Thursday 25 May 2023

Lesvos - Day 3 - 22nd April 2023

A day began just a few hundred yards from the hotel as we picked up a pair of Masked Shrikes at the end of the road on our way out and I suspect that these are the closest to the hotels that I have ever seen the species.  I had to pop back to the hotel and collect the bread and left the happy crew watching their first of this enigmatic species. Onwards to Soumaria to check the Eucalypts for pesky Scops Owl.  We could hear one in the trees closest to the road and two others out in the Olive groves but try as we might we could not find one roosting amongst the dense regrowth.  A Middle Spotted Woodpecker called behind and Olies and the first Eastern Subalpine Warblers were heard.  I could not find any Wood Nuthatches in the mighty Oriental Plane.

Egyptian Grasshopper with breakfast

As usual birding on Lesvos was taken seriously...

Up the hill and around the bends to the Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint.  It was now quite warm and over 30 Ravens were cavorting across the vista opposite.  They have certainly increased dramatically in recent years.  Common Buzzards were displaying all around and five Short-toed Eagles were noted along with a hulking female Goshawk that was being bravely pestered by a female SparrowhawkBlack and White Storks circled through and a glance up at one of the former had me shouting at my party and the other couple present to get eyes up on the adult Egyptian Vulture circling through.  It was a fair way up and quickly moving north but was a magnificent bird, gleaming in the sunshine.  This is a very rare bird indeed for the island and not one that I ever expected to bump into. 

Black Stork

Egyptian Vulture

Swifts zoomed through too but I could not find any Alpines while down on the burnt hillside there were singing Beethoven Buntings (sorry, Cretzschmar’s), Greenfinches, Cirl Buntings, Eastern Subalps and a pair of Stonechats.  Eastern Orpheans sung in the trees below and a couple of Woodchats perched up but it was proving quite difficult to find the small stuff actually perched up.  

Feeling quite chipper at finding a new bird for my Lesvos list we mooched on across the island to Kavaki which of course had no birders due to the lack of Ruppell’s Warblers but we spent a fabulous hour there taking in the stunning views and watching Blue Rock Thrush, Peregrines, Med Shags and Eastern Subalpine Warblers and a calling Chukar was eventually found by Mandy perched up on a rock where it sat for long enough to be scoped.


Blue Rock Thrush

Reseda alba

Eastern Dappled Whites flitted around us and Sardinian Warblers scolded further down the slope but once again seeing any Warblers was proving tricky!

Up now to Persama but I kept driving past the poorly reservoir and parked up for lunch down the slope where the concrete track ends.  The Kermes Oaks were home to chattering scratchy Subalpines and we eventually saw a couple well but Eastern Orphean, Wood Warbler and Blackcap were all heard in song but could not be found which was frustrating and followed up but also hearing both Pied and Collared Flycatchers along the track but seeing neither!  I hoped tomorrow out West would rectify this. 

A Middle Spotted Woodpecker drummed – the first time I have heard one here do that and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears fizzed overhead as they displayed and flashed all their black and white bits and bobs. Skywatching over the next hour was superb with straight up views of hovering and displaying Short-toed Eagles, Long-legged and Common Buzzards, three male Red-footed Falcons together, two Common Kestrels, a lump of a female Peregrine and a dark phase Booted Eagle that almost snuck through.  Alpine Swifts zoomed over with some big flocks of mixed Common Swifts and hirundines and a Turtle Dove purred and Cuckoo briefly joined the chorus. 

Short-toed Eagle

Short-toed Eagle

Short-toed Eagle

Booted Eagle

Wall Brown, Spotted Fritillary and Long-tailed Blue joined the Butterfly list along with a large Cream Spot Tiger Moth that dazzled us with the clashing colours.

 Cream Spot Tiger Moth

Sheep Train - ACV

Back at the bus a Tree Pipit came up from the small pool where it had obviously been drinking and continued north and Red-veined Darter and two Vagrant Hawkers were the only dragonflies seen while a Cirl Bunting gave itself up.  The reservoir itself was looking even worse that in September and had 12 Ruddy Shelduck and a vast number of Yellow-legged Gulls that I checked for Audouin’s with no joy.  A male Red-backed Shrike was seen on the way out and we wiggled our way back over the top and down to Kalloni where Stylianos very kindly showed us where that pesky Scops Owl was hiding before leaving with his own party.  It was very obscured but you could see it all if you moved around a bit!

A quick Pela stop and then off towards the eastern Saltpans where we could hear thunder rumbling. Six Spoonbills were seen on the north-west pan as we drove past and once down at the east end we immediately got onto the flock of 12 White-winged Black Terns that soon headed back to the south -west corner.  The walk down was pleasant and we were accompanied by four Fizzing Pepsicolas (thanks Annie!) – sorry Zitting Cisticolas.  They showed very well and were energetically keeping each other in their place.  Corn Buntings and a Black-headed Wagtails sung and Olies chattered in the Tamarisks.

 Black-headed Wagtail

A Short-toed Eagle spooked everything form the far end with a low pass and 40 Ruddy Shelduck appeared from somewhere along with a lone male Mallard.  The dread of Terns settled and with some nifty scope angles we managed to find all 12 WWBTs and the two dusky Whiskered Terns on the islands with Commons and Little Terns along with a bonus Curlew.

Four single Black Storks flew low and west and a Little Ringed Plover was heard displaying which was crazily the first we had encountered on the trip.  After watching the Greater Flamingos dance we walked back in the cooling air and I found an large Scolopendra Centipede under a rock.

Greater Flamingos

Scolopendra Centipede 

Trifolium resupinatum

The Spoonbills at the other end flew off just as we pulled up but we did see a lovey lemon shaped Squacco on the near bank of the channel. Loutzaria was fairly quiet but 38 Wood Sandpipers came up off the beach pool and two Marsh Harriers were out hunting.  Down at the Tsiknias a final Pallid Harrier scan failed once again but we did see a bonus Snipe lurking in the grasses and a hoard of Sand Martins and Swallows descended to feed low over the river while up above five Med Gulls noisily called as they headed towards town. Identifying these for eight North Kent birders was not difficult!  A male Whinchat posed nicely for us. On crossing the ford Andrea fond a Great Bittern standing just up river and it allowed itself to be seen by all before stalking back into the reeds to round up a very memorable day that was actually meant to be spent around at Achladeri!



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