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Lesvos | 17 24 September 2009

A Speyside Wildlife Holiday led by Lesvos Birdings Steve Dudley | www.lesvosbirding.com Day1,Thursday,17September WemeetupatGatwickearlyinthemorningandaftertheusualairport procedures,wearejettingoffLesvos! WearriveanhourlateatMytilinibutaresoononourwayandsomeofusgetting ourfirstviewsofLesvosandimmediatelyseejusthowcloseTurkeyis! OnroutetothehotelwecutbytheKalloniSaltpanswhicharecoveredin Flamingoswhichlookstunninginthebrightsunlight. WesooncheckintothehotelandwalkintoSkalaKallonisandhaveadelightful latelightlunchtotideusovertotheevening.Walkingbacktothehotelweseea RedbackedShrikeand11Beeeatersprpoverhead. WecollectourthingsandheadofftoMetochiLake.WespyacouplemoreRed backedShrikesalongthefieldedges,andaWhinchat,beforearrivingatthelake itself.Anditsfulltothebrim,nottheusualautumnpuddleSteveexpectedto find.StripedneckedTerrapinsslideoffthebanksintothewaterbefore resurfacingwithjusttheirsnoutsstickingoutofthewater.SeveralSpotted FlycatchersmakesortiesfromvarioustreesandreedswhenDavidspotsabird flittingaroundthebottomofsometamarisksonasmallislandjustinfrontofus. ItsaCettisWarblerandwegetgreatviewasithopsaroundontheground beforeflyingoff.AEuropeanPondTerrapinishauleduponalogonthefar shore.ThereareseveralMoorhensinthetamarisksonthefarside,andacouple ofLittleGrebesstickclosetothefaredgecover.JuneandStevespotaLittle Bitternasitlandsinthetamarisksbutcompletelydisappears.Wecheckthefar endofthelateandfindmoreterrapins,someMarshFrogsandamaleLesser Emperordragonflyhawkingalongthestagnantchannel.Daphnethanspotsa Snipewhichcrouchesdowntoavoiddetectionbythemaraudingdogwhichis followingus! Agentlestarttotheholidayendswithdinnerbackinthevillageandagraceful retreattoourbeds.Itsbeenalongdayandtheholidaywillbegininearnestin themorning! Day2,Friday,18September Wewaketoabright,cloudlessskyandmeetupfora0730breakfast.Itsalready warmingupquick,andafterbreakfastwearekeentomakeourwayovertothe TsikniasRiverMouthandgetstuckintosomebirds.Wepullupandaregreeted byalreadyfamiliarcallofCrestedLarks.ApartyofLinnetsflyoveraswebegin toscantherivermouth.YellowleggedGullsoccupythebestroostingspots

whilstaGreyHeronpreenssatonasubmergedbranchandaCormorantperches onapost.StevespotsaCurlewonthemudspit.Webegintoheadupriverwhen afieldfullofLinnetsandGoldfinchesstopsus.Wegrillthefieldbutcanfind nothingelse.AswedriveslowlyalongtheriveraBlackStorkfliespastandlands brieflyinfrontofus. WetakeaquicklookaroundthefordwherethereareseveralLittleRinged Plovers,WhiteandYellowWagtails,HouseSparrowsandCornBuntingsaround thepuddlesintheriverbed.Weparktheminibusandwalkouttowardstheriver mouth.AjuvenileRedbackedShrikepopsuponthefenceaheadofusandthere areNorthernWheatearsonthetrackandintheadjacentfields.TheLesserGrey Shrikefromearlierisseenagain,thistimemuchclosergivingbetterview.An IsabellineWheatearisseenbrieflyonthetrackandswallowsandmartinsbuzz overheadastheyeagerlypushsouthwards. Wedropofftheriverbankintoanopenareawithscatteredtamerisks.Northern WheatearsandCrestedLarksareeverywhere.StevepicksupthreeHoopoes feedingatthebackofthesheepfieldandwegetreasonableviewsthroughthe scopes.JustaroundthecornerwehavebriefviewsofayoungmaleLesser Kestrelbeforetheskyaboveusfillswithhirundinesandthefirstofabout80 AlpineSwifts,includingsomeincrediblylowbirdslowenoughtoseethewhite throat! Wemoveontotheeasternsideofthesaltpans.OverthehillbehindusDaphne spiestowbirdscirclingwhichturnouttobeaRavenbeingmobbedbya Sparrowhawk.AcrossthepansthereisadenseflockoffeedingAvocetsand groupofCommonShelduck.Theflamingosaredistantfromhere,buttheir strikingpinkisstillvisibleevenatadistance. WewanderdownthetrackandfindmoreCrestedLarks,CornBuntings,aRed backedShrikeandaWhinchat.Viewingthepansagainwecannowseeatleast threeGreenshank,fourCurlewandbothLittleandGreatWhiteEgrets. It/sgettingwarmnowsomoveoffintotheshadeofAchladeriForest.Nosooner areweinthetreeswhenStevespotsourfirstKrpersNuthatch.Thereare plentyofbirdsflittingaroundandmaybeuptofournuthatchesfeedinglow downontreetrunks,flittingfromtrunktotrunktreecreeperstyle.Woodlark putsinabriefappearance,asdoesaShorttoedTreecreeperandaCirlBunting singsitsrattlesongfromthepinetops. WehavelunchattheseasideAncientPyrrataverna.Itslovelyhereintheshade withthecoolbreezecomingoffthesea.Solovelyinfactemakesurewehavea nice,slowlunchbeforeheadingbackintotheheatoftheday! Wemakebackintotheforest,thistimewalkingslowlyalongaforesttrack.Its deathlyquiet.RockandWoodlandGraylingsflitaroundus,buttheplaceis largelybirdfree.WespendsometimeenjoyingapowderblueSmallSkimmer restingonthetrackbeforeheadingbacktoheminibuswhenStevespotsa coupleofKrpersNuthatchesinthetreerightaboveus.Wegetwonderfulviews

