The “Magic” Tree

It was Sunday the 17th of September when I went with Chris at Spata (Athens) for another visit. I am participating in a Hellenic Ornithological Society program and I am visiting the place at least every two months. The place is mainly a rural area with many vineyards. Unfortunately there were many hunters in the area and at the same time many other people were gathering the grapes. As a result our expectations for spotting some rare species were not high.

We stopped at the first predefined spot which was located next to some peanut trees. Almost immediately we noticed some unusual movement in one of them. A Common Whitethroat was feeding on the tree, beside him another one and right next to them a Lesser Whitethroat and… Soon we lost track.

Chris who was on that side of the car started to take pictures because it was quite difficult to recognize every bird and I was trying to write down our sightings. It was obvious that we had come across a migrating group of Sylvia warblers which had stopped for a while in order to feed on that tree. Some of them were quite rare. The final log showed 6 different species of Sylvia warblers. Subalpine Warblers, Common Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats, Eastern Orphean Warblers, Garden Warblers and three!! Barred Warblers, which is a quite rare species for Southern Greece. In addition we spotted a young Red-backed Shrike, a Northern Wheatear, two Willow Warblers, Sparrows, and at least ten Spotted Flycatchers all at the same tree.

A couple of days after this first visit I went again into the same place hoping that some of the birds were still there so that I could take some pictures of them. I was surprised when I saw that most of them were still there (including a Barred Warbler), and in addition I saw a Common Redstart, a couple of Blackcaps and a Red-breasted Flycatcher which is also a rare species for Greece (it is not easy to be seen even during the migration period).

The news quickly spread and in the next days many visited the place in order to see this tree which managed to draw so many rare bird species.

Every time I visited the tree in the next few days the Barred Warbler appeared almost instantly and that lasted till next Friday. We haven’t seen him since then. I have many better pictures of him but my favorite is the one shown here. It is the first I got that Sunday when I first saw him coming out of the foliage of the “magic” tree.

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