Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Lesvos: Day 7: 1st May 2017

Day 7: 1st May: 

An earlyish start saw us in at the start of the Eresos -Sigri track by 0900. It was actually quite cool and a little breezy and the first part of the journey was quieter than the other day although Somber Tits did show well and scaly Turtle Doves played chase through the olives around the first chapel.

'Who farted?'
  The usual Buntings showed wonderfully and the sky was unusually full of Ravens with kronking and tumbling all around us and large numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls were also playing over the ridge. A Common Buzzard tussled with the pale Long-legged Buzzard that we saw on our previous visit who then in turn took on one of the pair of Short-toed Eagles that cruised over.

Common & Long-legged Buzzard

Common & Long-legged Buzzard


Short-toed Eagle

Rubbish Somber Tit!

Cretzschmar's Bunting

Meladia appeared quiet but a good scrummage around produced a few goodies over the next few hours with the first (and as it turned out, only) Lesser Grey Shrike of the trip munching beetles and four highly mobile male Red-backed Shrikes but none lingered. Pied and Spotted Flycatchers were in a garden with a male Redstart and a Cuckoo flew up the valley.

A Chukar exploded from the verge as we walked down towards the sea and a ringtail Harrier gave the most exceptional views as she hunted the whole area and where as I was sure she was a Pallid while watching her, one or two of my images suggest otherwise and after some consultation my hunch that it was in fact a 2cy female Hen Harrier has proved correct. Always something to learn.

Hen Harrier

Pallid Harrier mmm??... too many fingers now... ahhh it's a Hen Harrier!
Holy Orchid

Senecio sp - does not seem to match the leaf of any I can find

Trifolium angustifolium - a beautiful Clover

A female Marsh Harrier hunted further down the valley. Ten Little Egrets headed inland and included one with distinctly grey caste to the plumage before circling back to a couple of the ephemeral  pools left from the winter floods.

Nine Egrets - grey one on the left

Ipsilou in the distance

Fritillary sp - probably a worn Spotted
Some rock turning produced several nice Chequered Scorpions and a monster Centipede (Scolopendra cingulata). On finding the latter and colling the others over I discovered that my hand had been resting over the top of another Scorpion which thankfully had not taken exception to me! 

Chequered Scorpion

Centipede (Scolopendra cingulata)

Centipede (Scolopendra cingulata)

There were some very large Robber flies lurking around ready to pounce on other flies and bees but again very few butterflies.  Snake-eyed Lizards scurried across the path and large Whip Snake reversed back into the rocks in which it was hiding.

Robber Fly

Philaeus chrysops

Labyrinth Spider and cricket

Clouded Yellow - Sam Shippey

We had lunch at the Meladia chapel and watched hundreds of Yelkouan Shearwaters pass off shore while six towering Scopoli’s moved in the opposite direction. Several Shags and three Sandwich Terns moved north and amazingly we encountered presumably the same three terns heading determinedly past Sigri harbour about 40 minutes later.

Lunch-time Spanish Sparrows

There was little else on the track but one particular Cretzschmar's showed exceptionally well...

Cretzschmar's Bunting - ACV

A very smart male Stonechat - just what race these birds are I am unsure but wrap around white collar, jet black uppers and no white scaps, white rump and all black tail... Underwings coverts looked black
And a similarly interesting black-throated Black-eared Wheatear which was particularly pied and appeared differently proportioned due to the lack of a tail!

Down at the beach at Faneromani the Yelkouan Shearwaters were frenzy feeding just offshore allowing our best views ever and both Cormorant and Shag were seen too. The beach pool was dry so we walked to the river mouth where a single buzzy Wagtail revealed itself as a fine female Citrine. We watched her for some time as she tottered along the sandy bar picking up flies. A party of smart Blue-headed joined her and a male Black-headed dropped in too. Two Little Ringed Plovers preened nearby and the expected Ruddy Shelduck flew in honking circles.

Euphorbia acanthothamnos

Egyptian Grasshopper

Citrine Wagtail

Citrine Wagtail

Blue-headed Wagtail

Pat climbing
A full adult male Red-footed Falcon perched on some telegraph wires for long enough for a few shots while a female Little Bittern remained motionless for an age at the Lower Ford and Great Reed Warblers clambered along the edges with dinky sleek Olivaceous Warblers also seen. Amazingly a gleaming male Citrine Wagtail flew past us and disappeared up stream and eight Bee-eaters followed behind.

Red-footed Falcon

Red-footed Falcon

Little Bittern

Pied and Spotted Flycatchers flicked through the figs and although it was generally quiet an Orphean Warbler showed very well from the van. 

Eastern Orphean Warbler

The Upper Ford was similarly subdued but an adult Night Heron stared at us from the shadows and Turtle Doves came down to drink.  We ventured a little up beyond the ford and found a pair of Woodchats collecting nest material and three more Turtle Doves fed under a solitary olive. A Southern Comma was the only butterfly seen.

Night Heron

Balkan Green Frog



Southern Comma
The journey home was broken by a short stop in the wooded Lagada valley with the concrete bridge to the west of Mesotopos where a Middle-spotted Woodpecker was watched feeding young at its nest while two Persian Squirrels quarrelled over the old hole just 18 inches below the active nest!  A third, tailless, Squirrel was seen behind us and we went from none at all on this trip to five in a day!

Middle-spotted Woodpecker

Persian Squirrel

Persian Squirrel
A comfort stop at the hotel that (included an ice cream) and we were off down the saltpans again. Whiskered and Little Terns were on the Alykes Wetlands with three Spotted Redshank amongst the other usual waders and a Grey Plover called overhead but we could not find it. The water is going really fast and all the dabbling duck had gone but three Squacco fed close to the road. News of three White-winged Black Terns saw us nipping back up towards the main road where they played in the golden sunlight over a hayfield with both species of Stork for company. 

White-winged Black Terns

White-winged Black Tern & Olympus

Black Stork

Double Stork Action

Black-winged Stilt

Black-winged Stilt

A G’n’T was beckoning and so we called it a day...

Hard to beat - a male Spanish Sparrow

1 comment:

  1. Nice review Howard. Saw the Philaeus Chrysops in Italy recently, a striking Jumping Spider. Also, like you, I noticed that the Butterflies were not as numerous as usual.