Tuesday, 4 June 2013


Photo: Balkan emerald.
We caught the ferry from Corfu Town and travelled the 8 miles or so to the port of Saranda in Albania. From here we travelled south for about 10 miles to the World Heritage Site of Butrint. Since Albania is very under developed, even compared to Greece, I was expecting wildlife to be abundant, but if that is the case then it was keeping a low profile when I was there. For example I expected to see stork nests on roof tops and an abundance of raptors and egrets, but they certainly weren't in evidence during our brief visit, though I guess that midday in the middle of summer isn't the ideal time to get to know the avifauna of a Mediterranean country. In fact I only saw one White Stork in flight, several Little Egrets and a single raptor.

The latter however, was the bird of the holiday, a superb Levant Sparrowhawk, only my second ever and my first for nearly 30 years! It was in classic Levant habitat, a flat lowland river valley, lots of agriculture around and we were having lunch in a restaurant in the middle of a broad-leaved woodland oasis. The bird flew from near the top of a tree and flew away over the valley.

At Butrint, Nightingales and Spanish Sparrows were numerous,  the latter with an impressive colony of at least 100 nests in the trees at the entrance to the site. Other species included Red-rumped Swallows, Alpine Swifts, Pallid Swifts and Hooded Crows. From the ferry I saw two Cory's Shearwaters about midway between Corfu and Albania, and a Purple Heron flying along the Albanian coast.

Butterflies seemed to be pretty much the same as those seen on Corfu, with plenty of Cleopatras, Swallowtails, Clouded Yellows and Bath Whites. The only two species of odenata I saw were Balkan Emerald and Beautiful Demoiselle.

Beautiful Demoiselle. This species occurs in southern Britain and is very similar to the Banded Demoiselle we get on the Sankey Brook.This is the southern Balkan race of Beautiful Damoiselle festiva, which has completely blue wings.

Cricket and Dalmatian Algyroides. This is another male with a blue throat.

Saranda, Albania.

Part of the World Heritage Site at Butrint. I like the photo of the view across the river, but this is an estuary and we're less than a mile from the sea and there's not even a gull on the posts???

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