Saturday 7 October 2023

Lesvos - Autumn - 21st September - 5th October 2023

21st September:

It was good to be back on the island for the last two weeks of the package season - later than I have been before. It was very hot but after dropping our stuff off at the Pela we headed out for a simple circuit with Crag Martins circling the hotel with House Martins and Swallows.


Hyde and his buddy

It is very dry out there but there were plenty of Red-backed Shrikes, Spotted Flycatchers, Willow Warblers, Whinchats, flava Wagtails and Northern Wheatears out around the tracks with a few strutting Tawny Pipits and a first year Lesser Grey Shrike.

The salt pan channel was a bit foetid but the pans held Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Redshank, LRP, Dunlin, Avocet and Little Stints along with nine Slender-billed Gulls and a host of Flamingos.

A scan from the race track mound before heading off to do the first shop gave me ten Dalmatian Pelicans, Black Stork, 12 Spoonbills, Grey Plover, three Curlew and a female Marsh Harrier. Our loop back took in two grumpy looking Stone Curlews were under the usual Tamarisks on the Christou.

Stone Curlew

The camera barely came out but you can't ignore a tastefully placed Scorn Bunting

Scorn Bunting

22nd September:

The first full day with a lazy vaguely north westerly circuit. Two Spoonbills and five Ravens were seen during our Pela breakfast and Curlew and Greenshank could be heard in the Bay before we headed up and over the top with a coffee with Alison in Anaxos before stopping at Kavaki.

 Kalloni Bay is like this every morning

Groups of three and two Bottle Nosed Dolphins slowly cruised in towards Mithymna on a flat calm sea while Sardinian Warblers rattled and Chukars called in all directions.

Bottle Nosed Dolphins

Villa hottentotta I believe collecting sand grains by vibration to add to her eggs when she flicks them 
Villa hottentotta

Persama is now a barren empty basin rather than a reservoir but the lanes and tracks between there and Petra produced plenty of roadside Spotted Flycatchers, Red-backed Shrikes and Willow Warblers along with eight Tree Pipits, Whinchats, Pied Flycatcher, both Whitethroats and a brief Icterine Warbler. Two each of Honey Buzzard and Eleonora's Falcon drifted over in the perfect blue sky (unless of course you wanted to look for raptors!).

Meadow Brown sp

Common Digging Grasshopper - it has red wings

A huge stash of Plane seeds way up in a tree fork

 Looks like Phyllonorycter platani

But not sure on this wiggle on the Plane too

Lunch and a paddle at the little beach at Tsichranta with Cirl Buntings singing, an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear and a Shag bobbing off shore. Two Persian Squirrels came down to find a drink in the remains of the stream.

It was seriously hot so a return to the Pela to refresh and sit watching the garden Spotted Flycatchers and a Redstart before a pre-dinner circuit of Loutzaria and the Tsiknias which gave us plenty of close passerine encounters with 12 Tree Pipits, posing chats and Willow Warblers, a Lesser Grey Shrike and 36 pruuking Bee-eaters to round up the day. A White Stork even walked calmly across the track and posed for a few shots.

Spotted Flycatcher


Red-backed Shrike

Willow Warbler

Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes

Blue-headed Wagtail

Bee-eaters, Collared Dove and Common Buzzard

Tree Pipit

Tree Pipit

Tree Pipit with mega snack

Red-backed Shrike

White Stork

Flava Wagtails and Corn Buntings headed off somewhere to root to the east of the hotel as I typed my daily report and bats seem to be made up from small Pipistrelle sized with two frequencies at 45 and 55khz and another larger species that registered 23khz.  It seems that so many Pips may be involved that I am now unsure to put Common and Soprano on them.  At least I have now discovered that the island has recorded 19 species.  Click here for more details

A late bump around the Tsiknias gave us a Nightjar with glowing red eyes sat in the track that was flushed by the only oncoming car we saw on the drive, a waddling Spadefoot Toad, three youngish Foxes and a multitude of moths.


23rd September:

Scorching. Not sure I have ever had such a hot day on the island before. After our Pela breakfast with Redstart and Spotted Flycatchers for company we headed round to Parakila and the Turpentine trees.

