lure of an early morning chocolate filled hot croissant precluded any early
attempt at ornithology but the view out across the Bay to the isthmus was
mirror calm. After breakfast it was time for a trundle through Loutzaria.
|The isthmus to Kalloni Bay|
It was fairly quiet although the Lesser Grey Shrike had returned to his spot of
two days ago and posed nicely with six Red-backed Shrikes in the surrounding
two fields. A Woodpigeon flew through and became the only new trip bird of the
day. There were a few Wagtails around but there were heaps of jingle jangle
Corn Buntings and flocking Sparrows.
| Lesser Grey Shrike|
|Red-backed Shrike - getting in early for the daily RBS!|
I headed east around the Bay passing two
Great White Egrets at Mesa before turning off past Achladeri and onto the
coastal track. Thirteen Med Gulls and friends were around the little harbour
and I had fun taking arty jetty pictures as Common Sandpipers chased each other
over the rocks.
|Looking back towards Mesa|
|The isthmus from the other side of the Bay with hovering boats|
|Med Gulls and yellow-legged Gulls|
|Just playing around|
A few Red-backed Shrikes, Tawny Pipits and Whinchats were seen
and Willow Warblers flicked ahead of the car the whole way. Alikoudi Pool was,
well, not a pool...
|Johnson Grass - Sorghum halepense|
|Okra - Abelmoschus esculentus|
|But until I saw the fruits I was not sure what the plant was at all!|
The Poly Pans held 124 Flamingos and a three Black Storks along with a few
waders that included Marsh Sandpiper, Dunlin, a good flock of Avocets,
Redshanks and six Kentish Plovers. A group of 27 Sandwich Terns were roosting
on posts with more Med Gulls until an Eleonora's Falcon whizzed through and
sent them and the Avocets in all directions.
|I am sure I took a picture of a Black Stork just here in September 2016|
|Hazy Marsh Sandpiper|
Lunch was taken overlooking the Bay at Skala Polichinitos with Yellow-legged
Gulls for company who had no concept whatsoever about what a man throwing bread
is all about. A solitary Bee-eater circled overhead and higher up four Ravens
tumbled in the same air space as a Black Stork.
|The Salicornia was flaming!|
| Black Stork and Ravens|
|Lesvos home to many short-legged dogs but just why they felt the need to have a sign to tell you not to throw Dachshunds into the sea is beyond me...|
From here I took a new route down to the coastal resort of Vatara where some
proper touristy sightseeing took place with a look at a very old chapel (no age
on it though) and the incredibly dangerous and uncovered Achilles Well.
|Early Christian Church|
The well is said to tie in with the legend that Achilles raided
the ancient city of Vrisa that used to stand on this headland and captured the
beautiful Vriseis, killing her husband Minis and her three brothers (although Homer
wrote in the “Iliad” that Vriseis was born in Lyrnissos, in Asia Minor). This well
was where he and his troops got their water before returning across the strait to
the mainland (it was all Greece then) where things started to get a little
fraught between him and King Agamemnon...
At the end of the headland is the ruin of a temple to
Dionysus at Agios Fokas which was erected to pay homage to God of wine and
general revelry in an aid to increase the quality of the grape harvest of the
region. Only a few marble columns remain and the area is fenced off and
neglected. There is not even a sign when you finally get there.
|Temple of Dionysus|
|Not sure what the horses are living on on the headland|
|Agios Fokas harbour|
I find it very odd that an island steeped in such a wealth
of ancient and important history does not do more to promote and educate about
these sites. There may be a roadside brown and yellow sign but that will be it
and yet the interpretation that accompanies the island wide Geopark is some of
the best I have ever seen and it is a Geographer’s delight (only Shetland has
You would think that from the point of view of attracting a
new tourist audience, especially in these troubling times that this would be a
no brainer. The Temple of Messon at Mesa
is the exception to this and is certainly worth a visit but so much more could
be done with the temples of Dionysos and Apollo and such like.
|Around the bay at Vatara - Plomari is beyond the headland|
The Almyropotamos River was still flowing well and held
three Moorhen, Kingfisher, Grey and White Wagtail and feels worthy of a spring
visit. Sardinian Warblers were heard where ever I pulled over but as usual
remained invisible while a quick walk along the beach towards the river mouth revealed
that I had missed the flowering of the Sand Lilies (Pancratium maritimum) by a week or two (although I
did see some flowering in Theklas’s garden) and their ripening pods dipped down
towards the hot sand giving shelter to the Blue-winged Grasshoppers perfectly camouflaged
|Almyropotamos River - near the sea|
|Sand Lilies (Pancratium maritimum) |
|Almyropotamos River - still flowing at least three miles inland!|
We retraced our steps and then turned off in Polichinitos towards the hot
springs but they were closed and feel like they have been let go and were in
disrepair but some exploring revealed the springs still flowing and bubbling
away beyond the baths and I returned to the car feeling like I had been in a
The water flowed from several sources and was exceptionally
hot in places where it came through the surface. Salts and iron rich minerals
crusts formed on the edges but there were still Lesser Emperors and Red-veined
Darters zooming around and even trying to egg lay in the scalding waters while
a Green Sandpiper surprised me by shooting up from the stream. Ravens kronked
and tumbled above and Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinches, Cirl Buntings,
Sardinian Warblers and Spotted Flycatchers were in the Eucalyptus trees.
|Almost too hot to touch|
It was a good run back to Skala Kallonis from here and just a short trip out
onto Loutzaria before dinner produced the usual suspects although there were
definitely more Willow Warblers around.
|Thorn Apple - Datura stramonium|
|Thorn Apple - Datura stramonium|
|Spotted Flycatcher with Cynanchum acutum climbing to its left - food plant of that red bug I found - Caenocoris nerii|
Dinner in town and then an Ouzo induced stagger back to the digs before a look
at the celestial majesty of Jupiter and her bands and four moons and the tilted
wonder that is Saturn and his mighty ice rings a mere 800 million miles away...
Thanks for all the blogs of Lesvos. Hope to be there again in may 2021.ReplyDelete