Wednesday 24 May 2023

Lesvos - Day 2 - 21st April 2023

A glorious first breakfast at the Pela; chilly but bright with jangling Corn Buntings and energetic Nightingales for ornithological company. Two Squaccos on the Kallonis Pool after picking up the bread got us started  before a stop at the Christou where a Stone-curlew was soon found out on the saltings while Stilts, Avocets, Ruff and a couple of Little Stints and Kentish Plovers tottered around.  Bee-eaters were calling somewhere above and the first Little Tern was fishing at the back while a cracking male Black-headed Wagtail sang from close to the road which was pleasing after the dearth of Wagtails yesterday.


Black-headed Wagtail

On to the Metochi track with Corn Buntings, Nightingales and Woodchats on the drive down along with a superb Great Reed Warbler crashing through the trackside herbage. We stopped at the top of the lake track to walk down and immediately picked up a Black Kite circling north west.  This is a quality island bird and is certainly the best spring one I have ever seen here. As it turned out it had been tracked from the east across the Bay.  


Black Kite

Black Kite

Three White Storks were not far behind but they dropped back into a field where the Yellow-legged Gulls were gathering. The lake, as with recent years, was actually quite disappointing (although we were told that Spotted and Little Crakes had been seen earlier). Red-rumped Swallows were nesting under the bridge and Reed and Sedge Warblers were in the edges but no Alpine Swifts joined the Common Swifts coming down to drink.

Stripe Necked Terrapins

White Stork

Red-rumped Swallow - Steve Cullum

Common Swift - Steve Cullum

Little Grebes giggled and Coot and Moorhen found their way onto the list but there were no Herons of any sort.  We looped around to the escarpment and spent a happy hour scanning the hillside finding our first Cretzschmar’s Bunting and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears and a wealth of raptors with three local Island Common Buzzards seeing off a stunning dark chocolatey Steppe Buzzard. It was a cracking bird and seemed to tick off all the right features.  Long-legged Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Hobby and a female Red-footed Falcon added to the spectacle.  There were smiles.  A Raven powered through and Woodchats and a male Red-backed Shrike were hunting off the closest fence line with a Hoopoe singing  in the olives while Nightingales sang and croaked behind us as we stood in the shade of the Elms. 

Steppe Buzzard imho

Steppe Buzzard

Steppe Buzzard

Levant Water Frog - ACV

There were plenty of Butterflies to be seen with Scarce and Common Swallowtails, Orange Tips, Painted Ladies, Common Blues, Small Copper, Small Heath and several Whites noted along with a single Nettle Tree.  We moved on and a Middle Spotted Woodpecker snuck across the track and Whinchats were scattered along the whole route but a brief Spotted Flycatcher was the only one we saw.

Field Marigold - Calendula arvensis

Scarce Swallowtail

Clouded Yellow

Common Blue

Brown Argus

Cutting through to Potamia found us birding around the road grader but it was worth the effort with magnificent views of an adult Long-legged Buzzard and two more distant Short-Toed Eagles. Four more White Storks drifted over high and a Lesser Kestrel was flycatching above the crags.  Woodchats were dotted around and a singing Masked Shrike was eventually found but it only stayed on top for a few more seconds. Cirl Buntings were trilling and a Tree Pipit flew up from under the Olives but the Eastern Orphean Warbler that I found simply flew across and did not show again or sing unfortunately.

Long-legged Buzzard

Long-legged Buzzard - Steve Cullum - bit sharper than mine!

It was time for lunch back at the Pela before heading back out to check on the Tsiknias.  The concrete channel just past the bakery had three Squaccos feeding around it in the sedgey fields and both White and Black Storks were parading around almost in the village! Down on the river a male Montagu’s Harrier briefly cruised across the fields and one of those pesky Eastern Olivaceous Warblers eventually showed very well but the river itself was very quiet and only 19 Bee-eaters circling above it redeemed it somewhat although the flora was spectacular.

Lunchtime Green Wolf Spider - I loved the shadow!

Spanish Sparrow



Squacco - Steve Cullum

White Stork

White Stork

Black Stork

Black Stork

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Blue & Scarlet forms of Anagallis arvensis

Anchusa undulata

Anchusa undulata

Hypecoum procumbens

Orange Tip on Kohlrauschia velutina

Silene behen

Silene dichotoma - Forked catchfly

Tordylium apulum - Med Hartwort

Down to the KSP and the north west hide was actually rather good with over 80 Ruff outside and 25 Greenshank along the edges which had a stunning male Bar-tailed Godwit in full breeding plumage amongst them.  This is a rare bird here and a Black-tailed Godwit made it the double and was joined by a swimming Spotted Redshank.

Bar-tailed Godwit & Avocets

Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruff & Avocets

Ruff flock, Black-winged Stilts, Avocet and Flamingo

Black-winged Stilt

On again and down to the Alykes Sheepfields passing over 30 Wood Sandpiper on the way but still not one Little Ringed Plover. The Sheepfields (minus sheep) were superb and carpeted in flowers and a variety of browny birds and we amassed over a dozen Short-toed Larks, 14 Red-throated Pipits, two Tawny Pipits, Crested Larks, Whinchats and at the other end of the colour scale a small selection of Blue and Black Headed Wagtails.

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpipers were dotted about and five Curlew Sandpipers, 20 Little Stints and two Kentish Plovers were on the still wet pools while a pair of Mallard were the first we had seen.  

Anthemis tomentosa - Woolly Chamomile & Hypecoum procumbens

Chrysanthemum coronarium

Chrysanthemum coronarium

Malcolmia maritima - Virginia Stock

Sarcopoterium spinosum

Yellow-horned Poppy

Greater Flamingos

We bumped back through the middle seeing a couple of Woodchat and Red-backed Shrikes as well as a male Grey Headed Wagtail  in a ploughed field with a few other flavas and 14 more Red-throated Pipits.  Five Turtle Doves flew madly back and forth and two Glossy Ibis were seen back on the Tsiknias as we retraced our steps.  Back near town a pre-roost of about 800 Spanish Sparrows was quite spectacular.

Glossy Ibis

Spanish Sparrows

Spanish Sparrows - ACV

Spanish Sparrows - ACV

I was still sat outside at 11pm and Scops and Long-eared Owls were calling around the hotel, Nightingales were still belting out, Eastern Tree-frogs were ramping up the volume and the Christou waders are once again agitated in the distance.

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