Wednesday 4 May 2022

Lesvos - Day 1 - 20th April 2022.

If you had asked me on Good Friday what I was going to do after my final day working at RSPB Rainham Marshes on Bank Holiday Monday, the answer would not have been 'jumping on a plane on Tuesday night and winging my way to Lesvos as stand in leader for Killian for a Wings Tour.'

The sunrise over the Aegean suggested to my tired but excited brain that that was exactly what had happened and the airport company of John, Peter and Josie and then the smiling Alison with my minibus only confirmed this.

Alison and I caught up on the journey over but I still managed a few birds in transit with 30 Alpine Swifts careening around the quarry on the outskirts of Mytilene being the highlight. I stopped for coffee with Thekla at the Pela as I would be staying at the Kalloni Bay this time and watched Tree Pipit and Pied Flycatcher in her garden while Nightingales sang just beyond the walls.

After checking into my real hotel I headed down to the Tsiknias where I was greeted by familiar faces both Ornithological and human. Nightingales, Eastern Olivaceous, Cetti's and Great Reed were in the Tamarisks and the first Bee-eaters were pruuking overhead.

Common Swallowtail


A Great White Egret was on the far bar and two female Garganey were dozing with one eye open while three solitary waders resolved themselves to be Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper and surprisingly a very long billed female Bar-tailed Godwit - only my second record here.

Bar-tailed Godwit

A quality hour followed around the Lower Ford where Blue, Black and a smart male Grey-headed Wagtail came into bathe much to the annoyance of a single White Wagtail. The reeds were alive with Sedge and Reed Warblers and Great Reeds gurked and Cetti's shouted. The sky was full of hirundines with four species on view but there were three Swifts too with four hurtling Alpines and a single Pallid amongst them.

White Wagtail

Common Sandpiper

Grey Headed Wagtail

Alpine & Common Swift

There were more hawking Bee-eaters and two Hobbies were concentrating on aerial insects rather than birds while Short-toed Eagle and Marsh Harrier were added. Down in the river there were 38 Ruff with three each of Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and Little Stint while two Glossy Ibis, Little Egret and a shiny Black Stork waded around.


Wood Sandpier

Black Stork

The Little Owl was in his usual spot and Stone Curlews called as I headed further up the river where an adult Purple Heron stood sentinel in a field. A party of Warblers moved across the river and into the Lotzaria olives and I found both Whitethroats, Reed Warblers and a male Barred Warbler that stopped all too briefly while several Tree Pipits came up from the fields.

Yellow-legged Gulls

Purple Heron

Echium angustifolium

Hypecoum procumbens

Lupinus angustifolius

Anchusa undulata

Erodium laciniatum

Onto the Triangle where Whinchats dotted the fenceline with ubiquitous Corn Buntings and Crested Larks and more cyclical Olivaceous Warblers sang. The saltpans were quiet and there were just a few Ruff, Wood Sandpipers and Black winged Stilts in the Channel and nothing on the Alykes Wetlands which are quite simply, not wet at all. I bumped down to the Race Course and Sheepfields with Spanish Sparrows on the fences and a flock of at least 40 Short-toed Lark were bimbling around. Common Terns were feeding in the channel mouth and two bonus Caspian Terns cruised by close inshore. The beach flora was as ever fantastic and Eastern Dappled Whites and Common Swallowtails were in attendance.



Spanish Sparrow

Black-headed Wagtail


Eastern Dappled White

Caspian Tern


Short-toed Larks

Lesser Sand-Spurrey - Spergularia marina

Woolley Camomile - Anthemis tomentosa

Wild Radish -  Raphanus raphanistrum

Corn Marigold - Chrysanthemum segetum

Mediterranean Hartwort - Tordylium apulum

Crested Lark

Spanish Sparrow

Great White Egret

Reversed Clover - Trifolium resupinatum & White Clover - Trifolium repens

I followed the pans back to the main road adding Kestrel, Red-throated Pipit, three Slender-billed Gulls and two Med Gulls in the process. The highlight though was a flock of 21 Gull-billed Terns slowly hunting insects over one of the meadows, dipping down to pick critters from the grass.

Gull-billed Terns

Black-winged Stilts

Blue-headed Wagtail

East a little way to Kalami Marsh and Mesa where the Steppe Buzzard eluded me but I did see a single Squacco, several Stilts and added Mallard, Little Grebe and Coot! Eastern Black-eared Wheatears and Subalpine Warblers sang on the scrubby slope and two Tawny Pipits were running around the bare ground.

Back to Skala Kallonis for a spot of lunch and then off up Potamia. Kerami Reservoir only held Yellow-legged Gulls, a Common Sandpiper and two Cormorant but Crag Martins were with other hirundines and a Long-legged Buzzard cruised the ridge line. The olives were full of birds and I found three pairs of Masked and two of Woodchat Shrike along with Common Redstart, Whinchats, Eastern Orphean Warbler and a several Spotted Flycatchers. An adult Little Crake was on the Hidden Pond and Cirl and Corn Buntings were singing around me as I walked back.

Long-legged Buzzard

Masked Shrike

Eastern Orphean Warbler

Crag Martin


Spotted Flycatcher

Corn Bunting


Forked catchfly - Silene dichotoma

A loop around Metochi added more Woodchats, Whinchats, Tree Pipits and Spot Flys but with the addition of five male and a female Collared Flycatcher and two female PiedsBee-eaters showed wondrously and a female Golden Oriole cat called and flew into the olives and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears and Rock Nuthatches were up the usual slope.



female Pied Flycatcher

1st summer male Collared Flycatcher

Crested Lark way up a tree!

Short-toed Eagle

Sykes' Wagtail

Sykes' Wagtail with Romanian Blue Headed to the left


Stripe-necked Terrapins

Levant Water Frogs

Eastern Green Lizard

From here I headed back to the KSP where the two wide ranging Great Spotted Cuckoos had been seen around Pumphouse Corner. They did not disappoint and put on a great show as they garrulously chased each other round. The local Hooded Crows need to be on their guard. A great swirling flock of Spanish Sparrows dropped in for a drink on the Corner and there were 27 Ruddy Shelduck out in the fields where two female Marsh Harriers hunted. 

Spanish Sparrow

Spanish Sparrows

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Great Spotted Cuckoo



I continued back down to the Sheepfields where the Johns had two splendid Spur-winged Lapwings in the scope and Short-toed Larks, Tawny and Red-throated Pipits all showed well. A scan of the distant saltpan revealed a bonus Dalmatian Pelican having a preen. 

Short-toed Larks

Short-toed Larks

Spur-winged Lapwings

Great White Egret

The light was going so after adding a group of six Great Crested Grebes I started the bump back with the Great Spotted Cuckoos in front of me for part of the way. Helen and Jeff had a third Spur-winged Lapwing at the Tsiknias to show me and there were 31 Common Terns at the end and two Sandwich Terns offshore.

Romanian Blue Headed Wagtail

Dinner at the Dionysis beckoned but not before snaffling a fourth Spur-winged Lapwing that Steve and Gina had found at the Christou and watching a Marsh Sandpiper with seven Greenshank.

Greenshank and 'Mingos

Spur-winged Lapwing #4

A singing Scops Owl somewhere off near the Pasiphae completed a somewhat tiring but happy forty-one hours on the go.

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