Salty River

Almiropotamos (Salty River) To reach the Salty River, which is in easy walking distance from Vatera, head west out of Vatera along the beach road until it turns into a gravel track. Stay on the main track and you will reach a bridge over the river. From this bridge it is possible to walk or drive along either bank of the river for approximately half a mile or more. You will eventually reach a second bridge over the river at which point it is possible to turn right into the olive groves and srubby areas to the east of the river.

Salty River I found this area to be most rewarding with regard to birding. Early morning and late evening are the best times to visit the area. However, many birds were evident during the middle of the day, coming to drink and bathe in the river around the ford area.

Below are details of birds seen at the different numbered areas marked on the map above.

[1] The beach and surrounding area held breeding Little Ringed Plover, Yellow Wagtail races, White Wagtail and Spanish Sparrow along with Short-toed Lark.

[2] The first river bridge is a good vantage point to view up and down the river. It is also possible to park your car either side of the old ford (not drivable as the army found out when they managed to get an armoured troop carrier stuck in the ford) to view the birds coming to drink and bathe.

Spanish Sparrow From the bridge several species were seen including Purple Heron which appeared to roost in the tops of nearby trees, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Red-footed Falcon, Long Legged Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Turtle Dove, Red-rumped Swallow, Little Egret, Bee-eater, Black-headed Bunting (very common) and a Night Heron which dropped into the reeds nearby. Waders such as Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and Temminck's Stint were viewed on the mud and gravel on the seaward side of the bridge along with fishing Squacco Heron. Early in the mornings Little Bittern and Spotted Crake were seen briefly around the ford and on several occasions a male Little Crake was observed well, feeding amongst the reeds around the ford.
At midday close views of finches, Black-headed Buntings and Spanish Sparrows were obtained from the ford whilst they bathed in the river. From the car close views of Cetti's Warbler were also obtained as the birds belted out their song from nearby bushes.
This area was also good for Dragonflies later in the holiday with large numbers of Scarce Chasers hatching out whilst we were there. At this bridge and the second bridge there are large numbers of European Pond Terrapins, which can be seen basking just below the bridges if care is taken not to frighten them off into the river.

[3] Further up the river it becomes overgrown with reeds from which Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler and on one occasion Marsh Warbler and Savi's Warbler could be seen and heard.

Pond Terrapin             Scarce Chaser

Woodchat Shrike

Red Backed Shrike
Squacco Heron

Along either side of the river in the olive groves and fields Olivaceous Warbler, Crested Lark, Whinchat, Black-eared Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Golden Oriole, Serin, Corn Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike and Woodchat Shrike were plentiful with good views of all being obtained from the car.

[4] The olive groves are an excellent area to see two of the islands more sort after bird species; Masked Shrike and Olive Tree Warbler, both appearing to be fairly common and easy to find here. I saw at least three pairs of Masked Shrike in the area, finding the nest of one pair and probably six pairs of Olive Tree Warbler, two nests being found and the birds video taped from close quarters. In the morning and evening the male birds could be seen singing and following their respective mates whilst nest building took place.

Olive Groves                  Olive Tree Warbler

Black-headed Bunting Other birds seen in the olive groves were Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Cuckoo, Hoopoe, Wood Warbler and singing Orphean Warblers.
A common mammal in the olive groves is the Persian Squirrel, which will appear from the many holes in the older olive trees if you sit quietly in your vehicle.

[5] The olives give way to scrub as you move up the hillside away from the river. Here Olivaceous Warbler and Subalpine Warbler are plentiful. Keep a check skywards in this area as I saw Short-toed Eagle and Eleonora's Falcon soaring overhead.

The whole area was excellent for close views of all of the species mentioned above and well worth several visits as it is within easy walking distance from Vatera. The higher ground further up the hillside could be explored further along the many farm tracks. Unfortunately I became too engrossed with filming the nesting birds in the olive groves to spend time exploring further.

Masked Shrike         Persian Squirrel

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