Monday 29 May 2023

Lesvos - Day 7 - 26th April 2023

I awoke to find that my crew had given me five final day targets to conjure out of the ether so our day out West actually began at the Christou where a spanking male Turnstone in full black, white and almost orange plumage was quickly found on the mud along with 12 Little Stints and three Curlew Sandpipers, one of which was in summer plumage.  Two Temminck’s Stints (#1 target) shuffled along in the same spot and were joined by three more in quick succession before a dog walker spooked the whole lot.

Two Stone-curlews surveyed the world with weary, tired looking eyes and a few more Little Terns were dipping down at the back. We headed back into Kalloni passing the White Stork on its nest on the way before zig-zagging up and over the top through Dafia and despite the extensive realignment of the road through the Lardia gorge we managed to pull off just beyond the pinnacle as usual and immediately found three Crag Martins (#2 target) cruising around. Sombre Tit, Blue Rock Thrush and Cirl Buntings were all seen carrying food and a Wren was using the acoustics of the gorge to good effect.

Perivolis next to feed the cats and have walk along the river. It was glorious down there and we enjoyed views of Cirl Buntings, Spotted Flycatchers and a few other regulars while Ravens tumbled overhead.  The wild flowers were splendid.  Butterflies were very thin on the ground through. 

Cirl Bunting - Steve Cullum 

Oriental Plane - just coming to life


An interesting cave... and a Rock Nuthatch at the nest. Can you see it?


A Composite

Iris germanica

Smyrnium perfoliatum - Perfoliate Alexanders

Tassel Hyacinth

Trifolium pilulare - Ball Cotton Clover

Trifolium pilulare - Ball Cotton Clover

Trifolium stellatum - Starry Clover

White Clover sp - very tall

Lamium moschatum

teneral White-legged Damselfly

A large Robber Fly sp

Speckled-ish Bush Cricket sp

I opted to miss out Ipsilou as it looked a little breezy and weaved our way down the Petrified Forest road instead.  No Chukar this time but plenty of Wheatear action with all three species seen along with a random Hoopoe while down in the park itself we could see five Golden Orioles foraging from the Cypress and Junipers where the glowed like ornithological suns.

Continuing down the hill brought us to Sigri and the first two Jackdaws but the drive along the front was almost devoid of birds.  The Oak Grove only had two Goldfinches and a single House Sparrow but I did find a couple of Alpine Swifts and a dark Eleonora’s Falcon (a new trip bird but not on their target list) way up over the ridge before we moved on to lunch at Faneromeni Beach.  

Lathys clymenum

I was just recounting tales of roadside Rollers here and the distinct lack of anything in the Fig trees when there on a telegraph wire was a the distinctive shape. A controlled exit allowed us all to watch this richly hued Roller (#3 target) through the scope before it bounded further up the valley. Smiles ensued.  What a stroke of luck.

rubbish Roller pics but what a bird!

As we neared the beach the lads in front waved us down and pointed to the paddock alongside where a Collared Pratincole (#4 target) was running around after flies.  This was another species that they all wanted to see very much and being on top of the Roller sighting made it even better.

Collared Pratincole

Lunch on the beach  ended with a look at the sea. Hundreds of Yelkouan Shearwaters were streaming past. South closeish in and north further out.  Two languid Scopoli’s tailed along behind some of the closer Yelks and Shags were perched up on the rocks.

A Tawny Pipit sung overhead and a Red-throated Pipit dropped in near the dry pool but there were no raptors overhead which felt a little odd. With time getting on I opted for a bump back along the track to Eresos and we encountered all the usual Cretzschmar’s Buntings and Black-eared Wheatears and at last a Little Owl that we all got to see.  

Little Owl

Cretzschmar’s Bunting

Cretzschmar’s Bunting

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear - Steve Cullum

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear

Some time was spent at the Cheese Sanitorium once again.  Only a Woodchat this time but Julie found an Icterine Warbler in one of the fruit trees and there were two Collared Flycatchers and both Whitethroats in there too.  Oriental Marbled Skipper was added to the Butterfly list.  Twelve Lesser Kestrels were along the ridge line and then a loose party of seven Red-foots came in from up high with a cloud of House Martins and Swallow and temporarily replaced them before they too drifted north.

Serapias Orchid sp

Eastern Dappled Whites

male Maniole telmessia on Ballota acetabulosa

Black Headed Buntings were now singing regularly along the whole track and down at the Tsichliontas Valley ford (what we have called Meladia) there were ten Crag Martins hawking low of the river bed with there congeners and giving breath-taking views.  For a brown bird they are one of my favourites.  Two Chukar appeared next to the van and crept up the slope rather than flying away.


Black Headed Bunting

Black Headed Bunting

Ruddy Shelduck - Steve Cullum

With rain threatening I decided that to was time it escape the valley and head for home and from Eresos to Skala Kallonis was a smooth 45 minute run.  The temptation of a Dalmatian Pelican required a five minute Pela pitstop before we were on the road again and a few short minutes later we were watching this floating greyish iceberg diligently feeding in the culvert between two of the pans.  The Gull-billed Terns were picked up way in the distance and so after a quick look at two vivid orange Squaccos we headed that way.  With nowhere to park I ejected the posse and swung round to park opposite allowing them to connect with the pale phase Booted Eagle that Graham E and Mark G had found as it circled slowly east mirroring the main road while behind us 23 Gull-billed Terns were now loafing on the first pan island. 

Dalmatian Pelican

Dalmatian Pelican - Steve Cullum

I may not have found Rufous Bush-chat or attempted to go and find a Robin but four out of the six targets had somehow been seen on a wonderful last full day.

Hopefully we would squeeze a couple of hours in before the airport required our attendance the next morning.

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