Birdwatching in Crete will take you at some of its most beautiful, isolated and unpopulated areas, mountains, gorges, lakes particularly when you are looking for birds such as eagles, vultures and falcons.
It is true that lovely Crete has still a plentiful and wide variety of beautiful birds. Crete is located at the crossroads of three continents (Europe, Asia, Africa) therefore Crete hosts thousands of migratory and rare birds in its wetlands and other areas every year. Crete is one of the main flypast routes for species they wintered in East Africa, but breed in eastern and northern Europe.
They migrate every spring up the Nile Valley, and then move across the eastern Mediterranean, often in huge numbers. This happens from mid-March to mid-May, depending on the species and the weather. The return migration in autumn is less spectacular because it is less concentrated in time, but still worth watching out for.
Moreover, more than 412 different bird species have been identified in Crete to date, most migratory, thus birding in Crete is one of the most common activities. There are a few endemics that breed on the island.
The great thing about birdwatching in Crete is that, if you pick your time right, you can see both resident and migratory species.
The mountains of Crete, Idi, Lefka Ori, Dikti, Asterousia hold some of the most exciting birds. Smaller birds like the blue rock thrush, cirl hunting adn alpine chough are common, and there is a good chance of seeing large and dramatic birds of prey. One very rare species of vulture, the Lammergeier (or bearded vulture) is currently on the dramatically endangered list although it is more common in Crete than everywhere in Europe, maybe you will be lucky to see one the island's three remaining birds soaring above the Lasithi or Omalos plateau.
The diversity of habitats and the richness of the environment on Crete for bird-life, results in an impressive species list and many unexpected surprises, especially during Spring and Autumn migrations. It is well worth coming on holidays in Crete to see and enjoy these beautiful birds.
Bird watching in Crete attracts many fans, guests every year, so during your next trip in Cree don't forget to bring with you all the necessary supplies - travel cases, binoculars, or other items.
Maybe Chania is the area in Crete with the most beautiful species of birds.
The Reservoir of Agia is an excellent wetland site, notable for breeding birds and migrants that overwinter here. Species such as Bitterns and the threatened Ferruginous Duck could be watch here and of course many more Eleonora’s Falcon, Marsh Harrier, Garganey, Little Crake, Spotted Crake, Baillon’s Crake, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Spotted Flycatcher, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and more.
Georgioupolis lake just south of the village with birds as herons, terns, waders, migrant passerines, ducks, geese, coots, Black-winged stilt, Kingfisher and Great Reed Warbler.
Lake Kournas, is the only natural freshwater lake in Crete. Species at Lake Kournas include: Black-necked Grebe, several species of ducks, warblers in the surrounding scrub.
Akrotiri peninsula, just east of Chania. Good sites near Agia Triada and Moni Gouvernetou. Souda Bay at the Moronis River Lagoon, is a protected biotope listed as Pera. It is a good wetland area with species including: Egretta garzetta, Ardea cinerea, Egretta alba, Tringa tetanus, Haematophus ostralegus, Kingfishers, Greenshank, Oystercatchers, Cormorants, Dippers, Coots.
The well known Gramvousa Islet, off Balos Beach is a breeding area for several bird species.
Frangocastello coastal strip by the Venetian fort is a good for migrants such as Wryneck and Black-eared wheatear. The adjacent plain has low scrub, good for spectacled warblers.
Gavdos Island and Little Gavdos (Gavdopoula Island), off the coast of south Crete are important for shore and migratory birds. Accessed from south coast port towns such as Chora Sfakion.
The White Mountains (Lefka Ori) including gorges such as Agia Irini Gorge and Samaria Gorge are a large mountain range with excellent remote and isolated habitats ideal for raptors such as eagles, vultures and buzzards.
Imbros Gorge provides birds as Griffon Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae), Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush and Raven.
In south-western Crete, Mount Koutroulis, Mount Agios Dikaios and the Modia Plateau are important biotopes for the rare Bearded Vulture.
Rethymnon region is proud for the highest mountain in Crete, Psiloritis or Idi Mountain that provide an ideal habitat for many raptors and alpine species including Bearded Vultures (Gypaetus barbatus) and Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos).
Other good places in order to enjoy beautiful birds of Crete are Megalopotamos and Kedros foothills and the Potami Dam reservoir just south of Rethymno which is a new large sweetwater lake which was only completed in late 2008 but which is already proving very popular with a variety of Herons and other waterfowl. Species already include: Grey Heron; Squacco Heron; Coots. Everyear new species of birds are attracting at this beautiful spot.
Nearby Plakias Village is the Kourtaliotiko and Kotisfos gorges excellent birding areas with species as Jackdaw, Rock Dove, Blue Rock Thrush; Raven, Chukar, Alpine Swift, Griffon Vultures, and Crag Martins. The area around Plakias Village is popular with migrants too. Species include: Montagu`s harrier, Short-toed Larks, Spanish Sparrow and Woodchat Shrike. The rocky places around Plakias attract Rock Doves and the rare Eleonora's Falcon (Falco Eleonorae). In Plakias Bay, Garganey can be seen. Other species in the area include: Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Chukar, Wood Pigeon, Cetti's Warbler.
The mountainous area around the palm beach of Preveli is another excellent birding location in Rethymnon. Especially around the Preveli Monastery there is a great variety of migrants as Nightingales, Turtle Doves, Golden Orioles, Flycatchers, Ortolan Buntings and Ruppell`s Warbler.
At Geropotamos you can see Reed Warblers and at Pertres River Little Bittern, Squacco Heron and Griffon Vulture.
Most well known places are : Zaros Village and especially around Votamos Lake and Rouvas Gorge, Thrapsano Lake nearby the village, Aposelemis River, Gouves Lagoons.
Here you will find migrants and breeding birds as Short-toed Lark, Sociable Plover, Stonechat, Black-eared Wheatear, Black-winged Stilt, Buzzard, Garganey, Greater Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Kestrel, Little Crake, Little Egret, Little Stint, Northern Wheatear, Purple Heron, Richard`s Pipit, Woodchat Shrike and Wood Sandpiper.
Most visited places for birdwatching in east lovely Crete are :
The Bramiana Reservoir nearby (north east) of Ierapetra. Here you will watch birds including gulls and ducks in winter, migrating waders, birds of prey. (Red-footed Falcon, Green Sandpipers, Wood Sandpipers., Black-winged Stilt, Eleanora`s Falcon, Garganey, Glossy Ibis).
And probably you need to rent a car.