the island; black-headed seen once over the airport lagoon on arrival. Pictured: Yellow-legged near Paleo Frourio in Kerkyra.

Caspian Tern: 2 adults over LK during my 2nd visit. I’ve been told by Nikos from this bird is rarely observed on Corfu, sadly I didn’t manage to take any good photos.

Scops Owl: At least 2 individuals calling every day both at dusk and at dawn at AGB, but never observed. Still I was very happy for this lifer as I wasn’t too optimistic during my planning of the trip, and the pair sounded ever so sweet apparently calling for / to each other (lifer)

Bee-Eater: two flocks of about 20-30 birds observed and heard calling twice during our stay over AGB.

Sand Martin: Quite a surprise to see these birds not shy at all hunting in significant numbers near the old fortress in Kerkyra! Also many barn swallows present there.

Spotted Flycatcher: seen regularly all over the island.

Red-Backed Shrike: The number of shrikes (both in indiviuals and species) was a bit of a letdown to be honest, only one red-backed could be found during the entire stay in RV near Ermones.

Raven: a pair could be observed regularly over AGB, sadly I could never make out their nesting site as the rocky cliffs around the town would probably have provided a perfect breeding ground for these impressive birds.


Despite the 6 new “lifers” observed during my trip I was slightly disappointed with the local variety of species and number of birds. Sparrows seemed to be by far the most common birds, but wherever I went it was quite easy to find spent shotgun cartridges, even in so-called “nature reserves” which kind of sheds a negative light on the way the local environment is “protected”. While I never witnessed any shooting first hand the evidence for it was quite obvious.

Lake Korision (during our visits) was plagued by several 10-vehicle quad tours roaring up and down the narrow beach… not something I’d expect to see in any continental nature reserve without some visiting nature enthusiasts making a stand 🙂

Caveat: I didn’t manage to visit all the areas I had planned to (most notably the Pantokrator mountain region in the North and Lefkimmi in the South), so I may have missed out on quite a few species which are supposedly present in those locations. A dedicated birding trip will probably turn up many more species which I didn’t manage to spot during my stay.

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