Monday, 18 July 2016

Lesvos : Day Nine : 1st May 2016

Day 9: 1st May :  

A long day out driving around the mountainous eastern interior of the island today in warm sunshine and blue skies starting at the Evergetoulas River near Lambou Mili that Steve and Paul visited yesterday. Cracking bit of river with actual flowing water and mini waterfalls and even fish!! As hoped dragonflies were plentiful and I found much the same species as they did including both Banded and Beautiful Demoiselle and the unique Odalisque. A Southern White Admiral was a new species for me and Nightingales and a Blackcap sang from the Oriental Planes while three shrike species were on the adjacent olive grove fence line. A pile of Dice snakes were having fun in the rocks.  They seem to have very peculiar faces.



Banded Demoiselle

Beautiful Demoiselle

Beautiful Demoiselle

Odalisque

Odalisque

Odalisque

Blue Featherleg

Small Skimmer

Small Pincertail

Dice Snakes
From here we headed up to Agiassos and then circumnavigated Mount Olimpus via the amazing road that takes you up through the Sweet Chestnut Forest before reaching the Pine and evergreen oak band at the heights. The views were staggering. Chaffinches, Subalpine Warblers, Wrens and Nightingales predominated but I also heard my first Song Thrush and Robin for the trip but failed to locate any of the hoped for island Chiffchaffs.  A male Levant Sparrowhawk glided over but I only saw one Buzzard all day which was odd. 

Sweet Chestnut woodland

Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus
Scarce Swallowtail
Dung Beetle with cold pizza....

There was plenty of opportunity for roadside grubbing and one particular meadow was carpeted with a yellow flowered spurge and associated flies including Eristalis, Chrysotoxum, Episyrphus and Mythropa hoverflies, some very large Bluebottles and a striking Phasia with spotty wings. There were bees aplenty with huge Violet Carpenter, Honeys, and some wasp like Nomadas (I think!). Another Southern White Admiral shone with almost Emperor colours.

Spurge covered mountain meadow

Eristalis species of hoverfly

Eristalis species of hoverfly

Myathropa florea hoverfly

Chrysotoxum species of hoverfly

Tachinid fly - similiar to our T.fera

Tachinid fly - similiar to our T.fera

Phasia species of fly

Large Bluebottle type

Potter Wasp

Solitary Bee

Violet Carpenter Bee

Southern White Admiral

Southern White Admiral
The road down through Megalohori was enlivened by some dark purple helleborines, jangling Serins and more epic landscapes before we curved back up through Akrassi (complete with Easter Procession and deafening bangers) and Abeliko to rejoin the road home. 





Megalochori

Megalochori

Violet Limodore

Violet Limodore

Birthwort - a European Pitcher Plant

Broomrape - species unknown
The almost hidden marsh to the north of the main road held two stunning hunting Hobbies and a swarm of medium sized golden Hawker dragonflies that they were feasting on. The dragons never perched and I am currently stumped.

 
From here I dropped back onto the coastal track from Achladeri towards Skala Vasillikon which was productive one again with a very obliging Purple Heron on the Great white Egret pool, innumerable singing Black-headed buntings and shrikes and at least three gurking Olive-Tree Warblers that included a couple of brief drop down fly up views.

Purple Heron

A bit calmer than the first visit!



Female Masked Shrike in the Olives
The day was rounded up driving through the very quiet birderless salt pans and having the most outrageous views of Bee-eaters I am ever likely to have...


video

And my final good deed for the day was rescuing and typically ungrateful Spur-thighed Tortoise from the pavement in Skala Kallonis after some pedestrians moved him from the road.  I took him a little further on and found a nice paddock for him otherwise I am sure he would have just plodded back out again! 

I am not amused...

Lesvos : Day Eight : 30th April 2016


Day 8 : 30th April : 

An early start saw us at the end of the salt pan road at 0630 to be greeted by the amazing sight of 44 glowing Red-footed Falcons sitting up on roadside wires... truly awesome views in the early morning light. They were just waking up and starting to hunt and the light shining through the powder grey wings of the males was magical. 

There are about 22 Red-foots in this shot...

Red-footed Falcon - male

Red-footed Falcon - female

There was nothing different wader wise from the north east hide but a single Whiskered Tern was feeding energetically with 35 Little and five Common Terns.
Bee-eaters were already out hawking for breakfast and seven more Red-foots around pumping station corner took the tally to 51 for the morning. A Lesser Grey and several Red-backed Shrikes were seen and Red-throated Pipits and various flava wagtails were buzzing around. 


There was still time for another attempt at the Rufous Bushchats at the Tsiknias river mouth and a careful walk down to the beach and along the tide line to avoid disturbing the Stone Curlews proved worthwhile and we found an obliging male singing from a tamarisk before chasing a second bird and displaying with fully fanned tail. This along with a fine male Little Crake made for a fine way to end week one for my friends.


Rufous Bushchat

Rufous Bushchat

Little Crake - male

Little Crake - male


It was then back to the Pela for a late breakfast before following the coach back to the airport to pick up Andrea. Gatwick was experiencing various technical problems this morning and a two hour delay ensued. With time to kill I continued south past the airport and followed the coast around where spectacular views were afforded over most of the island and Turkey beyond. I headed up into the hills towards Panaghia Amali chapel through fairly silent pine forest although I did hear a Scops Owl and find two singing male Sardinian Warblers and some Violet Limodore, var. rubra. 

Coast roaad south of the airport

Coast roaad south of the airport

Starting the climb up...


Huge views to the west across the Gulf of Geras


Strawberry Tree - amazing bark

Panaghia Amali chapel


Violet Limodore, var. rubra

Violet Limodore, var. rubra

The start of the descent

ooo... there's the airport!

Wild Gladioli
The track back down to the airport was a little on the rough side and thank all the Greek Gods that no one was trying to come up it the other way otherwise there would have been some issues.  On reaching the bottom a couple of male Sardinian Warblers sang from some waste ground but I did not fancy getting my bins out behind the airport!

The plane eventually landed but Andrea's luggage seems to have gone to Lanzerote and it took some time before we were able to get on our way....but I still managed some salt pan time in the late evening and two glorious Honey Buzzards added themselves to the trip list while a snake-necked Purple Heron and orange glowing Squacco chased tiddlers in the main channel of the Tsikinias to round up the day....


Huddle of egrets

Purple Heron

Purple Heron