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.
We hired a quad bike so we could explore Rhodes Island. At 350ccs it was a bit underpowered and struggled with some of the hills, but it got us where we wanted to be. As we passed the airport on the way down to the coast, we rode into a bee which stung Ashley right between the eyes. This necessitated a quick stop for a frappe but all, at that stage, seemed to be well.
We headed off for butterfly valley which was very pretty, though there were no butterflies this early in the season. There were quite a few tourists but no real crowds. For some reason, the only pictures we took were of frogs and water boatmen. The ones of the water boatmen did not come out very well…
After that we rode around a bit more and stopped in Psinthos for lunch. Psinthos is a lovely village with a half a dozen tavernas ranged round a central square. Wesampled two of these during our trip and the first was, we think, the best. We had a plate of hot and cold mezzes and they were very good indeed. The weather was windy and thing did blow off our table from time to time. The local children were preparing for Easter. All dressed up and carrying baskets, they progressed around the square collecting money and eggs. Our table gave us a great opportunity to watch all this, and people in general. The bee sting was starting to affect Ashley quite badly…
We then visited seven springs which was pleasant enough before heading for Lindos. The beach area was quite chaotic and crowded so we returned to the highway and parked nearer to the top of the hill. The town, the theatre and the Acropolis were not crowded. Oh, there were some tourists, but we managed to keep them out of most of the photos! It was still very windy and we had the privilege of watching a flock of lesser kestrels hunt the cliffs below the acropolis. They were flying too fast for us to capture them with the camera. The other tourists present did not seem to notice them.
After what has been a cold March, cold in the UK, then cold here, the weather is finally warming up. The storks have arrived, the first of the swallows have arrived, but as the say, one Swallow does not make spring.
So, on the first warm and sunny day, we decided to take a stroll around some of the local archaeological sites. Ephesus on a Sunday is never going to be empty, but it is nice to stroll through, laugh at some of the tours and, well we have Muze Kart so it costs nothing.
The Artemis Temple is now as deeply flooded as it ever gets. There are a few guys selling post cards, guide books, and dodgy coins. Mostly it is a quiet place, the tours rarely stop and those which do move on pretty quickly. So we were left with the geese, the turtles, frogs, a snake, storks, and a visiting heron.
Confirmed by a friend and others as a Night Heron, this one clearly did not know is was early afternoon.
The day after our roof was finished we went walking with Zirve. There are many ways to walk from the Kuşadası road up to Meryemana. Some of them are easy. This one wasn’t. We were aching for days afterwards.
It was, however, a very good walk in perfect weather. We cooked and ate suçuk but we didn’t actually get as far as Meryemana. This walk was done on 25th January and we saw some early wildflowers.
We still have material to post about our trip to Istanbul but, last Sunday, we climbed Kaplan Dağ with Zirve mountaineering and extreme sports club. It’s quite a tough walk with some scrambling at times, but no actual climbing involved. Which is a good thing. Hilary is not good at climbing. The steep, muddy paths left us with aching legs for several days. A challenging walk but not so challenging as to be miserable…
It was a lovely walk in good company with some totally amazing views. The weather was perfect for walking – bright sunshine but not very warm. Yes, the weather here has turned ‘colder’ for a relative value of ‘colder’.
One thing we were very glad of was our hiking poles. We bought some rather expensive poles when we were in the UK last spring. That was just after Hilary hurt her ankle so it was not till autumn that we got the chance to use them. Maybe it was because we’d left it so long, but, although we clearly remembered the salesman demonstrating how to deploy and fold them down for storage, we couldn’t get it right. The first few walks we did, the sticks tended to collapse at unexpected moments. That was no big deal as they weren’t really needed until the Kaplan Dağ walk. We watched a video on the internet which clearly showed a metal button that keeps the poles in place when deployed and allows them to fold when you don’t need them… We couldn’t find the button. Until, just before we set off last Sunday, it suddenly appeared, but not were it was shown on the video. We assume we have an older model, but it is good they are now fully functional.
So we had sticks for the mountain – ones that supported us when we needed them and folded away neatly when we did not.