Saturday 5 March 2022

Lesvos Day 1: 26th Feb 2022

So, a little preamble. I have been visiting Lesvos now since 2010 (missing only 2011) with nine spring and three autumn visits. I had always wondered what it would be like on the island in the late winter and early spring and so at the second time of trying we booked our flights for the week just gone. I knew full well what I would not see and had an inkling (from Antony, Paul, Steve and the local birders) of what could or should be out there so at the very least there would be some new birds for my Lesvos list and the chance of some surprises.  Visiting the island now, is not just about the birding and other wildlife, it is a second home with friends to see and dine with and a now familiar landscape that it would be exciting to experience in a totally different season.

Lesvos Day 1: 26th Feb 2022

After a previous long day of travelling I woke up in Anaxos. It was a blue sky day but cold and calm and I was greeted by singing Robins and a couple of Song Thrushes up the hillside. Both these are normally only encountered in the high woodlands where they breed and were the first sign that there were some non-locals around! Breakfast done and car sorted with Alison (we were staying at their place) and it was off up the coast with a first stop at Kavaki.

The view as ever was superb and there were hundreds of Yellow-legged Gull loafing around and amongst them were 21 Med Gulls and a single Audouin's. Shags scooted past and a lone Yelkouan Shearwater was seen in foot-pattering take off.

A snaky blob of distant pink became 71 Flamingos heading towards Turkey although they took a couple of attempts to get orientated while Sardinian Warblers rattled on the slope below. 


The rock was empty of Blue Rock Thrushes but the slope behind was hopping with Robins, Wrens and a couple of Dunnocks – my first Lesvos tick of the day. A Middle Spotted Woodpecker was calling and a Rock Nuthatch was in full song on the higher crag while Chaffinches and Goldfinches dribbled South in small numbers.

Wall Brown became the first butterfly of the trip and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth whizzed back and forth. A few Asphodel were already flowering with more on the way and the green sward was dotted with the yellows, oranges and pinks. A tiny corpse was that of a Common White-toothed Shrew – my first here.


Field Marigold - Calendula arvensis

Field Marigold - Calendula arvensis

French Lavender

Genista sphacelata

Hypercoum procumbens

Coastal Ragwort - Senecio  leucanthemifolius

Carmine Catchfly - Silene colorata 

Sun Spurge - Euphorbia helioscopia

Common White-toothed Shrew

Fly sp

On to Perasma Reservoir which is still in a sorry state but did have a little water and a few birds, namely Yellow-legged Gulls, 14 Ruddy Shelduck, single Black-necked Grebe and Cormorant and a dapper pair of Garganey! This was a nice surprise and the spring feel was backed up by several singing Chiffchaffs in the blossoming Almond trees which were attended by Honey Bees and some gleaming giant Violet Carpenter Bees and a Red Admiral.

Black-necked Grebe 



Ruddy Shelduck


Almond - ACV

Red Admiral

Violet Carpenter Bee

Violet Carpenter Bee

A pair of Long-legged Buzzards were perched up in the trees along the overflow stream and Common Buzzards, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were all up soaring as a bit of warmth gave them some lift.

Common Buzzard

Long-legged Buzzard

Long-legged Buzzard

Cirl Buntings were in good voice and Robins seemed to be in every bush along with Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and two more Dunnocks. Sardinian Warblers nipped back and forth across the road and a male Serin invisibly sang.

Black-capped Jay

Cirl Bunting

Cirl Bunting

Cirl Bunting




Sardinian Warbler

Hooded Crow

Molivos Castle

Up to Molivos castle next as I had a feeling it may give me chance of Black Redstart but I was not expecting to find 12 in the paddock just before I got there. Two were immaculate smoky black, grey and red males – nb #2. Jackdaws swirled around and a Little Owl called in protest.

Black Redstarts galore!

With some supplies needed we headed back over towards Kalloni but the roadside swathes of Crowned Anemones were too much to resist although finding somewhere to stop was tricky but well worth the effort with patches of shades through lilac, pink and blue to solitary red blooms gleaming like an angry Goshawk's eye. Speaking of which a pair of Goshawks were up over the Klapados woodlands and Sombre Tits, Blackcaps and a singing Wood Nuthatch were all added to the swiftly growing list.

