Thursday 20 June 2019

Lesvos Day 12: 28th April 2019

Kavaki was the first stop on a breezy but sunny morning and we were in the layby by 8.30 but the Ruppell's Warbler was not playing ball in its favourite dead tree so we walked away and birded up the road, catching up with Eastern Subalpine and Sardinian Warblers before Julie found him singing back on his tree. We approached carefully and Mike was over the moon at his first views of this enigmatic species. 

Ruppell's Warbler

Peregrine and Raven passed underneath us and rather bizarrely a flock of 23 Flamingos headed into the bay although we were not paying attention and did not see where they ended up. An adult Audouin's Gull followed in a similar direction and Cirl Bunting trilled from the wires.

Greate Flamingos

A glance out to sea and a splash drew our attention. I assumed Dolphin but I could not have been more wrong as two monstrous Mobula Rays flew from the water and crashed back down in a wall of spray. We were gobsmacked. I remembered seeing a Cyprus Facebook post about them being seen this spring in the eastern Med but I never expected to be so lucky. 

If you have a moment watch the magic of this freedive video from 28th March... there are giants out there! The Yellow-legged Gulls looked so tiny in comparison. There were three breaches in total and I believe that others also saw them after I put the news out.  Added to my Bottle Nosed Dolphin and previous Swordfish sightings, Kavaki is certainly my best vantage point for lucking in on large marine life!

Buoyed by this amazing piece of luck we headed up to Perasma Reservoir where it was still pretty devoid of life but we were pleased to see our first Black Stork spiral in with undercarriage lowered. 

Cistus sp #1

Cistus sp #2

Black Stork

Black Stork

female Greenfinch

We abandoned the site (and undoubtedly the Roller that Helen and Meika found after we left) and headed back to the Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint where an hour provided nine drifting Black Storks, eight Short-toed Eagles, a few Buzzards and an all important Woodpigeon.
Lunch around the pool and then out again stopping briefly to tick-and-run the Cattle Egret residing with some sheep along the salt pan road. 

See... proper sit down lunch!

Buprestid sp
Achladeri next where the Kruper's Nuthatches stubbornly refused to give themselves up but we did find some rather obliging Long-tailed Tits and Short-toed Treecreepers along with several delightful Odilisque, some tiny termites and a patch of fresh Violet Limodore orchids so it was far from a wasted effort. 





Violet Limodore

Violet Limodore

From here I headed further into the forest and stopped at the ephemeral lake at Mikri Limni as Steve and Gina had seen Kruper's here a few days ago. Again no luck but more Long-tailed Tits and a family of Mistle Thrushes were seen. The lake was full and lush and Little Grebes and Moorhens were heard but there was a disappointing number of dragons with just a few Robust Spreadwing and a single Winter Damselfly seen.

Common Winter Damselfly Sympecma fusca

Serins jangled as we trundled through the cyprus avenue and the Poppies were starting to look resplendent. 

The circuit was continued down through Vasilika to the Poli Pans which were very quiet bar a White Stork and 82 Flamingos. Black-headed Buntings dotted the wires and the Kentish Plovers were superb on the beach at Alikoudi Pool and we found Northern Wheatear and Whinchats in a turned hayfield with Buntings and Sparrows.

White Stork
Corn Cockle

Wild Gladioli

Wild Gladioli - ACV
Kentish Plover

Kentish Plover

Kentish Plover

Back to the KSP where 13 Whiskered and five White Winged Black Terns danced over the closest pans and a couple of Squacco and 21 Little Egrets fed in the channel with many Stilts. 


Black-winged Stilt

Black-winged Stilt

We were approaching the corner where a good selection of waders were showing incredibly well and were about to join the line of birders and photographers sensibly parked up when the same two chaps who had gone in on the Ruppell’s and Blue Rock Thrush last week, got out of their car and scared the lot off as they wanted to snap the Common Terns. I am seldom angered by lack of consideration and fieldcraft but this really was selfish. Enough said...

Down on Alykes Wetlands a pair of Garganey dabbled and the drake Gadwall flew back to the pans. Wood Sandpipers were tottering around and Little Egrets fished while at the Sheep fields we managed to see five of the ten Collared Pratincoles and a good selection of other waders that included 14 Curlew Sandpipers and eight Ringed Plovers. Two Back Storks loafed over the back and two Tawny Pipits landed close by before making a dash for it on long legs.

The male Flamingo on the right was about a foot taller than the others present and given the depth of water, his bill only just touched the water's surface!

The waders were still not back on the corner and the two guys were still there with the Common Terns for company so I turned down the Pumping station channel track and found two Temminck's Stints and nine Glossy Ibis before calling it a night and bouncing back through the middle where two Short-toed Larks, a fluffy Fox, a Little Owl and a male Little Bittern were fine ways to round up any day...

Nightingale giving it large...



Little Owl

Corn Bunting

probably female flava Wagtail - ACV
Little Bittern

This tiny Turkish Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus - was originally in our room...

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