There was very little fruit on them and not many warblers visiting but we did find several Blackcaps, both Whitethroats, Spot Flys and both Northern and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears. Middle Spotted Woodpeckers were vocal (I reckon I saw at least eight cross the roads during the day) and Rock Nuthatches were still noisily bouncing around the little harbour chapel at Parakoil where 11 Med Gulls were with the Black-heads, Yellow-legged Gulls and Shags on the breakwater along with a 1w Caspian Gull.

Freyer's Grayling

Persian Squirrel

Millet Skipper

Holly Blue

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

Eastern Willow Emerald

I reckon that tis feels like a 1w Caspian Gull

On over the top to Pithariou where the heat was extremely uncomfortable but some shade was found for lunch with Crag Martins wheeling around the Vallonia Oaks. Cormorants lounged around the edges and Little Grebes trilled.

A female Goshawk snuck across the valley and Ravens were somewhat less unobtrusive but the four agile Eleanora's Falcons were more intent on coming down to bathe than hunt.

Violet Dropwing

Eleanora's Falcon

Onwards to the final stop at Perivoli where the cats were pampered while Dad and I investigated the river. There was still a little water in the usual spot but no birds whatsoever were coming down to use it. In fact it was very quiet with just Spot Flys, Blackcaps and the odd Willow Warbler and Whitethroat although a Garden Warbler was the first.

Rock Nuthatches were calling up the slope while their woody cousins were in the Oriental Planes where Middle Spotted Woodpeckers bounded.

We headed back at this point and lounged around till dinner time. As dusk approached over 100 flava and a few White Wagtails headed off to roost and a post dinner drive produced no Nightjars but a lovely Barn Owl and several more Spadefoot Toads.

And a lovely Geomatrician that we caught in the car!


24th September:

I really struggled with the heat during the day and as such only managed a mid-morning circuit around Metochi and Potamia.

The expected selection of chats and Spotted Flys were seen along with a few Willow Warblers and the odd Tawny Pipit and Bee-eater. The lake held a Teal, an adult Black Stork, six Little Egrets, two each of Ruff and Greenshank and three very noisy Kingfishers. The Rock Nuthatches were dashing around the slopes but the only bird of prey was a fine adult Short-toed Eagle that circled low.

panting Tawny Pipit 

Black Stork




The old reservoir had Little Grebes and Coots and a single Mallard and clouds of Red-veined and Scarlet Darters, Violet Dropwings and Lesser Emperors while a Hoopoe flopped across and was the first and only of the whole trip.

The higher reservoir had Coots, Cormorants and Little Grebes and a swimming hound that prevented a Dalmatian Pelican from coming into land but the dog looked happy to be out in the water and seemed to be trying to drink as much of it as he could.

Dalmatian Pelican

Hooded Crow

The rest of the day was spent around the Pela but as usual it was never birdless; just too hot to sit around anywhere for long. Two Pelicans, eight Honey Buzzards, Common Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle drifted over along with five hirundine species and a couple of Bee-eaters.

Spotted Flycatchers could be heard bill snapping in the gardens and the Redstart was still around along with a female Sardinian Warbler and a sub-singing Blackcap.

Red-backed Shrike

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Spotted Flycatcher

Ilex Hairstreaks, Lang's Short-tailed and Long-tailed Blues, Mallow Skippers, Painted Ladies, Swallowtails and Hummingbird Hawkmoths were all seen whilst generally vegetating in what little shade I could find.

Hats off to those that spent the day at the top end staring at the skies in the hope of raptors from Turkey.

25th September:

A first early morning out after a very uncomfortably hot and humid night. I watched the sun come up from Hide 2 at the KSP and found a few waders with 27 Little Stint, 12 Dunlin, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Marsh Sandpiper, 3 Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Redshank and Greenshank.

Twelve Little Egrets and three Great White Egrets headed out from their roost and a Kestrel and juv Marsh Harrier were seen while two Red-throated Pipits were heard out on the Alykes which was pleasing as they are tricky in the autumn in reverse to Tree Pipit.

We headed north after breakfast pausing to avoid the numerous Willow Warblers flitting across the Loutzaria tracks while an adult Cuckoo on the sprinklers was unusually tardy in heading to Africa. Several Bee-eaters were on the wires and were to become a theme of the day.

The wiggle up to Argennos via Napi added a couple of Short-toed Eagles and lots of Ravens and the usual watchpoint gave us two more Short-toed Eagles, six Red-footed Falcons, Goshawk, three Sparrowhawk and Peregrine in a hasty 40 minutes before 'proper tourists' in identical white hire cars and a fleet of buzzing mopeds forced a retreat down the road to where Jed, Ralph and the others were already racking up the raptors at Vafeios.

