Sunday 15 May 2022

Lesvos - Day 4 - 23rd April 2022

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.

Night Heron

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. 

Black Stork


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

Black-winged Stilt

Kalami Marsh

Coot brood - they used to be very difficult here

Black-headed Wagtail

Black-headed Wagtail
Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing

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

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. 

Euphorbia rigida

Clouded Yellow

Prasium majus

Gynandriris sisyrinchium
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 singing.


Kruper's Nuthatch

Kruper's Nuthatch

Masked Shrike

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

White Stork

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 

Wood Nuthatches

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.

Turtle Dove

Much to our delight Sally, our fourth crew member was at the hotel when we returned for dinner.

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