Lesvos â€“ 10th May â€“ 24th May 2007 by Mark Halliday
(click thumbnails for larger images)
My family and I stayed at the quiet holiday resort of Scala Kalloni, which is a great central location and probably has the greatest concentration of birds on the island around that area. Although mid April to early May is the best time to visit in terms of both numbers and variety of birds visiting slightly later has its advantages, as in warmer weather which is more appealing to members of the family who arenâ€™t interested in birds.
The first week was hot and settled with reasonable numbers of migrants still passing through.
Olive tree grove
DAY ONE â€“ 10TH May West River and saltmarsh
A quick walk around the area on our arrival produced a stunning pair of Rufous Bush Robins nest building in the Tamarisk on the edge of the Salt Marsh, other birds included Black Stork, Icterine Warbler, a few pairs of breeding BlackHeaded Wagtail, Kentish Plover (10), Olivaceos Warbler (6), Cettis Warbler, Crested Lark (many), Little tern (10), Common Tern (12).
DAY TWO â€“ 11th May East River Salt Pans
White Stork (8), Short-toed Lark (2), Bee-eater (40), Temminckâ€™s Stint (2), Collared Pratincole (4), Greater Flamingo (250), Red-footed Falcon, Tawny Pipit, Lesser Grey Shrike, Rufous Bush Robin (6), Stone Curlew, Great Reed Warbler, Black Winged Stilt (numerous), Wood Sandpiper (2), Marsh Harrier, Black Headed Bunting (numerous), Ruff (8), Avocet (30), Little Stint (35), Curlew Sandpiper (48), Little Ringed Plover (6), Common Sandpiper (5), Grey Plover (4), Turnstone, Redshank.
One of the highlights of birding this area for me is the passage of waders, many in superb summer plumage.
Little and Temminckâ€™s Stint
DAY THREE â€“ 12th May East River
A leisurely bike ride alongside the east river produced some great birds and some good photographic opportunities, highlights included, Masked Shrike (2), Whiskered Tern (4), Great reed warbler, Squacco Heron (3), Woodchat Shrike (3), Red Backed Shrike (4), Nightingale (8). A ride further up the east river towards the goat pit was well worth the trip as the pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos that were reported the previous few days were still present, and noisily performing in the valley below. Other birds seen of note were: Short Toed Eagle (2), Blue Rock Thrush (pair breeding), Orphean Warbler (4), Subalpine Warbler (2), Rock Nuthatch (5), Long Legged Buzzard, and large numbers of Swift, Swallow and House Martin.
Short Toed Eagle
DAY FOUR â€“ 13th May East River
A great start to the day was a superb male Citrine Wagtail by the lower ford, while photographing this bird I had in the space of ten minutes seen Alpine Swift, Gull Billed Tern, Whiskered Tern not to mention the numerous Beeaters. Spurred on by my good start to the day I decided to cycle the back of the sheep fields behind the salt Pans where I was rewarded with an elusive but stunning Calandra Lark for me the bird of the trip. Other birds seen in this area were â€“ Lesser Grey Shrike, Short Toed Lark, Stone Curlew, Black Stork and Red Rumped Swallow. More than satisfied with my morningâ€™s achievement I retired to the hotel pool for a well earned cold beer!
DAY FIVE â€“ 14TH May Kalloni Inland Lake and Potamia River
Iâ€™d hired a jeep for the holiday so I decided to go on a bit of a trek, first the inland lake turned up a Little Bittern, two Crag Martins drinking from a puddle, an Alpine Swift and a hand full of Masked, Red Backed and Woodchat Shrikes. Moving on towards the Potamia river and lower valley Long Legged Buzzard, Black Eared Wheatear, and Middle-spotted Woodpecker were encountered, along with numerous Shrikes, Nightingales, Black Headed Buntings and Crested Larks.
Having taken the track at the end of the road that follows the river I headed up into the mountains where I had Short Toed Eagle (2), Serin, Subalpine Warbler (20), Turtle Dove, Lesser Kestrel (2), Orphean Warbler, Common Buzzard, Long Legged Buzzard (6), Cirl Bunting, Spotted Flycatcher and on my descent I finished the day with a Sombre Tit.
DAY SIX â€“ 15th May Sigri Eressos
Having promised my family a day out I suggested an open top jeep ride to Sigri where I hoped to do a few pit stops along the way and hopefully get to sneak off for an hour once we had got there, my plan worked well!