An hour there added Osprey, two Hobbies, several Honey Buzzards, Marsh Harrier, another couple of Sparrowhawks, Booted Eagle and Red-foots and what looked like a Lesser spotted Eagle although it skilfully avoided the scopes. Bee-eaters and hirundines were constantly on the move although seeing the flocks of the former was nigh on impossible.

Family lunch back at Skala Sikamineas watching Kingfishers in the little harbour and then back over the top adding a Long-legged Buzzard in the process. A bump back through the saltpans gave wonderfully close views of the young Flamingos and a super low flying Honey Buzzard down the Tsiknias.

juv Greater Flamingos

Back at the Pela, news from Jed to get out and look at the sky as despite the late hour, they had just had 121 Red-foots come in in one flock as well as lots of Harriers, had me wandering just past the Pela to pick a patch of what I thought would be birdless blue sky but with some hard staring and constant scanning I had a superb hour that amassed 37 Red-footed Falcons, 46 Honey Buzzard, three Short-toed Eagles, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk and both male and juvenile Pallid Harriers between 1745 and 1845. I just hope that these birds eventually came down and roosted for the night somewhere on the south east side of the island to which they were all headed otherwise their fate over the sea would be less than ideal.

 A large Picture Winged type fly that seemed to hold territory on unripe Oranges

One Nightjar was out on the tracks after dark along with Two Spotted Field Crickets, Egyptian Grasshoppers and noisy Italian Tree Crickets.

Two Spotted Field Cricket - Gryllus bimaculatus 

Italian Tree Cricket - Oecanthus pellucens

26th September:

The Kalloni Village complex was our first post-breakfast stop to try and re-find Dave Hawkin’s Little Bunting from yesterday which constituted only the 5th record for all of Greece. There were plenty of birds but no Buntings with several Tree Pipits, Serins and Chaffinches coming to the garden irrigation system along with the now usual trio of Willow Warblers, Red-backed Shrikes and Spotted Flycatchers.

A female Golden Oriole flashed through and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers were obvious once again. They are so much easier this time of year.

Tree Pipit

Tree Pipit

Red-backed Shrike

Willow Warbler

Common Blue

Small Copper

Caltrop - Tribulus terrestris

We then wiggled over the top to Perivoli which was very pleasant but still fairly quiet. Blackcaps almost outnumbered Spot Flys and a Red-breasted Flycatcher frustratingly rattled several times from the monastery garden but I could not find it. Sardinian Warblers added their own churr and Ravens tumbled low overhead and ignored a local Common Buzzard but saw off a stunning almost pied Steppe Buzzard that drifted through. Persian Squirrels were once again bouncing around.



Spotted Flycatcher

Lunch at the chapel on the track to Ancient Antissa afforded views over the Gavathas fields but no Rollers were to be seen. Sombre Tits, Cirl Buntings and Rock Nuthatches were around us as we ate and a Great Banded Grayling and Cardinal whizzed by.

The Antissa fields were very quiet with just a few Spot Flys and three Red-backed Shrikes but a Red-throated Pipit was a good fly over and the Jackdaws were milling around with the Hooded Crow flocks. A Water Rail squealed from the side of the almost invisible river and Levant Water Frogs were huddled around the last puddle by the ford while a Kingfisher flashed by.

Willow Warblers liberally sprinkled the verge side Fennel stems like green and gold autumn confetti and Stonechats, Cirl Buntings and more Rock Nuthatches were encountered as we dropped down into Kalo Limani where a Marsh Harrier was seen making landfall and a Little Egret was an unusual sight on the rocks in the bay.

 Red-backed Shrike

Blue Rock Thrushes played chase around the last few houses and a Honey Buzzard circled above as we climbed back out to the main road after our frappes which were interrupted by the rescue of a huge Asian Mantis from the local pack of ever hungry cats.

Asian Mantis

A pre-dinner circuit of the Tsiknias, Loutzaria and the Alykes area was pretty productive with six Great White Egrets, six Curlew, Grey Plover and two surprise Golden Plover that were my first ever autumn record having only seen them on my February visit. Several Kingfishers were encountered.


