Lesvos 2008

Lesvos 2008

Meeting Across The River

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Birding On Lesvos 1>HERE<
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Map

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Introduction
Our first ever trip to Lesvos was booked in July-August 2007 and after much reading of trip reports on the web and talking to many people whom had visited it was obvious that Skala Kalloni would be a very good spot with the Kalloni 2 hotel being an obvious choice due to it's close proximity to the "Kalloni Pool" and a fairly central place for many walks to the East river etc. We booked with First Choice as a package holiday with 14 nights B&B and paid approx £1100 inc insurance. This was booked through Althams Travel and included a taxi service to and from the Manchester airport in the UK. Althams we find are very good to deal with and can recommend there services. We had direct flights but received a letter a few months prior to departure telling us that we would now be diverted via Gatwick for "disembarkment" the flight times were altered to accommodate this so whilst we would be picked up 1 hr 40mins earlier it would not affect our arrival time in Greece. Much studying of the birds we would most likely to encounter on the island took place and Mandy was hoping to see Butterflies, plants and insects. It turned out excellent on all counts.

To make it easier I will place a few names of the places that birders visit on the island as it can be a bit confusing for some to accept that English and Greek names are used by various people and yet are a description of the same place.
1)River Christou (Kalloni West River)     2)Lower Tsiknias Valley (Kalloni East River)
3)Upper Tsiknias Valley (Kalloni East River)         4)Metochi Lake (Inland Lake)
5)Madaros (Dead Goat Pit Track)         6)Kalloni mini soccer pitch (Scops Copse)
7)Messa (Derbyshire)              8)Aghia Ioannis (Devil’s Bridge)
9)The Lardia Valley (Grand Canyon)         10) Alykes Wetlands (Sheep Fields at Saltpans)
If a more thorough site guide is required click HERE then once on the page choose quick site guide on the left hand menu
1st May Thursday
Our much anticipated trip was under way as we were picked up at 02:40 and collected others on the way to Manchester airport. It turned out the 3 others were also heading to Lesvos and for what.......birding! Check-in was smooth and soon as we made our way to the gate we were informed that we would not be boarding the plane at the allotted time of 06:00. At about 06:30 we were away and heading to Gatwick in our pre-booked seats. We sat alongside a lovely chap that was also a birder and I found him the most modest of chaps that was, as it turned out, a great help. On landing at Gatwick is was soon clear that First Choice was not telling the truth as the crew got off and a new crew boarded, so did a load of passengers heading to Lesvos. I think it a sensible option to fill a plane but why does First Choice choose not tell you this? After missing our slot too at Gatwick we had a further delay before the flight was away and the in flight meal was soon polished off. The flight was good as the extra legroom we booked was superb. The rain of Manchester seemed a long way away as we finally touched down at Mytillene airport at 14:15 some 6 hours after take off. Lesvos is two hours in front so our initial touchdown time of 13:35 was not badly overrun. Off the plane and to the carousel where I always try to show patience as I realise that your case will come round and that the coaches will not leave without you. You can sense a rant here and boy does it warrant one!. For all those that think that being rude abroad is less of an offence please be assured it is not. Why do some feel the need to trample all others because they can see their case from two miles away??? The white line around a carousel is for good reason and you do not have to be conversant in several languages to recognise that leaving space between you and the luggage is for safety reasons. Too much of the generation game has been watched as some seem to think that you will never see your case again as it trundles past for the first and last time. I have vowed the next person to pretend I am invisible at a carousel will wish that they had upgraded their holiday insurance.
Cases now in hand we soon found our coach and winding our way round the tiny one way streets we arrived at the Kalloni 2 hotel after an hours coach ride. The hotel was looking OK and as we approached the front of reception we noticed the heavy scent of Honeysuckle that filled the air. This was a really nice relaxing moment and I guess we new our holiday had started. As requested we had an upstairs room at the back of the hotel. On entering the room I think we were a little surprised about the basic overtures that greeted us. More to do with our in-experience of Greece than anything else I suspect.
Anyway birding was well under way with several lifers for us already being picked up on the way to the hotel. The weather was lovely with a nice warm temp and cloudless skies
Birding began as soon as we had freshened up and had unpacked our gear. I reassembled my digiscoping setup and this left us with a brief chance to have a look at the much talked about Kalloni 2 pool which was just across the road outside the hotel. 
Kalloni Pool
Squacco  Heron x2 Hooded Crow x2 (L) Black Headed Wagtail (feldegg) x1 Moorhen x1Little Bittern x2 (L) House Sparrow 
 House Martin Barn Swallow Common Swift Reed Warbler x1 Coomon Coot x1 

2nd May Friday
An early start at first light with the sound of Nightingale from the balcony. Headed out hoping for more lifers and to soak up a little bit of the early morning sun. It was cool in the mornings and a coat was preferred. The light was poor for viewing the pool as the sun rose just to the West of where you were viewing so the glare was at times distracting and not at all good for photography. The pool was very overgrown with only small patches of water on show. Channels with water could be seen but apart from the odd view of Little Bittern not much showed in the channels. You could see that water levels had been higher which seem to leave us with a more muddy appearance.
Kalloni Pool
 Reed Warbler x2 Little Bittern x1 Squacco Heron x3Hooded Crow x2Collared Dove x2 
Great Reed Warbler x1House MartinCommon SwiftBarn SwallowHouse Sparrow

