Wednesday 1 May 2024

Lesvos – Day 5 – 21st April 2024

A adventure:

At breakfast we were joined by a host of hirundines with over 40 Red-rumps around the hotel and Sand and House Martins lining the wires.  The Spanish Sparrows even came down from the palms to forage alongside the road.

Spanish Sparrow - Antony Wren

Spanish Sparrow - Antony Wren

Spanish Sparrow - Antony Wren - quality wire moment although lacking the rusty overtones

Sand Martins - Antony Wren

Greater Flamingo at Mesa - Antony Wren

Greater Flamingos at Mesa - Jim Willett

After our bakery visit we headed east around the bay to Achladeri where we had the place to ourselves for an hour. It was calm but still unseasonably cool and the woods were quiet to start with but will some effort I managed to find Kruper’s Nuthatch twice and get everyone onto Short-toed Treecreepers, Cuckoo, Medium-tailed Tits (sorry) and Cirl Buntings. Chaffinches and Blackbirds were common and a single Serin was seen but the pair of Masked Shrikes in the bramble by the old Nuthatch nest were unobliging and followed each other into the pines where his scratchy song was heard.

We turned a few rocks but the recent deluge was visible in flood lines of debris throughout the woods and most were devoid of life. A large Roman Snail was found though and the Violet Limodores were in fine flower along with a couple of Wild Gladioli.

Roman Snail 

Violet Limodore

Cistus creticus

Wild Gladioli

After a brief Poppy field stop we pulled off at Mikri Limni where Kruper’s Nuthatches we heard and not seen and Coal Tit was added to the list before we moved on towards the other side of the Gulf of Jera. Crag Martins were the only species of note on the way along with a few Alpine Swifts.

We wiggled through the Olive groves and the outskirts of Loutra before parking up at Charmida to search the marquis for Sylvias. It was a very successful visit and with some patience we found at least three singing male Ruppell's and watched one pulling silk from the nest web of Processionary Moth caterpillars. These were some of the best views I have had in years. Sardinian, Subalpine and Orphean were also to be found along with Cretzschmar’s Buntings.

Cretzschmar’s Bunting

Ruppell's Warbler

Ruppell's Warbler

Andrew Litchfield

Jim Willett

Ruppell's Warblers - different shots from the crew - Jim Willett

Down below us two male Chukar were trying to out sing each other and actually showed very well with one being visible against the blue see beyond. Short-toed Eagle and Common Buzzard spiralled above and to my surprise a female Honey Buzzard came in low over our heads which was both marvellous and unexpected on this early date.

Short-toed Eagle - Antony Wren


Probelpsis ocellata


Dorycnium hirsutum

Helichrysum stoechas

Sage Leaved Cistus - Cistus salvifolius

Anthyllis hermanniae

Cistus creticus

Sticky-Bartsia - Parentucellia viscosa

With such quick success we came back into Loutra where the Laughing Doves were quickly found with a bubbling male and a female tucked on a nest above a shop sign. I do hope that they get a proper toe hold here.

Laughing Doves

Cozmopteryx pulchrimella  - an old favourite from back home on Pellitory-on-the-Wall


Lunch was taken at the Evertagulous river bridge were a pair of hoped for Grey Wagtails were noted and Odalisques danced between sunny perches. I had not seen this species for some years and it was good to be reacquainted. 

Grey Wagtail - Antony Wren




Blue Featherleg

Blue Featherleg - Antony Wren

Beautiful Demoiselle - Antony Wren

Beautiful Demoiselle

Small Skimmer - Antony Wren

Neoscona adianta

Menemerus semilimbatus - Antony Wren

Menemerus semilimbatus 

A large Wolf

Green Hairstreak

Lysimachia atropurpurea

Megascolia maculata

Branched Broomrape - Orobanche ramosa 

The wind had increased as we reached the Kalloni Saltpans and we did not linger long but retreated to the hotel for some creature comforts before heading out again at 4.30. The sand bar at the end of the Tsiknias was under water along with any LRP or Kentish Plover nests and an adult Purple Heron was loitering up river where we crossed and bumped around the Triangle with only Whinchats and a female Red-backed Shrike to show for it.  Bee-eaters were starting to gather in usual spots.

 Bee-eaters - ACV

 Bee-eater - Jim Willett

 Pink Poppy - I often see these but not sure of species - Antony Wren

Black-headed Wagtail - Jim Willett

The wind was getting steadily stronger and after watching the 29 Ibis and Black Storks on Alykes Wetlands we had a quick look from the Racecourse end where we could barely stand up and decided to call it a day. We passed both the immature male Hen Harrier and a female Montagu’s Harrier hunting on the way out but there was still no sign of the Dalmatian Pelican seen earlier.

Black-winged Stilts

Glossy Ibises

A last look at the messages told us that a Roller had been alongside the Tsiknias an hour before and so I swung back down that way on the slim chance of connecting. After Bee-eater, Bee-eater, Blackbird, Collared Dove I picked the Roller up on the wires and we watched it for about 20 minutes glowing in the golden hour sunshine. There was smiles all round and we still got back and then out in time for dinner at The Balcony in town.

Roller - Jim Willett

Happy Roller Wren

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