Wednesday 30 September 2020

Lesvos Day 4 - 13th September 2020

After being woken by the Barn Owl at 2.30am screeching just outside the window I then failed miserably to get up early to go check the Pans and so after breakfast it was time to go and poodle around Metochi. 

The harbour on the morning bread run

It was quiet on the drive in with just a few Red-backed Shrikes, Crested Larks, House Sparrows and Corn Buntings in the dry fields and swirling flocks of mixed hirundines over the irrigated sections while Bee-eaters drifted through in noisy groups. 

Corn Bunting

Red-rumped Swallow - one of three still being fed by the parents

The lake was almost completely dry but there was still enough of a pool at the top end to hold ten docile Black Storks that seemed to be doing nothing but having a foot spa while over 20 boisterous Little Egrets and a grumpy Grey Heron were in the trees and shallows. Little Grebes, Wood and Green Sandpipers were seen but the reed margin was at least two feet higher than the water and no crakey things were seen. 

Metochi Puddle

Black Storks

Little Egrets and Grey Heron

Little Egrets

Further round the trail it was quite productive and I drove down a few lanes I had ventured into before and even found the Metochi Chapel up the valley. There were Red-backed Shrikes, Black-eared and Northern Wheatears and Whinchats dotted around the crop fields along with two unexpected juvenile Masked Shrikes in silvery black and white finery. One was mobbed by two Cirl Buntings and a Spot Fly. This was not a species that I was expecting to find still in the olive groves. 

Eyes on the prize... Eastern Black-eared Wheatear

Masked Shrike and Cirl Buntings

My only previous juvenile was at Spurn in 2014

Red-backed Shrike

A Hoopoe showed very well on a fence and Rock Nuthatches were noisily poking around one of the small farmyards while a Short-toed Eagle hunted from telegraph poles and dropped down unsuccessfully into a thistle field.  It was just a pity that the light was the wrong way.


Short-toed Eagle

Short-toed Eagle - Quite like a Honey Buzzard when seen like this

Stone Curlews were seen sheltering near a tamarisk on the Christou before a swift cuppa and then back out to Potamia. 


Stone Curlew

I was distracted by an inquisitive stallion on the drive in (and its attendant Flat Flies!) when suddenly the sky was filled with low circling Pelicans as ten Dalmatians came off the raised reservoir that I had never even looked at! They were magnificent although the horse was a bit miffed at my switch in attention.

Dalmatian Pelican

Flat Fly

My walk up the valley was incredibly hot and the river was bone dry save for a few green puddles down below where frogs and terrapins paddled and dragonflies danced. Red-veined and Scarlet Darters were seen along with Small and Southern Skimmers and Lesser and Vagrant Emperors. 


Small Skimmer - male

Small Skimmer - female

Small Skimmer - male

Scarlet Darter - male - I couldn't get down into the river bottom to get closer

Birds were a little scarce with a few mixed Tits including Sombre with Cirl Buntings, Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, Chaffinches, Willow Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats in with the roving flock. Black Stork, Short-toed Eagle and Buzzard circled above in the blue. 

Black Stork

I have had Enid working on this one & looks like another the seed heads of Aruncus dioicus. I can't find it recorded for Greece but it is widespread in Turkey and I can't really get much closer than Lesvos.

Close up of the seeds. Happy to have any further input...

Seedheads of Greek Horehound - Ballota acetabulosa

I saw a similar sprawling mass climbing up into a tree at Napi a few years ago and it remained unidentfied...

But now I do... the rather bizarre Joint Pine - Ephedra fragilis campylopoda

Ephedra fragilis campylopoda

Osyris alba

Small Caltrops - Tribulus terrestris


I saw the Pelicans return so after lunch headed up the track to the reservoir. They had gone again but the giant pond liner water body did not disappoint with six Coot, 27 Little Grebes, a juvenile Garganey and a pair of Ferruginous Ducks.  Red-veined Darters and Violet Dropwings perched on the fence line. Why on earth have I not looked here before? 

Potamia Reservoir


Ferruginous Duck

Garganey and Coot

An afternoon on the balcony out of the sun but in the increasing breeze allowed me to get the Pelicans on the ‘garden’ list as they dropped in from on high to Potamia and I also saw four each of Short-toed Eagle and Black Stork and a swirling kaleidoscopic cloud of 180 Bee-eaters drifting through.

The evening was spent retracing yesterday's Lotzaria and Salt Pans route. It was quieter but there were some good close Shrike views and the Marsh Harriers were quartering actively. Star bird was the juvenile Cuckoo hunting from the irrigation pipes near the big Lotzaria Mulberry tree.

Black Stork on the Tsiknias

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

Long-tailed Blue - one of countless flitting along the hedges with Lang's Short-tailed Blues

Sprinkler Cuckoo

Sea Squill - Drimia maritima

Sea Squill - Drimia maritima

Down at the pans there were still at least 26 Dalmatian Pelicans but now 18 Spoonbills, eight Black Storks and 11 Great White Egrets while Marsh Sandpipers had gone up to four and three Spotted Redshanks were new in. 

Spotted Redshanks

The bay adjacent to the Sheepfields was full of birds with Great Whites, Flamingos, Yellow-legged Gulls, four Curlew and the first four Mallard of the trip while a Great Crested Grebe was further out. 

Great Whites, Flamingos, Yellow-legged Gulls and Curlew

Whinchat on the Racecourse fence


I chose the swift main road return which gave great views of the young Flamingos once again as they fed in the channel.

The underside of the bill looks like the same as a baleen Whale - which when you think about it, the insides are designed to do a very similar seiving job