Monday 7 March 2022

Lesvos Day 3 - 28th February 2022

A lazy start with Alison and Costas in Anaxos before the drive south back over to Skala Kallonis where Thekla was putting us up for the next few days in lieu of some cat sitting. A first drive down through town, past the Flamingos on the Christou and then out onto Lotzaria and the Tsiknias brought a similar suite to Saturday although there were now 11 Woodlarks near the river mouth bandstand and a Greenshank was feeding with a Redshank and Green Sandpiper were on the river. There were at least 30 Chiffchaffs just around the ford and the Siberian Chiffchaff was still present and (unlike most at home) calling nicely although it eluded my camera. There were now seven Reed Buntings in the fragmented reeds and two Ruff were in the now risen Tsiknias.



Greenshank and Redshank



Greater Flamingo

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

A flock of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were seen on the bump through and more Corn Buntings were jangling away and as we reached the part of the Alykes Wetlands nearest the old pumping station there were about 70 Ruddy Shelduck on the grassy field where Red-throated Pipits normally scurry. I could hear Golden Plover and was pleased to find three on the grass (nb #11) and a better view was had of this trio from the saltpan road.

Golden Plover

Greenfinches - the males have much more grey in them out here

At this point I found an ‘interesting pair of Stonechats’. The female was a classic peach and buff individual and had an unmarked pale pinky rump and the alarm bells were ringing while the male may have been considered a classic Lesvos type bird but the white collar almost met around the back of the neck and the colour on the front was mainly on the upper breast and quite subdued with a solid white rump. Somehow I got the shot I was after and the underwing coverts of the male appeared to be solid black upping the chances that Siberian Stonechat was involved. As ever this taxon is an absolute headache on Lesvos and I was grateful to Killian for his valued and constructive input on my images.

The male Siberian-esque Stonechat

The female Siberian-esque Stonechat

On down to the end (passing a Snipe lurking in a trackside puddle) past the racecourse where the Serin flock was now at 23 and the other Finches, Larks and Pipits were still around. The Bay was too choppy for picking out anything much but it was full of thousands of Yelkouan Shearwaters stretching as far up as Mesa and the weaving all the way back out to opposite Nifida. The view from the other side must have been superb. I have never seen one in the Bay before and it was a stupendous sight.  A flock of 60 Med Gulls moved out of the Bay and two small flocks of Starling bumbled through. The duck were still on the pans but I could find nothing else different and so the loop was continued for our rendezvous at Chez Thekla.



Yelkouan Shearwaters

Thekla was escaping to Athens so after some ‘how to tend for 14 cats’ lessons we headed back out for the Metochi Loop. The fields and olive groves held more Finch flocks and Pipits and most had a green grassy or white Mayweed carpet but it was too cold for any nectaring insects at this point. 

The Lake was full but only had a few Coot and Little Grebes and two Cormorants (I had visions of Pygmy Cormorants...) and around the rocky side there may not have been Wheatears but I was watched by two silver coated Foxes before I raised my camera and Sardinian Warblers scolded me from the bushes.

Metochi Lake

Stripe Necked Terrapins

Bye Mr Fox!

A warm pocket attracted a few Anthophora bees to the little Composites, a striking Chrysotoxum hoverfly and a Small Copper. It felt odd not to be looking at Shrikes and Red-rumped Swallows. 

Sedum album

Grape Hyacinth

Chrysotoxum festivum or similar

Small Copper

I followed the track back past heaps of Stripe-necked Terrapins up to Kerami Reservoir in the Potamia ValleyThere were some Coot and Little Grebes and two Great Cresteds along with three tettering Common Sandpipers while up above there were 25 House Martins and 12 chunky Crag Martins. Serins sang and Sardinian Warblers were scolding as usual.

Crag Martins

Up above there were two Long-legged Buzzards and the local Common Buzzards took exception and tried to see them off when the size difference was very apparent. After taking in some ‘local outbuilding art’ I checked on the Hidden reservoir again dreaming of more Pygmy Cormorants but alas there were just more Coots and Little Grebes. Chiffchaffs were calling and flycatching from the Willows and another calling Siberian Chiffchaff was found. 

Long-legged Buzzard showing off its assets

It may look lovely but it s was very cold!

A large adult female Hen Harrier was quartering the fields beyond, twisting and turning with great agility after the small birds feeding within. I continued alongside the Potamia to the main road and then on down to the sea where three male and a female Merganser were off shore and nine Sandwich Terns were at the river mouth.

Potamia rivermouth

Hen Harrier

Back around to the Salt Pans and a drive down almost the entire length of the Eastern track. I counted all the Flamingos (1284) and was pleased to find a sleeping Dalmatian Pelican on the usual island. There were more waders with six Avocets being news and three Black-tailed Godwits, 80 Little Stint, Greenshank, three Grey Plover and 30 Redshank. The duck flock was out of view but a female Pintail was new for the trip and eight Great White Egrets were dotted around the meadows and in amongst the Olive groves. A single Barbary Nut Iris was flowering in the middle of the path by the hide.

Barbary Nut Iris - Moraea sisyrinchium

Greater Flamingos

Almost the end of the East Track

Dalmatian Pelican

Big Ram with flehmen face!

A hazy heap of 11 Spoonbills and some bonus Wigeon

However the stand out birds were two Pallid Harriers, a richly coloured first-winter that hunted close to the track and was joined by an equally slim adult female. Last September is the only trip in 13 when this enigmatic Harrier has not been seen. Three female Marsh Harriers completed the picture.

1w Pallid Harrier

1w Pallid Harrier

1w Pallid Harrier

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

With dinner beckoning it was time to retrace to the road where four more Reed Buntings were seen along with a couple of useful comparison Stonechats.

Dinner at the Dionysis with a Cattle Egret overhead towards the Kallonis Pool and then a Barn Owl and hundreds of invisible singing Eastern Tree Frogs on the way back rounded up the day...

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