Sunday, 10 July 2016

Lesvos: Day Seven : 29th April 2016

Day 7 : 29th April : 

I was up early and heading down towards the salt pans at 0630 but not early enough to see the Grey Partridge found by Barry! He got some superb shots of this bird that unfortunately has probably been released for shooting and will not find its way onto any official Lesvos list... I was not out for too long but still managed to see the immature female Pallid Harrier and the male Montagu's come out of roost and two male Red foots up on the wires. Continuing the shrike theme from yesterday, I soon found several Red-backed and four Lesser Greys while Bee-eaters were already up and about. 

BOC shot from Barry of the Grey Partridge

Lower Tsiknias Ford

Red-becked Shrike

The Penduline Tit sang at the ford and a Purple Heron was trying to remain inconspicuous in the open water while a Curlew at the river mouth was new for the trip. It was the Great Bittern that stole the show though and she sat in the open for nearly five minutes before melting back into the undergrowth with those amazing huge prehistoric feet!


Breakfast and then off to explore the nearby coast. We started at the point where the Potamia river goes under the main coast road and had a pleasant walk (with a dog) about half a mile up river from there seeing two Red-foots, a family of very Somber Tits and good views of both Nightingale and Olivaceous Warbler and our second Purple Heron of the day. 

Purple Heron

Hairy Lupin - Lupinus micranthus - I reckon

Hairy Lupin - Lupinus micranthus
Makara next and after the tortuous drive down the unmade road we arrived at the cobble beach in warm sunshine. There was surprisingly still water in the stream and Great Reed, Oli and Sedge Warblers were all coming down to drink. Somber Tits and Cetti's Warblers called from the brambles and willows and a Masked Shrike sang mechanically from a fig tree. Jackdaws and bother Common and Alpine swifts were up above with one of the huge Alpines descending to scoop a mouthful of where from the stream mouth. Quite some bird... 


Little Bittern

Hornet Robber Fly species
Barry's boot....

Makara beach

An obliging male Crested Lark

After some interesting beach combing, we bumped out and then made our way back towards Kalloni before dropping down into the olive groves between Parakila and the sea. I was hoping for Olive Tree Warbler but the groves were quiet so we stopped by the bridge over the river (that you cross on the main road through the town) and wandered towards the coast down a track. There was plenty of insect life including Violet Carpenter Bees, Scarce swallowtails, huge ants and several species of dragonfly. A deceased and rather flat Beech Marten had been incredibly unlucky and we found a small Spur-thighed tortoise, and as yet unidentified snake and numerous Snake eyed and Balkan Green Lizards. 

Spur Thighed Tortoise

A typically tatty Long-tailed Blue

Just out of reach Oranges...

A pair of Hawfinches were a pleasant surprise as they came down to bathe in the river and they were later seen with food. Middle spotted woodpeckers called from the olives and Olivaceous Warblers were everywhere with the backdrop of purring Turtle Doves to compliment them. Down on the beach we gazed out over a flat calm tranquil bay with over 50 yellow-legged Gulls loafing on the point. 

Back to the Pela for lunch and then back down to the salt pans and Alykes fields for some serious Red-footed Falcon action with 13 males and four females lined up on the wires. It was a pity that the light was not in our favour but it did not detract from a memorable encounter with this enigmatic little falcon. After a while they got up and started feeding on both aerial and ground based prey awning seemed to be very successful in their hunting sorties. 

Black-capped jay in the hotel grounds

Red-footed Falcons are stunning birds...
Six Gull-billed Terns came in off the bay and three White-winged Black Terns dipped further back. I counted 49 Little Stints and 39 Curlew Sandpipers on the first pan and there was still some great Bee-eater action to be had. A male Montagu's Harrier was joined by an adult female which was good to have to compare with the female Pallid and both White and Black Storks were seen. 

Gull-billed Terns on the move

female Montagu's Harrier

White Stork
Heading back out of the pans we encountered even more Red-foots up on the escarpment before we turned back in off the main road on to the eastern Tsiknias track. There was no sign of the Great Bittern but we did find Squacco, two Little Bitterns and had great views of a Long -legged Buzzard on some wires and also cloud of Common Swifts that suddenly descended on the river. Three Alpine Swifts cruised amongst them.

Back at the Lower ford the male Little Crake at last gave himself up and we were being watched by the adjacent Little Owl. There was no sign off the Bushchat down by beach but a Great Crested Grebe found its way onto our list and two beautiful Stone Curlews rounded up the day nicely...

Male Little Crake

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

Stone Curlew

Stone Curlew

Tsiknias river mouth from the east side

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