Saturday 3 October 2020

Lesvos Day 7 - 16th September 2020

No local excursion this morning (although two more Meadow Pipits from the balcony pre breakfast) and so just a straight route up through Dafia and over the top seeing Stonechats, Red-backed Shrikes and Spotted Flycatchers from the car along with the first Song Thrush. Rock Nuthatches were vocal all the way until my first brief stop in the Lardia Gorge. A single Crag Martin circled and above that a Short-toed Eagle glided while higher in the same thermal were three more birds; a juvenile Marsh Harrier, dark Eleonora's Falcon and a feisty male Levant Sparrowhawk which was giving her grief. One of those special Lesvos moments.

Limonos Monastery looking magnificent

I had hopes of some movement over Ipsilou so headed straight there along the jumbled mess of new and old road that leads you there beyond Andisa. There are no Isabelline laybys anymore, making room for wider tarmac and once at Ipsilou the narrow strip between east and west is unrecognizable for the most part with hundreds of tonnes of material covering a large part of the western slope. I know it will regenerate but Bunting and Wheatear density will be will down for a while. 


To Faneromeni

To Meladia

I drove to the top and left Andrea with the Sound of Music while I explored. It was actually quite good with 12 Spotted Flycatcher, six Redstart, Lesser Whitethroat, two Blackcap, 18 Willow Warbler and a surprise immature Golden Oriole making up the migrants along with small groups of foraging Chaffinches and Cirl Buntings, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Rock Nuthatches and cheeky Sombre Tits. Two Ravens had a fly round but the only raptor was a female Sparrowhawk that circled briefly and was a nice contrast with the Levant earlier.

Spotted Flycatcher

A scruffy male Cirl Bunting

Sombre Tit

Sombre Tit

Spotted Flycatcher

The old cobbled path

Rock Nuthatch

Wall Brown

Back down again and onto the Gavathas road before diverting around Kambos towards Ancient Antissa. Lunch was taken overlooking the bay and its rolling waves before continuing around the headland and into the lush hidden valley beyond. It was seriously hot but I still took myself for a walk up the river which was very full and lined with reeds for several hundred metres. 


Kambos Bay

Sea Holly

Kambos Bay

Mouth of the Voulgaris River - there is a tiny outlet to the sea

Fortunately the one gap gave me a chance to scan around and I found a single Snipe, Little Stint, seven Moorhen and a Teal while three grouchy Grey Herons took exception and lumbered off towards Gavathas. 

Grey Heron


Common Snipe

Common Snipe

Common Snipe

Willow Warblers were flicking all around me and six were taking particular interest in a spot in a bramble hedge. I could not see what threat they had found but it also attracted a Whitethroat and a striking pink legged Acro that proved to be a Marsh Warbler but I never did see the predator. All five hirundines patrolled the river and a single Common Swift was the first of the holiday while Red-backed Shrikes and Whinchats dotted the field margins.

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Red-backed Shrike

Common Swift with a nice full crop

I crossed the river at the bone dry ford and headed back down the east side. Lang's Short-tailed, Holly, Common and Long-tailed Blues skipped around the Brambles along with Meadow Browns and Small Copper. Great Banded Graylings, Clouded Yellows and Small Whites danced over the alfalfa fields where flava Wagtails, House Sparrows, Tree Pipits and Corn Buntings fed.

Rough Cocklebur - Xanthium strumarium

Wild Fennel

Lots of Mole hills - I presume Golden?

Lang's Short-tailed Blue

Pokeweed - Phytolacca americana 

Giant Reed - Arundo donax

A party of Cirl Buntings foraged on the path in front of me and a Lesser Grey Shrike was hunting from the wires. I continued down to the beach after a little bit of off piste exploring and looped back to the car. This is the first new site this trip that I would definitely consider visiting on a spring visit. It may be north facing but has lots of potential.


Yellow horned Poppy - Glaucium flavum

Euphorbia peplis

Euphorbia peplis - thank Enid

Red-winged Grasshopper

Looking up the Voulgaris

This was the first time I have been properly cooked this trip and it was good to be back on the road back out and to get some air moving. After a brief stop at the Perivolis Monastery to check on the cats and watch a few Flycatchers and Redstarts, it was a straight run home. The river here is unrecognisable.

Spot the Persian Squirrel

I have only just realised that this is also the Voulgaris River

I did not linger there too long and soon headed back out onto Lotzaria. There were plenty of what can now be called the usual suspects to be seen along with a juvenile Woodchat and some obliging Tree Pipits. They ploughed bunting field had no birds at all in it.

Brown Marmorated Stinkbug - Halyomorpha halys - a problematic crop pest of a shieldbug which was first found in the UK at Rainham in the summer. This one has been formally reported for incitement to cause trouble. Thanks to Yvonne for the id.


Red-backed Shrikes

Spotted Flycatcher

Willow Warbler

I failed to see the Wryneck seen by Peter but did manage a fine Hoopoe and the superb immature male Goshawk perched on a trackside post before powering back towards the Tsiknias. A Short-toed Eagle was perched up on one of the Long-legged Buzzard's regular posts and it made the Hooded Crows look tiny.

Short-toed Eagle and Hooded Crow

Great White Egret

Grey Plover

There we nothing new in the Bay off the Sheepfield but two Grey Plover, four Curlew and a Kingfisher were seen and Tawny Pipits scuttled around the racetrack. The Pelican and Spoonbill flock were all still on the pans as I turned back home for dinner in town as it was Peter's last night and the evening was rounded up perfectly with a Scops Owl singing off towards the Pasiphae as I sipped a balcony Ouzo.

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