Thursday 2 May 2024

Lesvos – Day 6 - 22nd April 2024

A adventure:

Our first pre-breakfast excursion took us down to Metochi for just after 6am. It was cool but the horrific overnight wind had abated (just realised what I have written there… no sniggering) about an hour before. Rather bizarrely a Bittern was heard booming as we decamped although it did not sound like it was coming from the lake. The next hour was spent in the company of several species of egg shaped bird with four Little Crakes actively feeding along the reed fringe as well as a very well hidden male Little Bittern, three glowing Squaccos and at least two Night Herons. A pleasing haul of ovoid wonders. 

Little Crake - Jim Willett

Little Crake - Jim Willett

 Squacco - Jim Willett

Squacco - Jim Willett

Squacco - Jim Willett

Squacco - Jim Willett

Little Bittern - Jim Willett

Two Purple Herons and Black Stork were also seen and Great Reed, Sedge and Reed Warblers were in the vegetation. A couple of Tree Pipits called overhead and a Black-headed Bunting was singing out of view.  It was, as usual, very pleasant.

After breakfast we headed over the top following the new road where a hopeful deviation in Vatousa resulted in scope views of a singing Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler as he proclaimed his summer territory. Eastern Subalpines chattered away and two male Wrens were out singing everything.

Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler - Jim Willett

On again and despite the new road layout I managed to park up at the Pinnacle in the Lardia Gorge and within seconds the first chunky Crag Martins appeared with white tail spots flashing. Blue Rock Thrushes put on a show and Cinereous Buntings could be heard singing up slope. A pair of Short-toed Eagles patrolled the crags with a Peregrine and Ravens and a glossy Black Stork came into perch; hopefully a local breeder.

Blue Rock Thrush - Andrew Litchfield

Blue Rock Thrush - Jim Willett

 Crag Martin - Antony Wren

A quick visit to Perivoli Monastery and then up to the top of Ipsilou which at least we could see this time. 

The caretaker with the amazing 'tache and his well behaved sheep

The cats are still there and look to have been snipped and quite well fed

The views were, as ever, spectacular and Swallows, Martins and both Common and Alpine Swifts swirled around us and Peregrine, Buzzards and Short toed Eagles were noted along with a dark phase Booted Eagle that tried to sneak through.

Short-toed Eagle - Jim Willett

The local breeding birds were in fine song and we got good views of Cinereous Buntings and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears and could hear Cretzschmar’s and Cirl Bunting but a couple of Wood Warblers were quite literally the only passage migrants. Sombre Tits and Wood Nuthatch were heard on the down slope and two Rock Sparrows were perched up in an old out building.

Rock Sparrow - Jim Willett

Rock Sparrow

Campanula lyrata

Crepsis rubra

Roman Nettle - Urtica pilulifera

Thistle Broomrape - Orobanche reticulata

Trifolium uniflorum

Rock turning produced a young Scolopendra, the regular black and red Steatoda paykulliana and a fine male Ladybird Spider. Down near the bottom Northern, Isabelline and Black-eared Wheatears were encountered and we found an active Rock Nuthatch nest under a boulder.

Ladybird Spider - Jim Willett

Steatoda paykulliana


Northern Wheatear - ACV

Isabelline Wheatear - ACV

Northern Wheatear - ACV

Northern Wheatear - ACV

Goldfinch and ironmongery... ACV


EBEW - Andrew Litchfield

EBEW - Jim Willett

EBEW - Jim Willett

EBEW - Antony Wren - all males - all different ages and plumages

Big Poo Roller - Jim Willett

There were a few spots in the air and the temperature had dropped so we started our decent to Faneromeni for lunch on the beach. At least we could eat outside this time! A Lesvos Knapweed Fritillary was seen along with Small Skippers and a Long-tailed Blue and out to sea the Yelkouan Shearwaters were now staying low and heading in the other direction to the stormy day.