ofthisdiminutivenuthatch,themaleisparticularlyshowymakingupforthe poorviewsearlier.Arrivingbackattheminibustwobirdsappearinthe cloudlessblueskyabovethetreecoveredhillsidetoourleft.ARavenisbeing mobbedbyanotherbirdEleonorasFalconexclaimsStevepointingoutthe salientfeatures.Butthesightingistoobriefasthefalcondisappearsoverthe ridgeofthehill. WemoveonaroundthecornertotheVouvarisRiverMouth.AcoupleofGrey HeronsaredisturbedfromthepinesbythebridgeandacoupleofKingfishers chaseeachotherbeforeafemaleSparrowhawkfliesover.Attherivermouth thereareseveralCormorantsanduptofourGreyHerons.,butlittleelse. WemakeourwayaroundtoKalloniSaltpans.Alltheflamingosareinthe northwestcornerandthelateafternoonlightisfabulouslightingupthewhole scene.Aquickcountestimatesthereareover800flamingos!Thereisconstant changingwithintheflamingos.Somearefeedingwiththeirupsidedownhead busyinthewater.Otherswalkaroundserenely.Occasionallyoneflashesits underwingsshowingitsvividredarmpits.FourBlackStorksflaplazilybehind theflamingosbeforealightingonadistancepan.DaphnespiesdistantShorttoed EaglebeforeStevepointsanotherfalconcomingoverthepanswhichturnsoutto beoursecondEleonorasoftheafternoon! Itsbeenahotyetthoroughlyrewardingdayasweheadoffbackacrossthefields, fundingoursecondLesserGreyShrikeoftheday,onourwaybacktothehotel. Afterarestandfreshenupwewalkintothevillageforanotherenjoyable evening.

LesserGreyShrike,nrKalloniSaltpans

Day3,Friday,19September Wewaketothenowfamiliarsoundsofsheepbells,cockerelsandbraying donkeys!Afterbreakfastweheadoutintoanovercastmorningwhichisbliss, andheadtowardsMetochilake.WestoptoviewacoupleofWhinchatsonthe fencewhenStevespotsatwoTurtleDovesalightonanoverheadwire.Thescope issoontrainedonthemandwegetexcellentviewsbeforetheyflyofffollowed bythreemore.AhugeflockofGoldfinchesswarmthedeadthistlesinadryfield andasingleRedbackedShrikeissatinanearbytree. AtthelakeweseetheusualLittleGrebeandMoorhensandtheCommonSnipe fromThursdayisstillhappilyprobingthemudfringe.Wewalkalongthetrack throughthefieldsandsoonfindacoupleofJaysandgetexcellentviewsoftheir blackcapswhichmarkthemasadifferentracetotheJaysbackhome.Wecan hereMiddleSpottedWoodpeckersmockingusfromwithintheolivegroves whichholdonlysparrowsandtheoccasionalWillowWarblerforustoactually see. Wetakeaturnwhichtakesusalongthebottomofarockyhillside.Stevepoints outtheconstantcallingofRockNuthatches.Westopintheshadeofatreeto scantherocks.ThenuthatchescallsarejoinedbythedryrattlesongofaCirl Buntingwecantseeeitheroftheseeither!WedofindourfirstAgamalizard sittingtypicallyatoparockwhenSteveeventuallyspotsaRockNuthatchonthe toppermostrockaboveus.Althoughnotclosethelightisbehindusandperfect forviewingtheRockyNutandwecanseeclearlyhisbanditmaskandbuffy flanks.Itbouncesroundtherocksalittlewithasecondbirdbeforedisappearing. WemoveononlyafewyardsbeforefindingaCommonWhitethroatandaclose RedbackedShrikewhichhascaughtagrasshopper.Theshrikesitsstillinalittle bushbeforeeventuallystartingtotearatthegrasshopper.Weviewfromthe shadeofasweetsmellingfigtreebeforeagaintakingtotheopenandthe increasinglyfiercesun.Wepassthroughanopenareawithfewbirdsandturn alonganothertrackbyanewallotmentbuilding,itsfreshpaintgleaminginthe strongsunlight.AtthelittlebridgeweseeasecondCommonWhitethroatand anotherRedbackedShrikebeforefollowingthetrackdownthebackofthelake. TwoLesserWhitethroatsappearandthendisappearassuddenlyastheyhad appearedandourwalkisaccompaniedwithbytheconstantploppingof terrapinsdroppingintothechannelunseen.Arrivingbackbythesouthernendof thelake,Daphnespotsaraptorinthesky.Stevegetsontothehigherbirdand proclaimsitasamaleMontagusHarrierwhilsttheotherisaCommonBuzzard. APurpleHeronthenfliespasttoofastforallourlikings!Alasthegroupmiss theGreenSandpiperSteveflushesfromtheendofthelake. WemoveoffnorthtotheKalloniRaptorWatchPoint.Theovercastmorninghas givenwaytotheexpectedclearblueskiesandincreasinglyhotsun.Thewatch pointisatblessedwithacoveredpicnictableforsometoenjoytheshade.David andStevestickitoutinthesunandinbetweenRockNuthatchappearances distantRedfootedandEleonorasFalconsareseen. WearriveatMolivosandheaduptothecastletoenjoytheviewsovertoTurkey andwestacrossthebaytoIpsilouandthewesternendoftheisland.Wemoveon

