top of page

Ferruginous Duck: A success story at Schinias National Park

During the last weeks of September, the Greek National Rowing Team was away,

competing at the European Rowing Championship in Prague. That was time for a visit at the

Olympic Rowing Center of Schinias, in order to enjoy great views of breeding Ferruginous

Ducks and estimate their population. When there is no rowing activity, birds are

undisturbed, more visible and therefore their counting in more accurate.

 A striking male Ferruginous Duck at Schinias National Park
A striking male Ferruginous Duck at Schinias National Park (Photo: Spyros Skareas)

The Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) in not just another species of common duck.

The world’s population is estimated no more than 50.000 individuals, and is considered

nearly threatened. Despite the wide distribution, the numbers have dramatically decreased

the last 30 years, due to degradation and destruction of its natural habitats as well as

hunting in overwintering and passage areas. The regions of successful breeding worldwide

are very limited, as this is the case for Greece too. A significant population of 500 birds is

breeding in Amvrakikos Gulf (Western Greece), while smaller groups are often seen in

various wetlands of Northern Greece.

A panoramic view of the Olympic Rowing Center of Schinias
A panoramic view of the Olympic Rowing Center of Schinias (Photo: Spyros Skareas)

It is a relatively small species, with a body of 40cm long. It may seem black when

seen during an overcast day or against the sun, but actually has a brown, chestnut

coloration, with a white under patch and tail. The males are often brighter and have shining

white eyes, which are well striking and visible from distance. Ferruginous Ducks are shy

birds, usually seen close to reed and dense vegetation. As all diving ducks, they dive in the

water to find food, such as small crustaceans, mollusks and vegetation. They do not form

huge flocks, but they are usually found mixed with Common Pochards and Tufted Ducks.


Birdwatchers with spotting scopes at the Rowing Center
Birdwatchers with spotting scopes at the Rowing Center (Photo: Spyros Skareas)

The last 20 years, Ferruginous Ducks have found their shelter at Schinias National

Park. The Olympic Rowing Center (part of the Schinias National Park) provides an ideal habitat, with minor anthropogenic activity and complete absence of hunting. No wonder why during the September 25th counting, we recorded 85 individuals, which is one of the highest recorded number the last years. On that day, we were honored to guide a big group of American naturalists and birdwatchers in the area, and they were all thrilled while enjoying close views of these species of duck.

Happy US birders after a successful September visit at Schinias National Park
Happy US birders after a successful September visit at Schinias National Park (Photo: Spyros Skareas)


So, if you are in Athens and want to enjoy this world threatened species of duck, you

need to visit the Schinias National Park, just 45min from the city center. During a non windy

day, with minor rowing practice in the Rowing Center, anybody with a pair of binoculars can

have excellent views of the birds. Indeed, photography opportunities are also ideal, since the

birds are not very shy in the particular area… they are used to everyday rowing practice!

Birdwatchers should keep an eye in the sky too: raptors such as March Harriers, Common

Buzzards, Sparrowhawks are soaring daily over the wetland, while a special visitor arrives

from Siberia in November and overwinters in the park: the superb Greater Spotted Eagle, an

impressive bird of prey.


Σπύρος Σκαρέας

留言


bottom of page