Crete is firmly established as one of the most bird-rich and stunningly attractive locations in Europe for observing spring migration. In spite of being the largest islands in the Aegean Sea and having two international airports, Crete has remained remarkably unspoiled; Its rich tapestry of habitats, ranging from rocky mountains, forested hills and stony uncultivated sheep pastures to more fertile lowlands planted with figs and olive groves, ensures an exciting variety of migrant and resident landbirds. Along the coast there are salt pans, pools, and river margins that act as magnets for the many waterbirds that stop off on migration. Our hotels are located at quiet scenic resorts, very close to a number of the island’s most rewarding birding spots and also well positioned for visits to the more peripheral sites.
Our ideal location gives us great scope for optional pre-breakfast birding. After breakfast we’ll travel farther afield to one or more of the island’s particular birding localities, few of which are more than an hour’s drive away. Most days we’ll take an appetizing picnic lunch with us and thus avoid having to leave good birding spots to drive to the nearest town to eat. On some days we may return to the hotel in the afternoon and, after a break, go back out for some local birding before dinner.
When we feel like a complete change of scenery we can visit the shady cypresses trees forests, against the first slopes of the 3 islands massifs. When we visit the western end of the island around Elafonissi and Kissamos areas (Rodopou & Gramvoussa), we’ll notice that the habitat is beautiful and every bit as exciting for birds.
The northern parts of the island around the picturesque towns of Chania and Rethymnon present yet another different habitat and some interesting birds that we may not encounter elsewhere.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of birding on Crete is the volume and variety of species, which at the height of migration is quite spectacular and all the more impressive for the splendid unspoiled surroundings. Every spring produces its own mix of species and includes one or two unexpected rarities. We’ll have lots of opportunities to familiarize ourselves with the more obvious species and will make a determined effort to find the ones that might easily be overlooked. Our week on this beautiful island is certain to be very enjoyable.