downtotheharbourwhereweenjoyalovelyrelaxinglunchbytheharbourside, withsomeofeventryingafewnewGreekseafoodspecialtiesforthefirst(and last!)time. AfteranequallyrelaxingcoffeeweheadofftoPerasma.Thereservoirholds16 LittleGrebesaswellsasmanydrinkingcrowsandlotsofbathingYellowlegged Gulls.AWhiteWagtailfliesaroundnoisily.Ourwalkfindsonlysparrowsbefore Daphnespotsanotherraptor.Stevegetshisscopeontoitanditsnowone,but twomaleMarshHarriersthatquicklyheadoffsouthintightcircles.Withno otherbirdsobviousandonlyafewRedveinedDarterstooccupy,wereturnto theminibusandheadoffeastfollowingtheroadbelowMountLepetimnos.The viewsarestunningaswedrivebelowthehighestmontainontheislandwith eachtwistandturnofthewindingroadgivingusbreathtakingviewafter breathtakingview.Turkeytoourleftremainseverpresentandahopethatthere areraptorswingingtherewayacrossthenarrowstraighttowardsus.

ShorttoedEagle,nrLepetimnos JustbeforeLepetimnosvillagewepullovertoenjoytheviewacrossthenorthof theislandandacrosstoTurkey,whichisjustastonesthrowaway.Daphneasks ifthisisjustagullhoveringnearby.GullsdonthoverthoughtSteveand swingingroundseesaShorttoedEagleonlyacoupleofhundredyardsawayand almostatoureyelevel,windhoveringintheincreasingnortherlybreeze.We watchintentlyforseveralminutesasthebirdhangsintheskywithoutflappinga singlewingbeat!Itturns,glidesandresumesitshover.Afterashorttimeit drops,hoversagain,thendropsfurtherandoutofsightclearlyafterprey.Wow! Whatashow.Weheadonalongtheroadandafteracoupleofbendswecome acrosstheeagleagainaboveus.Wemanagetofindasafeplacetopulloverand werebackoutthebusandwatchinganequallyabsorbingspectacle,butthis timefrombelowandabletoenjoyallthebirdsundersidemarkings.Werestill watchingtheeaglewhenStevespotsasmallerraptorcominginfromtheright. Goshawk!heshoutsandweallgetgoodviewsasitwheelspastusandoutof sight.AnotherWow!

ItsgettinglateaswepullintotheNapivalleyandtheresonlytimeforacouple ofshortstops.ThefirstisatthenorthendandaswegetoutofthebusSteve spotsasmalleaglecomingstraightatus.BootedEagle!heexclaimsasitbanks rightandflapsofrapidlysouthdownthevalley.Damn!Thatwasfartoobriefa view!SeveralCirlBuntingsaresingingbutcanwefindoneno!Frustratedwe headoffsouthandarestoppedinourtracksjustnorthofNapivillagewhena BlueRockThrushfliesacrosstheroadinfrontofus.Wequicklyturnofftheroad andaresoonwatchingamalesatatoparockoccasionallysinging.Times pressingsoweboardthebusasStevespotsaSombreTitbutbythetimethe othersareoutitsgonebutbothDaphneandStevegetbriefviewsofaBlack earedWheatearbeforewehavetoheadmoveoff. Wearrivebackatthehoteltofreshenupbeforedinner.Thediningroomhas beentransformedforaweddingparty.Afterdinnerwearrivebacktofindthe guestsjustbeginningtoarrivefora10pmstart.Itsgoingtobealong,noisy nightinthehotel! Day4,Sunday,20September Wewakeandbreakfasttothesoundofthelocalchurchbellscallingthelocalsto prayer.ThismorningweheadsouthlongtheeasternsideoftheGulfofKalloni takingthebeachtrackfromAchladeritoSkalaVasilikon.Therearefewbirds otherthanCrestedLarksinthefieldsandalongtrack.Arrivingatthesmall harbourofSkalaVasilikonwefindfourMediterraneanGullsontheharbourwall twoadultsandtwofirstwinterbirds.ContinuingsouthtoSkamnioudiwecome acrossseveralfieldsthathavejustbeencutandareteemingwithbirds.Thefirst isextraordinaryasitscrawlingwithWillowWarblers,ChiffchaffsandGreatTits allfeedingonthegroundalongthecutrowsintheopenfield!Thesecondfield ismoretypicalbeingfullofYellowWagtailsbobbingbetweentherowsofcut crop.ContinuingonwegetexcellentviewsofanadultWoodchatShrikefeeding bytheroadsideformwiresandadeadtree.

