Q & A with Antonis Tsaknakis, Co-Founder, Birding in Greece, Athens. A pioneering company offering guided tours of the wildlife regions within the Grecian peninsula.
YOUR COMPANY IS NEW – HOW DID YOU START IT?
In the fall of 2015 I got together with three very close friends who are also avid birders to share the idea of developing an ecotourism company in Greece. Though we were all familiar with the natural places here, it still took quite a bit of research. Eventually we laid down the foundation and principals with the key rule being absolute respect for both nature and the customer. Birding in Greece was founded this year (2016).
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND - ARE YOU A BIOLOGIST?
Actually I studied Business Administration and also I have an MSc in Marketing. So my area of expertise is developing digital shops. However over the last 6 years I have grown my nature photography skills along with bird watching. I really enjoy getting closer to nature. Photography is perhaps my way of imprinting what I see and being able to share it with others.
People are surprised to learn that we actually have a wide diversity of ecosystems in Greece. We have high mountains, dense forests, numerous islets, beautiful lakes, large deltas and vast wetlands. You can find a map on our website to locate the most interesting places to go birding in Greece.
The two most well-known wetland regions are the Evros Delta and the Lake Kerkini.
The estuary of the river Evros forms an eminent wetland complex consisting of lagoons, swamps, marshes and more. It is of international significance and provides food and shelter for huge populations of birds, including many rare species. For bird watchers and photographers this is an ideal location to visit!
Lake Kerkini is also internationally significant and rich in avifuna. It is perhaps is the most striking lake in Greece. Visitors arrive from all over to take nature walks, ride horses, or enjoy boating excursions.
For a small country we actually have a large number of bird species! If I have limit myself to only three to mention - I would say the Eleonora’s Falcon, the Dalmatian Pelican and the Pygmy Cormorant. These are all endangered species. It is our duty to protect them.
AND WINTER BIRD VISITORS?
Almost the entire European population of endangered Lesser White-Fronted Geese migrates to Greece for the winter season. You can also find large numbers of Greater Spotted Eagles, Tundra Swans, and Ruddy Shelducks here at that time.
I am a Canon brand fanatic. I will take the Canon 7D Mark II with me on all my trips. It is by far the best camera for wildlife photography in my opinion. As a backup I take a Canon 6D which is useful in difficult lighting situations. I have two lenses - the Canon 500mm F4 and the more flexible Canon 100-400ii.
HOW DO YOU STORE DIGITAL IMAGES SO THEY ARE NOT LOST?
This is a good question. Of course cloud storage is a safe solution, but why not also keep images stored on external hard disks for extra backup? I guess I am a bit traditional-minded on this! I like to keep these hard disks in different places so that in the event that something unexpected happens I may lose one or two but I won't lose them all. Knowing this, I sleep better at night!
Of course our world-famous mediterranean cuisine is a major part of any visit to Greece! Freshly grilled fish or seafood paired with Greek wine is a must. You will also enjoy locally made feta cheese topped with extra virgin olive oil and herb garnish. And don't forget the souvlaki! What a great way to bring closure to a full day of birding.
WITH SO MANY CRITICAL ISSUES FACING GREECE AT THIS TIME, DO PEOPLE REALLY CARE ABOUT CONSERVATION?
True, Greece faces serious issues today - from economic, political, to social. But Greece is also an amazing and resilient country, and the people do care a great deal about preserving their heritage, historical sites, and wonderful nature. As owners of an ecotourism business, our job is to highlight that unique nature to citizens at home and to visitors from abroad.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE FOR YOUR COMPANY?
From our very recent start, with our own funding and with the help of a few future investors, we plan to grow Birding in Greece into the largest and most highly-rated of nature tour companies in the Balkans.
Click on the Facebook and / or Twitter buttons below to share this post on Social Media