Purely Pelicans - 3 day photo workshop to Lake Kerkini to photograph the Dalmatian Pelicans

With only a couple of weeks to go until our first trip for 2015 the excitement is already building... our Purely Pelicans 3 day photography workshops will be primarily geared to photographing the spectacular and endangered Dalmatian Pelicans of Lake Kerkini. It is at this time of the year that the males' bill pouches start turning a beautiful crimson red and their plumage whitens in anticipation of their upcoming mating season over the next couple of months ahead.

We have two courses scheduled on the 30th January and 6th February for which there is still some availability if you would be interested in joining us.. and with Ryanair now providing cheap flights direct to Thessaloniki (only just over one hour away from the Lake) there never has been a better opportunity to do so..! Only £57 return from Stansted on the 30/01 and £51 return from Stansted on 06/02.. at the time of writing.!

But of course with 3 days at our disposal and despite the course title of Purely Pelicans... it wont only be just pelicans that we will see and photograph.... and these are just a taster..

News from friends at Lake Kerkini also report the following sitings as of yesterday (11/01/15)...  25 Common Cranes (Grus grus), 10 Red Crested Pochard (Netta rufina), 3 Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), 1 Black-throated Loon (Gavia arctica),  Common Pochard (Aytha ferina) in their thousands,  as well as Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula),  Common Goldeneyes (Bucephala clangula), Smew (Mergellus albellus) and 5  Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser)... so lots for us hopefully both to see and photograph.

Lake Kerkini Dec 2014 Trip Report

It was with great anticipation and excitement that we headed back up to Lake Kerkini on 12th December and despite some very challenging conditions we were able to come away with some nice images and quite a few spots...

The weather over the previous month had been exceptionally wet resulting in higher than usual water levels on the lake.. not very conducive to the waders and other shoreline birds. This meant that many birds had either left (eg.. the Lesser-white Fronted Geese appeared to have gone.. to where nobody knows..!?) or haven't arrived - yet..! (e.g... Cranes, Mergansers) 

The exceptional water levels and rains of the previous weeks also meant that the delta and submerged forest were also sodden and access was only possible by foot and even that was difficult as it involved trudging through, at times, almost knee high water and mud.

Conditions during our 7 days were a very mixed bag of glorious winter sunshine, to low cloud, fog, a little drizzle and one day, which though beautifully sunny, was so windy that I think every bird in the area was hunkered down trying to avoid getting blown away.

That being said we were able to photograph many birds and even one very curious Otter quite successfully... a few of which I have uploaded below.. and a complete list of which you can see at the end of this post...

There's still a couple of places available for our 3 day Purely Pelicans trip to Lake Kerkini on 28th January... so if you fancy joining us please get in touch.

g

List:

  • Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) - 100+
  • Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) - 24
  • Bewick's Swan (Cygnus columbianus) - 8
  • White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) - 230
  • Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) - many
  • Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) - 3
  • Mallard (Anas platyrynchos) - many
  • Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) - 2
  • Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca) - many
  • Pochard (Aythya ferina) - many
  • Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) - 1
  • Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) - many
  • Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - many
  • Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) - many
  • Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) - many
  • Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) - 3
  • Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - many
  • Great White Egret (Ardea alba) - many
  • Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - many
  • Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) - 3
  • Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) - 22
  • Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) - 100s
  • Greater Spotted Eagle - (Aquila clanga) - 3
  • Common Buzzard  (Buteo buteo) - many
  • Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) - 2
  • Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) - 1
  • Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) - 2
  • Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) - many
  • Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) - 13
  • Northern Lapwing (Vanillas vanillas) - 100+
  • Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) - 4
  • Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) - many
  • Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) - 1
  • Kingfisher (Alcedo athis) - 18
  • Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) - 2
  • European Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) - 2
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) - 4
  • Syrian Woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus) - 1
  • White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos) - 1
  • Lesser-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor) - 1
  • Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) - 30
  • Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) - 1
  • Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - 2
  • White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) - 1
  • Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) - 6
  • Great Tit ( Parus major) - many
  • Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) - many
  • Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) - 8
  • Willow Tit (Poecile montanus) - 6
  • Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta Europaea) - 6
  • Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) - 2
  • Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) - 1000+
  • Common Chaffinch - (Fringilla coelebs) - many
  • European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - many
  • Siskin (Carduelis spinus) - 6
  • Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) - 2
  • Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) - 6
  • Common Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) - 10

Mammals:

  • Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) - 2
  • Coypu (Myocastor coypus) - 1
  • Wildcat (felis silvestris) - 2

Birds of Greece - Birding Journal

Birds of Greece Journal is now ready..! 200 page 20x13cm limited edition birding journal containing selection of my own photos & a complete reference section in the back listing 446 species of birds of Greece by their Scientific, English and Greek appellations. Paper is 70gsm uncoated white.. perfect for your notes, scribbles and sketches in either pencil, pen or biro.. you can order a copy using the link below... and just in time for Xmas too..!

Xtreme Off-Road & Photography Workshop

Just returned from a fantastic 3 day extreme off-road - landscape & action photography workshop.. my thanks to JP Forum and in particular Panos Lazanas for all his help in organising the event... 

We set off on friday morning from Athens headed for the Peloponnesian village of Zarouxla, which was to be our base, and within a few hours we were climbing up a rough track through a steep gorge. From the outset the views were magnificent and when we reached the tree line at about 1000m they got even better... when all of a sudden we were greeted by views through the trees of our first destination... Lake Stymfalia..

Lake Tsivlos photographed during our 3 day off-road driving & landscape photography workshop with JP Forum

Stopping for a while to take some pics of the lake we continued on down the valley until we reached a little bridge over the river which was to be our entry point into the river valley.  The specially adapted Jeeps with independently flexible axles and suspension systems.. not to mention the monster tyres.. came into their own at this point as we headed off the road, under the bridge... and into the river...

Into the river on our Landscape and Action photography workshop and extreme off-road driving adventure for JP Forum.

Stopping for some photos along the way we gradually made our way up the river in the Jeeps ploughing our way through the water and over boulders.

Our pathfinder Panos tests out a stretch of river before all commit to the river...

Convoy of Jeeps head up the river seeking our next location for a landscape photography session

The river gradually opened up into a bit of a delta before closing in again down the valley which gave an ideal opportunity for the group to have a team "Jeep" photo...

JP Forum team of Jeeps on our 3 day Photography Workshop / Off-road driving adventure...

The group was so enthused by this stage by all the off-road fun we were having so that when we stopped for a late snack by the river it was a good opportunity to show everyone some long exposure techniques.. tripods out, cameras out and after a quick tutorial everyone was scampering over rocks and boulders trying to find a good spot to try out the techniques... with some pretty good results too...!

long exposure photography tutorial at the river on our 3 day landscape photography workshop and extreme off-road driving adventure with JP Forum.

At this point in the late afternoon, and as so often happens in the mountains, the weather closed in, the skies darkened so we took the decision to head back to the village for a well earned dinner and rest.

Lake Kerkini Video

Hi all... just a quick video I put together from various clips shot over the last year that we have been visiting Lake Kerkini on our Wildlife and Landscapes photography workshops and tours.. hopefully give you a brief idea as to why I love it so much up there and might even persuade you to join me on a trip to possibly the best wetland in Europe for getting up close to nature.

Our next available trip is in April.. though with only 4 places per trip they do fill up fast so please get in touch or sign up to receive our newsletter with all the latest news and upcoming courses.. hope to see you soon..

george