A Meadow Pipit on the deck with two Tawny Pipits was also my first autumn record and amongst the grey hulks of Dalmatian Pelicans about 20 Spoonbills also roosted.

Two juvenile Marsh Harriers saw off a fine dark Steppe Buzzard on the bump back through and the flava Wagtails, Sparrows and Corn Buntings were all heading off to roost. Five White Storks had already settled onto their chosen telegraph poles while a Short-toed Eagle stared out with yellow eyes from another.


White Stork

Short-toed Eagle

27th September:

I am not doing very well at early starts once again but breakfast was enlivened by a steady passage of at least 35 Tree Pipits heading east in small vocal groups along with a mixed bag of hirundines. The resident Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart are still in the garden figs - each with their own circuit and favoured perches and have felt no urge to move on yet. A Black Kite was seen as I went down to pick up the lunch bread - part of an early departing movement of 20 birds noted by Jed and Ralph.

Achladeri was our first stop on another hot morning but the army was lurking about 400m up into the woods so we made a tactical retreat after watching Short-toed Treecreepers and a lovely flock of Medium-tailed Tits (sorry but they feel so different to me).

We fared better at Mikri Limani where at least four Kruper's Nuthatches were discovered although they were keeping to the pine canopy and were not particularly vocal but were entertaining as ever. Several Coal Tits showed well and unhelpfully out here seem to have an almost Yellow-browed Warbler type of call which is not helpful when that species is on your autumn Lesvos radar!

 Kruper's Nuthatch

More Medium-tailed Tits were seen and Cirl Buntings trilled while three Common Chiffchaffs were seen well amongst the parties of Willow Warblers foraging at all levels.

 Freyer's Grayling again

The saltpans at Polichinitos held pinker Flamingos than the KSP along with a sprinkling of waders which included several Little Stints and Kentish Plovers while 72 Sandwich Terns were spaced out along their usual posts and three Black Storks were the most I had seen on this trip.


Black Stork

If anything the east side of the Bay is even crispier than the west and the drive back along the coast through golden brown ex-arable fields only added the expected Wheatears, Spot Flys and Red-backed Shrikes.

Eight Mediterranean Shags and 12 Med Gulls were in the little harbour with no apparent name as we made our way along the beach back towards Achladeri passing two tettering Common Sandpipers on the way.

Med Gulls

Med Shags

Med Shags

Back to the Pela mid-afternoon for a chill out with only a Dalmatian Pelican drifting over, bill snapping Spot Fly and a few chirruping Red-rumped Swallows to disturb the peace.


White Speck

28th September:

It was a stormy night with squally downpours, lightening and peels of thunder and this continued throughout the day although the rain associated with it was somewhat sporadic.

The Pela breakfast today included 32 Grey Herons that spiralled down through the grey cloud between downpours and thunderclaps. They looked somewhat relieved to see land below them.

The wet triggered a mass emergence of flying ants and the local bedraggled Spot Flys, Red-backed Shrikes and House Sparrows were all flycatching in earnest. Needless to say the gulls were all getting in on the action too.

Slip sliding away

A Dalmatian Pelican sat at the end of the Tsiknias with the Shags and Cormorants and 18 Med Gulls were picking the ants from the water surface with Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls.

Down in Loutzaria there seemed to be more Red-backs around and we found a field that held an amazing (for autumn) flock of 26 Red-throated Pipits along with a few Trees and Tawnys, Crested Larks, flava Wagtails and Wheatears. It was good to see the Pipits in fresh plumage - much as we would hope to find an autumn vagrant in the UK.

Red-throated Pipit

Red-throated Pipit with Tree Pipit above

Bryony Ladybird

Slant Headed Grasshopper

Symrna Earwig I think

A late Great Reed Warbler crashed around in the phragmites and three Common Reed Warblers were also I heard. I suspect the rain deposited them. Four Red-footed Falcons, a Hobby and Lesser Kestrel were new in and two female Marsh Harriers were still cruising around. Dunlin and Little Stints were in the saltpan channel but we did not linger long as news from Craig of four White Pelicans having just dropped into the Eastern pans came through.

It did not take too long to get to the start of the track where we met Craig and Rachel. They pointed behind us to where the quartet were back in the air and trying to gain height having been spooked by a random clap of thunder.

All were juveniles but two were slightly older, having whiter general plumage, more contrasting remiges and brighter bills. This is the rarer of the two species here and was in fact a new island bird for me. They gained height steadily and were lost to view over the ridge.

