Friday 11 March 2022

Lesvos Day 7 - 4th March 2022

A few hours post-breakfast to poodle around Lotzaria and the saltpans before heading back to Anaxos. Over 100 Cormorants (196 in fact) left the Tsiknias as I arrived and I pitied any fish that were previously just avoiding the two Great White Egrets, Grey Herons and four Spoonbills.



A male Hen Harrier was acrobatically trying to catch Meadow Pipits and Skylarks just beyond the Tsiknias Lower Ford which was still full of Chiffchaffs and several Reed Buntings and there were now three Ruff including a smart white male. Two Dunnocks were grovelling around the edges and were the first I had actually seen well!

Hen Harrier

Common Chiffchaff

Reed Bunting


The Long-legged Buzzard perched up nicely on one of its regular poles and two Marsh Harriers flushed a wondrous flock of Skylarks, Corn Buntings, Pipits and Finches.

Long-legged Buzzard

Corn Bunting

It was very grey and rain was approaching from the north west where Mt Olympus had already disappeared from view but a last look from the Alykes Sheepfields gave me a nice flyby from two female Mergansers and Great Crested Grebes bobbed offshore with 13 Sandwich Terns fishing amongst them. A male Black Redstart popped up on the fence and the Serins were still feeding on the racecourse.


Black Redstart

Curlew - note the clean white underwings

Beach birds

Great Crested Grebes

Red-breasted Merganser

Sandwich Terns

After a chat with the Coastguards who thought birding in March was hilarious, I bumped back, said goodbye to the Ruddy Shelducks and 'mingos and drove up towards Anaxos.

Ruddy Shelducks

Final Flamingo

Magnificent Lesvos Rams - or small Star Wars Bantha?

I even stopped at the Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint Bandstand but alas there were only 45 tumbling Ravens and not a Woodpigeon in sight!

Kalloni RWP

Twenty minutes at Perasma where a Green Sandpiper fed round the edge and the Long-legged and Common Buzzards were still tussling and then a final Black Redstart at Kavaki before the icy rain became a steady deluge.



A smooth airport run with Alison and then off on the Olympic twinprop to Athens where the weather was somewhat better for the lay over before the flight back to Blighty and the train back across London.  I arrived home at the equivalent and 3am on the Saturday morning.

And so, some thoughts… It appears that very few western European birders have ever really been out to the island at this time of year and although several people commented that I could have seen most of my new species (and in fact many of the others) on a day out in Kent or Essex, there is no substitute for a bit of exploring and in that respect it would be no different than me having a day out in the wilds of Surrey where I rarely bird. 

The common place close to home becomes the exciting somewhere new and in this case it was the season rather than the place that made that happen.  I joked about ‘getting Dunnock for my Lesvos list’ before heading out but is was a genuine ‘get in there!!’ moment when I heard the first one and to then add 15 new species was fantastic (taking me to 252 for the island). It was trip full of moments; never had the ‘cheerup’ of a flock of Skylarks had me hastily searching the view or the thrill of tracking down strange calling Crests and Chiffchaffs, shimmer tailed Black Redstarts and errant Siskins.  Scanning the Bay for a spring Grebe is always a must so to have rafts of them spread across the view with dotted Mergansers, sleek Black-throated Divers and swirling Shearwater flocks was a memorable experience.  Throw in a couple of specials like the Moustached Warblers and Laughing Dove and the more usual Island fair of Nuthatches, Pelicans, Long-legged Buzzards, Flamingos, Cirl Buntings and Larks and it became a unique chapter in my love for all things Lesvos.

Experiencing the island at the end of winter brought new vistas; the pools, rivers and streams were wet (but not gushing), the hillsides out west were thinly covered green and every olive grove was similarly decked out in verdant hues.  The Oak grove stood naked at Sigri while the big acorned Vallonia Oaks still had their dead brown leaves attached across the island. In fact the colours were largely reversed green below, brown above unlike even late April when the island is already drying out. Pink and white honey scented Almond trees dotted gardens and hillsides and were alive with the sound humming Honey Bees and singing Song Thrushes and Robins warming up before they headed back north.

The Asphodel was just coming into its own and the chance to see the ephemeral ground hugging spring bulbs and carpets of pink and white was a joy and although it was very cool, I got generally very lucky with the weather. I thought that I would see more insect life but I suspect that it was just too cold for all but the most hardy.

Quite simply, if you love Lesvos then do visit away from the traditional spring period.  That certainly is a magical time of year but the island has so much more to offer and when you factor in the scenery, food and welcoming people then it goes beyond a birding break.  I believe that there are more gems to be found in the winter period so wrap up snug and remember that Lesvos will always warm your soul.


No comments:

Post a Comment