Saturday, November 29, 2014

Autumn birds of Tourkovounia Athens

An amazing immature Peregrine Falcon flying above the quarry-theater of Attiko Alssos this September.


Athens, November 29th 2014

Athens has several open spaces that are interesting for wildlife and could have been MUCH BETTER if only somebody cared to design wildlife habitat and cared for local biodiversity. It takes restoration and carefull planning to re-create and manage for natural or near-natural vegetation and wildlife habitat.

Anyway, this is another report from my home patch birding park, the Tourkovounia a hill area peaking at about 380 m. above the Athens basin.

Now all I want to stay is that it is important that pics like this are shared and the message spread about wildlife in the city. This major European Capitol city has really NEGLECTED its natural heritage. Please don't misinterpret the map below to feel that Athens has lots of excellent green areas. Unfortunately ridiculous planning and many criminal acts of over-development and economically wasteful planning has destroyed so much in these parks. Most are just plain "ugly" for wildlife- over-build, poorly planted with alien species etc. Little pockets, like exceptions, do still exist. No management for wildlife or for local biodiversity takes place. There are many many opportunities to ameliorate this sad state of affairs for wildlife. And one positive aspect is that the wildlife is resilient and persists, even expands quickly into suitable habitat.

So lets think about giving wildlife, biodiversty, landscape and local culture a chance,...And a change, in Athens.



Ten important open and extensive green spaces in and near central Athens and the nearby Mount Hymmetos; The parks (some of them hill-tops above the vast cityscape) are like islands, some quite isolated from the major natural "continents" such as Mount Hymmetos.
The "Quarry-theater" of Attiko Alssos at Tourkovounia. The cliffs have been regenerating since they were abandoned in the '70s.


Athene noctua, an Athenian Little Owl. What a fantastic bird.




Same shot. Showing the limestone cut out of the Quarry-theater site and the Little Owl. The Scops Owl is more common in the pine and eucalyptus plantations bellow the rocks. 

A locally threatened species. We have located one nest, probably no longer used. This rock nuthatch is now an extreme rarity. At the Quarry-theater I spotted a single individuals on one day in September singing. What a sound to behold!
A common resident. In the past they were not at all common in the center of Athens, now they nest at several locations. 

A patch of nature on the edge of the Tourkovouia hill area (near our home).


Sign saying "Love the Forest". Should say: "Love Natural History". If you cannot understand you cannot really love.
Thankfully the Goddess Athena's tree, the Olive is frequently planted. A good species for migrants such as this Willow Warbler. 
Thankfully but inadvertently, some dead trees (such as this Bean Locust) are often left standing. Good look-out posts for many birds. Good wildife trees for insects.  This is an abundant migrant, the Spotted Flycatcher. 
Spotted Flycatcher. An easy bird to photograph. 
Collard Dove soaking up the early morning sun. So many birds use these dead branches...can anybody see this?
Another rarity spotted this year: Long-tailed tits. 

Best possible photo of a Long-tailed tit on Allepo Pine. 
View from above the theater. 
Peregrine, symbol of hope. 





 -> Tourkovounia is also known as Attiko Alssos (at least a part of it is). Please, as a naturalist, get out, take pics, make a stand for wildlife in the city parks. If we can envision that with some help lots will make a come back....just maybe we will find more energy to work towards this...




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