White Pelicans

Meanwhile behind us there were nine Dalmatian Pelicans loafing around as they do, along with 14 Spoonbills and a few waders with Grey Plovers and Curlews being audible.

Dalmatian Pelican

Dalmatian Pelican and tiny Spoonbills

With more lively weather imminent we beat a retreat and headed back for another lazy afternoon watching the brooding thunderheads as they closed in around Skala Kallonis.


29th September:

After the turbulent weather yesterday, it dawned bright and clear once again and after breakfast we headed west along the coast and then up over the top towards Eresos.

Mirror calm Christou

The first stop was at the river bridge at Skala Eresou where the left over lunch bread was fed to the seething hoard of Stripe-necked Terrapins and Thick-lipped Mullet. Two rich rufous Common Eels were also getting in on the frenzy.

A couple of Moorhens appeared and the first Night Heron, a spotty juvenile, was sitting on some of the overhanging Giant Reed. Lesser Emperors and Migrant Hawkers zipped around and Cetti's Warblers and Water Rail were both heard while two calling Acros 'felt' more like Moustached Warbler than Reed or Sedge and the fact they refused to show despite being just below in thick cover was vaguely suggestive. May well be worth a return visit.

The Eresos to Sigri track is usually quiet at this time of year but I always give it a go once just to see what is out there. The climb up to the Eresos ridge takes you past a fine Vallonia Oak near the crest and unusually it was full of birds with Blue and Great Tit, Willow Warblers, two Blackcaps, three Cirl Buntings and a fine 1w male Collared Flycatcher that, if seen in the UK would have got a big thumbs up.

Rock Nuthatches, Crested Larks, doodleooodling Woodlarks, Stonechats, Red-backed Shrikes and the odd Whinchat and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear accompanied us down into Meladia where Rock Sparrows were around the little corner farm.

Red-backed Shrikes were spaced along our whole route and we saw several Blue Rock Thrushes too. It was good to find perched up and hunting Eleonora's Falcons with 11 in total along with five Lesser Kestrel, Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle and Marsh Harrier. Starred Agamas were doing their usual rock spy hopping but seldom lingered.

Eleonora's Falcons

Starred Agama

A swim down at Faneromeni was relaxing but there were no birds offshore and about 50 flava Wagtails and two Red-throated Pipits danced around the recently cut hay Alfalfa field as we headed back out and up over the top.

A quick swing onto the Petrified Forest road gave us a covey of 14 Chukar that ran one way and then flew back across the road. This is the most I have seen in one group before. A Levant Sparrowhawk cruised through as a fine bonus and Linnets were coming down to the roadside pool to drink.

Four thermalling Honey Buzzards and a juvenile Short-toed Eagle over Ipsilou rounded off the day.

The huge full moon rose orange from behind the hills

but soon was a gleaming silver disc

A trundle around the tracks only produced this suitably scary Scolopendra.

30th September:

A lazy start followed by a walk out and round the fields west of the Tsiknias. It was pretty warm once again but it was good to be on foot and trying to creep up on Red-backed Shrikes and Spot Flys. Black-capped Jays were flopping between Fig Trees and a few more hirundines were on the move including Sand Martins once again and occasional glances up into the vast blueness gave me five pretty stratospheric Dalmatian Pelicans spiralling up and up while two different Short-toed Eagles were actively hunting my walk route and would pop into view occasionally with a skinny snake to swallow down.

Dalmatian Pelicans

Short-toed Eagles

One of the problems out here in September is the heat haze that gets between you and your subject. I am not a photographer per se but it can be frustrating at times. Tree and Red-throated Pipits were out in the fields and perhaps the latter is commoner from now on in the season that I had previously imagined?

Three Blues, Mallow and Millet Skippers and Painted Ladies were on the Vitex agnus-castus but was too hot for most to settle for long. A couple of Southern Darters were a little more obliging.

Long-tailed Blue

Long-tailed Blue

Tricky - I thought Oriental Marbled but could well be a bright Mallow Skipper

Southern Darter

We headed over the top to Mithymna for lunch on the quayside before a couple of short stops at Vafeios and Argennos revealed that despite the lateness of the day, raptors were still coming in but were all incredibly high, borne by the brisk north easterly off the Turkish coast. I counted five each of Honey Buzzard and Marsh Harrier, six Red-foots, two Eleanora's, Sparrowhawk and a richly coloured Steppe Buzzard along with seemingly local Common Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle.

