Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Lesvos : Day Fifteen : 7th May 2016 - Time to come home...

Day 15: 7th May : 

I set the alarm for 0550 and managed to stumble out once again for a final perambulation along the Tsiknias and through the pans. For the first time this week it was warm, still and cloudless with Sol rising speedily from behind the hills as if to say ‘Kaliméra kai kalí antío!’ to send us off in style. 

I spent a quiet hour walking the east side of the river above the ford and although I did not see that elusive Great Snipe, I was treated to a superb dawn chorus of Nightingales, guttural Great Reed, Cetti’s and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Corn and Black-headed Buntings with Hoopoe and Bee-eaters as a backdrop. No less than six Little Bitterns dotted the riverbanks like orange beacons and a white-winged Squacco drifted off after being disturbed by the tethered goats. There was a scattering of Wood sandpipers and a Purple Heron double backed behind me while a lumbering hippo delighted me by becoming a lovely dagger billed Olive Tree Warbler at just a few feet range in an pathside olive. 

male Little Bittern... just would not turn round and stalked off!
There was still a trip tick to be had in the shape of a fine drake Shoveler that was dabbling with a drake Mallard. It has been around for a few days but I had not caught up with it until now. Not a Lesvos tick for me but a great Island bird none the less.

drake Shoveler
The pans looked fairly quiet so after taking some arty ‘Flamingo in the sun’ shots I came back through Lotzaria passing two Temminck’s Stints with four Littles on the Pumping Station Corner and at long last managed to get some nice shots of the ubiquitous Corn Buntings and even an Olly.

Hoodie heading off to work

Corn Bunting

Corn Bunting

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Black-headed Bunting

Marsh Harrier
Breakfast beckoned and there were jobs to do so I headed back and by just after nine we were ready to go so we wished those staying for longer, a bird filled trip and said our farewells to the lovely Thekla Koukourouvli and Stella and Thekla’s always smiling Dad. With time to spare, Lotzaria called once again and the ford was traversed for definitely the last time this trip with a male Little Bittern patiently stalking tadpoles in the grass. A final look at the ‘mingos and then off to Kalami where some Black-winged Stilts and Little Egrets still fed in the lush wet pools and up above five Black Storks circled and an ‘interesting’ Buzzard seemed to have a lot going for it in the Steppe Buzzard department which would be a very nice way to end another magical two weeks on this most beautiful of islands.

Looking very good for Steppe Buzzard

Black-winged Stilts

Lesvos and its people are going to find it a difficult year on an island with almost no incoming tourists to generate income and work but as I suspected before I came out, there was very little to suggest that there had been a huge influx of displaced people and absolutely no change in the relaxed, safe and welcoming atmosphere that the Lesvos people are able to offer to those willing to come and stay on their enchanting island. Good birds, good food, great people... what more could you ask for?

The End....  well until mid September...

Lesvos : Day Fourteen : 6th May 2016

Day 14 : 6th May : 

I managed to haul myself out of bed at 0615 and I was down on the Tsiknias but just after 0630 to have a quick pre-breakfast walk in the chill dawn air. A Great Snipe was seen there yesterday and a few of us had a good look but to no avail but it not a wasted early start with six Night Herons and two Purple Herons, prukking Bee-eaters and singing Hoopoe and Golden Oriole. 

Purple Heron

Night Heron

A quick breakfast and then out west and after a smooth drive it was time once again the other tackle the Meladia trail from Eresos to Sigri. The Rock Sparrows were singing from their boulder near the start once again and Red-backed Shrines became instantly obvious. The first olive grove near the little chapel was full of broods of Somber Tits and Rock Nuthatches and three Golden Orioles were singing well. An Eastern Orphean Warbler was reaffirming why it is one of my favourite songsters and an Olive Tree Warbler tried to keep pace with it. 

juv Somber Tit

so cute

The first of many Red-backed Shrikes
Onwards and upwards through the bunting and nuthatch zone before dropping into the valley below.
Great Banded Grayling - Brintesia circe

The Graylings are confusing on Lesvos and this big rock loving one seems best fitted to Great Banded Grayling - Brintesia circe
Cretzschmar's Bunting
Rock Nuthatch
juv Woodlark

Even more Red-backed Shrikes were to be seen and then a warbler flicked across the road and then hopped out onto the road... I stopped and raised my bins and was eye to eye with the golden orbs of a female Barred Warbler. I was over moon... a Barred Warbler with actual bars! She came down to drink and even approached the car closer. Magnificent! 

Barred Warbler

A stunning bird - ACV

I wondered what else, see the day would hold and pressed on into the valley bottom where a happy few hours were spent with countless RBShrikes around me, another Oriole, a few Spot Flysheet and Whinchats, bee catching Bee-eaters, a scattering of commoner warbler species including my first Chiffchaff and Lesser Whitethroat, two invisible singing Icterine Warblers, a brief view of a Great Spotted Cuckoo heading back up valley, Lesser Grey Shrike and a tail cocking male Bushchat.

Meladia toward Ipsilou

juv Stonechat

Some rusty wire & a female Red-backed Shrike

Lounging Bee-eaters
The little Meladia Chapel was stuffed full of birds and soon two Red-breasted Flycatchers were found amongst the Spot Flys with a female Collared and singles of Willow warbler and Blackcap for company. The RBFlys were very showy and vocal and came out nice and low on the leeward side of the pines.

Red-breasted Flycatcher
By the time we had reached the rise before the Sigri Sanatorium we had amassed 41 Red-backs. A roadside Icterine Warbler gave itself up and there were some Rock Doves around a sheep pen while a pair of Short -toed Eagles looked on. 

Rock Doves

Icterine Warbler

female Black-headed Bunting

I only saw three birds at the Sanatorium : the obligatory Red-backed Shrike, a flitting Red- breasted Flycatcher and the most mind boggling views of Roller I have ever had. At eye level in a splash of electric blue and chestnut. He even let me take some shots before flopping off to a nearby tree where he tried not to upset the local Woodchats. 



Click here for a very short video...

An Eleonora's cruised overhead with four Lesser Kestrels up over the ridge and a pair of Short-toed Eagles displayed above my head. It was becoming get one of those days.

Eleonora's Falcon

Eleonora's Falcon

Short-toed Eagle & Yellow-legged Gull

Short-toed Eagle
Faneromeni was quite quiet after all the excitement but there were more Shrikes to be seen and the Cattle Egret was feeding in a newly mown field with three Littles. 

Cattle Egret

Roesel's type Bushcricket

Wall Brown

Cirl Bunting in a puddle again!
I decided to retrace our steps back through the valley and the rest of the afternoon was spent seeing many of the same birds but adding a few too including a fourth singing Icterine Warbler with the Meladia RBFlys, a cracking Pallid Swift low over the valley with both Common and Alpine Swift for comparison, many more Bee-eaters, a second Bushchat, the Barred Warbler again and eventually the furtive Great spotted Cuckoo lurking in some tree lupins. 

The beautifully posing Red-breasted Flycatcher

Cretzschmar's Bunting

Rufous Bushchat

Some wire, a dead bush and a Great Spotted Cuckoo

And a much better picture from Michael Sveikutis with an Orphean for company

I left the valley with a huge grin and rounded up the last day adventure with a zipping get male Levant Sparrowhawk and soaring Black Stork over the River Langarda (I think I have got that right).

And so ended the last full day of this year's adventure... I am sure I will squeeze in a couple of hours tomorrow before we leave.