MediterraneanGulls,SkalaVasilikon WearriveatthePolichnitosSaltpansandareimmediatelyintothebirds.The windispickingupconsiderablyandhamperingviewing,especiallywiththe scope,butthereisplentytolookat.KentishandRingedPloversfeedinthedrier

pansalongtheroadsidewhilstRedshank,Greenshank,Ruff,Avocet,Ruff,Little StintandDunlinareallwadingaroundthewaterareasofseveralpans.Overthe fieldsoppositethepansweseeaLesserKestrelalltoobrieflybeforeitmakesoff! Backonthepanstwoduckstakeflightandonceresettledbackonthepansturn outtoaPintailandaShoveler.TwoBlackwingedStiltsareseenandthena juvenileWhiskeredternappearsamongstthehawkingBlackheadedGulls.The bundsarefullofroostinggullsanddottedamongthemareLittleandGreat WhiteEgrets,GreyHeronandBlackStorks.Thestorksappeartobeworking theirwayalongthepanandacoupleofbirdsevenwingtheirwayoffoverthe nearbyhillsidetotryandfindathermaltoliftthemontheirwaysouth.Some chanceinthisstringwind,andthetwobirdsdisappearlowoverthehills.Intotal weseeatleast17BlackStorks,includingseveraljuvenilebirds.Stevethen managestopickoutaSlenderbilledGullfeedingamongtheBlackheaded.Itsa juvenilebirdandwesoonlocateasecond.Wesoonhavethemscopesand everyonecansoonseethesubtledifferencebetweentheSlenderbilledandthe Blackheaded.ScopingtherestofthegullsStevethenspotsagleamingadultbird inthenearestgroupoffeedingbirds.Thisadultisfeedingveryactivelyand totallydifferenttoalltheBlackheaded.Itstandstalldashingaround,neck outstretchedconstantlypickingatthewatersurface.Itscleanwhiteheadand neckandgleaming,longbloodredbillstandsoutamile.Searchingsomemore Steveeventuallypicksouttwomoreadults,thistimebothinwinterplumage withthegreyearsmudge. WemoveoffsouththroughthetownofPolichnitosanddowntowardsthesouth coast.WebriefstopatariverbridgeseesnobirdsbutplentyofRedveined DartersandSmallSkimmers.WearriveatVateraandhavealovelylunchbythe beachattheHotelVateraBeach.Herewehaveoneyeontheseaandmanageto pickouttheoccasionalScopolisShearwaterastheybreakthehorizoninasteep archastheywheelwestwards. WeheadonouttoAgiosFokas.Theriverisveryquietbuttheheadlandholdsa fewRedbackedShrikes,SpottedFlycatchers,WhinchatandNorthernWheatear. WegetourfirstviewofaPersianSquirrelinanolivetreeandwespendsome moretimeenjoyingacoupleofRedveinedDarters,thistimeseeingtheredveins veryclearlyandStevepointingoutthebluelowerhalfoftheeyeswhichare diagnosticofthespecies.ArrivingbackattheminibusStevespotsajuvenilesat onthegroundinanolivegrovewhenwehearthediagnosticsoundofBee eaters.Weeventuallyseeonebirdsweepingacrosstheskynearbyand unfortunatelyforus,outofviewoverthetrees.Damn! ThewindistillstrongandwedrivethelengthoftheAmbelikoValleywithout seeingasinglemigrant.WearriveatthePanaghiaChapelundertheeyeofMount OlympuswerewestakeoutaleakingpipeforKrpersNuthatchandSerin withoutsuccess.AbonusthoughisbrilliantviewsofoursecondPersianSquirrel whichcomesdownthetreebythepipetodrink. Thewindandsungetsthebetterofusandwereturnearlyforarestandfreshen upbeforeheadingdownintothevillagefordinner.

