Saturday 25 September 2021

Lesvos - Day 9 - 10th September: 2021

No laughing but I actually got up early today and was pottering down towards Metochi well before six. It was still and calm and as I drew up in the dark I could already hear the prehistoric croaks of Grey Herons and bizarre whistles of Black Storks. After a while I could just see shapes and further birds of both species were dropping in for the morning fishing frenzy. Little Egrets began to descend and I could hear Greenshanks and both Common and Green Sandpipers. What followed was on a par with last years’ experience with 16 Black Storks, 29 Grey Herons, 37 Little and a single Great White Egret and a juvenile Spoonbill all jostling for position in an attempt to stab, hoover, grab, impale and gulp down fish ranging for tiddlers up to foot long Mullet and an even longer Common Eel. Nothing had a chance and by 7.30 things were starting to already calm down as indigestion overtook the desire to hunt. 

The various Tringas fed around the margins on the now much reduced water and there were even six Mallard squibbling in the muddy sections. A female Marsh Harrier drifted through and Bee-eaters and Ravens called above.

Green Sandpiper

I am particularly pleased with these Grey Herons

Breakfast beckoned again and there are only so many pictures you can take. The Bee-eaters were on the wires as I drove put along with several early rising Red-backed Shrikes and the Bats had been replaced by Red-rumped Swallows and House Martins. There was one more pre-repast treat in store with two immature Golden Orioles bounding away from me and into the Olives. Back at the Pela, Tawny and Tree Pipits flew over and about 80 House Martins and Red-rumped Swallows were resting on the wires.


Swallows and Martins

The plan was to go to the nice warm spring beach that Alison revealed last September at Kali Limani but it was actually cool and cloudy upon arrival and the sea was full of weed but I was happy with an obliging female Eastern Black-eared Wheatear and a sprinkle of Spotted Flycatchers, Whitethroats and Willow Warblers


Eastern Black-eared Wheatear

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear

From here I could access the track to Ancient Antissa from the east end and bumped along the coast path to the valley passing many Rock Nuthatches, Wheatears and Crested Larks en route along with fine scaly male Blue Rock Thrush.

Blue Rock Thrush.

Towards Ancient Antissa

A swirl of Jackdaws were in the village and the now expected passerines were regularly encountered. I followed the track down to the actual remains of the old fort on the promontory and found a single Sea Daffodil in flower on the beach complete with what I think is a Eupeodes Hoverfly in attendance and two stunning little pink and purple spotted Jellyfish in the harbour.

Jackdaws and Hooded Crows

I walked back up the track we had driven and most of the birds decided to stay on the side that left me looking into the sun but I still saw plenty with a host of Chats, Shrikes, Pipits and Wagtails and a smattering of Willow Warblers, Spot Flys and Whitethroats. One productive Fig tree held both Whitethroats and a chunky Garden Warbler which is always a good bird to find out here. 

Sea Daffodil - Pancratium maritimum

Ancient Antissa

funky Jellyfish

Willow Warbler

Red-backed Shrike

Spotted Flycatcher

Unknown plant - help needed!

The leaves

Thorn-apple - Datura stramonium

A recently cleared meadow was dotted with birds and a vast House Sparrow flock and at least six Hoopoes which is the most I have seen together before. Four hirundine species hawked around and a female Marsh Harrier arrived from Turkey with an almost perceptible sigh of relief.


From here the road was followed into Gavathas where lunch was taken in the completely deserted harbour car park. It was a ghost town but at least the view was good and a Common Sandpiper and White Wagtail were seen. Clumps of vibrant Sea Lavender dotted the rocky edges.

male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear - all three ACV

The bay around to Gavathas

Sea Lavender sp

White Wagtail

With the wind getting up I chose not to head for Ipsilou and instead asked Google maps to plot a route to Agra over the top...

The road was my normal way home to start with via Lardia Gorge (Sardinian Warbler rattling) but then turned right in Vatoussa and up through Revma and nearly to Chidira where I swung left onto a rough tack that amazingly was actually blue signposted to Agra! What followed was an amazing route up and down the heart of the west side of the island. It was amazingly well forested with whole hillsides of Oak and Pine with a thick scrub layer of Kermes Oaks, Turpentine and Mastic and Strawberry Trees. I had only seen the latter above Mytillini and it was good to see them actually fruiting too. I looked for Two Tailed Pashas but had no joy. One of the Pine woods looked like a cone of trees in the high valley and suspect it warrants a better look. I certainly found more bands of Long-tailed Tits that I have ever seen before and that was while trundling along with the windows down. The views were magnificent.

Strawberry Tree

Eventually it came out of the trees and onto a high plateau boulderfield where Chaffinches and Goldfinches were around the Milk Thistle heads and Rock Nuthatches and a Blue Rock Thrush were seen. You could look down over all of Agra and beyond and across the entire Kalloni Gulf to Nifida and the hills in the distance.

Over Agra and the Gulf

Rock Nuthatch

Looking down on Agra
A last wiggle through Agra and then it was back on the main road.

 A mini siesta and then I took myself down to the lower reaches of the Potamia and walked down past the Kalloni Bay Apartments as far as the road would let me. The river was flowing well and there were gaps in the Giant Reed and Willows to see Kingfisher, Moorhen, Little Grebe and Grey Heron while 85 Bee-eaters were feeding from the top of the tallest reeds before spiralling south with a Short-toed Eagle or company. Brown Argus was a new island butterfly for me.

The well vegetated Potamia from the main road

Christou Black Stork


An adult Moorhen is such and under-rated species. They seem especially bright here.

Brown Argus

Brown Argus

There was no change on the Potamia pond and up at Kerami Reservoir there were now 20 Mallard but only three Teal and two Garganey. I watched several Shrikes of three species as I made my way back to the hotel.

Red-backed Shrike

Masked Shrike

Masked Shrike

Slender Billed Gull joined us for dinner at the Dionysis and a final dusk circuit of the Tsiknias and Lotzaria saw Kingfisher, Snipe and Greenshank still at the Ford and a Water Rail scooting across the channel was only the second new trip bird for the day. 

Red-backed Shrike

Slender Billed Gull 

There were no Nightjars seen but the sky was full of countless fat black Verge Crickets, Bats, a Little Owl bounded down the track and the third Eastern Hedgehog of the week ambled towards the car in the lights.

Another full day came to a close.

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