Tuesday 23 May 2023

Lesvos - Day 1 - 20th April 2023

It felt like a long day to get to Lesvos but after a smooth birder filled flight from Stansted we touched down what now feels like home soil and before too long we were safely at the Pela and briefly relaxing in the sunshine before heading out for our first slow drive down towards the Kalloni Saltpans

Down at the Tsiknias we got our first look at the river mouth that only had a solitary Common Sandpiper but a Black Stork circled overhead and the first Eastern Olivaceous Warblers were cyclically singing from the Tamarisks.  Up river a full adult Great Crested Grebe was fishing in the shallows which is the first I have ever seen away from the Bay itself and Corn Buntings jangled from the margins where Cetti’s Warblers and Nightingales sang.

We crossed the ford and were soon watching four richly vinous Glossy Ibises probing amongst the herbage with several Wood Sandpipers for company.  A female Romanian Blue-headed Wagtail dropped in for a bath and Eastern Olies, Reed and Sedge Warblers were heard while up above flocks of mixed Swallows and Martins circled with a few Common Swift and single Pallid Swift amongst them. A huge female Peregrine cruised over.

Glossy Ibis


We bumped down through Loutzaria with a few trackside Whinchats, Corn Buntings, dapper Spanish Sparrows and a dashing male Red-backed Shrike that unfortunately did not sit up.  Marsh Harriers quartered and 15 Bee-eaters gaudily decorated a budding Mulberry tree.  They may not have been too close but it was magical to see and hear them gliding out after prey and shimmering in the sunshine.

Bee-eaters - always good to get in the scope early - one spring we only saw one bird!

Two Garganey zipped over before we reached the big bend where some Ruddy Shelduck were roosting in the meadows and as we reached the salt pan road we were greeted by the Spur Winged Plover sitting on a small island in the channel with two Wood Sandpipers for company.  It soon stirred and put on a fabulous performance – smiles all round.  A Short-toed Eagle was out hunting slowly over the back of the Alykes fields where six Ruddy Shelduck, three Black Stork, a single White Stork and five more Glossy Ibis were feeding.  

Spur Winged Plover

Spur Winged Plover - Steve Cullum
Spur Winged Plover - ACV

Black & white Storks

Arriving late afternoon meant that there was not as much time as usual for a full foray so we drove along towards the road hearing a single Zitting Cisticola and picking up Ruff, Avocets and Black-winged Stilts amongst the Flamingos on the pans.

Greater Flamingo - Steve Cullum

A quick stop for shopping and then back to the Pela for dinner via the Christou where 23 Little Egrets, a Greenshank and some Little Stints were added and a Common Buzzard confused me by hovering actively in the distance.

Everyone was tired and so we went straight for dinner and the Eastern Tree Frogs were starting up  towards Kallonis Pool and the Scops Owl began ‘pooping’ behind the Kalloni Hotel while back of towards the Christou the Avocets, Stilts and Stone Curlews could all be heard. A young Fox was a new addition to the hotel grounds list as it came looking for the cat food hoppers.

Red Fox

It was good to be back.  

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