Day5,Monday,21September Afterbreakfastweheadoutwestforthefirsttime.ApproachingIpsilouwestop towatchawindhoveringShorttoedEaglebeforecomingacrossaflockof Ravenscirclingtheroadoveradeaddog!WearriveatIpsilou.Thereissome cloudpassingoverbutmountisstillinfullsunbutthewindisstrong.The RavensarenowoverthemounthavingadogfightwithamalePeregrine. WebeginouraccentandaresoonwatchingaRockNuthatchfeedingnearits springtimenestsiteaconicalmudstructureunderaoverhangonarockface. NearbyaSombreTitfeedsinabushbutitprovesfrustratingasitflitsaround anddoesntrealshowitselfproperly. WecontinueuptheroadandhavegoodviewsofaSparrowhawkandbriefview oftwoEleonorasFalconsbeforearrivingatthemonastery.Wetakeaquicklook aroundthetopseeinganotherSombreTitalittlebetterthanthelastoneanda femaleCirlBunting.Theviewsfromthetop,likemuchoftheisland,are breathtaking.Perchedontopofthisconicalmountwecanseeallroundusand acrossthebarrenwestoftheisland.Afterlookinginsidethemonasterywehead downtheothersidebutseeverylittleonourdescent. AfterfailingtofindanyChukaralongthePetrifiedForestroadweheadoninto SigriforlunchandavisittheexcellentPetrifiedForestMuseumabargainat only5.WethenheadbackeastwardsthroughtheMeladiaValley.Westop brieflyforthreeLesserKestrelsbeforereachingtheriverfordarea.Herewe havetoolittletimetoenjoytheloadsofbirdspresentifonlywehadgothere earlier!AftergoodviewsofaTawnyPipitbythetrackweenterthefiggrove areatofindlotsofRedbackShrikes,SpottedFlycatchers,CommonWhitethroat, acoupleofBlackcapsandthestarformany,aroundadozenLesser Whitethroats.Wegetgreatviewsofallthese,particularlytheLesser Whitethroats.TheoccasionisdampenedslightlywhentheWryneckStevesees flyingintothefiggroveislostdeepintothetreesandwithlittletimeorchance oflocatingitweleave. ItsalongdrivebackbutStevedoesoneofthoseguidethingsandmanagesto spotacoupleofRedrumpedSwallowsmilesawaywhilstdriving!Westopand getgreatviewsastheyfeedoverthevalley. Wearrivebackatthehotel,freshenupandaresoondowninthevillagefor anotherfulsomedinnerbeforeeagerlymakingforourbedslookingforwardto tomorrow! Day6,Tuesday,22September Webreakfastedatourusualtimeof0730andthenmadeoutat0830.Wehad hadatipoffthattherewasaRedneckedGrebeonthenearbyseaandsure enough,withinafewminutesJoanhadspotteditandwewereenjoyingexcellent views!Agreatstarttotheday.

RedneckedGrebe,SkalaKallonis WebumpedalongthetrackbytheTsikniasRiver,acrossthefordandacrossthe fieldstowardsthesaltpans.Daphnespottedahoveringfalconsowestoppedto findthreesplendidRedfootFalcons,oneintheairtheothertwosatupon nearbywires.Wehadourfillandcontinuedtobestoppedbymorefalcons,this timethreeLesserKestrelsandasingleRedfoot. Wearrivedonthepansandviewsfromthesouthroad.Alltheflamingoswereup butwecouldntseewhatwasdisturbingthem.Stevecouldseesomebirders intentlywatchingsomethingonthewestsidesoweshotroundtofindtheyhada juvenileWhitePelican!Nowthatwouldscarethelivingdaylightsoutofthe Flamingos!Wewatchedthedarkbirddistantlywhenittooktotheair.Upgot mostoftheFlamingosasitheadedeastandbegantocircle.Afterafewminutesit changedcourseanddriftedoverwestwardsrightpastusandthencontinuedto climbwhilstdriftingoffsouthwestallthetimeandwaslosttoview.Wow! WedheardtherehadbeenanotherpelicanatPolichnitospansthepreviousday soweheadedsouth.OuronlyhighlightonourjourneywasaHobbydogfighting withagroupofMediterraneanGullsoffSkalaVasilikon,soitwasprettymuch straighttothepansandwithinminutesofarrivalDaphnehadspottedthe pelicaninthemiddleofthepans.Wewatchedasitseemedtocatchfishafter fish,swishingitsenormousbillthroughthewaterandthentossingitsneckback tomovethefishformitssack.ItwasmuchpalerthantheKallonibirdandthe flesharoundtheeyewasdecidedlygrey,notpink.Itwaslookingsuspiciously likeaDalmatianPelicanwhenitdecidedtotakeflightbrieflyshowingthedark flightfeatherscontrastingwiththeunderwingcoverts.OursecondWhitePelican oftheday!Thebirdsettlednexttooneofthebundsandwecontinuedtowatchit offandonasweworkedourwaythroughwhatelsewaspresentmuchasthe otherdaywithegrets,GreyHeron,BlackStorks,plovers,Avocet,Redshank, Greenshank,LittleStintandRuff.WemovedonspottingfourMediterranean GullsbeforepickingupamoultingadultLittleGullfeedinginthecornerofoneof thepans.AnotherhighlightwasaWeaselfoundbyJuneworkingitswayalong thesaltpansperimeterfence.Wegetgreatviewswhenitrunsoutontothetrack, stopsbrieflybeforeboltingbackinforcover!

