Crete 14 – 21 April 2015
The lammergeier conservation project is run by the Hellenic Ornithological Society, BirdLife Greece. Crete has the only breeding population in south-east Europe (6-7 pairs in 2013, with four nests); the species is practically extinct in mainland Greece and elsewhere in the Balkans. Alongside survey, monitoring and raising public awareness, the long-term survival of Europe's rarest vulture is being tackled by site protection, food provision and the encouragement of traditional grazing systems.
"The population of griffons has really gone through the roof. More than 700 individuals and over 230 breeding pairs this year," says Dr Stavros Xirouchakis from the Natural History Museum of Crete / HOS.
Eva Stefanaki, Head of Finance from the Hellenic Ornithological Society, wrote to say, "On behalf of Hellenic Ornithological Society I would like to thank you for your generous contribution. With your faithful financial contributions over the years, you’ve demonstrated your deep commitment to our work for the protection of wild birds and their habitats in Greece."
Thank you letter from HOS for the donation of €812 in April 2011 here.
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Lammergeier (bearded vulture) Gypaetus barbatus records from the Honeyguide group in April 2014: 1 or 2 at Préveli, 26 April; 1 at Samaria Gorge, 27 April.
April 2013: single bearded vultures over Omalos Plateau (an adult, on 20 April) and over Kotsiphou Gorge (distant bird, unknown age, on 22 April).
The Hellenic Ornithological Society, with BirdLife partners in Italy and Spain, is running an ambitious campaign that aims to give a long awaited end to the destructive 'tradition' of illegal spring killing of migratory birds. In Greece this focuses on the Ionian islands, which are the first stop-over sites as birds arrive exhausted from their spring migration journey through Africa and over the Mediterranean sea. There, hundreds of thousands of them are shot. To see the actions HOS plans, visit the project website www.leavingisliving.org
There is a network of Important Bird Areas in Greece, details of which are on HOS's website. This link takes you through to the Crete page.
Crete is a big island and many of the IBAs are off-islands, distant peninsulas or mountain ranges, distant from our itinerary. However Kourtaliótiko Gorge, close to Plakias, is listed, where lammergeiers and Bonelli's eagle are seen regularly.