Wednesday 15 September. Sue and I had jumped through hoops and clambered over obstacles to reach this point. There was no stopping us now as the jet finally climbed into the sky over Manchester Airport to leave England behind. We were on bang on time in our Boeing 737/800, along with 137 other hopeful holidaymakers on the way to Destination Skiathos.
Three and a half hours later we arrived on the magical isle at 1355 local time to clear blue skies and 26 degrees. We trotted down the passenger staircase to waiting buses as the air crew wished us "Happy Holidays". We were set for 2 weeks in the sun, the crew to turn the plane around in an hour, fill it with fuel and more passengers, and then head back to Manchester. It's a hard life for some.
We negotiated a few minor Greek hoops, (or maybe it seemed that way), grabbed our cases and quickly located Magda waiting at Arrivals with a Suzuki Jeep. In high spirits if a little cramped by suitcases and photo gear, plus Sue's suntan creams & mossie sprays, we set off for Agia Paraskevi and Hotel Ostria, a 20 minute drive via Skiathos' Ring Road and the winding coastal route.
Agia Paraskevi is a tiny hamlet and tourist resort on the south coast of Skiathos at the start of the Platanias Valley, an unspoilt landscape that meanders inland through dusty unkempt tracks and scented pine clad hills to eventually reach the wild rocky north of Skiathos Island. That's for another day.
The weather is hot, dry and sunny so not too good for birding or dropping migrants. The usual species crossed our path in small numbers – Red-backed Shrike, Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat, Little Owl, Chiffchaff and Red-rumped Swallow, Spotted Flycatcher.
The highlight of Thursday was a a road runner, an Isabelline Wheatear at Aselinos beach. I call them road runners because of the characteristic way they run over the landscape in pursuit of prey rather than the wait and see feeding of Northern Wheatears. Unfortunately this one ran so fast that I couldn’t get a photo.
Shopping and Skiathos Town today. Wish me luck.