Sunday, 29 May 2016

Lesvos 2016 - Part 1

Finally I have caught up with sorting photos and all that malarkey and can put finger(s) to keyboard.

Before I start with the birding, I have to say that for anyone giving the Greek Islands a miss because of the bad press regarding the refugee situation, DON'T! We were there for a week and this had no impact on us whatsoever. In fact we didn't see any sign of the refugees at all.

The only thing we did see was on a drive along a track on the north coast chore line was a refugee 'welcome' point. This was deserted apart from the aid workers and the remains of life jackets and dinghies. The only other reminder was a sign post for the refugees on the road as you left the coast and climbed back into the mountains.
We had a fantastic time, the Greek people were brilliant as usual, friendly, accommodating and just can't do enough for you. This crisis has hit them hard with their bookings in the region of 70% down on previous years. If we don't go then there won't be anything to go back to, the hotels and apartments will close ruining more peoples lives. I am not just aiming at birders here with this but anyone who is looking for a great holiday in a great place. The wildlife in the spring for us is just the icing on the cake.

As the birders who regularly go to Lesvos and use the Lesvos Birding Facebook Group already know, this isn't being helped by the UK tour operators. (For Lesvos only Thomas Cook go) For 2017 Thomas Cook have cut their Manchester and Birmingham flights and will only operate once a week from Gatwick. The other European Operators seem to have pulled the plug completely! How can the island survive on circa 250 tourists a week?

I don't have any answers, I'm just a birder that loves the island, I can only think that if people try booking and create the demand, it will help for 2018. Perhaps I'm being naive, but as a supermarket chain says; 'Every Little Helps'

So back to the birding bit................. (I hope you have stuck with it and got this far)

Our party was made up of 6, 4 mad birders, 1 birder and 1 dabbler! We hired a minibus for the week to make it easier to pile out if something was seen unexpectedly. As Tina and myself had been before and the other four were Lesvos newbies, I acted as driver and guide,

I have to say though I couldn't have done it without the great Lesvos bird watching guide written by Steve Dudley. (Also the fact that we went out with Steve a couple of times last year didn't do any harm. By the way you can buy the book from Steve at:
Had to put an ad in for Steve!

We stayed in Skala Kallonis so had easy access to some great birding sites, Kalloni Salt Pans, Tsiknias River, Christou River, Metochi Lake and many more. (Buy the book)

We also ventured further afield, to Sigri, Molyvos, Achladeri Forest, Agiasos, in fact all over the island. I won't go into a day by day detail, I'm just going to put a few of the better photos up, in chronological order, saying where they were taken.

So on day 1, from the photos you can see that day one we stayed near Kalloni.
House Martin, Skala Kallonis
 Collared Pratincole, Kalloni Saltpans
 Wood Sandpiper. Kalloni Saltpans
 Common Tern, Kalloni Saltpans
 Ruff, Kalloni Saltpans
Night Heron, Tsiknias River
Purple Heron, Tsiknias River

Scops Owl, Kalloni

Day 2 North West to Petra, Molyvos and North Coast
Not much to report on the way to Petra, we stopped there to look at the church and stretch our legs, also stopping for a coffee a one of the sadly deserted Tavernas.

Inbetween Petra and Molyvos we stopped to look for the reported Rüppels Warbler and after strolling back down the road a bit from one of the laybays we were rewarded, although distance and the sun in the wrong place prevented a decent photo. We also picked up a Subalpine Warbler and Black-eared Wheatear here.
For the record a very poor photo of the Rüppels Warbler
We now carried on to Molyvos and lunch at the harbour,
Black-eared Wheatear, Swallows and Martins showed around the harbour. After lunch we headed for the northern coast track, driving as far as Skala Sykamnias before heading inland and across, heading back to Skalloni via the Napi Valley.
Black-headed Bunting
 A very scraggy Buzzard (Rough Legged?)
 Record shot of our first Hoopoe of the week as we came down Napi Valley.
It would then have been rude not to visit the Saltpans and Tsiknias River before heading 'home' to Skala Kallonis.
Little Egret
 Greater Flamingoes
 Common Tern
Little Stint
 Wood Sandpiper
 Little Tern
 Black-winged Stilt and Little Egret
 Great Egret

This post is getting a bit long now, so I will close off here and continue in the next post..

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