Crowned Anemones - Anemone coronaria

Small White and Clouded Yellow were noted as well as the first Hoverfly with a silvery striped Episyrphus balteatus and the flowers of Early Clematis.

Episyrphus balteatus 

Early Clematis - Clematis cirrhosa

Early Clematis - Clematis cirrhosa - already going to seed

Muscari armeniacum

I got bogged at by some sheep

Down to town past the denuded eucalyptus trees near the soccer pitch and after a supermarket run it was into Skala Kallonis where the Pool looks magnificent but only held a few Coot, Teal and Egrets.

Kallonis Pool

An obliging Great White Egret

A typical plumaged female Stonechat

The rest of the afternoon was spent around the area with plenty of small bird action out on Lotzaria and along the Tsiknias near the ford. I counted about 120 Meadow Pipits along the wires and in the fields (I had only heard one before so it was really nb #3) along with a few Corn Buntings, some of which were already jangling away, small groups of Chaffinch and a little party of seven Woodlarks.

Tsiknias River

Meadow Pipits and Corn Buntings

Chiffchaffs were all over with the Lower Ford reeds being a hot spot. I found one particularly striking bird with almost milky coffee upperparts, a good supercilium and silky underparts. It felt like a Siberian Chiffchaff (tristis) and I was delighted when it started to persistently ‘peep'. I am unsure of the status of this taxon here- nb #4

Four Reed Buntings were in the same patch with white flicking tail sides (nb #5) and Cetti's Warblers were quite showy. White Wagtail and Green Sandpiper were in the river bed and both Buzzard species and Peregrine were seen overhead.

Broad Green Winged Grasshopper - Aiolopus strepens - I was surprised to see an adult grasshopper

Crested Lark

Green Sandpiper

imm Peregrine

imm Peregrine

Down on the Alykes Wetlands, Racecourse and Fields there was more quality small bird action with a mixed flock of Goldfinches, Linnets, Chaffinches, Greenfinches and 18 dinky Serins. Crested Larks fed in ones and twos but it was good to hear a familiar ‘cheerup' and add nb #5 with two grovelling groups of Skylark totalling 23 birds with a few Meadow Pipits thrown in. 

Alykes Wetlands

Meadow Pipit



All aboard the Skylark!

Three Black Redstarts were around the Salt lorries and sentinel Stonechats were dotted about with inquisitive Crested Larks. A Kestrel and three female Marsh Harriers were seen and five Great White Egrets and a whopping 129 honking Ruddy Shelduck were across the two wet areas along with a few ‘normal ones.

Black Redstart

Great White Egret

Crested Lark

A good scan across the Salt pans added a few more species with two Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, four Little Stint, four Curlew and a Grey Plover along with nine Spoonbills but no Pelicans or Storks. There were six more Great Whites and heaps of Flamingos. One corner had an excellent spread of wildfowl and I counted 168 Wigeon, four pair of Gadwall, 62 Shoveler, 14 Mallard and six Teal but I suspect that there were many more tucked away and an approach from the other side would be beneficial.

The Racecourse was full of small birds

The beach was dotted with eight more Curlew and another Grey Plover and three adult Slender-billed Gulls were with the Black-headeds and two were already very pink while 11 Sandwich Terns were out on the fishing bouys but the real action was across the still calm Bay where I counted a staggering 268 Great Crested Grebes mostly in two rafts, eight Black-necked Grebes and then nb #7 and #8 in the same scope view with two pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers AND four Black-throated Divers. Both species were on my hit list but I did not expect to get them so easily. My guess that this calm day would be the best day for looking across the Bay was spot on as it turned out.

Slender-billed Gull

Black-necked Grebe

Black-throated Divers

Great Crested Grebes - you get the idea

With cloud building and the temperature dropping I called it a day with just a final circling Goshawk over the Christou  and pre roosting wires strung with black and grey Hooded Crows to send me back up to a huge pizza with Costas and Alison in Anaxos.


Hooded Crows

My intention was for an easy, quiet first day but as usual I failed miserably with some style.

I can't recommend Costa's pizza highly enough

No comments:

Post a Comment