Vafeios view

Squirting Cucumber

A short session down at Hide 2 at the KSP at dusk gave good light for checking through the waders with two Marsh Sandpipers again amongst the Redshank and Greenshank and a lone Spot Shank too although as usual the slightly odd long billed Common Redshanks get more than a second glance. Thankfully the Spotty was vocal too. A Kentish Plover was with the Little Stint and Dunlin flock as were a Ruff and four Ringed Plovers - 12 species on view.

Willow Warblers were everywhere along the irrigated fields and once slightly odd one posed for pics on the fence and I have to admit to being stumped. It was wholly dark legged and looked Chiffchaff-like but had incredibly long wings but it would appear that is indeed a Willow Warbler.

Willow Warbler

Daily Red-backed Shrikes

Two White Storks were drinking from the spinning irrigation twirlies before both heading back off towards some field that had previously taken their fancy and the two immature Marsh Harriers were still quartering but seemed somewhat taken aback (as was I) but the swirling mass of over 500 Spanish Sparrows where I had only seen a handful up to that point. They all headed off towards the eastern side of the pans as did the bounding flava and White Wagtails and plipping Corn Buntings.

Hydriris ornatalis - another pretty little moth around the hotel

1st October:

An early start at last and down at the eastern KSP before sun up with the sound of Crested Larks warming up and 'shanks out on the first pan. Even in the first hint of dawn you could see a line of slowly stirring Curlews out on the first pan. Fourteen was my highest island count and it had reached 18 by the end of the walk with other odd ones dotted about.

The Dalmatian Pelicans were already mobile and spread out and for such a big they can be problematical to count accurately for some bizarre reason but at least 18 were moving around and a couple of groups headed off towards the flat calm Bay with their Cormorant buddies in tow.

A female Pintail with two eclipse male Mallard were paddling about but I could not find any Shelduck. Grey Plovers were scattered around in ones and twos and were constantly calling.

Corn Buntings left their reedy roost and a Zitting Cisticola was making that curious little contact call from just into the sedges. A Kingfisher followed us back towards the car and a female Merlin appeared from nowhere and zipped over our heads and headed east. I have seen a couple of spring ones before but not an autumn one (I think).

The Curlews had dispersed but there was a silvery Marsh Sandpiper with the Redshanks that scurried around the Flamingos. I am sure they have increased in pink intensity in the last two days.

Back for breakfast and then up to Tsonia for a swim in the crystal clear but slightly chilly sea followed by an epic lunch-dinner at Alison's in Anaxos.

Tamarisk Peacock - Chiasmia aestimaria

Looks like a Lesser Cream Wave or something similar - both were found in the changing cubicles on the beach!

The westerly wind was preventing any raptors dotting the clear blue skies but the Ravens were up having lots of tumbling fun.

An evening potter out through Tsiknias, Loutzaria and down to the end of the Racecourse gave some lovely close views of Red-backed Shrikes but once again there were fewer Willow Warblers and just a couple of Whinchat and Wheatear. A Common Whitethroat was the first for several days.

Little Egret

 Red-backed Shrike

 Red-backed Shrike

 American Pokeberry

Scaly Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers were on the Channel. The former are small and I presume Tundra race birds? Down at the river mouth I could see the snoozing Spoonbills and Pelicans along with 12 Great White Egrets and 11 Shelduck.

Little Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover

Five Teal and a spangly juvenile Sanderling was running back and forth along the water’s edge although there was so little ebb and flow that even a one legged Sanderling could have kept dry feet, sorry, foot. A Lesser Grey Shrike was at the end of the racecourse fence and a Kingfisher was once again in the channel.

Sol dipped below the hillside and it was time to head back passing three White Storks preparing for the night on the poles and a hoard of Hooded Crows moving to their roost somewhere on the edge of town.

The Pips were out early back at the Pela and a huge Convolvulus Hawkmoth posed for the dinner guests.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth

2nd October:

Out westish this morning with a stop down at Tavari just to have a gander around. Grey and White Wagtails were along the stream remnants near the sea and some Woodlarks were feeding with the House Sparrows in amongst the sheep while two Lesser Kestrels headed up valley.

