Thursday 1 October 2020

Lesvos Day 5 - 14th September 2020

The 5.30 alarm went off but I almost failed to escape the pit but by about 6.45 I was trundling down the eastern salt pan track to give me a little more time and to avoid the Deer Flies. Flocks of Crested Larks and Corn Buntings come up in front of me in the gloom and Great Whites and Grey Herons were in the channel. I chose my spot opposite the Pelican flock and beyond where I thought the inevitable shepherd and his flock would go and enjoyed some quality time with these huge birds as they went about their morning breakfast circuit. All 31 were still present of various ages but with just a couple of adults. I hoped for a White but all were Dalmatian

Dalmatian Pelicans


They were followed but a feeding frenzy of Cormorants, Black Storks, Great White Egrets and Grey Herons and even the Spoonbills were moving with them. It was a great experience and all that surging round the lagoon pushed out some unexpected bonuses from the edges with three mournful Grey Plovers, a dusky Black-necked Grebe, immature male Shoveler and Garganey. Three Shelduck flew around and a very dark young male Peregrine spooked the Black-headed and Slender-billed Gulls. 

It may be a blurry Pelican shot but it does have a Shoveler top right!

Great White Egrets


And bang on time, along came the shepherd

Breakfast beckoned and I was in time for Koulouri hot from the oven for breakfast and lunch.
I headed north following the salt lorries up over the pass towards Petra although I do not know where the white gold is going and briefly stopped at the Raptor Watchpoint where three Alpine Swift were added to the growing list before I veered off towards Stypsi. 

Hot Koulouri and home made Quince (Kydoni in Greek) preserve from Nancy's mum


Olive-leaved Pear -Pyrus Salicifolia - they are as hard as bullets!

Raptor Watchpoint

This was a new route for me and the views alone make it worthwhile along with the amazing stack of lava columns alongside the road which in itself required a stop. Ravens tumbled and Crag Martins, Short-toed Eagles and plenty of calling Rock Nuthatches and Cirl Buntings were encountered along with roadside Willow Warblers, Spot Flys and Red-backed Shrikes before emerging in Kapi not far from the roadside pool and then cutting down through the cobbled streets of Kilo on road down to the quaint little village and bay of Tsonia. 

A momentary halt for sheep crossing episode

The view north-west towards Petra with Glaronisi offshore

And south where there is ia hidden reservoir!

The Pelopi lava intrusion with Columnar Jointing - a bit of geological knee rubbing

And all the way down to the Kalloni Salt Pans

Short-toed Eagle

Crag Martin

Ant-Lion pit

This was all new territory and the beach taverna made a fine frappe before a relaxing bob in the crystal clear sea for an hour. Time for lunch and then on a track road back out of the village through the steep olive groves towards Mandamados. They were quiet as you would expect but the views were magnificent but I am not sure it saved me any time or distance!


I liked both the colour and mono so you can have both...

Looking south -east

It was now very hot again and the north wind was getting up so it was time for a balcony chill before hitting Lotzaria and the Saltpans before dinner. Bee-eaters were swirling though in great flocks on there were literally hundreds of flava Wagtails including odd fine males of Black-headed, Grey-headed and Romanian Blue-headed. Common Buzzards and Marsh Harriers drifted around the cut meadows and two Kestrels were also trying their luck while an adult male Red-footed Falcon almost snuck through without us seeing it. 


Shrikes, Chats and Cuckoo were all where we had left them yesterday and a ploughed field on the outer triangle held the best birds of the day with a 1st winter Black-headed Bunting consorting closely with a similar aged Ortolan. I did not think that I had a chance of a BHB so this was a real treat and to see it with an equally smart bunting buddy just a few yards from the car was great. 

Black-headed Bunting and Ortolan

Black-headed Bunting


Well, there had to be a Red-backed Shrike pic at some stage

Three Tree Pipits and a few Whinchats were also in the field and three White Storks were standing amidst the active sprinklers and seemed to be just enjoying the experience.  



White Stork

Thorn Apple - Datura stramonium. The flowers open of an evening. An interesting plant!

I had seen a very large insect on several occasions this trip as it flew around with it legs dangling. I was not sure at all what it was until one landed on the track in front of the car. It was a wasp but much bigger than the Oriental Hornets and at least as big as the Mammoth Wasps (Megascolia maculate) that I see in the spring. This however did not look passive and it was patrolling the sandy ground with the first third of its front legs curiously bent in as if it was using them like an underground food detector. It was wholly black but with vibrant black tipped copper wings and as for the jaws! I can only imagine that it is a parasite of large caterpillars to require such powerful mandibles. 

Any help much appreciated!

Not much had changed down at the Salt Pans and even the adult Lesser Grey Shrike was still on the wires by the tower hide so I drove down to the Sheepfields again to scan the bay in the lovely low evening light. Egrets, Herons and Flamingos paddled in the shallows and there were now six Curlew and a single Grey Plover along the shoreline. I assumed three duck were going to be the Mallard again but they were in fact a male and two female Wigeon to add to my surprisingly good duck haul for the day. Wagtails streamed over to roost somewhere to the east and a single Dalmatian Pelican left the bay to join his pals on the saltpans in a fitting fly past to end the day.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the lava columns, much appreciated, a bit like the giants organ at the Causeway (birds weren't bad either!!)