I headed east early doors, studying the map the previous evening I had noticed that Delphi was between me and Athens. A further dose of ancient culture would surely do me no harm would it? Site of the famous Oracle, occupied since about 3000 BC if not significantly before. The Oracle was a person, a priestess (or rather lots of priestesses over the centuries) rather than an object, who medidated over some kind of chasm in the rock that spewed halucinogenic if not outright toxic gases. Thus originated various prophecies, and whilst I had no pressing questions I thought I ought to have a look seeing as I was almost passing.
I took the coast road as far as Panormos and then cut inland into the hills, a road that rose and rose via a series of switch-backs. The view was magnificent, the Gulf of Corinth spread beneath me. The birding where I chose to stop and admire the landscape was pretty damn good too. Rock Nuthatches played up the slope, chasing each other around, and a call I could not place turned out to be a pair of Sombre Tits. Both of these species had been specific targets on birding trips not that long ago, to get them both at a random roadside stop in Greece was brilliant. Forget planning, just go birding.
I was not alone at Delphi..... The word has spread, and many people were seeking enlightenment. With the numbers present I decided not to go in the site itself, but a little further down the road is the Tholos of Athena Pronaia which seemed as if could be highly photogenic. Indeed it was, and although it took a short while for a group of tourists to move out of the way, a familiar process could be enacted. It was also quite birdy, the clear highlight being a massive flock of about 250 Alpine Chough high above the site on Mount Parnassus.
|Is Snuffi the one?|
My next destination was the vast Kopaida Plain, a flat land of agriculture stuffed with birds of prey. I had two Hen Harrier, a Marsh Harrier, probably around 40 Buzzards, and lots of Kestrel. Corn Buntings were everywhere. You could easily spend a full day here criss-crossing the site in splendid isolation, but I had to get t0 Athens and had to get going. In the spring it would be likely be immense.
I managed to spend about half an hour at the Yliki Floodplain where I added a White Stork and Pintail to my weekend list. Before heading to the airport I visited the Vravona Wetland which seriously underwhelmed - per eBird it is one of the most productive sites in the area but possibly 5pm isn't the time to go and in any event I was up against the clock. I came to close to 100 species in my two days, and more importantly had a great time exploring.