Thursday 10 March 2022

Lesvos Day 6 - 3rd March 2022

The morning cat and breakfast routine did not prevent me getting back to Dipi Larisos by just after 8.30 to meet up with Eleni and Stylianos for an impromptu ringing session in the huge reedbed. It was a little bright and gusty and the first two checks of the two nets revealed nothing so we went for a walk down to where I saw the Moustached Warblers yesterday. Two were quietly singing away and at least two more calling. A couple of brief views were had as they skulked through the reeds. Cetti's Warblers were vocal and we could hear Water Rail and Little Grebe. The Water Pipit had a fly round and two Reed Buntings called.

The quiet sub-singing of a Moustached Warbler practicing before heading for home

A final walk to the nets to take them down revealed one bird in the lower pocket... A Moustached Warbler. Eleni professionally removed the bird from the net and it was already sporting a ring. The bird was weighed and fat scored and was first trapped on the 5th December last year. It will soon be back to off to Turkey and perhaps a little further north and west. It was a striking bird in the hand and I was keen to watch it as it flew off afterwards as the short wings, general colouration and whirring flight make it very similar to Cetti's. A few House Martins dropped in and Buzzards and Marsh Harriers were above the reeds.

Moustached Warbler

With time pressing on we followed them down the road and around to Loutra in the hope of seeing one of the Laughing Doves that bred in this quaint hillside village last year. They now have semi celebrity status and one of the local cafe owners told us that there may be more than a family party now. Eleni soon found one sitting on a porch where he preened in the sunshine before posing in an Lemon tree. I had forgotten about these birds before coming out so it was pleasing to add nb #15.

Laughing Dove

Dove watching

We bid our farewells to Eleni and Stylianos after a fine morning of birding and excellent company and continued a little further down the coast of the Gulf of Jera and had lunch with terraced steps of olives and Anemones one side and majestic views down across the Gulf to the other.  Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk soared over head and at least eight Blackcaps were moving through the Olives and making that peculiar squelching call that I associate with continental birds.  Back in the UK I only hear it from wintering ones.

Yellow-legged Gull

Gulf of Jera

A diversion back towards Achlederi to check the woodland just beyond the river bridge was completely birdless but the yellow Gagea penduncularis flowers were attracting Anthophora and Andrena Bees (I think) and the wondrous Eucera longicornis with its outsize antenna as well as a couple of spiky bummed Tachinid flies that do not feel quite right for the usual Tachina fera type and more like a huge Eriothrix.

Eristalis hoverfly - fat femurs suggest E tenax but does not feel right

Eucera longicornis

Gagea penduncularis

Anthophora ?

Andrena ?

A large Tachinid fly

Time for a coffee top up and the back down to the Eastern Salt Pan track once again, passing a male Hen Harrier over Stilt Corner on the way. Cloud was building and this made viewing easier once down the track but it did mean that the temperature dropped quickly as what sun there was disappeared. A superb almost adult male Hen Harrier greeted me at the end as it dipped in and out of the grove edges and a young female was not far away. Such a joy to watch them hunting. Up on the wooded ridge another two males and a female drifted in together from the east before heading back towards Mesa while three female Marsh Harriers were terrorising the ducks and waders.

Hen Harrier

It was my first good look at the ducks since day one and most were about the same in numbers with 150 Wigeon, 60 Shoveler, 42 Teal and 18 Mallard but there were now an impressive 26 Gadwall and two female and male Pintail. 

female Pintail


Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal and three Ruff

Gadwall and two Teal

Gadwall, Curlew and Shelduck

Waders were about the same with at least 12 Grey Plover and 14 Ruff which actually looked smarter than they do in April, two Golden Plover flew around and 45 more were out circling Alykes. Nine Spoonbills were still loafing around and five of them gave me a fine fly past. Starlings were gathering and parties of Larks and Meadow Pipits were milling about as I started to head back. 

Little Egret


Golden Plover


It was cold and an early dinner beckoned before packing commenced but there was still time for a post Dionysis serenade from both the  Long-eared and Scops Owls. 

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