Meanwhile, as the Izmir festival continues…… Back to Kerkini, Greece.
As you can probably tell Lake Kerkini is fabulous for watching water birds. It is also good for eagles, buzzards, black kites, bee eaters, rose starlings, and more. There are also water buffalo, easy to see, and by repute other large mammals including wolves and jackals which of course are less easy to see.
There are a few hotels in the area, two in Kerkini, and others nearby in other villages. The hotels may fill up at the weekends (Kerkini is less than an hour from Thessaloniki) and during migration but, when we were there we had no problem finding a place to stay. We chose Oikoperiigitis which is in the village of Kerkini. Not the cheapest option, but is it a lovely hotel which does really great inexpensive food. One of the specialties is lumps of slow cooked buffalo on pasta, simple and utterly delicious, even more so with a carafe of local wine.
There are a few other bars and tavernas in the village, along with loads of nesting white storks. We have got a bit blase about white storks, we see them all summer back home in Selçuk.
The hotel is able to organise various tours and boat trip in and around the lake, but we guess all the hotels in the area can do this. We took an early morning boat trip with Vasilis, a friend, who we met the year before. Vasilis is fantastic, really knowledgeable about the area and birds, and incredibly helpful. The boat trip was amazing and the source of most of the bird photos from an earlier post including this one of a spoonbill and pygmy cormorant
It is a stunningly beautiful area, one we will return to. We are already thinking about next year and maybe getting to Lake Prespa as well.
Meanwhile back home in Turkey, we will have more to say on Kerkini and Greece later.
June is our time for the Arts scene here in Selçuk. It is the International Izmir Festival. Some events are always staged locally, which means in Ephesus. This year, two concerts in front of the Library of Celsus and one in the Odeon, (upper theatre) so sadly none in the great theatre, but no matter, these make for great nights out.
It is all a bit haphazard with semi random seating, we never get tickets with seats next to each other, but as long as we sit in the right block it is all fine.
So this year we have a Piano recital, mostly Chopin and Debussy, a chamber orchestra doing Bartok and Liszt, and an Italian Ensemble. The recital was interesting, and was a lovely evening with friends and a bottle of wine. We still have the other two to look forward to.
There are also events in Izmir and elsewhere, but concerts in Ephesus are just wow. More details can be found at http://www.iksev.org/en
We may publish flocks of corvids sitting on buildings, in trees, on wall, watching humans and muttering nevermore….. But we can do most of that here at home in Selcuk with the vast flock of jackdaws. Oh and a shower scene, or am I getting fiction and film mixed up?
Poe and Hitchcock aside……
We will say more on Kerkini soon, but for now, the bird photos.
Some people may have gathered we went to Greece for a few days. Our first stop in Greece after a leisurely ride north via Ayvalik and Canakkale was Dadia. Dadia is a small village to the south of Soufli (nearest cash machine) with a couple of eateries and hotels. More on those later. Our reason for going to Dadia Forest was to see birds of prey. It is one of only two mainland sites in Europe where it is possible to see Black Vultures and Gryphon Vultures. It is also very good for other large raptors. As such the forest is carefully managed and the birds protected. Just outside the village of Dadia is the visitor centre www.dadia-np.gr from where it is possible to get up to date information on the forest, details of walking trails and more. On our first day we took a walk up to the hide by one trail, and back by another, both clearly marked, rated as easy, and very pleasant. On our walk up we saw Buzzards and a Gryphon Vulture in flight. We spent ages up at the hide, there was an Egyptian Vulture, a Black Kite and an eagle, almost certainly Lesser Spotted Eagle, Schoolchildren were being brought into the hide, given access to telescopes, given the eco drill in Greek, noisy at times but the hide is well away from the birds and none were bothered. When the children were not there we got to use the telescopes. One or second day we took the harder trails, one up to Gibrena Peak and another down. These were graded as medium as indeed they turned out to be. We were good and followed the rules, left our details and walking plans at the visitor centre, checked back in with them on return. Again both trails we were marked and easy to follow, giving great views at times. There was lots of wild flowers, would have been more a month or so earlier, something to maybe bear in mind for the future. Near the peak we came across an eagle sat in a small tree, unfortunately it did not hang around for photographs. We would recommend decent walking shoes for the climb to Gibrena Peak which Ashley did not have so took the risk with sport sandals, the only real risk being snakes, and well, not really a big risk. Back to Dadia village. The village appears to have two hotels, but one seemed closed. The other is next to the visitor centre www.forestinn.eu It is a lovely place, we think it used to be part of the visitor centre, but is now being run privately. Our room was lovely, and we spent ages sat on the sunny balcony watching Hoopoes flying back and forth. One morning when we were leaving the accommodation block to get breakfast there was a Sparrow Hawk in the garden, though most of the time it was populated by Swallows. Breakfast was good. The cafeteria also provided us with a steady supply of frappe, the occasional beer and did some snacks and ice cream. Sitting in the café garden, at times a vulture passed overhead and further in the distance there were storks in flight. At the time we were there the hotel was not doing meals, but there are a couple of eateries in the village, one inexpensive Taverna, and a take out souvlaki place that needless to say did excellent take out souvlaki. Being Greece, neither opens much before 9pm, so we relaxed in the hotel garden and had another beer. It is a lovely place, we will go again.