Lesvos Knapweed Fritillary

Transparent Burnet

Really not sure what these Skippers are with wholly orange antennae - I presume Small but they do not look like others seen

A very large Robber Fly - Hornet RF size

Long-tailed Blue

Eupholidoptera smyrnensis

Holy Orchid

Papaver apulum

Straube's Plump Bush-cricket  - Isophya straubei - Antony Wren

Tassel Hyacinth - Antony Wren

Woolly Thistle - Antony Wren

The sky was full of Swallows and Bee-eaters and there were still many flava Wagtails in the fields. A post lunch walk around the top fields was delightful with many of the birds seen posing nicely on the Giant Fennel stems and amongst the breeding Woodchats,  Olivaceous, Subalps and Orpheans there were both Common and Lesser Whitethroats and several each of Pied and Collared Flycatchers

Woodchat - Jim Willett

Woodchat - Jim Willett


Eastern Subalpine Warbler - we all tried to gets shots of this female

ESA - Andrew Litchfield

ESA - Jim Willett

ESA - Jim Willett

Thomisus onustus - Antony Wren

Philaeus chrysops - Antony Wren

Ladybird Spider - Eresus kollari

Wolf Spider with her live offspring

Labyrinth Spider - Jim Willett

A newly emerged Spotted Fritillary 

Spotted Fritillary - Antony Wren

Eristalis sp - Antony Wren

Graphosoma semipunctatum - Antony Wren

Three male Sardinian Warblers were my first this far west in the spring and perhaps they are extending their breeding range. Golden Oriole exploded from the olive groves and we had 15 in total and Tree Pipits and more flava Wagtails moved overhead. I eventually picked up a dark Eleonora’s Falcon hunting over the ridge line but there were no other passage raptors on view.

Big Poo Roller

Small Poo Rollers  - ACV

More spherical! - ACV

From here we headed down to the upper ford to look for a male Semi-collared Flycatcher which some of the group saw but there were plenty of Collared, Pieds and Spotted to watch and a Nightingale even perched up at last for us. Even now, some of those female types give me a headache. A couple of Great Reed Warblers and chestnut Cetti's zipped across.  You could have spent hours there and still just glimpsed most of the species but it was fantastic.

Glossy Ibis and Little Egrets

Spotted Flycatcher - ACV

So, I was happy that this was a 1s male Collared but that white tail edge goes to the tip and around? - Andrew Litchfield

A Pied Fly with those fat tertial edges and tiny covert mark but interestingly pale upper rump - Andrew Litchfield

mmm - so cold and again the extensive white tail sides - sure Andrew had a round the tip shot of this one too - Always learning

Oriental Marbled Skipper

Oriental Marbled Skipper - Southern Comma was added too

Somehow it was already 4pm so I decided to head back over the top to the KSP in the hope of seeing the Dalmatian Pelican.

After a smooth drive we were at the pans (noting the Cattle Egret as we turned in) and before too long had the iceberg cruising across the pans nearest the salt pile. For a spring bird it was actually showing rather well!  Ten Whiskered Tern powered through but did not stop and we got distracted by the re-emergence of the Pelican and no one saw where they went. A female Montagu’s Harrier headed high and east and we had a Temminck’s Stint fly right past our noses calling and it must have been on the channel below us. 

Greater Flamingo - Jim Willett

Spotted Redshank - Jim Willett

Dalmatian Pelican - Jim Willett

After a quick look at the glowing Ibises and Black Storks, we bumped back through the middle and stopped to look at the Mulberry tree pool and fields for a Lesser Grey Shrike but had no joy but there was so much to see still with Red-throated Pipits, Whinchats  and Wheatears amongst the Wagtails and Crested Larks in the field and on the pool a large flock of Wood Sandpipers dropped in. I counted them when they left en masse and there were 78 – the biggest flock this trip. 

Black Stork - Antony Wren

Crested Lark - Jim Willett

Wood Sandpiper - Jim Willett

Two Marsh Sandpipers were noted and the pair of Spur Winged Plovers were aggressively chasing off the Hooded Crows. A flock of 20 Ferruginous Ducks whizzed low and north along the bay edge flashing white wing bars and I hoped they would be picked up off the Racecourse by someone.  Red-backed Shrike was by the little farmstead.

Red-backed Shrike - Antony Wren

female Romanian Blue-headed Wagtails - ACV

female Romanian Blue-headed Wagtails - ACV

Black-headed Wagtails - Antony Wren

The highlights at this stop was the Montagu’s Harriers with two adult females giving wonderful views as they buoyantly quartered the fields. A fine way to end any day.

Montagu's Harrier - Jim Willett

Turkish Gecko - Antony Wren

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