Lesvos : Day 1: 11th September:
This was my first autumnal visit and after a painless overnight journey via Athens, the birding quickly got under way as we cut through Lotzaria before our breakfast just prior to dawn.
Three subsequent circuits reaped rewards and every field, especially those still green with irrigated hay crop, being utilised by a bucket load of shrikes, pipits, chats, flycatchers and warblers. On the Lotzaria loop alone we counted 58 Red-backed, 11 Lesser Grey and five scaly Woodchats.
|Lesser Grey Shrike|
|One of the few male Red-backed Shrikes we saw|
|Red-backed Shrike & Spot Fly behind|
Add to this the three cryptically colourful juvenile Rollers flashing royal and ultramarine blue, a swirling mass of mainly greeny young Bee-eaters, carpets of flava Wagtails of various races, two probing Hoopoes and tail pumping lemony Willow Warblers on every irrigation stand and it was a sight and sound to behold.
|Roller - all three were juveniles|
|Sam watching Bee-eaters in the blue|
|Away from the irrigated areas it was a bit parched|
|Whinchat, probable female Grey-headed and Blueish-headed Wagtails|
|Willow Warbler - this is not cropped in any way!|
|Smart Northern Wheatear|
|A very worn Crested Lark|
|Bushfull of Bee-eaters|
There were Red-throated, Tree and Tawny Pipits and a couple of immature Black-headed Buntings to be had and even a juvenile White Winged Black Tern came to join in and a White Stork was taking bigger prey.
|Damp White Stork|
Thirteen Sandwich Terns were roosting up at the Tsiknias mouth and Kingfishers were seen both here and by the Alykes Sheepfields where three Curlew fed on the beach with two Greenshank and a female Teal. Out on the pans we located three hulking but very hazy immature Dalmatian Pelicans among the 630 Flamingos, five Black Storks, six Great White Egrets and 13 unsurprisingly dozing Spoonbill. A fair spread of commoner waders on the corner pan but only four Stilts were seen. Forty seven Black-headed Gulls contained seven long necked still pinky hued adult Slender billed Gulls which is more of both species than all my previous trips combined!
|Two of only four Black-winged Stilts seen!|
|Chrysops sp Deerfly - pretty but viscious little buggers - not the same species from back home|
Three more Lesser Greys, an adult Woodchat and 11 Red-backed Shrikes were seen along with a couple of Zitting Cisticolas before we came back through three middle once more adding more memorable views of the earlier birds and an interesting large juvenile falcon that I reckon was probably a Peregrine.
|Lesser Grey Shrike|
|Odd looking but I suspect Peregrine|
|Young Corn Bunting looking like some sort of American Sparrow|
Throw in dozens of tropical looking Plain Tigers and the incessant hum of Cicadas and early careering bats and it was certainly a welcome back to remember...
|Female Southern Darter|
|Plain Tiger - although I prefer African Monarch|
And sipping a G'n'T on the veranda of the Pela Hotel in Skala Kallonis on the wonderful island of Lesvos is a great way to end any day and start any holiday!