WhitePelican,PolichnitosSaltpans Wemoveawayfromthepansheadingnorth.NearSkamnioudiwefindarecently bailedfieldthatiscoveredwithYellowWagtailsandNorthernWheatears amongstwhichwefindfourTawnyPipitsincludingoneobligingbirdclosetothe minibus.OurlaststopbeforelunchisinolivegrovesnearSkalaVasilikontolook forMiddleSpottedWoodpecker.Withinafewminuteswecanhearatleastone birdchatteringaway.AswewalkthroughthegrovesStevespotsawoodpecker flyingintoanopenolivetreebutitvanishes.Typical.Walkingbackwehear anotherwoodpeckerlaughingatusandseeaBalkanWallLizardonthetrack beforefindingadeadfoxunderoneoftheolive(ournosesspotteditfirst!).

TawnyPipit.NrSkamnioudi AfterlunchattheAncientPyrraTavernaweheadupthroughNapiValleyand downPlatania.WestopwhenSteveseesaSombreTitflyacrossthetrack,butwe canrelocatethebirdbutdogetgoodviewsofRockNuthatch.Westopagaina

littlefurtheralongthetrackforanotherSombreTit,butagainfailtoseeitbutget greatviewsofafeedingWoodlark.Weparkupinordertotakeawalktolookfor SombreTitwhenSteveimmediatelyspotsoneonthenearbyfence.Weseeiton offandonasitfeedsaroundtheoakshere.WealsoenjoyacoupleofSpotted Flycatchersflittingaroundthebottomofthetrees,huntingforinsectsforthe deadbranchesundermostoftheoaks.Drivingbackalongthetrackweseea fabulousCardinalbutterflybaskingatthebaseofawall. WedrivebackdownNapiValleyandstopatsomelargerocksbytheroadside. WithinsecondsStevehasfoundourquarryBlueRockthrush.Amaleis perchedatopalargerockpeeringdownatus.Wemoveuptheroadalittleand scopethebirdinbetterlightandfindasecondclosermaleonawall.Withthe betterlightwecanseetheyarebothclearlyblue!Weenjoythemforafew minutesandalsogetbriefviewsofanotherSombreTit. WeheadoffintothePotamiaValleywherewefind34LittleGrebesonthe reservoirandstandingbytheriverbridgewewitnessaflockafterflockofHouse Sparrowswhizzingupthevalleypastusandintotheolivegrovetoroost.A SpottedFlycatchersalliesfromthetopofanearbytree,amaleCirlBuntinganda coupleoffemalescomedowntoapuddleintheotherwisedryriverbedandour secondHobbyofthedaystreaksthroughthesky. Withtimegettingonweheadbacktothehotel,stillmanagingtosqueezeina malePeregrinedashingovertheChristouRiverMouthbeforearrivingbackat thehotelandheadingintothevillagefordinner. Day7,Wednesday,23September Forourlastfulldayweheadwestafterbreakfast.OurfirststopisbytheIoannis ChapeljustwestofParakila.PullingupweimmediatelyfindaSombreTit drinkingfromthewaterfountainbypullin!Itsonlyafewmetresawayandwe getgreatviews.WecontinuewestandthenheadsouthpastApothikatoMakara. Thisareaisopenanddesolate.CrestedLarksboundandthereistheoddRock NuthatchhereandthereaswedriveslowlyinoursearchforChukar.Nothing. Daphnethenspotsabirdonafencebelowus.ItsafabulousmaleBlackeared Wheatearanditperformsbrilliantlyforusasitfeedsalongthefenceline.ARed backedShrikeandCommonWhitethroatalsoputinanappearancewhilstwe enjoythewheatear.AlittlefurtheralongthetrackStevespiesashrikewith whitewingpatchesflyinguptheslopeLesserGreyShrikeheshoutsasitlands onafencepostandposesforustowatchit!Furtheralongthetrackwecome acrossapairofStonechatsandmoreRockNuthatches(theressomanyonthis island!).Wearrivenearthesouthwardendoftheheadlandoverlookingthe narrowmouthoftheGulfofKalloni.Wewalkouttotheheadlanditselftoview acrosstotheeasternheadlandandtheislandofGarbias.Theresaflockof Jackdawsnoisilywheelingaroundthesky,butapartfromafewmoreRed backedShrikestherearenomigrants.Arrivingbackattheminibusweheara MiddleSpottedWoodpeckermockingusfromanearbyfiggrove.Areweever goingtoseethem?!