The Laughing Doves in Skala Eresou were a no show but I did see a dark Eleonora's hurtling overhead while Ravens seemed to be tumbling around any peak. They are now a truly common bird on the island. A Sheep Nostril Fly landed on the car for a brief few seconds. A species I have never seen before. You can do your own Googling...


Sheep Nostril Fly

Back over the top to Gavathas for a swim on the deserted beach. It is so shallow here that you feel like you could walk out for miles. Lunch back at the little chapel on the Ancient Antissa road was relaxing and I may have been distracted by the moth leaf mines in the Valonia Oaks.

Valonia Oak

The wind was strengthening and out to sea seven Scopoli's Shearwaters were performing huge arcs and whilst watching them a crisp Black Kite flew through my view at eye level before climbing up over the ridge - fabulous.

A final stop at Perivoli to feed the cats and watch the mad Persian Squirrels busily stripping a Walnut tree and two red capped Middle Spotted Woodpeckers. There were no Spotted Flycatchers down there at all now and I only saw one or two all day on our travels.

Southern White Admiral

I even remembered to stock up on my heather honey to take home from Pevlidis Pavlos just outside Kallonis. It is most excellent!


Our new dinner addition at the Dionysos

Rush Veneer

3rd October:

The Pela breakfast bird of the day was a Common Starling which flew through. Funny when something intrinsically so common causes a double take. Afterwards we headed over the top to the Vafeios viewpoint as the wind had gone back round to coming off Turkey.

It was actually quite cool to start with and there were no migrant raptors to be seen with only the local Sparrowhawks, Goshawk, Common Buzzards and a patrolling Short-toed Eagle.

However, below us in the wooded hillside things had changed and numerous Robins could be heard softly singing and calling and already establishing their winter territories. Finches were on the move too with small numbers of Gold, Green and Chaffinches heading south into the island. Two Siskins were my first autumn birds having seen them on my February visit and five Hawfinches included two that posed in the top of roadside Oak. A single Meadow Pipit was seen and Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroat were around me along with resident Cirl Buntings and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers.

It warmed up and at about 1130 three Honey Buzzard and a male Red-footed Falcon arrived but that was it and I did not see another passage raptor all day.

Onwards to Skala Sikamineas passing more ticking Robins along the whole route. The North coast road back to Eftalou was easy to drive and the mixed habitat areas (rather than the pure olives) were alive with passerines with Blackcaps and Spotted Flycatchers featuring heavily and quite a few Phylloscs, and singles of both Whitethroats, Garden Warbler and an Eastern Orphean Warbler. As usual the American Pokeberry was the favoured food source for the Sylvias. There were Red-backed Shrikes too and plenty of roving Blue and Great Tits along with a couple of Wood Nuthatches and the first autumn Song Thrushes.

Lesser Yellowhead - the pungent cannabis type smell that you encounter comes from this plant



I could not find any Auduoin's Gulls amongst the Yellow-legs and after watching the Mediterranean Shags I realised that I did not see one of them do the expected jump dive - they just sank beneath the surface!  Vagrant Emperors patrolled the track and were also probably migrants.

Back over to the Kalloni side stopping at the Bandstand on the way back down for the first time this trip where two each of Short-toed Eagle, Goshawk and Common Buzzard were seen along with packs of agile Ravens.

A swim around the bay towards Parakila and then back through the Potamia where there were definitely more Spot Flys and Red-backed Shrikes than in recent days. A juvenile Cuckoo was hopping around in a recently mown field like a giant barred Mistle Thrush and seriously upsetting the Shrikes while the old reservoir had nine Little Grebes and two Coot and Moorhen but no tiny Cormorants - just one big one. Violet Dropwings adorned every spot they could, like gaudy predatory decorations with alien heads constantly swivelling.

Cuckoo - it was a bit hot

Violet Dropwing

VA pretty little Plume moth - quite possibly Stangela sicellota

4th October:

A cooler start saw us heading up and over to start at Pervoli Monastery. I wondered if there would be Robins here too and indeed there were two ticking away in the monastic grounds. Two peeping Dunnocks were my first autumnal ones following my late winter visit and Serins were now along the river where more Greenfinches and Chaffinches were to be found.