After breakfast it was off to to find the popular East River. This turned into all day affair as we took the map to literal and missed the paths we wanted. We Stood at the mouth of the river before heading North. The water in the river was getting more narrow as we went further up river until the main ford was reached where cars passed through. I noticed that the map (Richard Brooks) showed a bridge further up where I felt we could cross without getting wet and then walk back down the other side of the river to where we could hear Bee Eaters burbling in good numbers. I was aware that Blue Cheeked had been seen in good numbers this year so I was hopeful of finding my own. As we walked up the river it was soon obvious that the distances involved were further than we anticipated and once the bridge had been walked to we thought it best to follow the track back into Skalla Kalloni via the tracks that traversed the orchards. This turned into a marathon as again (this is a recurrent theme you see)  we became lost and ended up in what we hoped was Kalloni town centre where we took the chance to have a rest and take in some much needed fluids. We then set off back along roads we hoped was leading us to Skala Kalloni whilst trying to stay safe as the roads rarely had pavements. We had already noticed that respect was shown to us as most cars slowed and gave good room between us as they passed. This was in stark contrast to the UK where often a cigarette paper would not pass between car and pedestrian. For our troubles we were treated to views of our first Masked Shrikes as we walked through some olive trees and then a sad site of a Persian Squirrel roadkill. 
East River & Surrounding Tracks
 Wood Sandpiper x2 (L) Common Tern x1 (L)Common Shelduck x2  Olivaceous Warbler x5 (L) Black Headed Bunting (L) 
Whiskered Tern x2Little Egret x1European Bee-Eater x 10 House Sparrow x20+Common Swift x 20+ 
 House Martin x20+Barn Swallow x20+Common Nightingale x6 European Blackbird x4Corn Bunting x3 
Crested Lark x?  Squacco Heron x3Little Bittern x3 Greenfinch x5 Goldfinch x2 
 Great Tit x2Blue Tit x3  Masked Shrike x2 (L) Little Ringed Plover x1 
Evening 
A stroll along the beach front and hotel area did not turn up any surprises but it was clear that the temperature was starting to rise as the days moved on. One surprise at about 22:30 was a Tawny Owl calling at the back of the hotel as Mandy and I sat on the balcony
Tawny Owl x1Common Tern x5  Yellow Legged Gull x10 House Martin x?Barn Swallow x20 Common Swift x10 
 Reed Warbler x2 Great Tit x2Greenfinch x3 House Sparrow x8 Jay x1 Hooded Crow x2

3rd May SaturdayAn early start to the day brought another lifer for me. Mandy had a lie in but I could not resist a good early morning watch at the Kalloni Pool. The light it not the best as the sun comes up where you are training your bins but it could be worse. It's was strange as already the amount of people checking the pool out had already dropped as mutterings of "it's not like it used to be" was quite common. I am sure this is the case as many people mentioned Garganey, Black Winged Stilt, all regulars in years gone by. For me I was content searching the much vegetated pool from the roadside. I was not to be disappointed as I soon was on to a very slow moving duck which brought me my first ever female  Ferruginous Duck. I was also pleased to see my first Little Owl of the trip sat on some support poles jutting out of the telegraph pole. With the poor light I could not make out a Harrier species that flew up alongside the beach heading toward East River.
Kalloni Pool (AM)
Ferruginous Duck x1 Little Bittern x4  Great White Egret x1 (over) Little Owl x1 Reed Warbler x2
 Harrier Species x1?Squacco Heron x5 Moorhen x1 Common Coot x2 Cettis Warbler x2 
 House Martin x10Common Swift x10 Barn Swallow x10  Hooded Crow x2Collared Dove x3 
 House Sparrow x6Goldfinch x3 Greenfinch x2  Crested Lark x2Nightingale x1 
 Yellow L Gull x9Common Tern x3    

It soon became obvious that a car was required to get the full benefit from the island. We did not really want to hire a car for to long but we felt 7 days would be a good starting point. Thanks again to Paul for his tip we headed into Skala town and straight for Tsalis car hire. A fully insured (I say insured, this did not include tyres, underneath and exhaust) Hyundia Atos class A car was obtained for a fairly average price. I haggled a bit and got €70 knocked off the weeks total price of €210 inc the insurance. The car was drove away that morning and straight away we headed to the East River and then crossing the main river ford we journeyed down the tracks to the saltpans. 

