Saturday 24 September 2022

Lesvos - Day 2: 9th September 2022

A very lazy start meant a slow trundle north west up through Dafia and the construction maze that is the Lardia Gorge to a first stop in the welcome shade of Perivolis Monastery. The new kittens came to say hello before a stroll through the Oriental Planes to the river.


There were small birds everywhere with a good selection of Warblers with both Whitethroats, Eastern Subalpine, Garden and Blackcap along with flicking Spotted Flycatchers, mix and match Eastern Black-eared Wheatears and tail shivering Common Redstarts.

Ephedra fragilis - cascades of little red fruits

No Hawfinches this time but Serins were calling and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers were playing chase noisily through the Olives. There were a few pools left in the river but no birds were coming down although there were a few Dragonflies including Vagrant Emperor and three Darters. Painted Ladies, Great Banded Graylings and Freyer's Graylings whizzed by.

A male Golden Oriole flew across the valley and posed nicely in a Vallonia Oak where is glowed like an illuminated Minion. A young bird followed it across before a convenient looping circuit and up above in the blue three Eleonora's Falcons and a Long-legged Buzzard circled. Both Rock and Wood Nuthatch were seen and the former were particularly vocal but Cirl Buntings were more circumspect with their subtle calls and had to be tracked down.

Golden Oriole - about 500m away!

Vallonia Oak

The river bed had swathes of False Hamp (Datisca cannabina) and American Pokeberry flowering and fruiting in it.  I had not seen the former before.  Two Persian Squirrels chased around the large fruited Cypresses that grow there.

False Hemp (Datisca cannabina)

American Pokeberry - the Sylvias love it

Persian Squirrel

Onwards to the Ancient Antissa coastal circuit which included lunch at the small shaded chapel overlooking the bay to Gavathas with Pied and Spotted Flycatchers for company and some funky Oriental Hornets. A dark-headed Short-toed Eagle circled low over the slope.

Short-toed Eagle

Short-toed Eagle

There were Red-backed Shrikes, Willow Warblers, both Wheatears, Stonechats, Spotted Flys and Whinchats all the way along with our first juvenile Masked Shrike and Sombre Tits at several points and a party of fluting Woodlarks and a calling Ortolan. Three juvenile Marsh Harriers moved south and four Common Buzzards and some Ravens were locals. One Buzzard was watched swallowing a flava Wagtail... mmm tasty.

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear - an Isabellinish one

juvenile Masked Shrike - one of only two seen all trip

Common Buzzard - ACV

Common Buzzard 

Down at the beach the mobile beach home on a lorry chassis had not moved since last season and I found some Blue Winged Grasshoppers on the beach along with Yellow-horned Poppies, Squirting Cucumbers and Sea Lilies with the same plant as 2021 still in flower where all the others were fully seedpodded up!

Blue-winged grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens) 

Blue-winged grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens)

Carlina corymbosa

Squirting Cucumber

Yellow-horned Poppies 

Sea Lilies

Ancient Antissa

A relaxing frappe at Kalo Limani and then back over the top passing roadside Rock Nuthatches and Sombre Tits on the way to the Pela.

Kalo Limani

Rock Nuthatch

Crispy Spiny Burnet countryside looking across to Turkey

A short pop out onto Loutzaria gave us two Hoopoe encounters along with a few Chats. Dinner at the Dionysos and then a 10pm circular night drive of the tracks which may not have produced a Nightjar but we did see and hear Little Owl, a Barn Owl, mournful Stone Curlews and saw loads of Bats and a fat Green Toad but the best beastie was my first live Beech Marten after over ten years of visiting the island as it lolloped away down the track. Magic.

I had been asked by Michael McDevitt to take pics of Lesvos shacks for an Architectural Uni course. This is still a favourite.


Hoopoe - in the only shaded field! It posed with the crest up when we first found it

Hummingbird Hawk-moth

Atmospheric Willow Warbler

Red-backed Shrike despatching a large ground beetle

juvenile Little Ringed Plover - ACV

Green Toad 

The Blues band playing at the Pela could be clearly heard two miles away out at the pumping station and were going strong when we got back and finally called it a night at midnight but they are actually rather good if you liked a bit of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Cream and Gary Moore...

There were also some very classy Vespas parked up - after an Island wide event

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