Tuesday 30 April 2024

Lesvos - Day 4 - 20th April 2024

  A www.blueeyedbirder.com adventure:

The weather overnight was somewhat damp with heavy steady rain from about 10:30 through to dawn. It was not windy though and our Nightingale was warming back up and greeted us for breakfast with unceasing fervour!

The rain started up again as we headed out and as we passed through Papiana I was delighted to spy a rather soggy Long-eared Owl high in a pine tree.  After the briefest of stops we carried on our way.  After a supermarket run I momentarily dithered before deciding that a blat out West to Sigri and Faneromeni mat be the best course of action given the squally weather.

Long-eared Owl - Jim Willet

The newly opened road gave us a smooth forty minute run and even as we drove down along the harbour edge, the first Collared and Pied Flycatchers were to be seen along with White Wagtails on their usual beach.

The wind had got up and the temperature had crashed to 9c and it was not the day to have persevered with shorts and sandals. The Sigri Oak Grove was a bit windblown but held birds and in a fantastic 15 minutes we started finding Golden Orioles which gave superb views and when they all decided to leave en masse we counted 15 birds which headed towards the coast and the new olive groves. 

Golden Oriole - Jim Willett

Golden Oriole - Antony Wren

Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroats were new and Redstart, Pied, Spotted and Collared Flycatchers were seen but were keeping low. A Green Sandpiper was a new wader for the list and up above we found Short-toed Eagles, an Osprey and four incoming Red-footed Falcons. The next big field along held several hundred flava Wagtails as well as a Starling and Andrew saw a Chukar too.

On again to Faneromeni where a tough but good walk was had in very poor and deteriorating weather but the rewards out shone the discomfort and numb extremities with at least another 15 Golden Orioles, some of which posed very nicely, a host of extra Flycatchers, Turtle Doves, five Hoopoes in one bare area in the Fig groves, 50 disappearing Bee-eaters, Blackcap and a Thrush Nightingale that sung for long enough for us all to hear the expected notes. It was just too far back for us to have a chance of seeing it but I was very pleased to have found such a special bird. Two more Ospreys drifted through as well as another Red-foot, male Lesser Kestrel and a magnificent male Montagu’s Harrier that I suspect was bird of the day for several people.

Golden Oriole 

Montagu’s Harrier - Andrew Litchfield

Montagu’s Harrier - Jim Willett

Montagu’s Harrier - Jim Willett

Black-capped Jay - Antony Wren

pair of Collared Flycatchers - Antony Wren

Collared Flycatcher - Jim Willett

Collared Flycatcher and Roman Nettles - Jim Willett

 Black-headed and Romanian Blue Headed Wagtail - Jim Willett

Black and Yellow Millipede - Antony Wren

Asphodel  - Antony Wren

The next olive grove up was heaving with flava Wagtails as they fed around the sheep and we found Syke’s, Romanian Blue, Grey and Black-headed amongst them. By now we were truly frozen and chilled to the core and requested a pick up in the van before bits started to drop off.

Lunch was taken on the beach whilst sheltering in the bus but it did give us the chance to get excellent views of hundreds of close in Yelkouan Shearwaters and several long winged Scopoli’s. We were just too cold and wet to stay any longer and headed back over the top in squally conditions but at least we were warm once again.

Yelkouan Shearwaters - seriously rough - Antony Wren

Coffee and a de-frost was called for before heading out again at 4pm. At the Tsiknias we walked down to the river mouth which gave us much closer views of two Spur-winged Lapwings along with six Common Sandpipers, four Little Ringed Plover, three Ringed Plover, two Kentish Plover and two Temminck’s Stints. An sub-adult Little Gull was dipping up and down and there were lots of Common Terns on the sand bar.

Little Gull - Andrew Litchfield

Little Gull - Jim Willett

Little Gull - Jim Willett

Common Sandpiper - ACV

We rarely see female Blackbirds out here - ACV

Spur-winged Plover & Common Sandpiper - Jim Willett

Common Terns & a single Sandwich Tern at the bottom - Jim Willett

Common Tern - Jim Willett

The rest of the bump through was also productive with two awesome fields of mainly flava Wagtails both of which contained all four races once again along with several smart Red-throated Pipits and Northern Wheatears. The three Gull-billed Terns were on the now flooded hidden pool and Curlew Sandpipers were with Ruff.  The Stone Curlew and Spur Winged Plover were while two female Montagu’s and the juvenile male Hen Harrier were quartering. A cracking female Red-footed Falcon headed north but did not linger.

Romanian Blue-headed Wagtail - Jim Willett

Syke's Wagtail

Common Starling

Four female Red-backed Shrikes were in a short stretch of track and there had obviously been an arrival of Whinchats too which were dotted about like masked orange jewels.

Swallow - Andrew Litchfield

Whinchat - Jim Willett

Swallows enjoying the wind - Antony Wren

Curly Wurly - ACV

A final session at hide three showed a good Tringa flock on the now mostly submerged island with over 30 Greenshank and 12 Spotted Redshanks dozing away with five Garganey – four male and a female – snuggled amongst them. A 2nd cy Little Gull was feeding to and fro across the closest pan and the Flamingos seemed brighter today.

Greater Flamingo  - Jim Willett

All facing the wind - Jim Willett

A scan further back produced a flock of Terns patrolling the furthest pan as is often the case and five White-winged Blacks were clearly visible as well as four smoky Blacks – the scarcest of the Marsh Terns here. The three Gull-billed Terns had also relocated that way and a couple of flocks of Little Terns were seen arriving. Antony had a Pelican drop in out of nowhere but it was lost immediately and as dinner unfortunately beckoned we called in a night after the coldest, wettest but one of the most intense days I have had on the island. Migration at its best.

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