RockNuthatch,Makara WedrivebackuptothemainroadandcontinuewesttowardsPithariou ReservoirnearEresos.ShortofthereservoirSteveyellswoodpeckers!, screechestoahaltandpointsatanolivetreejustmetresfromtheminibus. ThereinfullviewaretwoMiddleSpottedWoodpeckers!Theyhoparoundfor about30secondsbeforeflyingoff.Hooray!Wevenailedthematlast! DrivingupPithariouReservoirbesidesthedryriverbedthereareafewWillow Warblersflittingfrombushtobush.WeseeanotherStonechatandmoreRed backedShrikesbeforewearrivebelowthedam.ThereareRedveinedDarters everywhere.Afteralittlewhilewespytworaptorshighoveroneofthepeaks ShorttoedEagleandLongleggedBuzzardbuttheyaretoofarawayfordecent views.WeparkbythefordandgetgreatviewsofapairofCirlBuntingscoming downtodrink.Thesubmergedfrogsinthefordoccasionallyleapuptryingto catchoneofthemanypairsofovipositingRedveinedDarters.Weheaduptothe topofthedamntoviewthereservoir.Wow!itsdeepexclaimsSteve.Itstoo deeptorevealthemuddybaratthefootofthedamandthereislittleexposed mudaroundtheedges.JoanspotsacoupleofLittleGrebeandWhiteWagtail belowbeforewemakeourwayuptheeastsidetothemonastery.Weparkto viewthemonastery.Thewatersurfaceisempty.Steveseessomethingonthe shoreline.Whatisit?Hediscernsitsafalconofsomesorthavingadrink.Itturns torevealawhitefaceanddistinctmoustache.Hobbyhethinksasittakestothe airitslargesizeandalldarkunderwingsrevealingitasanEleonorasFalcon!It wheelsaroundrightinfrontofusandbegreatfabulousviewsforacoupleof minutesbeforeitheadsoffupthevalley.Wow!

PithariouMonasteryandreservoir WeheadintoSkalaEresouandhavelunchatthedelightfulSoulatsoFish Taverna.Itwasallniceandquiet,viewsoverthecalmseawhenthewholeplace suddenlyfilledupwithenoughGreekstofillthreeofthelocaltavernas!The noiselevelsquadrupled!Thetavernaownerwasstraightonthephonetocallfor reinforcementstohelpcopewiththesuddenrush.Weateourlunchleisurely andenjoyedthechatteroftheGreeksaroundus.Daphneobservedthateach tablehadonlybeengivenasinglemenueach,toslowthemdownwhen orderingshequipped. WesaidourfarewelltothetavernaownersandrelocatedtoBarAgua,themain lesbianbar,forcoffeeandicecream.Afteralittlemorerelaxationweresumed ourbirdingatthenearbyRiverVergias.Fromtheroadbridgeweviewedthe waterwhichwasteemingwithStripedneckedTerrapinsandfish.Therewere SeveralMoorhensandaKingfisherbrieflyappeared. WeheadedfurtherwestintotheMeladiaValley.Thisisadesolate,yetstunning, landscape.Awidevalleyplainsurroundedbyhillswithlittleinthewayof bushesjustbareground,rocksandtheubiquitouschickenwirebush.We droveslowlyinsearchofChukaragainnothingbutsawplentyofRedbacked Shrikes,StonechatandSpottedFlycatchers.Stoppingforonewheatearwhich wasclearlymobbingasnakewithaCrestedLark,Stevefoundhimselflookingat anjuvenileIsabelline!Wegotgreatviewsasthebirdkeptstandingtallerand openingitswingsandcallingwhilststandingonaboulder.Thesnakewasoutof viewbutthewheatearwashavingmakingitsownthreatclear. StillwithnoChukarweheadeduptheMeladiaRivertrackand,loandbehold,we soonflushedacoveyof18+Chukarfromtheroadsideandgotexcellentviewsas somesatupandlookeddownatusfromtheridgeabove.Thiswasthelargest flockStevehadeverseenonLesvosbeatingtheprevious11whichwasonlya fewhundredmetresfromhere! WeturnaroundatafarmwhichwasfullofCornBuntingsandHouseSparrows andheadedbackdowntothefiggrove.WithinaminuteofparkingupStevehad

