Wednesday 9 March 2022

Lesvos Day 5 - 2nd March 2022

An early rise, cats fed and out for breakfast of Koulouri from my regular baker in the village whilst watching the Tsiknias lower ford. There were fewer Chiffchaffs and just two Reed Buntings in the cold, gusty conditions and a Sparrowhawk dashed through after a meal, spooking the two Ruff in the process. The Swallow was still around but now with 24 House Martins for company.

On round the Bay with a stop at Mesa where a raft of Great-crested Grebes were feeding just offshore. My casual scan became a full on counting session and there were a minimum of 1196 strung out. I could not find one Black-necked Grebe but was pleased with two Mergansers and six Yelkouan Shearwaters. A flock of 45 Sandwich Terns were on the beach.

Achladeri was my main morning stop but my walk around the bitterly cold pine woods was frustrating with just a couple of calls from Kruper's Nuthatches and one brief view and even the numerous Chaffinches were difficult to find. I only heard one Short-toed Treecreeper but did see three pairs of the curious local Long-tailed Tits which I reckon should be renamed Medium-tailed Tits. They look and sound very different to western birds. I found the remains of a Freshwater Crab and a bonus singing Coal Tit greeted me back at the car and showed nicely – never an easy island bird.


Freshwater Crab

Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed Tit

Chysotoxum festivum type Hoverfly

Eristalis sp Hoverfly

Eristalis sp Hoverfly

Euphorbia rigida - by the late spring these top as pinky red

On again and around the coast road where a single Golden Plover was the scant reward before counting 21 Flamingos on the Alikoudi Pool. Great White Egrets stalked through the olive groves and this was actually a feature of the whole trip. Small Lizards seemed to be the main quarry. 

Great White Egret - down the hatch!

Alikoudi Pool with water and 'mingos

The Polichnitos salt pans were wind blown and quiet with just another 32 Flamingos and a small patch of waders with 11 Dunlin, a Little Stint, six Redshank and three Kentish Plovers including a dapper male. There were very few small birds round this side but I did find two more Reed Buntings.

Back inland and a stop at the crossroads back to Achladeri for another chance of the Nuthatch but although none tooted at me I was very pleased to see Short-toed Treecreeper, more Long-tailed Tits, Siberian Chiffchaff and a party of three Goldcrest and two Firecrests! No pictures but great views as they fed in the mid canopy. Although the song of the Firecrest was similar to but weaker than those back home, the call was far less strident and I actually found it almost inseparable from the Goldcrests. I was just glad that I could actually see them. I thought I had seen Goldcrest previously but now home I find I was mistaken so nb #12.  the marsh area was very wet but I only heard a Moorhen.

A smart Cladonia Lichen

From here Megali Limni (I call it the Hidden Valley) was wondrously flooded but held just one Great White Egret, and lunch by the old Blue Rock Thrush chapel at Agios Dimitris did not add anything before dropping back down through Anemone lined verges past Agiasos and then finally to Dipi Larisos where I thought I would have a go for Moustached Warblers despite the breeze.

Megali Limni

Agios Dimitris with the new road just behind

I took my usual route down through the Tamarisks towards the sea with a large flock of House Martins out over the marsh. Cetti's Warblers called and sang and a couple of Coots dashed across the water. I tracked along the beach for a way and found several excellent spots to look for secretive warblers but to no avail. However I did put up a smart Water Pipit that was just coming into breeding plumage that circled and called before dropping into a hidden pool – nb #13.

Dipi Larisos

An adult female Hen Harrier drifted through and two female Marsh Harriers were making regular passes before I turned back. A couple of Chiffchaffs and Robins flicked ahead of me as I re-joined the Tamarisk path and it was at this point that I heard the soft sub-singing of an Acro Warbler. Amazingly it climbed halfway up a reed and basically said ‘look at me!’, so I did. Behold one striking dark mahogany and chestnut warbler with a huge almost white supercilium. Another Moustached Warbler shimmied up alongside it and tails were cocked and they dropped from view. Another called about 10m away and then a fourth did likewise right beside me and with patience it crept through just a few inches above the water. I was elated and nb #14.

If you listen carefully you wil hear the soft 'chick' calls of the Moustached Warbler

Feeling quite smug, we drove to the bridge at the Evergetoulas which was flowing nicely and had a pair of my favourite Grey Wagtails singing on the boulders. It felt odd down there with no leaves on the Planes and no Dragonflies flicking around.

River Evergetoulas 

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

Giant Celandines again

The route back to Skala Kallonis took in some obliging Serins and a Cirl Buntings at the Mesa Sanctuary before a last look at the Alykes Sheepfields where the Skylarks showed well and allowed me to check for non-existent waifs and the Serin flock was now up to 30. A couple of Starlings probed the racetrack and about 500 were on wires off back towards the Tsiknias. The cold was just too much and was cutting through my many layers so I called it a day and headed back to base.

Cirl Bunting




Corn Bunting


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