Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Lesvos Day One: 23rd April 2016

Day 1 : 23rd April : After a ridiculously smooth journey we touched down in a sunny Lesvos raring to go and after a warm welcome from Alison and Costas we picked up our cars and made or first ever attempt to navigate our way through the narrow streets of the capital. After a couple of misplaced turns we popped out the other side and hit the open road for Skala Kalloni.

It seemed a little odd not being in a coach but it did not inhibit the mobile birding with the usual Short-toes, hirundines and even three Glossy Ibis en route. After a quick drop of the gear at the Pela and a hug with Thekla we headed out for the salt pans.

It was nice to be back on the bumpy road with the windows down and the sound of Nightingales, Eastern Olivaceous Warblers and Corn Bunting wafting through while the ubiquitous Crested Larks scampered along in front of us.

We stopped above the Lower Ford on the Tsiknias River and I could hear a Penduline Tit calling from the willows where they nested last year but it would not reveal itself. A male Red-backed Shrike was perched up and two Great Reed Warblers gurked from the stands of mega reed along with both Reed and even a Sedge Warbler. A scan of the margins revealed the expected Wood Sandpipers (including an oiled bird) and a couple of creeping Temminck’s Stints while both male and female Little Bitterns tried not to be seen despite being in the open.  Black-headed Wagtails were coming down to drink and Little Ringed Plovers were cryptically lurking on the gravelly bits. 

Little Bittern
We headed across the ford and through Lotzaria with not another birder in sight and were able to pull over and watch 11 Bee-eaters hunting from the big Mulberry on the way through. A Quail called from the adjacent field and a male Whinchat perched up on some thistles.   


A couple more Black-headed Wagtail were on the fragrant Pumping Station Pool but the Salt Pan Channel was pretty quiet but the Black-winged Stilts were good in the evening sunshine and they were joined by a motley assortment of un-ruffed Ruff. 

Black-winged Stilt

Black-winged Stilt

Little Ringed plover
Up on the corner two Zitting Cisticolas were bounding round with energetic abandon and two each of Black Stork and Great White Egret were on the prowl. You forget just how big a Black Stork is until it flies low over your head!

Black Stork

A Ruddy Shelduck and several Little Ringed Plovers and Wood Sandpipers were on the pool behind the pumping station and our first Lesser Grey Shrike gave some excellent views from the wires. That black forehead and chunky bill always makes them look the toughest of the shrikes I feel.  Both Black-headed Bunting and Red-throated Pipit flew through and a few more wagtails were down for a drink before we decided that dinner beckoned and returned the way we had come with seven circling Ibis for company. 

Lesser Grey Shrike
Glossy Ibis

This gave us the chance to look for the crakes from the east side of the river and it did not take too long to collect a chunky Spotted Crake and diminutive male Baillon’s!  The former looked enormous compared to its little grey cousin.  

Spotted Crake

Baillon's Crake

Baillon's Crake

We bounced back for dinner and bed at the hotel pleased with an afternoon well spent and the first batch of memories stashed away.

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