The spring task of returning the birds to the air began at the Aegean Wildlife Hospital in April with releases of many species taking place throughout the post winter and hunting season months. The hospital is continuing its practice of returning any animals or birds to the same area they were found in and is thus conducting many small releases on individual Greek islands and a separate longer journey covering the north of the country. Each release is co-ordinated with respective schools and environmental groups in the region to increase both awareness and interest in the infinite variety of Greek nature.
The spring releases consisted of over fifty animals, the majority of which were received during the winter months with bullet wounds, (despite their being protected under Greek and European law), to be released in fifteen different places around Greece. The range of raptors to be airborne in the spring breeze included common buzzards (hawks), long legged buzzards (long legged hawks), montague and hen harriers, a booted eagle, peregrine falcons (which dive at speeds over 300km per hour), sparrowhawks and kestrels, as well as barn and little owls, all returned to their native skies. Swans, herons, bitterns and a flamingo also all began their journey home, and, in addition to the birds, a few mammals and reptiles left their recovered footprints in the ground as two hedgehogs and five tortoises all recuperated fully from their problems and were soon again digging or strolling in the countryside.
The release schedule included: In Northern Greece: Katerini - buzzards, swans and a flamingo; Volvi - a buzzard, a montague, a hen harrier and a grey heron; Kerkini - bitterns and a stone curlew; Dadia reserve - a buzzard, herman tortoises and a booted eagle; Samothrace - a buzzard. In the Cyclades: Paros - hedgehogs, little owls, kestrels and a sparrowhawk; Antiparos - a buzzard; Mykonos - a long legged buzzard; Naxos - barn owls, a peregrine falcon and a sparrowhawk; Syros - a long legged buzzard; Santorini - kestrels. Other Islands: Corfu - buzzards; Chios - barn owls; Crete - a buzzard; Rhodes - a long legged buzzard, peregrine falcon and a barn owl.
For further info or to offer assistance, call Mario at the Wildlife Hospital on 22931.