My first port of call was a lay-by about two miles along the road out of Eressos. Here I had great views of Cinereous Bunting, Woodlark, Black Eared Wheatear, Red Rumped Swallow and Rock Nuthatch. I knew Sigri was one of the best migrant hotspots on the island and it didnâ€™t disappoint, on the track leading to the lower ford the fields were awash with Yellow Wagtails and Red Backed Shrikes also in that area were, Golden Oriole (2), Lesser Kestrel (6), Olive Tree Warbler (2), Alpine Swift (5), Swift (300), Orphean, Kestrel, Short Toed Eagle (3), Eleanoraâ€™s Falcon and Masked Strike I also found out later that I had missed two Rollers earlier in the day, but still, never mind, not a bad selection of species for an hour.
On our way home we had a quick stop at the Ipsilou Monastery, which was a shame because this is a superb location and I could have spent hours there, still I managed to see Black Stork, Lesser Kestrel, Cinereous Bunting, Woodlark, little Owl and several Black Eared Wheatears. I managed to stop once more about a mile down the road from the Monastery where I finished the day off in fine style with a very nasal Rock Sparrow and a fine singing male Isabelline Wheatear.
DAY SEVEN â€“ 16th May Molivos
A none birding day although I did get to spend twenty minutes watching two stunning male Ruppellâ€™s Warblers singing within fifty yards of each other in the lay-by just before you enter Molivos.
DAY EIGHT- 17th May East River and Salt Pans
A morning in this area provided the following species: Rose Coloured Starling (11), Gull Billed Tern (2), Temminckâ€™s Stint (2), Spanish Sparrow (3), Sandwich Tern (3), Common Terns (40), Little Terns (10), little Stint (5), Bee-eaters (40), Ruff (40), Lesser Grey Strike (1), Whiskered Tern (4) and Wood Sandpiper (2).
Gull Billed Tern
DAY NINE â€“ 18th May Derbyshire and Achladeri
Kruperâ€™s nuthatch (4) Ruddy Shelduck (7), Shelduck (10) Serin (4) Icterine Warbler (1) and Subalpine Warbler (1) only a short visit as the weather started to close in for the first time. A quick run out to the Napi Valley between showers in the afternoon resulted in Olive Tree Warbler (2), Great Reed Warbler (2) Sombre Tit (2) Hoopoe (2) Cretzschmars Bunting (1) and a few bits and pieces including Raven.
DAY TEN â€“ 19th May Napi Valley
Rufous Bush Robin
The weather really started to close in and a storm swept through the island although I did brave an hour in the car around Napi Valley where the best I could muster up was Eleanoraâ€™s Falcon, Hoopoe and Turtle Dove the rest of the day was a wash out.
DAY ELEVEN â€“ 20th May East River and Salt Pans
In between the odd shower I did a quick tour of the above area where it became evident a lot of the birds had moved out apart from the breeding residents and summer visitors. Birds of note were Alpine Swift (2), Great Reed Warbler, Reed Warbler, Whiskered Tern and Bee-eater (50).
DAY TWELVE â€“ 21st May East River and Salt Pans
Highlights included Tawny Pipit, Short Toed Lark (3), Corn Bunting (many), Rufous Bush Robin (5), Kestrel, Marsh Harrier and White Stork.
Black Headed Bunting
DAY THIRTEEN â€“ 22nd May Salt Pans Area
A much more settled day after the previous few day of rain with clear skies and high temperatures, the sheep fields around the back of the Salt Pans were now flooded in some areas and this attracted a few waders, Curlew Sandpiper (6), Little Stint (10), Ruff (3) and Grey Plover. On the way back to the hotel I encountered a flock of 13 Rose Coloured Starling feeding in a Mulberry tree, this was to herald an even better day tomorrow.
DAY FOURTEEN â€“ 23rd May â€“ East River and Salt Pans
Our last full day and I promised my family a day of my undivided attention although I did manage to sneak an hour early in the morning where I witnessed a magnificent flock of 120 Rose Coloured Starlings, what better way to round off a superb holiday to this excellent birding destination. I have missed the names of some of the more common birds out, so for further info on these and the status of birds in general on Lesvos read Richard Brookâ€™s excellent book â€˜Birding on the island of Lesvosâ€™, it also has useful maps and information to make the most of your trip. All in all this is a place you can bird at your own pace like I did or reap the rewards by visiting the many other sites on the island.