The Eleonora’s falcons at Skyros Island

The last few days I was on holidays in Skyros Island. Even though I saw many bird species there, I didn't manage to see the Cinereous Bunting. Unfortunately I also did not get to see the famous wild ponies of Skyros living freely in Kochilas (the highest mountain of the island). The most interesting thing I saw was the Eleonora's falcons (Falco eleonorae). This time of year you can see them everywhere in the island. They were flying over the beaches, the fields, the villages and especially over the forests of the northern part of the island. Over the next few days they will settle and make their nests in the southern rocky shore, waiting for the passage of migratory birds in their way to Africa, in order to feed their young. At present, however, they rely mainly to the large insects that they catch and eat while flying over the forests at the northern part of the island. For example take a look at the first photo to see an Eleonora's falcon (pale morph) eating a Dragonfly. There is also a dark morph of this falcon which is somewhat less common (second photo). The best moment was when we were having more than 20 Falcons flying right over us. A couple of times one of them made a steep dive to catch its prey just a few meters away from us and we could hear the noise of wings as he was performing manoeuvres at an incredible speed. Seeing this sight it's hard to believe that this beautiful falcon is one of the world endangered species. The truth is that there are only a few thousand Eleonora's Falcons remain and this illusion of abundance is due to the fact that more than 80% of the total population chooses the steep cliffs of the Aegean islands to nest. More information about Eleonora's Falcons can be found at the relevant page of the Hellenic Ornithological Society.

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