Blackcaps moved back and forth across the river and Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail were both new for the trip at this site. There was a cool wind blowing but amongst the trees there was a wealth on insect life including two huge Great Banded Grayling, Cardinal, Painted Lady and Small Copper butterflies along with a good selection of Hoverflies and Beeflies while the Ivy was in full scented bloom and had thousands of Honey Bees in attendance along with Oriental Hornets, Hummingbird Hawkmoths and a single Queen White Tailed Bumblebee.

Small Copper

Great Banded Grayling

Great Banded Grayling

Eupeodes sp

A small Eristalis sp

Eristalis tenax

Eumerus sp?

Helophilus trivittaus I reckon

Villa hottentotta

Lomatia belzebul rather than Villa

The Cyclamens along the entrance road had pushed up dozens more flowers since our last visit. The Persian Squirrels were once again visible and very busy and Rush Veneers were dotted through the grass.

Persian Squirrels

Rush Veneer

Back up and then down to Gavathas for a slightly chilly swim and then onto the seldom visited mount Ordimnos track to the hidden monastery of Kreokopou. I have very fond memories of standing there with my late friend, Sam Shippey and hearing the air literally ripped apart as a Peregrine dropped straight at us from a great height in pursuit of a Crag Martin. We never saw her coming.

Down to Gavathas 

The view from here is stunning and the side valley is full of ancient Oriental Planes that held a party of Wood Nuthatches, Chaffinches, Tits, Robins and our first Wren of the trip.

Up above Ravens did their thing and two Short-toed Eagles seemed non-plussed by the throbbing wind turbines. Blue Winged Grasshoppers bounded around the now crispy Chamomile lawn and there were dozens of Common Blues and tatty Small Coppers along with a fine Southern Comma, Painted Ladies and Eastern Rock, Freyer's and Great Banded Graylings. All were feeding along the mint lined stream formed from the dripping water system from the monastery.

Short-toed Eagle

Short-toed Eagle

Common Blue

Painted Lady

Southern Comma

Southern Comma

Southern Comma

Blue Winged Grasshopper

Blue Winged Grasshopper

Have asked for help (as usual) for these two Grasshoppers

Two female Sparrowhawks were seen on the way back out but the fly tipping around the municipal incinerator plant was disappointing to see and plastic rubbish was finding its way into the landscape.

Ipsilou on the way out

Snake-eyed Lacertid

Robberfy with dinner

South again to Skala Eresou but the Laughing Doves again refused to show but I spied a very big BOP before getting out of the car and watched it being harried by a Raven. The mini barn door rang the right alarm bells and my gut told me that I had a Spotted Eagle sp. It was a long way off but having looked at my rather poor images it seems to confirm my thoughts that I could see seven obvious primaries and a good single pale underwing comma.  the hand looked very broad too  I thought that Greater Spotted was going to be unlikely but it seems that that is what it was.  Dave Hawkins had one in off at Vafeios the next day which also ticked all the boxes.

Greater Spotted Eagle and a Raven

We fed the critters at the river bridge once again before looping back over and around the coast before an impromptu visit to the pans to show a hotel guest the Flamingos.

Stripe-necked Terrapin

Giant Pond Skaters

A lovely Moorhen

Giant Reed flowers

Post dinner was all about Jupiter and Saturn and I had a queue lined up for their first look at two of our mightiest neighbours as they hung in the dark Lesvos sky.

A small Pug

Wave-ish - about 15mm - any takers?

What a funky Slug

5th October:

Going home day. A relaxed affair with a 7.20pm flight allowing time to potter around Loutzaria after breakfast. The Kingfisher and Black Stork showed well on the Tsiknias and four Dalmatian Pelicans paddled at the river mouth.

Dalmatian Pelicans 

 Black Stork

 Black Stork


Our circuit revealed two more Common Redstarts and a few Spot Flys and Red-backed Shrikes along with two Northern Wheatears and more Chaffinches and White Wagtails around the Grove edges.

Lunch and then the final pack before a poodle towards the airport. Loutra continued my run of avoiding Laughing Doves but a Grey Wagtail did join us by the beach as we had a final frappe at Charamida.

With optics away three Chukars put on a fabulous roadside show on the final run to the airport and Sardinian Warblers rattled to send us on our way home after another wonderful Lesvos adventure.

Roger did not want to go home...


  1. It's nice to read your extensive tails of the Lesvos visits. We have decided on the back of this to change our spring visit to later in the year matching the influx of raptors. Keep up the good work including the what's app group.

  2. excellent - let me know if you want any tips!