A parade of… rarities in the Axios Delta coastal area

Low temperatures don’t affect just people, they also affect animals, so the last few weeks many birds from Northern Europe have looked for a refuge in the Axios Delta Protected Area. As a result, birdwatchers recorded in the beginning of December quite a few unusual birds along the coastal area streching from the Gallikos river estuary to the Aliakmonas river estuary. Among them, a long-tailed duck, three velvet scoters, and possibly a common scoter. These are species which breed in the Scandinavian countries and Siberia and they seldom visit Northern Greece in cases of heavy winter.

Long-tailed duck Thomas Nikolopoulos

The rarest bird –for the area and Greece- is a female long-tailed duck Clangula hyemalis seen and photographed by many birdwatchers who rushed into the area, in the ponds along the coastal part of the Axios river. This was the fourth year the species appears in the area (previously seen in 2008, 2010 and 2014).


Velvet scoter Thomas Nikolopoulos

Also, three velvet scoters Melanitta fusca were seen in the coastal area of Gallikos and this was the 6th time this species is recorded here, beginning in 1961. Then, in the coastal area of Aliakmonas, the birdwatchers saw a white-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala, a species globally threatened and extremely rare for the area. This duck breeds in Spain and North Africa.

Apart from the ducks, also 5-6 horned grebes Podiceps auritus were seen, and this is the largest number of the species ever recorded in Greece. Also, along the coastal part Axios – Gallikos can be seen dozens of red-breasted mergansers Mergus serrator (vulnerable in the 27EU and near threatened in Europe) and arctic loons Gavia arctica, as well as two red-throated loons Gavia stellata.

Horned grebe and black-necked grebe in the coastal part of the Gallikos river Stratis Bourdakis

Arctic loons in the coastal part of the Gallikos river Stratis Bourdakis

Red-breasted merganser in the coastal part of the Gallikos river Thomas Nikolopoulos

White-headed duck in the coastal part of the Aliakmonas river Thomas Nikolopoulos