East River Mouth & Track To Saltpan (AM)
 European Bee Eater x10 Common Shelduck x2Common Tern x2 Squacco Heron x1 Yellow Legged Gull x10Common Swift x20
 House Martin 20Barn Swallow x12 House Sparrow x4 Crested Lark x6 Olivaceous Warbler x3 Collared Dove x2 
 Marsh Harrier x1Corn Bunting x2     
Moving on across the ford we soon had our first views of a female Marsh Harrier quartering some fields but sadly was moving away from us. I have to say that I was in big trouble at this point as I had put my scope on the back seat and Mandy's camera in the boot as I feared a collision of glass may have occurred. This was soon regretful as as we drove up one of the tracks that was flanked by a wire fence a pair of Bee eater had decided to sit out on a single bare dead twig that was poking out over the track. The car was stopped and straight away we knew we (I) had cocked up in putting the camera in the boot. It was a perfect composure of two beautiful birds. the sun was behind and the birds were against a clear sky and only 6 feet of fresh air remained between us and them. Mandy got out slowly and went to the back of the car, opened the boot got the camera out and amazingly they stayed put! Wow it was going well until Mandy poked her head out from behind the car and the chance passed as they headed off with their burbling calls only being heard. After a quick Lionel Blair stare the camera was upgraded to the back seat!
Saltpan (PM)
Much had been talked about the Saltpans in the hotel and on arrival we could see why. The star bird we were hoping to spot was a Spur Winged Plover. He did not fail to impress us as we caught up with him on the small track leading off to a sheep shed. We managed some reasonable shots before he decided he had done enough strutting and headed off elsewhere.
 Spur Winged Plover x1Red Footed Falcon x4 (3M 1F) Black Winged Stilt x10Ruff x30  Curlew Sandpiper x2
 Little Stint x10Red Throated Pipit x1  Crested Lark x10 Kentish Plover x1Collared Pratincoles x8 
Whiskered Tern x10 Avocet x10 White Winged Tern x50  Ruddy Shelduck x8Marsh Sandpiper x10  
 Black Stork x1 Common Tern x5 Marsh Harrier x1Black Headed Bunting x3 Y/L/ Gull x50 
 House Martin x50Common Swift x30 Barn Swallow x30 House Sparrow x8 Greater Flamingo x50

Kalloni Pool (PM)
The last light of the evening was spent again round the pool and again I was not disappointed as a very calm evening brought a visitor that caused anything but calm in the shape of a Peregrine that flew low over the pool. Most things chose to sit motionless whilst other felt they stood a chance if they panicked and try and outrun him!
 Peregrine Falcon x1 Black Headed Bunting x1Squacco Heron x4  Little Bittern x2 Collared Dove x3 Wood Sandpiper x6
 Common Tern x3Little Egret x1 (over)  House Martin x10 Common Swift x10House Sparrow x10  Barn Swallow x10
 Crested Lark x2Nightingale x1     
4th May Sunday
Potamia Valley (AM-PM)
A day to a site that was a good bet for Olive Tree Warbler so after breakfast we headed to the valley. I was hoping to see a few birds of prey on this trip but yet have to admit I was not particularly bothered about seeing an Olive Tree Warbler. This could be something to do with the reason why we never? The track was easily found and on following this track up we stopped now and again to watch and listen for any birds of Prey. I thought I had a Alpine Swift high up but It was so distracting with the shear numbers I really am not 100%.We did hear lots of Raven calling in the valley but did not see any. The amount of Hirundines in the sky was quite a spectacle and I must have checked all of the Swifts for Pallid or Alpine. We slowly carried on to where the trees started to fill the valley and I was sure this area would be good for flycatchers..Pied or even Collared I thought. We arrived at a bridge that crossed the river where we had Masked and Woodchat Shrike along with Red Rumped Swallow and Northern Wheatear. We followed the track up on the right of the river but was so disappointed with the lack of bird life. The constant purring of Turtle Dove was a welcome sound but it was hard going when the only highlight was a family of Blue Tits although we did have a Black Cap dancing in a tree. We soon realised that enough attention had not been paid to the map and it was clear the action would be on the other side of the river. On driving up we were straight away spoiled with views of another lifer, a Middle Spotted Woodpecker as it flew across the car and clung to a tree to have a look at us and then zip off up the valley. Good views of a number of birds of prey was had found an occupied nest of another lifer the Black Eared Wheatear.
 Masked Shrike x2 Woodchat Shrike x1Long Legged Buzzard x2  Raven x2Common Buzzard x1 
 Black Eared Wheatear x2Middle Spotted Woodpecker x1 Olivaceous Warbler x3  House Sparrow x10Red Rumped Swallow x4 
Hobby x1 Black Head Bunting x10+ Corn Bunting x10+ Yellow Legged Gull x10 Black Stork x4 
 Short Toed Eagle x2Blackbird x7 Blue Tit x6 Great Tit x3 Chaffinch x10 
 Blackcap x1Barn Swallow x10+ Common Swift x100+Alpine Swift x1 ? House Martin x100
Northern Wheatear x1



