Sunday 14 May 2017

Lesvos: Day 6: 30th April 2017

Day 6: 30th April: 

A day out west-ish that started with the very scenic drive up past Dafia and Agriosikos and then down to the Lardia Gorge where our very first stop produced the goods with Rock Sparrows and Blue Rock Thrush found in a couple of minutes. The sparrows were displaying from the highest pinnacles while the BRT positively glowed cobalt blue. 

Blue Rock Thrush - Lesvos Light wins again - this was miles away!

An Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler chip-trilled in the valley behind us amongst the cacophony of Nightingale, Blackbird and frog song while a high female accipiter heading north was scoped and as hoped showed the tell tale black underwing tips of a Levant Sparrowhawk – a real bonus. A Wood Nuthatch flicked across the road and was my first at the location and Subalpine Warblers and Chaffinches added to the chorus.

On to the Pinnacle lay by where another pair of Rock Sparrows were seen and after a short wait we eventually found a solitary Crag Martin. They seem very thin on the ground this year. 

Our next stop was the beautiful Perivolis Monastery which we first visited in September. The river was unrecognisable with well over 2m of boulder debris after the winter flash floods but they had had a huge digger in to recast the river and push back the banks. It was beautiful and calm but fairly quiet. A Scops Owls called and two male Hoopoes were frantically counter singing and I eventually found one on a bare tree. I have never seen one sing before and it was a novelty to watch him put his bill down on his chest, sway back, puff himself up and poop poop poop... magic...

Cirl Buntings were coming down to drink and an Eastern Bonelli's Warbler sang from a Plane tree.  

So peaceful...
Onwards to the Petrified Forest where amazingly a fine Chukar was found before we even got to the end of the road. It even posed for a few shots before jumping off the wall. All five Buntings were on show at the end along with Woodchat, Little Owl and Rock Nuthatch and with a very friendly old mare who galloped up the road to say hello.


Chukar with appropriate wire

Looking down over the 'forest'
One of two Little Owls seen - ACV

The biggest, fattest and most colourful Starred Agama I have ever seen. Over 2ft long...

Chafer in love with Spanish Broom

Back up the hill to Ipsilou which we covered very thoroughly with little reward other than the expansive views and the first chance we have ever had to go into the Monastery. It was quite special and the views were even bigger. 

Down Meladia to the Fig Grove

To the north of Faneromeni

Swallowtails glided amongst us and the numerous Greek visitors and we were being watched by several large Agamas before we headed back down again. 

Starred Agama

A pair of Ravens cruised by and eyeballed us and Woodlarks, Blue Rock Thrush and Buntings sang and we eventually got a treat for our effort with a Wood Warbler feeding in the Oaks not far from the van.


Female Stonechat

Clary - Salvia sclarea

Tachina fera

Poppy -Roemaria hybrida

Black Harvestman - ACV

After this we headed back down the road to Ordimnos for lunch on the camomile lawn of the tiny Monastery of Kreokopou at the end of the track. We sat in the shade of the huge plane trees and ate lunch at the spring with trilling Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, chittering Crag Martins, the whistles of yet another male Blue Rock Thrush and the crunchy notes of a Woodchat.
North towards Turkey in the haze

The old and the new - and I do not mean Pat
Our post lunch walk along the hillside gave superb views of the Blue Rock Thrush, Cinereous and Cretzschmar’s Buntings and scope views of one of five Bonelli’s. Masked Shrike was also added and Goldfinches and Linnets came down to drink from the stream where some very thirsty mining bees and Merodon avidus aggregate hoverflies were gathering. I did some stone turning and found a little pink blind Worm Snake and a young Slow worm under another. No Scorpions, termites or ferocious centipedes were found!

Aristolochia hirta Birthwort

Blue Water Speedwell - Veronica anagalis-aquaticus growing amongst Mint

Carduus nutans of which there seems to be many forms. This is possibly subsp. macrocephalus
Seems to fit Pale Flax - Linum bienne but petals are pointier

Star of Bethlehem - Ornithogalum nutens

Vicia melanops
Merodon avidus agg. - a Hoverfly

Merodon avidus agg. - a Hoverfly

Probably another Merodon sp. - a Hoverfly

A very sexy Canopid fly

Speckled Bush Cricket or something very similar

Black & Yellow Millipede

Philaeus chrysops - a jumper of chucky proportions

Philaeus chrysops

mmm.... Fritillary sp- feels a bit open for Spotted and we had Aegean here last year

Small Copper

Black-veined White

The immense water damaged Oriental Plane at the top of the stream

Ravens and Buzzards tumbled overhead and a male Kestrel was up over the ridge and our first Short-toed Eagles for three days glided over on tipped up wings. Another motoring falcon proved to be our first pale Eleonora’s of the trip.

Singing Woodchat

Male Masked Shrike

Cretzschmar's Bunting

Cinereous Bunting

Cinereous Bunting
Old Rock Nuthatch nest

 It was now well gone four so we made a move with a short stop near the sheep farm on the way out for more Bunting and superb Isabelline Wheatear action as they performed their manic display flight sounding like a mix of a Star Wars space battle with a bit of R2D2 thrown in. 

Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear
Cretzschmar's Bunting

Two dark Honey Buzzards flopped lazily towards Ipsilou giving great views for a change – they always seem so far away when I see them here and three Hoopoes did likewise in the other direction!

Honey Buzzard

Honey Buzzard

A short look at the Kalloni Salt Pans on the way home added Spoonbill to the tally and Kentish Plovers and Gull-billed Terns showed well but two female Red-footed Falcons did not linger..

male Kentish Plover

male Kentish Plover
Another long day was finished up with superb views of the Lotzaria Long-legged Buzzard perched obligingly on a telegraph pole...

Long-legged Buzzard

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