Lake Kerkini & Lailias Ski Resort ~ Greece ~ April 4th - 7th .. '24

Thursday 25 April 2024

 Got a flight & car package with British Airways and a hotel down at the dam end of the lake, the drive from Thessaloniki airport to the hotel took nearly two hours arriving just after 10pm.

Up early on Friday 5th and began driving to various sites around the lake in a anti-clockwise direction and after a few hours at different sites the realization that the birding and photography was going to be much harder than i was expecting ..

These are the sites from Gosney & Ebird that I visited multiple times especially on the eastern side of the lake to the drainage channel approaching from different tracks each time ..

I tried a boat trip which was disappointing even at 8 euros the skipper just went straight through the massive raft of cormorants putting them all up with some pelicans, the rest of the tourists on the boat thought this was fantastic obviously the boat then drifted for five minutes before returning to dock ..

I then made my way down the western side of the lake ..

I managed 72 species for the first day which I was more than happy with and there was some great birds like Ferruginous Duck, Little Crake, Hen Harrier, Black Kite, Penduline Tit, Marsh Sandpiper, Black Stork, Short-toed Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Quail and both the Pelicans ..

Saturday 6th

I tried the drainage channel as the light direction was perfect but approaching a small run-off ditch from the hot spring water which i'd driven a few times already gave way and the car was now grounded with the passenger wheel just spinning, an hour later, after jacking up the car and making a ramp out of bricks & blocks I finally got it out .. 

After that little bit of drama I decided to head up to Lailias Ski Resort an hours drive and once out of Serres the scenery on route and then up Mount Lailias was great ..

The light for photography was already harsh by the time I was nearing the resort but the birding was good ..

  I tried a couple of locations for Rock Partridge as per Gosney and stopped on the way down scanning nice rocky slopes but unfortunately couldn't see any but I did have some good birds like Wryneck, Woodlark, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Crossbill & Common Rock Thrush ..

Back at the lake mid-afternoon trying the drainage channel before heading to Strymonas Bridge on the northern side driving out east photo targets were still hard work but 5 Tawny Pipits & an Ortolan Bunting were nice to find before they flew off ..

I also went back to the harbour hoping to find Vasilis but was given the run-around and gave up ..

Later at the restaurant after a nice meal & a couple of beers I found him on Facebook and sent a message, back at the hotel, batteries charged, showered and now asleep, I was woken by a strange buzzing it was my phone ringing and it was Vasilis, he was 300km away but he had arranged with a friend of his Nick Gallios for me to be on his boat in the morning, a few messages later and it was all sort, now i'm wide awake and can't go back to sleep and I need to be at the boat for 6:45 am ..

Sunday 7th

 It felt like I got next to no sleep and i've got a 20 minute drive to the boat but arrive with 15 minutes to spare it was just getting light and looked like it was going to be a good day ..

     Nick arrived with three other clients for the boat ..

So I know its really the wrong time of year for pelican photography, winter is best as they are in breeding plumage but it was a great trip out and Nick knew exactly what we all wanted out of our photography and where to position the boat ..

The 800 5.6 was definitely a bit to much focal length, and the others had nice silent mirrorless bodies and my 1dx mkII sounded like a sledge hammer but it was so good on the boat for the birds ..

 The 3 hour boat trip was great both Pelicans, Spoonbill, White-tailed Eagle, Black-winged Stilt, Ruff and Med Gull were the notables and more Great Cormorant than you can possibly imagine ..

I decided to get the two hour drive done so I was closer to the airport and headed for Kalochori Lagoon another really good site which I drove around and checked out all the areas ..

Notables here were Marsh & Wood Sandpiper, Slender-billed Gull and Little Owl ..

Total species for the trip 111 not to shabby at all ..

Definitely going for a winter visit ..