Inland Lake (PM)
Trying again to decipher the maps in the book we headed to the Inland lake known locally as Metochi Lake. Believe it or not we found the lake so easily that we were unsure as to whether this was the correct lake! A quick drive round showed the reason why this place could offer homes to a good few species of waterbird with lots of ditches and a dikes running around much of the perimeter. We stayed until the afternoon and we were rewarded with a lovely sighting of two Little Crakes nervously wandering on the waters edge on the opposite bank. The Crakes were lifers for us so although there were murmur of Baillons Crake we were quite satisfied with these biscuit brown little jobs.Plenty of Hirundines were also present with large groups all taking advantage of the copious amounts of insects around the water.
Little Crake x1   Little Bittern x1Little Grebe x2 European Bee-Eater x6 Reed Warbler x2
 Great Reed Warbler x2House Martin x15 Common Swift x22 Barn Swallow x18 Common Moorhen x2 
 House Sparrow x6Cttis Warbler x1    
West River
 Common Tern x3 Stone Curlew x1Black Headed Wagtail x4 Crested Lark x8 Black headed Bunting x1
5th May Monday
Inland Lake (AM)
A quick call round in the morning to see if the Baillons Crake could be found but instead we found two Little Crake feeding on the far bank. A little Bittern was playing you can't see me can you also on the far bank.
Little Crake x2  Little Bittern x1Squacco  Heron  Common Raven x2
Collared Dove x2  House Martin x20Coomon Swift x20  Swallow x10
Molyvos Road (five-a-side football pitch)
Mandy and I spent a good 2 hours looking for this bird. People came and people went but I just could not give it up and in the end we were rewarded with a lovely view of a lifer (previously only heard). The bird was at it's daytime roost so I was as quiet as possible and on one occasion had to tell other birders to shushhh as the bird could be disturbed..although sshh does not translate a finger to the lips does....and it concluded in them (not the bird) moving off quickly!
Scops Owl x1

Upper East River & Dead Goats Track
Following the river for a short time and turning left we turned onto a track which led us up onto a hillside where it was evident why it was named so as the stench of rotting (buried) sheep was quite overpowering. It was not particularly exciting when we visited with bird numbers low in general but it was a relaxing sort of place with the only sound being that of constant bee drone due to the amount of bees. I did get the feeling this could be a very good place for passage though and when we return we will give this place more thought. The bushes as you get higher up give good places for skulking and breeding so I am sure more birds will be there.
 Red Backed Shrike x8 Cirl Bunting x1Blackbird x4 Masked Shrike x1  Black Eared Wheatear x4
 Crested Lark x20 House Sparrow x20Yellow Legged Gull x100  Euro Bee-Eater x50 Hooded Crow x2
 Long Legged Buzzard x1 Subalpine Warbler x1Lesser Whitethroat x1 Yellow Wagtail x1 Greenfinch x1
European Jay x1



6th May Tuesday
Inland Lake (track at back)
Western Rock Nuthatch 
Derbyshire & Road to Achladeri 
Another wrong turning on the road to Krupers site led us up a track leading into a wooded area which was rather peaceful once you got over the 3 massive army silos built into the side of the hills. Here we were excited to see and hear Long Tailed Tits of the Turkish/Asia minor race and several glimpses of a European Cuckoo. Finally finding the place where the Krupers site was, we easily spotted them due to it's constant contact calls. The nest site was in a previously lightning struck old tree stump that was about 15 foot tall. The young were probably quite young at the time of our visit as eggshell (see pic) was being removed. This site was probably the busiest birding spot we had witnessed all holiday and most certainly the most photographed bird on the island as big lenses were stood under it's nest constantly.
 Black Eared Wheatear x2Long Tailed Tit (Eastern) x7 European Cuckoo x1  Turtle Dove x4 European Jay x2
 Crested Lark x4Red Backed Shrike x4 Krupers Nuthatch x2 +2 Collared Dove x4 Spotted Flycatcher x
Saltpans
 Shag x2 Red Footed Falcon x12W W Black Tern x20+ Avocet x100+ Collared Pratincoles x12 
 Black Headed Bunting x10Dunlin x1 Curlew Sandpiper x6 Marsh Harrier x1  Lesser Kestrel x1
 Greater Flamingoes x100+ Ruff x100+ Little Stint x8 Temminks Stint x10 Black Winged Stilt x20
    

7th May Wednesday
Erossos-Sigri Road
We set out early to reach a place a couple of hours away but was treated to some terrible weather as we left the hotel. It was raining and felt a touch cold. Non the less I thought it may be ideal weather to ground a few migrants around ipsalou Monastery and other migration hotspots. We drove through some fantastic scenery in the mountains as we followed the road through small villages as we hit peaks and troughs along it's length. We were even treated to a local show of sheep hearding up the middle of the road as two young boys tried to gain some control. The road was stopped on regularly as little traffic was encountered so we did get views of Isabaline Wheatear and a dancing Male Rock Sparrow which was quite amusing. Cretzchmars were present on the odd rock singing and plenty of Red Backed Shrike were in evidence.
 Rock Sparrow x1Isabiline Wheatear x1 Cretzchmars Bunting x1 Black Eared Wheatear x4 Euro Bee-Eater x50
Long Legged Buzzard x2  Hooded Crow x3Collared Dove x6  Spotted Flycatcher x8Red Backed Shrike x10+ 
 Masked Shrike x1 House Sparrow x100+Yellow Legged Gull x30+ Common Kestrel x3 Golden Oriole x3 
Ipsilou Monastery
Our intention was to get here early and set up camp as I know this could be a good spot. This did not work out as planned due to the weather being absolutely freezing and with Mandy being dressed for the beach it did not seem a favourable idea so we thought it best to push on to our final destination. On our return due to the sun warming the place up we decided to call in and hope something was left for us. At the car park near the top I spotted a soaring Long Legged Buzzard and a fly by Eleanoras
Willow Warbler x1Blackcap x3Long Legged Buzzard x1 Eleanoras Falcon x1Great Tit x1 
 Little Owl x1 House Sparrow x6House Martin x30 Barn Swallow x20 Common Swift x10 
Wood Warbler x1




