A pre-dawn raid on Metochi was in order with Crakes in mind
and almost the first bird we saw was not the hoped for Little but amazingly
another rather splendid Spotted feeding along the closest edge.
|Essence of Spotted Crake|
A large flock of
Bee-eaters came up from their roost and spiralled into the still lightening sky
with a constant bubble of calls but it soon became clear that the lake was
quiet and so I opted for the Hidden Potamia lake instead and here we were
somewhat more successful.
A reeling Savi's Warbler was nice way to start and we
even got to see it at close range as it sung and then crept about the bank
below us like a tail waving big brown mouse. A real education and it was very
pleasing to see one foraging.
A Night Heron came out from the corner tree and in the space
of the next five minutes the number rose to five but we had to give it a while
longer before a male Little Crake crept boldly along the back corner. The male
Little Bittern and a Purple Heron were also seen and floppy tailed Masked
Shrikes moved back and forth across the pool.
|Now that's what I call an Earthworm!|
|Two lovely Greys|
Breakfast called us back to the hotel and then, after a
slightly dithery start, we headed back around to the KSP road to try and get
the Great Spotted Cuckoo but alas it had scarpered once again so I decided to
go east towards Mesa but as usual I got distracted and pulled off at the north
east pan as the light looked great. A Black Stork greeted us in the small pools
by the parking area and there were six Grey Herons, four Great White, six
Little and the same Squacco that we saw previously.
|Grey Herons & Black Stork|
Two Marsh Sandpipers were
delicately feeding along the near edge but there were far fewer waders than
before although four Curlew Sandpipers were still with the Ruff and Little
Stints. Two Dalmatian Pelicans were on their favoured island in the distance
and a male Shoveler was the first of the trip while the sound of Corn Buntings,
Crested Larks and Zitting Cisticolas (or Fizzing Pepsicolas as my friend calls
them) created the soundscape around us.
Steve and Gina had found some Collared Pratincoles and we
could see their vans at the other end and so shamelessly zoomed back for a look
only to see 11 what became known as Pratindots spiralling way up into the blue.
On again to join a minibus convoy at Mesa where a Spur
Winged Plover had elusively spent the last week but it was showing as we pulled
up in the company of the now usual wader selection. Two Great Crested Grebes
offshore were also new for my American guests. Kalami Marsh on the other side
of the road was checked next and we found a fine drake Garganey and Mallard, singing
Black-headed Wagtails and a good collection of Tringa Sandpipers with three Marsh,
two Green and countless twittering Woods but the first of two prizes here was
the shiny green Northern Lapwing that was feeding along the margins. Seemingly
it has been around for a few days and was a most welcome Lesvos tick for me
having only probably heard one on my first visit in 2010. It is always odd how a
familiar bird can suddenly elicit such joy and scrutiny especially when your guests
have not seen one before.
|Spur Winged Plover|
|Coot brood - they used to be very difficult here|
|It is very easy to misplace a Wood Sandpiper|
The other special bird was the Steppe Buzzard and we soon
picked it up hunting the ridge line and all the salient features of this small
ginger buteo could be seen. It seems to be around each spring for a few weeks
and I saw it in 2018 just here but could not find it in early March this year when
I last visited.
Back across the road a flight of Flamingos came in and spooked a flock of mostly summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwits that looked likely to be nominate L.l.limosa. I presume Icelandic race birds do not come this far east?
|Greater Flamingos - Peter Gottschling|
From here we followed the coast and the glittering blue sea
around to the cool pines of Achladeri. As usual it was knee deep in singing and
calling Chaffinches but the birding was actually quite hard and we came back to
the van for our lunch politely frustrated with a few Kruper's Nuthatch calls
and fly through views and just Short-toed Treecreepers and Long-tailed Tits to
add to the tally.
|Happy with lunch but not with the Nuthatch views!|
Things were different after our picnic and within a few
minutes of returning the male Kruper's called and came into view. He showed
excellently and was joined by the female who showed us where their new nest
hole was being excavated. There were smiles all round. The Long-tailed Tits
reappeared and we had close views of Cirl Bunting, Serins, Masked Shrikes, Pied
Flycatcher and a pair of Subalpine Warblers. Once again there were no Woodlarks
|Masked Shrike - Peter Gottschling|
The male Kruper's Nuthatch started singing (another first for
me and nothing like any recordings I have) and we tracked him down once again
before retracing our steps towards Kalloni passing the Spur Winged Plover once
again at Mesa.
|Spur Winged Plover|
A drive up the north end of the Tsiknias gave us Middle
Spotted Woodpecker leaving a nest hole, a dashing Hobby, White Wagtail, a
gleaming White Stork that had just had a bath and Eastern Olies that were now
firmly on territory.
|Hobby - Peter Gottschling|
A fuel and snack top up and then through town to Soumaria
and the decimated eucalyptus trees where Clive picked up a glaring Scops Owl in
one of those still with leaves. Another called on the other side of the road
while a pair of Wood Nuthatches were surprisingly clambering around the huge
Oriental Plane tree.
|Scops Owl |
It was still early (only about five!) so another Lotzaria,
KSP circuit was in order and it started perfectly with more Bee-eaters and the
two Cattle Egrets just out of Skala. The egrets were with the rams before
heading way out east and dropping towards the hidden shore pools which could
explain why they regularly disappear.
|Cattle Egret with a small woolly ovine|
Our luck was with us and one of the Great Spotted Cuckoos
appeared on the track in front and we spent nearly 20 happy minutes watching it
thrash huge hairy caterpillars until they turned inside out! It was a special
encounter with a normally flighty species.
|Cool as a Cat - quite literally|
|Great Spotted Cuckoo|
|Great Spotted Cuckoo - Clive Harris|
The eastern KSP had a few more Little Stints and Ruff and
the water levels are dropping at last so fingers crossed for some more wader
passage in the coming days. Two Quail were heard singing and the Common and
Little Terns were hunting the closest pan and will hopefully attract some
incoming Marsh Terns. A distant flying Curlew was the last new trip bird of the
day before we called it a night and bumped our way back along the Tsiknias with
its Great Reed Warblers, Turtle Doves, that smart female Garganey and swirling
hirundines to round off proceedings.
Much to our delight Sally, our fourth crew member was at the hotel when we returned for dinner.
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