Spring at mount Vardousia

Last weekend I found myself once again at mount Vardousia. The goal was (again) the "alpine" bird species that can be seen only at high altitude. My companion was once again Giorgos and Michalis but this time another friend and known nature photographer Nikos Petrou joined us. Unfortunately Nikos could not stay for the Sunday. On the other hand we had prearranged to spend the night at a mountain refuge located to an altitude of about 2000 meters, in order to be in the center of the action on Sunday morning. The last time we did this (last October) we encountered bad weather and thick fog for two days and we had to return home disappointed and empty handed. This time however we managed to enjoy 3 hours of nice weather during Saturday afternoon and another 3 hours during Sunday morning. Then the weather went really bad with a mix of thick fog, rain, and snow and we had to leave the mountain well before noon. However this time we managed to get some nice images. On Saturday afternoon we climbed 100 meters higher than the mountain refuge. We did manage to see two Alpine Accentors and after that, we had a close encounter with a White-winged Snowfinch. This was unfortunately just a few minutes after Nikos left. Horned Larks were relatively common (!) and we saw many of them displaying just beside the refuge. However they were not as close as we have hoped. All these sightings were made in a place of unique beauty that can not be easily described in words. Other interesting observations include several Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes, Ortolan Buntings, Common Linnets and a few Alpine Choughs. Finally we also found a Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica) feeding at the higher grassy fields but weather conditions prevented us from getting decent pictures of it. Having visited so many mountain sites, I have come to the conclusion that mount Vardousia is the best place in Central and Southern Greece for observing and photographing alpine animal species even though weather conditions are unpredictable and turn to bad most of the times. As for me, I am already planning my next visit there.

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