Faneromeni River Ford 
We eventually found the spot where the river was awash with tadpoles and slow running water with small pools. We pulled up on the other side and soon views of Turtle Doves, Rufous Bush Robin and House Sparrows all bathing in the shallow pools. Eyes were also on the skies as Euro Bee-Eaters were present and I still had not found my own Blue Cheeked. It was not long before our only Black Kite of the trip soared above us which was quite nice. We left most other birders watching the female sheep hearders beat the living daylights out of their sheep whilst trying to cross the river at the ford. Believe you me I would not like to tangle with some of the Greek women as they are handy with a large stick. We walked up the river in the hope of getting good views of Bush Robin. We found where the Euro Bee-Eaters had nested in previous years with holes bored into the sand banks of the river. The biggest problem was the constant interruption from the vehicles which used the river bed as a road as they moved farming and other equipment around. This was played out at it's worst when we saw a Bush Robin singing on a branch where a good photo opportunity could be made use of but the vehicles of the river were to have other ideas and before long we were frustrated at the attempts we made only for us to be thwarted everytime.
 Rufous Bush Robin x3 Turtle Dove x6Willow Warbler x3 Black Kite x1  House Sparrow x9
 Euro Bee-Eater x30 Squacco Heron x2  
8th May Thursday
Petra Dam
On hearing of a Great Spotted Cuckoo present in the area we headed to the Reservoir which was actually virtually empty with a big black liner being a stark contrast to the bare ground around it. In the remaining water were a few Ruddy Shelduck and Yellow Legged Gulls. We wandered around the lanes and side walkways listening and watching. Nothing came about and none of the other people we met on that day said they had seen it either. Non the less we enjoyed our diversion to the dam and had close views od a nesting Subalpine Warbler and best of all as I stood enjoying the warm sunshine a River Warbler began his sewing machine like rattle directly over my shoulder. I managed to let Mandy know as she had wandered off up a track, and we both had a laugh at it's strange rattle. We had a good talk with several people and in particular a pair of photographers with lots of kit and massive lenses. I found it a little sad that it was a recurring theme that a lot of photographers did not even know what their subject was.
 River Warbler x1Ruddy Shelduck x3  Yellow Legged Gull x40 Raven x1Red Backed Shrike x3 
 Subalpine Warbler x2Black Headed Bunting x6 Euro Bee-Eater x10  Crested Lark x3 Euro Jay x2
 Hooded Crow x4Turtle Dove x5 Barn Swallow x50+  House Martin x50+ Common Swift 50+

