Before heading to Lake Kerkini, I decided to check out two other locations in northern Greece.  One was suggested by my uncle Poti, the cliff-top monasteries of Meteora; the other, Kastoria, was a result of some research on where I might be able to get closer to Cormorants and Grebes than I was likely at Lake Kerkini.  Neither site disappointed.


The Monasteries of Meteora, Greece

Feb. 2011


Near the town of Kalambaka, in addition to the regular 'ol mountains, there are a set of rocks abruptly jutting up into the air.  On a misty day, they appear to reach into the heavens and I wonder if that wasn't one of the reasons the ancient monks decided to build their monasteries here. 

(There had to be some really good reason(s) for building these monasteries on top of these cliffs!)



(Clicking on an image below will bring up a larger version of it.)


When I woke up my 1st day at Meteora, I was greeted by a low overcast and light rain.  Not one to be easily discouraged when there are photographic subjects nearby, I hopped into the car and started driving up the hills...into solid cloud.  Okay, maybe this wasn't going to be a very photographic day.  Visibility was a couple hundred feet at best!


My vista on day 1 at Monastery Agia Triada.

(I wondered where the cables went)


Luckily for me, I had planned to spend 2 nights at Meteora, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for some of the weather to lift.  And headed into town for some errands and lunch.


The same vista on day 2 at Monastery Agia Triada.

(this is the same cable car system as the photo above)

Monastery Great Meteoro

(believed to have been founded in the mid 14th century by St. Athanasios the Meteorite)


Monastery Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas

(believed to have been founded in the early 14th century)

Monastery Varlaam

(believed to have been built in 1541-42 by 2 brothers from Giannena)

Monastery Varlaam with Monastery Roussanou in the background

Monastery Varlaam with clouds moving in to the valley

Monastery Agia Triada with Kalambaka in the background

(Monastery Agia Triada is believed to have been built in 1438)






Kastoria, Feb. 2011


This pretty lakeside village was a very pleasant stop, and it provided good access to cormorants (Great and Pygmy) and Great Crested Grebes. 

 (Clicking on an image below will bring up a larger version of it.)

Great Cormorant


Great Cormorant

Pygmy Cormorant


Pygmy Cormorant



Great Crested Grebe

These guys are very cool looking (at least to these N. American eyes)

Great Crested Grebes


Great Crested Grebes - courtship



Black-headed Gulls


Pygmy Cormorant amongst the gulls




Cormorant Tree zoom-blur with the the pretty buildings of Kastoria.


Hooded Crow


"Pelicano 9 Heavy - Cleared to Land"

I liked this image because of how it contrasted the relative size of the huge Dalamatian Pelican to the other birds. 

To me it's like a Boeing 747 landing amongst some little Cessnas :-)

Before I knew it, the time had come to head for Lake Kerkini to meet up with the IPT group.  Click here to visit the photo journal for that part of the trip.

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