Day 1: 25th April:
My party and I arrived back on Lesvos after a very smooth journey from Heathrow via Athens overnight. We arrived shortly before dawn and were chased by the sun through Mytilini towards the Gulf and Skala Kalloni with a single Cuckoo and a cloud of Red-rumped Swallows being the highlights.
Breakfast with Thekla at the Pela with our first Bee-eaters overhead and the chittering of the Swallows under the veranda set us up nicely for our first venture out to the fields. The drive through Lotzaria gave us a single Woodchat, 16 Bee-eaters on the wires and a field of Black and Blue-headed Wagtails while 16 Collared Pratincoles circled in the blue with a couple of Black Storks and an imposing Short-toed Eagle. Eighteen Whinchats dotted the Ashpodol stalks like little orange jewels and the regulation Crested Larks and Corn Buntings accompanied us down the track.
|Back home... and Kratos too!|
Two female Marsh Harriers quartered and a dinky pale ringtail gave good enough views to confirm it as a young male Pallid. So good to see one of these special raptors so soon into the trip and continues my run of seeing them every trip.
|Pallid Harrier - pants pic but you get the idea... was quartering like a Sparrowhawk|
|Malva sylvestris - Common Mallow|
|Little Owl giving us the eye|
The Alykes Wetlands were the best I have seen I them in several years and were covered in waders and more importantly the lingering wintering flock of Wigeon. An island tick on day one. There were 26 with 11, mainly male Garganey, dotted amongst them.
|Whoo hooo! Wigeon and friends|
A quick scan revealed a superb Spur Winged Plover high stepping on the back edge – a real first day bonus and like the Pallid continues my every year track record.
|Spur-winged plover - not quite as showy as previous years...|
Over 160 Ruff were feeding avidly with 14 Curlew Sandpipers and at least 80 Little Stints and 13 Ringed Plover and two Dunlin were also picked out. Forty Wood Sandpipers were dotted around and four Marsh Sandpipers added a touch more grace. A single Whiskered Tern dip fed just in front and two Gull Billed Terns and an adult Mediterranean Gull dropped in while a 1st winter Black-headed Gull was another bonus.
One Glossy Ibis and three Squaccos fed around the edges and two Common Snipe lurked in the sedges closest to us.
|All Ruff - I think|
|Wood Sandpiper and Little Stint|
Another ringtail harrier bounced into view from the east – this one was a young male Montys with a hint of grey in the upperwing and bars already on the axilleries. Two male Red-footed Falcons then came in and hawked and a Hobby went through but did not stop. It was all go down at the pool!
|2cy male Montagu's Harrier|
|2cy male Montagu's Harrier|
|A Black Stork drfited over|
A few swifts started to drift in and amongst the Commons we picked out five Alpine and a single striking Pallid. The short cropped area hosted a couple of Red-throated Pipits amongst the Ringed Plovers and a Tawny Pipit chupped behind us but lunch was beckoning so I gathered the troops and made our escape but not before a chunky third ringtail circling up over the saltpan ridge became our fourth Harrier species in an hour as it was an immature female Hen... quite remarkable.
Lunch back at the Pela and then off for round two with Glossy Ibis, Little Bittern and Purple Heron on the Kalloni Pool before seeing four Scops Owls and hearing a fifth at Sourmaria with help from Steve and Gina.
|Sam, Kate and Julie in the Kalloni tower - the pool looked great but grew up very quickly!|
|Stretched Scops in the Oriental Plane|
|Rotund Scops in the Eucalyptus|
The Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint was disappointing with no Buntings and only distant Rock Nuthatches and Subalpine Warblers and the track opposite the Limnos entrance above Dafia was equally quiet although a singing Blue Rock Thrush and a monster female Goshawk rounded up an exhausting but rewarding, sleep deprived 24 hours since leaving home...
|Watchpoint view to the Bay|
|Green Underside Blue - Small Heath, Small Copper and Orbed Underwing Skipper were also seen|
|The stream in the valley bottom was quiet|
|Hypecoum procumbens - it is related to Poppies|
|Asphodelus aestivus - Common Asphodel|
|but this female Goshawk was worth the walk down|