Molyvos Castle
We headed here in the hope of some good views of Alpine Swift as Howard had previously mentioned having plenty to see. Once up there we noticed a few Black Eared Wheatear. I soon came to rest on a bannistered overhang which had small bushes scattered below it. I was amazed to hear a song similar to a Nightingales although it was a real skulker I could see and hear that another lifer was in the form of a Thrush Nightningale, fantastic as it carried on singing and briefly showing for another birding couple. My Northern humour soon had them shuffling away looking for cover which when birding is not always a bad thing. No Alpine Swifts were seen but Lesser Kestrel came up trumps, with the views from the cafe something to savour, so we did whilst relaxing with a beer and Greek Salad!
 Thrush Nightingale x1 Lesser Kestrel x1Euro Jay x2 Yellow Legged Gull x18  Hooded Crow x2
 Collared Dove x4 Common Swift x50+Barn Swallow x50+ House Martin x50+ House Sparrow x20 
 Black Eared Wheatear x2 Great Tit x2 Blackcap x1 Blackbird x2 
Road From Petra To Molyvos (3 Lay-bys)
We gave the 3 lay bys a quick look but the sun was in the wrong direction and Mandy was getting badly burnt by the sun. It seemed a long day so one of my biggest regrets was not giving more attention to this area on our way up to the castle as I never did get to see Ruppels Warbler. I guess it is just another good excuse as to why we should return in the future.
 Cretzschmars Bunting x2 Common Swift x50+ House Martin x20+ Barn Swallow x50+House Sparrow x6 
9th May Friday
Parakila Marsh
A new hide had been erected here but sadly we could not gain entrance as it seemed locked. The hide looked in a reasonable position with a good all round vantage point. We only saw one other birder (Dutch) whilst we were there which was surprising as it seemed a good spot. We were amazed at how few species were actually here considering the, what looked like, perfect habitat. Why? Is it too deep or to sleeply sided for any waders. My first interaction with a foreign birder included trying to show in his Dutch birding guide that the bird he was looking at was a Greenshank. That's the first time I have had to look at a foreign guide book and I have too say it was a strange experience as it puts your skills of observation to a new kind of test..it was strangely funny as you cannot rely on text! Strange encounters were the Mallard with young and a seemingly long staying Mute Swan. I could spend longer hear next time as I am sure more can turn up....surely!
Mute Swan x1Mallard x1 +6  Greenshank x1 Whiskered Tern x2 Black Winged Stilt x10
 Cettis Warbler x2Corn Buting x3  Olivaceous Warbler x2Euro Jay x1 Turtle Dove x1 
 Collared Dove x3 House Martin x10+ Barn Swallow x10+ Common Swift x10+ 
Inland Lake
A quick look round at the Rock Nuthatch where a German fellow holding what could only be described a a shotgun in his arms about 3 meter away from the nest of the Rock Nuthatch was. It turned out to be a camera that Noah used to photograph his ark with! Nothing was to dislodge him from his century post and not even my request to be quiet after he shouted to his wench in the car to bring another film. 
Western Rock Nuthatch x2 Black Eared Wheatear x3Little Grebe x2 Whiskered Tern x2  Long Legged Buzzard x1
 House Martin x10+ Common Swift x10+Barn Swallow x10+   
Saltpans
A mid afternoon visit until the sun went down had us staring with mouths open and tongues hanging out as the highlight was 18 male & female Red Footed Falcons all hanging in the air hunting over the dikes in and around the sheep fields as the sun started to fade, amazing feel to the day. The Red Throated Pipit remained but just far enough away so that photo chances were hard work. 
 Little Tern x2 Spur Winged Plover x2W W Black Tern x3  Ruff 50+ Black Stork x1
 White Stork x4Euro Bee-Eater x10 Collared Pratincoles x4 Red Footed Falcon x18  Black Winged Stilt x10
 Greater Flamingo x30+Cettis Warbler x2  Little Stint x20 Curlew Sandpiper x3Marsh Harrier x1
Collared Dove x3 Red Throated Pipit x1 Ruddy Shelduck x6  Long Legged Buzzard x3 Common Swift 100+
 House Martin x50+ Barn Swallow x50+Black Headed Bunting x5  Olivaceous Warbler x3 Common Tern x4
Avocet x50+Black Terns 20+Crested Lark x8Long Legged Buzzard x3
10th May Saturday
West River
Well a real bummer occurred whilst we made our way on foot to this spot. It has once happened before in Lanzarote and I swore it would never happen again. Stupidly my cable release had become detached from my setup and I only noticed this when I had reached the West river! Mandy and I retraced our steps right back to the hotel without any luck so we trudged back and began our almost day long walk around the river. I have to say that the West river is not my favourite spot for some reason as it just gives me a "dead boring" vibe. Anyway that seemed unfair as our first and only view of a Lesser Grey Shrike was had at distance but this soon moved on (wonder if it felt the same as me about the river?) The West river has two new viewing platforms now although neither of them seem great for actually watching birds from. Lots of Grey Heron were present for some time yet Purple Heron was still not making it onto my list. A few flyover Stork species kept us interested but the cable release was still at the front of my mind. I had swore that I would glue the release in place with some thread seal before I next used the kit (but I did not) I also said I would purchase a spare cable release (which I did) and I would take the spare release with me on holiday (which I did not, as I thought I would not need it!!!!?) I was muttering all day that it's just my luck and recounting that on this holiday I had found and managed to return to the owner several items including 1) a digital camera left in a restaurant 2) a camera lens cover found on the East river 3) a scopes eyepiece cover on West river and lastly 4) I shared my charger with a fellow who had forgot his. I felt hard done to and thought if there is any justice that it would be a fair thing to happen.....Back at the hotel I wrote in the log book about my loss and left my name and room number in case anybody found it. Unbelievably a day later somebody did find it at THE SALTPANS the day before we went to the West river. Whats the chance of somebody finding it at the Saltpans, knowing what the item was (he was a journalist so would be familiar), staying at our hotel and kindly taking the time to mention what he had found to reception! I was reunited with it and thought sometimes life is good!
Lesser Grey Shrike x1 Grey Heron x10  Black Stork x4White Stork x10  Black Headed Wagtail x10
 Corn Bunting x4Black Headed Bunting x3  Ruff x3 Barn Swallow x50+House Martin x20+ 
 Common Swift x20+ Sand Martin x6Yellow Leg Gull x20 Little Egret x4 House Sparrow x10 
11th May Sunday
East River & Tracks into Orchards
We chose to have a real nosey around the area of the Orchards and farmland on the edge of the East River. We picked up a couple of local dogs to accompany us and it was soon apparent that all the chasing around people do to see Middle Spot Woodpecker need not have taken place as plenty were right on our doorstep. The call of the Woodpecker was the give away with youngsters calling for food. It was a real enjoyable day where not many people were encountered only the local people working their bit of land for fruit and veg. 
Wood Sandpiper x3 Middle Spotted Woodpecker 4Masked Shrike x2  House Sparrow x10 House Martin x10+
 Common Swift x10+ Peregrine Falcon x1 Common Kestrel x1 Yellow Legged Gull x20+ Common Nightingale x3
 Great Tit x8 Blue Tit x3Common Whitethroat x1 Little Ringed Plover x2 Common Tern x3 
Common Shelduck x2  Crested Lark x10+Olivaceous Warbler x10  Barn Swallow x10+ Hooded Crow x3
White Stork x1Woodchat Shrike x3


