Saturday 27 April 2024

Lesvos - Day 1 - 17th April 2024

A adventure:

Like many others, we all arrived on Lesvos on a very convivial flight from Stansted. I have not seen such a birder filled plane in ten years. There was still plenty of snow in middle-Europe and the views down below was spectacular.

I always imagine what birds I am flying over

The drop down over the Aegean was filled with cloud and we took the direct approach into Mytilene but I doubt we would have seen the island on the usual circuit anyway! Before too long we were on the road and at the Pela and refreshed before our first trundle out. It was to become a very productive two and a half hours.

Two Spur Winged Plovers at the Tsiknias river mouth got things off to a flying start - never a guaranteed bird here before a bump through Loutzaria where Eastern Olivaceous Warblers chattered in their cyclical manner from the Chaste Trees.

Spur Winged Plovers - a quality image to get the ball rolling

Little Ringed Plover - Jim Willett

Down at the Kalloni salt pans (KSP from now on) an initial scan for the Broad-billed Sandpipers drew a blank but the waders were superb with a big flock of 120 Ruff containing 35 Little Stints, four Curlew Sandpipers, seven Marsh Sandpipers, three Greenshanks, 17 fully sooty and patchy Spotted Redshanks, Kentish Plover, Curlew, Stilts, Avocets and two Black-tailed Godwits

Spotted Redshanks, Ruff and Marsh Sandpipers - Jim Willett

Black-winged Stilts - Jim Willett

Zitting Cisticolas did what they do best and our first Short-toed Eagle hovered over the ridge before the lure of Pygmy Cormorants at Kalami drew us down the road where Killian had the immature bird in view for us along with Purple Heron, Little Grebe and two drake Garganey.  Several Wood and a Common Sandpiper fed just under our noses.

Pygmy Cormorant - Antony Wren

Wood Sandpipers - Jim Willett

The light was poor for watching this constantly fishing bird but the full breeding plumaged adult across the road on the marsh was magnificent and sat with its wings out alongside a Coot that was about the same size. A quality bird to see and only my second time on the island.

Pygmy Cormorant - Jim Willett

Pygmy Cormorant with Coot for size comparison - Jim Willett

Pygmy Cormorant - looking very Archaeopteryx-like

Small Bee-fly sp - I have never got any further with the id here - Antony Wren

Red-rumped Swallows

The same Red-rumped Swallows. What a difference the background makes - Jim Willett

Back to the pans and Alykes where White and Black Storks disappeared in the grasses and Glossy Ibises lurked. A large flock of Ruddy Shelduck were mooching around and Red-throated Pipits passed over with Black-headed Wagtails - smiles all round.

Ruddy Shelduck

2nd cy Black Stork

Black Stork

Aestivating Snails - Antony Wren

Small Skipper - Antony Wren

Violet Carpenter Bee - Antony Wren

A final look at the pans and the two stripy Broad-billed Sandpipers were back on show as they fed with super fast probing amongst the spread of other species. 

Broad-billed Sandpipers and Ruff

Marsh Sandpiper and Ruff - Andrew Litchfield

Little Stint, Avocet, Marsh Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Ruff and both Broad-billed Sandpipers - Antony Wren

Broad-billed Sandpipers and Ruff - Antony Wren

Wood Sandpiper - Antony Wren

Broad-billed Sandpiper, Ruff and Stilt - Jim Willett

Greater Flamingo - Jim Willett

Greater Flamingo - Jim Willett

With some of us having been up for 36 hours we called it a day and headed back for our first meal at the Pela with seventy species already under the belt and many new birds for this first time crew.  There was even time to squeeze in a cracking male Collared Flycatcher from the balconies before dinner...

Collared Flycatcher - Antony Wren

Collared Flycatcher

Serenading Nightingales and Scops Owls sent us to our beds.

But not before I had removed this large Green Wolf Spider from my room

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