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 alphacar.gr 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:
Main observing spots where the bay pictured above, Lake Korision and the Roda Valley near Ermones (both visited twice).
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:
|Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)|
|European Shag (Phalacrocorax Aristotelis)||Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)|
|Cormorant||Korfu, 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 Kestrel||Corfu, Ermones|
|Peregrine Falcon||Corfu, 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 Gull||Korfu, Kerkyra|
|Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)||Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)|
|Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)||Korfu, Agios Gordios (gr/cfu)|
|Feral pigeon||Korfu, 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 Martin||Korfu, Kerkyra Town|
|Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)||Korfu, Lake Korission (gr/cfu)|
|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)|
|Red Backed Shrike||Ermones, 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)|
|European Sparrow (Passer domesticus)||Korfu, Pelekas (gr/cfu)|
|European Goldfinch||Corfu, Ermones|
|Coal Tit||Agios Gordios|
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.