Skala Kalloni Centre (PM)
As we strolled into the centre for our evening meal we were treated to a fly-over of 20 or so White Stork. For some reason it was really quite a nice moment and one that again for some reason has stuck in my mind. The two Swallows chattered away in the outdoor seating area of our restaurant before both of them swung in for a final time where they perched, roosting for the evening on a couple of electrical wires in the rafters...fantastic! We stopped off with one or two others to grab a glimpse of a much talked about Barn Owl that has taken up residence in a derelict building where it emerges from a chimney and flies off into the night. The turn of a group of Dutch people were auditioning for clown of the day as they went about whupping and a holloring like they were in some kind of outtake for a carry on film....the behaviour was so outlandich I was expexting Jeremy Beadle to put in an appearance. I had to laugh as one clown amongst the group was a real cocoa and with his back turned and him playing to the audience the Barn Owl came out and flew off and for him to miss it! I have to say he was a plonker and I hoped he was never to see it.
 White Stork x21 (f/o)Barn Owl x1 House Sparrow x20+ Barn Swallow x20+  Common Swift x20+
12th May Monday
East River
 Long Legged Buzzard x8 Little Bittern x1 (juv) Moorhen x1Cormorant x1 Whiskered Tern x2 
 Hobby x2Peregrine Falcon x1 Little Stint x10  Ruff x1Wood Sandpiper x4 
 Spanish Sparrow x2House Martin x40+  Common Swift x40+ Barn Swallow x40+ Euro Bee-Eater x10
 Little Egret x1White Stork x2 Black Stork x3 Common Tern x3 Common Nightingale x4 
 Olivaceous Warbler x5Black Headed Bunting x4 House Sparrow x10  Alpine Swift x5 
13th May Tuesday
West River
 Black Headed Wagtail x3Common Tern x3  Black Headed Bunting x6Corn Bunting x2  House Martin x20+
 Common Swift x20+Barn Swallow x20+ House Sparrow x10 Grey Heron x3  

East River
 Black Stork x1 Night Heron x2 Grey Plover x2House Sparrow x10  Common Swift x10+
Olivaceous Warbler x3  Black Headed Bunting x3Common Nightingale x2 Little Ringed Plover x2  Long Legged Buzzard x2
Cormorant x2 Common Tern x2 Hose Martin x10+ Barn Swallow x10+ Euro Bee-Eater x10 
     

14th May Wednesday
East River
We had heard from a few people that Rose Coloured Starlings had been seen at the Inland Lake the day previous but with the car hire ended we knew we would not get chance to see if they were still there. Some friends, Howard & Siwan had mentioned them at the East River the previous evening so we thought we would take a walk to the river and maybe catch up with them. We arrived being surprised to see Oystercatcher and Grey Plover at the mouth of the river. I was still on a personal mission to sift through every Bee-Eater that passed through Lesvos to find my own Blue Cheeked but as I scoured the favourite place for Euro Bee-Eater on the far tip of the opposite bank I noticed a flock of Starlings!! Lucky us we were in the right spot as about 25-30 of them came pasting up the beach and on to where the Bee-Eaters were on the opposite bank. Distant views were had as one or two of them perched up high in some of the shrubs and trees. I wish I could have charged a £1 for everybody that wanted to have a look through my scope! More people arrived and most chased after them in their cars to get closer views. I don't blame them but they were quite mobile and soon moved on in search of ripe Mulberries of which there did not seem to many. They moved out of the area as it seemed they were headed toward the Saltpan area so we carried on up the bank enjoying the fact that we had been lucky enough to see them. At the ford Mandy nudged me to say they were back in the tree right in front of us. I was one of the lucky few that were on the right side of the bank and had good cover from a nearby bush so I took a few shots before others arrived and the birds flew. Another great lifer and on our last full day...great!
 Rose Coloured Starling x30 Little Egret x2Squacco Heron x2 Grey Plover x2 Oystercatcher x2 
Cormorant x2Common Tern x4Little Tern x1Whiskered Tern x2House Sparrow x10
Little Bittern (juv) x1Black Stork x1Little Stint x10Temminks Stint x15White Stork x1
Long Legged Buzzard x3Common Nightingale x2Cettis Warbler x1Euro Bee-Eater x10Common Shelduck x2
Olivaceous Warbler x3    

