Wednesday 9 May 2018

Lesvos Day 1: 21st April 2018

Day 1:

After the red-eye out of Heathrow to Athens and then the early-bird to Mytilini there was nothing to do at dawn but head to the Pela to be greeted by Thekla, her Dad and a much needed breakfast and caffeine intake before venturing out onto the road through Lotzaria to the saltpans beyond.

Good morning sunshine arriving over Turkey

It was a rewarding morning with my first time guests, Dave and Margaret, having a plethora of new birds. The Tsiknias track was alive with the sound of Nightingales and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers and the ubiquitous Corn Buntings and Crested Larks liberally obstructed the road in front. It was so good to be back amongst so many birds. 

The mouth of the river held a small party of terns; two Little, two Common, two Whiskered and a solitary Sandwich. The Alykes wetlands and sheepfields delivered with 137 Glossy Ibis, seven squat Squacco, 31 Red- throated Pipits with rosy gorgets, various headed flava Wagtails including a yellow supercilliumed Black-head and a smoky Grey-head, a brief female Citrine on the sheepfield channel, two Northern Wheatears and a couple of mobile Short-toed Larks.   

Glossy Ibis
Sheepfields - which only have Donkeys and Horses


Looking back at the salt pile

xanthophrys - Black-headed Wagtail
Yellow Horned Poppy -  Glaucium flavum
A Great Crested Grebe bobbed around offshore in the stiff breeze and Red-rumped Swallows prospected under the bridge.

Two young male Pallid Harriers were picked up quartering the fields with their elastic wing beats and almost accipter like zippyness. One was a little browner than the other but both sported the tell tale collar, three primaries and ultra light outline.  

2cy male Pallid Harrier #1

2cy male Pallid Harrier #2

Marsh Harriers were also seen and the first views of Short-toed Eagle (two pairs) and a very distant Long-legged Buzzard hunted somewhere over the upper Tsiknias.

Short-toed Eagle

A good selection of waders were present along the saltpan channel with 13 spangled Marsh Sandpipiers amongst the Wood Sands and Ruff along with a brick red Curlew Sandpiper.  Three Common Snipe – not always an easy species erupted from the fields after the harrier went through and a Stone Curlew followed suit and dapper Whinchats dotted the stouter stems and fences with a couple of sentinel Little Owls looking on. 

Marsh Sandpipers and two Ruff

Marsh Sandpipers and Ruff

Spotted Redshank in front of Wood Sandpiper and a Black-winged Stilt

Two Collared Pratincoles hawked the pool and a Gull-billed Tern flew powerfully through while both Storks cruised across the view with three Black and two White. By this stage I am not sure where M&D knew quite where to look. 

Ruddy Shelduck and Greater Flamingos were also new to them while I was actually distracted by the four Mallard and 17 Pintail – all dabbling duck out here are noteworthy. A solitary Great White Egret would prove to be one of only two sightings all week – every year is different.

Great White Egret

More sustenance was required so a fairly relaxed lunch was taken back at the Pela with more Stork flyovers to keep our eyes up before heading out once more with a well hidden Scops Owl at Papiana giving itself up along with a smart Black-capped Jay.

Pair of White Stork

Black Stork

Scops Owl

On to the Metochi Lake circuit. Chattering Masked and Woodchat Shrikes were encountered along with three diminutive Little Crakes and a calling but invisible Penduline Tit at the southern end of the lake but it was actually fairly quiet with just one Little Bittern, barely a croak from a Great Reed Warbler and just singles of Black-eared Wheatear and Rock Nuthatch up on the crag.   

Metochi Lake


Iris orientalis

Lysimachia atropurpurea

Giant Wasp - Megascolia maculata flavifrons on Lysimachia atropurpurea

Balkan Green Frog

Masked Shrike

Stripe-necked Terrapin
A Green Sandpiper exploded from the terrapin filled channel and Vagrant and Common Emperors cruised around. Eight Coot and numerous Moorhen and Little Grebes were on the lake with plenty of fighting as was to be expected! Two Squaccos headed out and a dagger-billed Purple Heron lumbered off towards the Christou.

Black Capped Jay
 We finished up with a drive down the Tsiknias River from the Kalloni end with Little Ringed Plovers, Wood and Green Sandpipers, a severely crested Hoopoe probing on a sandy bank, 13 communally feeding Little Egrets but the highlight was six determined Red-footed Falcons (4m2f) heading up river on silvery wings. 

Little Egrets

Green Sandpiper

The seriously horny Billy Goat thethered on the river bank

By the time it came to write my daily report I was dog tired having been up for nearly forty hours so I gave in after my first G'n'T and headed for my bed with the sound of Scops Owl and Tree Frogs in my head...


  1. Nice read Howard and good to see more of your pictures of the trip. Lawrence