Birdwatchers -members of the Hellenic Ornithological Society- woke up at dawn on a Sunday morning in order to see the new bird species for Greece: the Pallas’s Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus. However, they did not need to travel far as this Siberian species arrived at Mt. Ymittos in Athens!
The species was first discovered by the member and volunteer of HOS, Michael Kotsakis the night before: “I didn’t dare believe that it was a Pallas’s Warbler! In the beginning, I overlooked it, thinking that it was a common species. However, after a while, I discerned certain specific characteristics. I initially thought it was the Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus, a rare species, that has however already been recorded in Greece. When I sent the relevant photos to HOS’s birdwatching forum, the more experienced birdwatchers recognized this species as the Pallas’s Warbler: a lifelong dream for every birdwatcher, not only to monitor a new species, but to do so only several kilometres away from the centre of Athens!” he commented.
The Secretary of the Hellenic Rarities Committee, Nikos Probonas, commented: “After the – official – approval of the committee, Pallas’s Warbler will be the 444th species recorded in Greece. This is a pleasant surprise for all of us, especially if we consider that this small bird (10 cm long, weighing just a few grams) travelled such a long distance. At the same time, the natural value of Mt. Ymittos and the surrounding areas in the centre of Athens is also underlined.
Birdwatching is an increasingly popular activity that satisfies the need to be in touch with, and also learn more about nature, in an entertaining yet educational manner. Contrast to the widely held impression that birdwatching is an activity that can only satisfactorily occur in protected areas, it may also occur in the city, where green urban spaces are becoming more and more rare. Moreover, this specific activity contributes towards the protection of wildlife, while also being an important economic and social income.