Monday 12 October 2020

Lesvos Day 16 - 25th September 2020

I watched dawn arrive, coffee in hand, from the balcony this morning with mist blanketing Metochi to the west and the steady plip of Corn Buntings heading out of their roost. As usual there was no real plan so it was steady trundle north with short stop at Kavaki en route. I could immediately hear Chukars from the scrub and several once again exploded from cover but instead of crossing the road they dropped over the edge of the cliffs and continued to call. Not one had the decency to hop up on a rock! I checked the Blue Rock Thrush rock and was pleasantly surprised to find him perched there surveying his territory, albeit in slightly more dowdy autumn plumage. Sardinian Warblers tantalized me and an immaculate Swallowtail at last let me take a picture in the Fennel where Willow Warblers obliged.

Fleeing Chukar!


Blue Rock Thrush

Panagia Glykofilloussa on the rock that give Petra its name

Worn female Keeled Skimmer - thanks Roy W




Willow Warbler


On to the thermal baths at Eftalou for a much needed soak between the warm salty sea and hot Byzantine pool. The place was almost deserted and the actual spa was closed but there was still access to the hot pool. I always feel very sleepy afterwards and so I retraced our steps and stopped for a frappe in Petra before climbing back over the top. I turned off after the Stypsi road onto a track signposted to Agia Paraskevi and I was pleased when it came out where I hoped at the Medieval bridge at Kramasti. The olive groves were quiet save for Serins, Cirl Buntings, Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, Tits and Chaffinches but it was a nice spot for lunch before heading back to base to pack.

Kramasti bridge

Oriental Plane

Milk Thistle

My first ever encounter with the critically endangered Lesvos Bear. This sun bleached individual was standing up to collect Kermes Oak acorns before ambling across the track... an exciting moment!

Being a restless soul I went out for a walk around the block for a last look at the Bay from the beach.  The wind was getting up and there were actual waves breaking over the harbour defences. I cut the corner off by walking through the Kallonis Pool which to be honest felt very odd indeed.  

I have never seen Bougainvillea growing like this!

Stood in the middle of the Kallonis Pool



With the packing done, there was still time to have a final perambulation across Loutzaria where things were even quieter than previous forays. The Lesser Grey Shrike was still out there but I only saw three Red-backed and just a single Wheatear, three Whinchat and only ten flava Wagtails. It would seem that the message has got through that most of these birds need to get going and battle their way South for the winter months. Oh and I saw the Woodpigeon again. 

Red-backed Shrike - see, I had not forgotten

Windblown Corn Buntings

and Grey Heron

The light was great at the pans and there was a good spread of the regular waders with only an increase to ten Dunlin suggesting any additions and a final scan from the racecourse gave me my final Dalmatian Pelican fix for the holiday before heading back into the last rays of the setting sun.

Great White Egret, Little Egret and Curlew

A final Dionysos dinner beckoned and then sleep before the early start back to joyous Blighty.

Thankfully everything went without a hitch the following morning and we made it to the airport in time to see the sunrise over Turkey and the couple of hours in Athens Airport went quickly and my only non-Lesvos Grecian bird – Magpie – was seen out on the runways with numerous Kestrels as I scanned over the smart new green roofs. 


There were no checks on our quarantine re-entry forms at Heathrow despite the insistance that you had them ready for inspection and the journey home on the Underground was ok until Mile End when suddenly there were more commuters without masks than with.  The last two weeks have been spent in unnecessary quarantine which given the huge surge of COVID cases in the UK probably meant that I was actually in the safest place to avoid it...

Leaving Lesvos is always difficult but I was very glad to have made the effort in this most troubling of years. The island needs all the support it can get and hopefully, regardless of whether there is a package holiday carrier next year or not, birders from across Europe will once again try and get back to enjoy the spectacle of migration in the Aegeon.


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