Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A Week in Lesvos - Part 1

We have just returned from a fabulous week in Lesvos. We set aside two days for birding, and four days to chill out and relax after our Indian adventure. It didn't work out like that though!

We had booked two days out (Monday & Thursday) with Steve Dudley a Lesvos birding expert! More about that in a bit. However once we checked the location and weather forecast and found that the village of Skala Kalloni had no public transport and no local taxis and that Tuesday and Wednesday looked very dodgy (wet and cold) we decide to hire a car for those two days and explore.

Don't get me wrong the location was fantastic, the hotel pool was great, we ventured in on the Sunday and shall we say the water was a tad cool, which is an understatement to say the least. There was lots of birding on the door step all within walking distance.

Steve turned out to be a great character and we got in well, our kind of Birder, not too intense. The trips were fantastic, the first covered the Kalloni Bay area and the second the mountains and the coast on the west of the island. On both occasions Steve treated us to a great lunch at Tavernas that he uses regularly. His birding knowledge was superb and he found us some great sightings. I will put a link to his website at the end of this post.

So on to the birds, photography wasn't easy as we are talking about a lot of small migrants heading north from Africa and getting close to some wasn't an option. We were very conscious of not disturbing the birds and not encroaching on private land, so you will have to make do with quite a few, 'for the record' shots, or quite simply rubbish shots.
So I'll start of with Kalloni;
Hooded Crows were a regular visitor to our Hotel:
 Whilst chilling out on the Sunday, I managed to get this House Martin just after skimming the swimming pool, it always pays to have your camera handy!
 Meanwhile this Barn Swallow was busy nest building at the hotel poolside, hope he had checked in first!
 So out with Steve now, first visit was to a nearby river, providing us with our first Little Bittern:
 followed by a Little Crake:
 As we walked back to the van, a Long-legged Buzzard gave us a fly by:
 whilst a Corn Bunting sat singing for us:
The irrigation channels around the farmland were full of Terrapins:
So on to our next stop and another river but this one had a very special treat. A pair of Penduline Tits nest building:

This spot was great, there were quite a few Warblers about and a Nightingale serenading us for a good 10 minutes:
There were Little Bittern here as well, we were to visit this spot again later in the week on our own, just to see the progress on the Penduline Tit nest. From here we went out to the Salt Pans at the top of the bay,
There were plenty of Black-winged Stilts about
Plus a variety of Yellow Wagtail (including Blue and Black headed) in a nearby field
Wood Sandpiper were pretty common:
Not so common were the Gull-billed Tern:
The Salt Pans were full of Greater Falmingo:
and Crested Lark were so common, nobody took any notice of them except Tina and me, we thought they were fantastic!
I know we are spoilt at Upton Warren for Avocets, but I have never seen so many as here, these are just a few along with more Black-winged Stilt:
Then in a nearby pond another treat, a Marsh Sandpiper:
We still clocked up quite a few species before heading off for lunch. It was at this point we had a near disaster. Steve pulled in to put some fuel in the van and being Greece there are no self-service stations as we have in the UK, so Steve just told the chap to fill it up, after a few seconds, Steve went into a panic, the kind young gentleman putting the fuel in was putting unleaded in, but the van was diesel!!! About 15 litres had gone in before he was stopped. So we spent a chatty half an hour so while the fuel was pumped out and flushed through. This must have happened before as the garage had all the gear to get it done!
So after a good lunch we headed out again.
Short-toed Snake Eagle:
 We now entered the Achladeri Forest, where to start with some Black Stork flew over,
This is while Steve was searching for this little fellow, Krüpers Nuthatch. We didn't go close as that slit in the tree is their nest and they looked like they were feeding young, so we kept a good distance away (as you can see from this poor shot) and just watched. We stayed about 40 minutes it was brilliant watching the coming and going, this is what birding is all about.
We finished the day with a stop by a well know Scops Owl roost, on the edge of the town of Kalloni:

Part 2 will cover what birds we did see on our days out on our own and the west of the island trip with Steve. For more about Steve Dudley, go to:

Lesvos Birding

This is our full list of birds for the first time out with Steve:
Black Stork
Black-winged Stilt
Cetti's Warbler
Collared Dove
Common Tern
Corn Bunting
Crested Lark
Cretzschmar's Bunting
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Fan-tailed Warbler
Glossy Ibis
Great Tit
Great White Egret
Greater Flamingo
Gull-billed Tern
Hooded Crow
House Martin
House Sparrow
Krüper's Nuthatch
Lesser Whitethroat
Little Bittern
Little Crake
Little Egret
Little Grebe
Little Tern
Long-legged Buzzard
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Sandpiper
Masked Shrike
Penduline Tit
Purple Heron
Red-footed Falcon
Ruddy Shelduck
Savi's Warbler
Scops Owl
Sedge Warbler
Short-toed Eagle
Spanish Sparrow
Turtle Dove
Wood Sandpiper
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail (feldegg)
Yellow Wagtail (flava)

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