If you’ve birded in Spain, possibly more than once, and are considering another Mediterranean country to quench your thirst, look to the east. Steve Dudley, a bird guide and author of the Lesvos birding guide, once told me: “Greece is THE premier birding location in Europe for me [and for yours truly as well]. Wider than Lesvos, it also offers other spectacular birding locations such as Kerkini, Dadia, and the Evros Delta – they can all be combined in an easy enough week or two-week birding trip which I’ve done many times myself, as well as providing some excellent winter birding too for long weekends (a long winter weekend at Kerkini is very easy from the UK and is just brilliant). You can get to Athens from pretty much anywhere, and from Athens, you can access anywhere else in Greece easily enough by plane, ferry, or car. What’s not to love!”

Several where-to-find-birds books have been published, including ones by Steve Mills, Dave Gosney (both covering northern Greece), Steve Dudley (Lesvos), etc., plus the country-wide guide “Birding in Greece” published by the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS). Gosney’s guide is lightweight and no-nonsense, offering straightforward directions like “on that meadow on the left look for these species,” but its maps resemble those from early hippy guides to India—hand-drawn and difficult to follow with hard-to-read handwritten details. “Birding in Greece” by Chris Vlachos et al., published by HOS, provides somewhat generic site descriptions (richer in general info on each site, but instead of “search that meadow on your left”, it is more like “in the SW section of the reserve you can expect…”), and again, the maps. Many chapters deal with larger reserves, dozens of kilometres across, shown only on one full-page map. That’s it—no other maps, just one per each area, despite its size!

By now, you’re aware of the weaknesses of these other guides, but what if you want to explore Greece beyond just the north of it? While Steve Mills started his guide with northern Greece, by the third edition he has expanded the coverage to encompass the entire continental Greece, apart from Attica (the surroundings of Athens) and the Peloponnese Peninsula.

In the aforementioned region, Mills covers all areas—apart from the cliffs of Meteora—covered in Vlachos/HOS guide, and in his “historical” area, northern Greece, Mills covers significantly more sites than the country-wide Vlachos guide. At the same time, the north stands out with the more varied relief and higher mountains, consequently more rainfall, lusher forests, and more diverse habitats, resulting in longer bird lists, making it the very best region of the country.

Already being familiar not just with the competition, but also with Steve Mills’s Birdwatching in Northern Greece: Second Edition, I knew in advance, before the #3 was published, what would decide the best among these: the maps. Do the maps right, and you are the leader of the pack.

Finally, the maps are digitalised, (likely) based on Google Maps, something you will be using on your phone, making it easy to compare the features in the book with those on the screen and find your way around. While smaller areas may be depicted on three maps, the larger areas are depicted on 10 to 15 maps! And that’s why I take my hat off to Steve Mills.

The 3rd edition of “Birdwatching in Northern Greece” is a remarkable achievement that surpasses its predecessors in both scope and quality. The inclusion of new sites such as Lake Karla, Messolonghi, Mount Parnassos and others expands the scope of the guide, while the addition of color-coded sections, detailed GPS information, updated status lists, and accommodation tips further enhance the usability of the guide. This book is sure to become an essential companion on my future birding trips in Greece.

There is one more reason to take my hat off: all funds raised from selling the books go directly towards bird protection projects in Greece. Now you know which guide you really want.

Birdwatching in Northern Greece: Third Edition
Author: Steve Mills
Paperback | 288 pg | full colour
First Published: 2023/08/10
Published by: Birdwing Books
ISBN: 9780956777027
Weight: 0.5 kg

Written by Dragan
Dragan Simic is obsessively passionate about two things – birding and travelling in search of birds, and that has taken him from his native Balkans to the far shores of Europe and the Mediterranean, southern Africa, India and Latin America. His 10,000 Birds blog posts were Highly Commended in the International Category of the 2015 BBC Wildlife Blogger Awards. Birder by passion and environmental scientist by education, he is an ecotourism consultant, a field researcher and a bird blogger who always thinks that birding must be better behind that next bend in the road, and that the best bird ever is – the next lifer. He tweets as @albicilla66