foundaTreePipitfeedingintheshadowofoneofthefigtrees.Wealleventually greatviews,includingwiththescope,asthepipitcreptaroundslowlypickingat theleaflitter. Thetrees,astwodaysago,werebusywithwarblers,RedbackedShrikesand SpottedFlycatchers.NewwasasingleOlivaceousseenbrieflywhenaflockof17 RockDovessweptpastus.Weenjoyedthebirdshereforafurther45minutes beforebiddingfarewelltooneofourfavouritesitesoftheweekandbeganthe drivebackhome. Overdinnerweeachvotedforourfavouriteplaceandfavouritebirdandshared ourholidaymagicmoment.TheMeladiaValleygotmorevotes(DavidandSteve) pippingtheKalloniSaltpans(DaphnefortheFlamingos),PolichnitosSaltpans (Joan)andAncientPyrra(Junetheseasidetavernaweusedtwice).The flamingobeingflushedbytheWhitePelicanyesterday,withthemwheeling aroundagainstthedarkhillsideshowingofftheirshapeandcolourbrilliantly wasaclearfavouritewiththreeofussharingitasourmagicmoment(June,Joan andSteve)withDavidpickingtodaysbrilliantviewsoftheEleonorasFalcon andDaphnegoingfortheamazingShorttoedEagleshefoundonoursecondday onlyaftershehadfirstidentifieditasagull!Nosinglebirdgottheaccoladeof birdoftheweek.DavidplumpedfortheeverpresentRockNuthatches;Daphne fortodaysEleonorasFalcon;JoanforthewindhoveringShorttoedEaglefrom daytwo;JuneforyesterdaysPolichnitosWhitePelican;whilstStevefelttodays TreePipitinMeladiasummedupLesvosbrilliantlyitwasfulloflittlesurprises. Day8,Thursday,24September Wereheadinghometodaysowehavealatebreakfastandafterfarewellstothe hotelstaffweheadovertotheTsikniasRiverforalastlook.Neartheriver mouthwefindaGreyHeronfeedingintheshadeoftheTamariskbushesand acrossthefieldsasecondheronisperchedatopathinpine!Weheadintothe fieldsandfindacutfieldteemingwithYellowWagtails.Westopforascanand findaCommonKestrelandthere,perchedintopofafigtree,anadultLong leggedBuzzard.Evenwithoutthescopes(whicharepackedfortheflight)wecan seeitspaleheadandtail.Wedecidetowaittoseeifitfliesandcontinue watchingthefieldinthemeantime.InadditiontothewagtailswefindsomeCorn Buntings,aNorthernWheatearandaLesserGreyShrikehuntingfromoverhead wiresandanearbyfig.Allthewagtailssuddenlytaketotheaircallinginpanic whenamalePeregrinesweepspastusjustlowoverthegroundandclose enoughforustoheretheswooshasitpasses!Itfailstocatchanythingandpulls upandregainsheightbeforestoopingagainatsomethinginanearbyfield.Wow! Thebuzzardmeanwhilehasntmoved.ALittleOwliscallingfromnearby buildingsandwegetfabulousviewsofaflybyBlackStork.Stevethennotices thattheLongleggedBuzzardhasgone!Hespotsitflyingalongthefieldandwe allgetontoitasitrisestoperchontopofatelegraphpole.Ittakesflightagain andwecannowseeitsverylongwingsgivingitaveryunCommonBuzzardlike shape.

TimespassingandweheadofftothesaltpanstobidfarewelltotheFlamingos. Theyareinoneofthemiddlepansandtheirnumbersaregreatlyreduced. WedriveacrosstheislandtoMytiliniandaresooncheckinginattheairport.A coupleofhourslaterweareonourwayandinwhatseemslikenexttonotime wearebiddingeachafondfarewellandgoourseparatewayswiththememories ofafabulousholidayswimmingaroundinourheads. BIRDS CommonRedshank LittleGrebe Greenshank RedneckedGrebe CommonSandpiper ScopolisShearwater MediterraneanGull Cormorant BlackheadedGull WhitePelican SlenderbilledGull LittleEgret YellowleggedGull GreatWhiteEgret WhiskeredTern GreyHeron RockDove PurpleHeron Woodpigeon BlackStork CollaredDove GreaterFlamingo TurtleDove CommonShelduck LittleOwl(heardonly) Shoveler AlpineSwift Pintail Kingfisher ShorttoedEagle EuropeanBeeeater BootedEagle Hoopoe MarshHarrier MiddleSpottedWoodpecker MontagusHarrier CrestedLark Goshawk Woodlark EurasianSparrowhawk SandMartin CommonBuzzard BarnSwallow LongleggedBuzzard RedrumpedSwallow LesserKestrel HouseMartin CommonKestrel TawnyPipit RedfootedFalcon TreePipit Hobby YellowWagtail EleonorasFalcon WhiteWagtail Peregrine Whinchat Chukar Stonechat Moorhen IsabellineWheatear BlackwingedStilt NorthernWheatear Avocet BlackearedWheatear LittleRingedPlover BlueRockthrush KentishPlover Blackbird RingedPlover CettisWarbler LittleStint OlivaceousWarbler Dunlin LesserWhitethroat Ruff CommonWhitethroat CommonSnipe Blackcap Curlew Chiffchaff

WillowWarbler SpottedFlycatcher SombreTit BlueTit GreatTit KrpersNutchatch WesternRockNuthatch ShorttoedTreecreeper RedbackedShrike WoodchatShrike LesserGreyShrike Jay Jackdaw HoodedCrow Raven HouseSparrow Chaffinch Greenfinch Goldfinch Linnet CirlBunting CornBunting 103species BUTTERFLIES Swallowtail LargeWhite SouthernSmallWhite

CloudedYellow SouthernWhiteAdmiral RedAdmiral PaintedLady Cardinal WoodlandGrayling EasternRockGrayling CommonMeadowBrown SmallCopper HollyBlue CommonBlue DRAGONFLIES BlueEmperor LesserEmperor SmallSkimmer RedveinedDarter OTHERWILDLIFE LesvosCicada(heard) RedFox(RIP) Weasel PersianSquirrel MarshFrog BalkanWallLizard GlassLizard(RIP) StripeneckedTerrapin EuropeanPondTerrapin AllphotosSteveDudley