Tag Archives: Lake Kerkini

Traveling season

pelicans-pygmies-and-friend

We were in the UK and Ireland in February then, in April, at Hilary’s father’s 90th birthday party in London.  Pretty well as soon as we got back we took of on the ferry to Kavala, hired a car (with some difficulty, as it was a Sunday and everywhere was shut) and drove straight to Lake Kerkini.

Kerkini village is a delightful place.  On this occasion there was a (very well behaved) school party staying in the hotel so we were treated to three nights in a beautifully restored house.  Beers were taken at our favourite bar in the village and meals at the Oikoperigitis where our friend Vasilis is a guide.

black-kite-2On our first day we traveled around the lake, visiting favourite places and taking photographs of birds.  The next day we went up to the monastery, above which is a small reservoir where we were lucky enough to see a black kite perched, motionless in a tree for about twenty minutes. We went on to a spot near the Bulgarian border where rollers are often found but we can’t honestly say that we found any.  It was only a short drive on some extremely good roads.  We did see a very long line of trucks waiting to cross the border.

We also went out on Vasilis’ boat.  This is always a magical experience and different every time.  This year the level of the lake has been kept low to avoid flooding of the villages.  This has not been a totally good thing for the wildlife.  We were not able to enter the drowned forest (which is, sadly, slowly dying) though we did get quite close.

It was, of course, perfect biking weather (we left the bike at home).  But the next part of the trip was very windy so we were, eventually, glad of the hired car.

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Lake Kerkini

Meanwhile, as the Izmir festival continues……  Back to Kerkini, Greece.

http://kerkini.gr/eng/

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.

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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.

http://www.oikoperiigitis.gr

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

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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.

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The Birds

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.

Lake Kerkini

Kerkina-wetlands

Our next stop was Lake Kerkini.  This is an artificial lake which, thanks to a number of EU grants, has been turned into a wildlife paradise.  Especially for bird watching.  We have a long list of all the species we saw!

The other side of those mountains you can see in the photo is Bulgaria.

We found a really lovely hotel and we ate there both nights.  There are wild buffalo and farmed buffalo around the lake and we ate buffalo and pasta for dinner.  Yes, we had the same both nights because it was so delicious.

We spent a whole day riding round the lake, parking up the bike and exploring the dykes (built to protect the villages and the fields) on foot.  And yes, we got a lot of photos.

The village itself is quite charming and has a huge number of storks.  A lot of it, sadly, was pretty shut.  Though, as a tourist destination it is open all the year round.  You can get there on a train from Thessaloniki and we may well do that in migration season.  It is a place we intend to visit again.