Sunday 26 June 2016

Lesvos : Day Six : 28th April 2016

Day 6: 28th April : 
It was a beautiful still calm morning and so we headed down to the northeast Kalloni Saltpan hide for a little after 0630. The mirror reflections from the hills behind were simply stunning and created some odd illusions with the flying Stilts. Ten Curlew Sandpipers were with 38 Ruff but there was no sign of the four Caspian Terns seen yesterday evening. Breakfast was taken with singing Hoopoe and Fan-tailed Warbler in the background before we packed up and headed west once more, this time on the coast road.  

Perfect reflextions

Mirror Stilts

Two male Red-footed Falcons snoozing in the early sun
We did not linger about and we were soon in Eresos and on the start of the dirt track through to Sigri. The track was lined with so many butterflies with clouds of them coming up from the abundant Black Mustard flowering alongside the path. I had ever seen anything like it. Mostly one of the Meadows Browns along with skippers, Marbled Whites, Small Coppers and fritillaries. There were plenty of Cretzschmar’s and Crested Larks singing and Rock Nuthatches, Stonechats, Whinchats and Red-backed Shrikes started to appear. 

The view back towards Eresos

Male Red-backed Shrike

A cracking singing male Rock Sparrow with his yellow spot on show

Balkan Marbled White

Balkan Marbled White

Mostly Persian Meadow Brown Maniola telmessia

Down in Meladia we spent some time checking the Fig Grove and Chapel area and took the Red-backed Shrike tally to 22 along with three smart pink flushed Lesser Grey Shrikes all together on one fence, both Pied and cracking Collared Flycatchers, lime green, white and lemon Wood Warblers, four luminous Orioles, acrobatic Spot Flys and even a Little Bittern and two Squaccos. 

The Fig Grove

Looking towards Ipsilou

The Ford

Wood Warbler

Wood Warbler

Best I could get of the male Collared Flycatcher!

1st summer male Pied Flycatcher

1st summer male Pied Flycatcher

Golden Oriole

A mixed hirundine flock shared the Chapel pines with us at lunchtime and dreaded when three Short-toed Eagles drifted over. Lesser kestrels and two Eleonora’s Falcons were seen before the Sanatorium and the views along the coast with green rolling fields and cobalt seas was simply stunning. 

Chapel Hirundines

Woodchat Shrike

Short-tailed Eagle

Lesser Grey Shrike

Starred Agama

Happy Chafer

Tachinid fly....

Great Banded Grayling - Brintesia circe at the Sanitorium

Great Banded Grayling - Brintesia circe at the Sanitorium

Common Blue

The view back toward Meladia

...and the blue seas of the Aegeon
The approach to Sigri

Ice-cream in Sigri and then and hot walk in the late afternoon down through Faneromeni down to the Upper Ford where the Purple Heron was still in residence. We notched up another 12 Red-backed Shrikes, four more Orioles and our first Willow Warbler and Blackcap of the week before spending some quality time with over 120 Bee-eaters. White watching these beauties I turned round to see a wader coming over the hedge... 'Great Snipe!!!' I shouted as it whizzed into the olive groves... not sure the Steve will get much of description out of me on this one but still a wow moment... 

Male Red-backed Shrike

Male Red-backed Shrike



Black-headed Bunting in Fig

We soon headed off and made a brief stop at Ipsilou where Cinereous Buntings and Isabelline Wheatear obliged and a tiny Ottoman viper that was sunning on the path almost ended up in my sandal causing me to perform the first comical snake dance of the holiday.

Reverse shot looking down to Meladia from Ipsilou

Cinereous Bunting

Cinereous Bunting
Another 11 Red-backed Shrikes enlivened the smooth journey home taking us to at least 51 for the day... I wonder how many are on the island today?

Monday 20 June 2016

Lesvos : Day Five : 27th April 2016

Day 5: 27th April... 

We went west this morning and slowly wended our way through the bird song filled countryside towards Sigri via Limonos, Skalachlori and Andissa pausing to listen to Nightingales, purring Turtle Doves, trilling Eastern Bonelli's Warblers and buntings and wheatears galore on the way. Cobalt Blue Rock Thrushes and stripy triangular Rock Sparrows were seen at the pinnacle layby in Lardia and Black-eared wheatears chased off the Stonechats. 
The way out of Lardia

A roadside Spotted Flycatcher

A dapper male Stonechat

It was cold at the Isabelline Wheatear layby and most birds were silent although a pair of Masked Shrikes moved through, a Woodchat sang and down below us in the valley several Golden Orioles were putting in some effort and were responsive to my whistling but did not show. A Fox moved through the meadows and one Issy was eventually found. 

Ipsilou had found some sun...

Some helpful advice sent us back up the road and most of the day was then spent exploring the tracks around Mount Ordimnos. It was magical with three Wheatear and four Bunting species putting on a fine show with the Isabelline Wheatears being especially entertaining in full Star Wars effects mode. 

Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear

Cirl Bunting
male Ladybird Spider

male Philaeus chrysops - jumping spider

Black-eared Wheatear

Hundreds of Black-veined Whites danced low to the ground when the sun broke through while Festoon and Fritillaries were on the camomile lawn around the tiny newly rebuilt monastery at the end of the track where more Bonelli's Warblers sang and Sombre Tits and red bra wearing Linnets came down to bathe. Woodlarks circled above and Crag Martins cruised around the buildings and one almost became Peregrine food after an epic wind splitting dive that made so much noise that we all jumped. 

The Camomile Lawn
Anchusa undulata ssp. hybrida

Henbit Hemp-nettle or thereabouts (cheers paul Manning)

Oriental Plane

Ornitholgalum umbellatum - Star of Bethlehem
This male Whinchat was in fine song

Cinereous Bunting

All the black dots are hirundines!

Red Admiral

Inky Skipper Erynnis marloyi - a new one for the list

Interesting Fritillaries but seems to match Aegean Fritallary Melitaea telona

Eastern Festoon Allancastria cerisy

Eastern Festoon Allancastria cerisy

A clear pool near the hidden incinerator plant held lots of Red-veined Darters, Broad-bodies Chasers and the cleanest looking Stripe-necked Terrapins and Balkan Green Frogs I have ever seen!

Balkan Green Frog

Stripe-necked Terrapin

There was more bunting action to be had at the Petrified Forest along with a surprise male Ruppell’s Warbler on territory and carrying food, a showy Orphean and a male Red Backed Shrike before we headed at long last down into Sigri and Faneromeni for the evening.

Cretzschmar's Bunting

Cretzschmar's Bunting

Cinereous Bunting

Ruppell's Warbler

Spotted Flycatchers and Turtle Doves were the dominant species along with two female Collared Flycatcher and a Wood Warbler. Golden Orioles and Bee-eaters added colour. 

The Oak grove

Turtle Dove

Spotted Flycatcher

Female Golden Oriole on Giant Fennel
A magic ten minutes at the upper ford added Purple Heron, two Little bitterns and a cracking female Citrine Wagtail to the list while Cirl Buntings bathed and the Cattle Egret found earlier decided to fly over. 

Purple Heron

Cirl Bunting

Cattle Egret
Some more wondrous Golden Orioles and thousands of offshore Yelkouan Shearwaters rounded up another memorable day.

Crested Larks are cool...

Faneromeni Beach - there was no pool