15t May Thursday
Hotel Based
The last day of the trip and we had been told the night before that there was going to be a delay on our flight home as the Greek air traffic control were to go on strike. No bother really apart from the water and electricity at the hotel was off for the second time and this left a lot with problems as some had to return their cars back to the airport so they had to do so without breakfast and without a shower. We chose not to go birding and relaxed in the eating areas outside and around the hotel. We spent an extra couple of hours in the hotel rather than at the airport so we appreciated First Choice letting us know in advance. We were lucky enough that the water and electricity came back on an hour before the coach was due so we were some of the lucky ones to get something to eat and have a shower. On arrival it was clear that the delay was going to be longer than we were told so after we checked our bags in  we were allowed out of the airport and sat with Howard & Siwan in a taverna where we relaxed and had a laugh and where another couple joined us with the male looking very much like Ron Jeremy...very scary!
First Choice gave us a shout at the taverna that our plane was in and away we went as we left the 3rd largest Greek island and it's birds to other people whatever they were choosing to do on this very special place.....we will be back!
General Observations Of The Trip
HOTELS: We found the hotel we stayed in Kalloni 2 to be basic with a few features that we liked. It seems that most of the hotels on the island are of basic standard what I would class as a 2* appeal. The bathrooms are very basic with a "carry on" movie feel to the shower as it is a curtain on a rail hung up with chains. Previous occupants had tore one of the curtain rings away from the curtain so to fix it they just cut the whole length of the curtain away and disposed of the ring. Quite funny! The radio attached to the headboard did not work but everything else was great with the plus of a fridge,TV and ample sideboards and cupboards inside the compact rooms. The cleanliness of the rooms were excellent as changing of the bed linen was almost every 3 days and they went out of their way on occasion to make our nights rest that much better. They even noticed that I was using a blanket as an extra pillow and replaced this without asking for another pillow, very nice. The reception was a bit slow at times when you needed to ask something due to it not being staffed or the staff being in the bar area but nothing was too much trouble. The bird log that they have kindly kept up on the front desk where sightings of birds are logged by anyone is a great feature, one which is repeated in at least another in the area called the Pasiphae.
COSTS/EXCHANGE: The  has been strong of late against the £ with us only getting an exchange rate of €1.20 to the £1. The cost of eating on the island I feel is very reasonable with a typical starter, main course,bread and a free desert coupled with a 500ml house wine, a beer and a coffee costing around £19 (24€). The restaurants in Skala Kalloni are very good and the big plus is the fact that there are no burger bars etc, it's mainly Greek food which is delicious. We ate out at Ambrosia a lot of the time as we felt the outside tables that were below roosting Barn Swallows suited us fine and it is just enough out of the main square to appreciate the ambience without being in the thick of it. Talking to others around the island it seems that places that are more touristy (Mytilene, Petra and Molyvos) are more expensive with food and drinks being on a par or more expensive than at home. As noted in the introduction the holiday for 14 nights B&B came at a total cost of £1100. This included flights from Manchester,insurance and transport to and from the airport. Cash machines are not readily available  and we found only a couple of banks in the main cities having a hole in the wall. Credit/debit cards are accepted widely but we mostly paid cash for everything as I find it easier and more secure. Only the car hire was used on card. Service charges we came across were always built into the price but we did mostly leave a modest tip anyway.

CAR HIRE This was not the cheapest we have experienced but don't always accept the first price as I haggled from €280 for a weeks hire fully insured down to a more respectable €210 for 7 days. I can recommend Tsalis in Skala Kalloni as the cars are well kept and are of various sizes. The person behind the counter is British and was very helpful with local tips regarding places and local traditions. Lots of people hired from Billy's and I heard of no real problems. To get the most out of your holiday and if you are going mainly to bird watch then a car is a must as some of the places to watch birds are quite a distance away like Ipsolou Monastery, Molyvos and Sigri. The Saltpans are reachable on foot or bike but it does take a time to get there and for me a bike is hard work with all my gear I have to carry. Petrol prices were surprisingly high costing around €1.20 per ltr and this was rising even within our two week stay.
CULTURE: I found the people very nice indeed and a more willing attitude to help you speak their native tongue. On occasion asking somebody "Tikanis" was very much appreciated and often a smile broke out with a warm "Kala" in response. I found them good to talk to and some of the shop keepers took time to converse with you over things about, or affecting the island, including the global problem of immigration that has upset some of the natives even on the small island of Lesvos. Driving (although it was Mandy who did this) was excellent around the places we visited as less traffic was a pleasant thing. When we ventured into town centres it was a lot different with motorbikes, cyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles all strongly jostling for the bit of road in front of you. Horns were a good thing and used as our own highway code suggests, to let you know "I am here" or "I am coming toward you". Once this horn blowing was understood it made it a lot easier as normally in the UK a horn is blown with an accompanying hand gesture that suggests something other than " I am here". Some of the roads are very narrow but on the whole around the countryside they were great and traffic free. Most of the residents were very polite as we walked up and down the East River banks remembering that locals use these along with the river bed as a road network for vehicles and herders use this as a watering hole as well as a road for their animals. I often smiled and put my hand up to them and this was mostly responded to if not with just a quick hand up off the steering wheel. Most of them slowed as they approached and moved as far away as possible from us to not create as much dust. Others have not shared this experience but considering how many birders walk along that river bank I feel that they were amazingly patient. One thing that seems to blight the island is the Greeks obsession with dumping rubbish on the outskirts of town. Builders rubble seemed the favourite and anywhere around what we would call a "nice spot" they would deem it a landfill site in the making. Fencing had been erected at the mouth of the East river one day with the land been tidied and levelled, and this looked great....next day, fence knocked down and yes, rubble dummped!
BIRD WATCHING: A very good place indeed with plenty of birds of many species to be seen and this includes quite a large number of the same species.Skala Kalloni has to be the best place to stay particularly if you are not hiring a car as a lot of the good places like East & West River, Kalloni Pool and the Farmland & Orchards around the East River can be easily reached on foot. The birds have a mixed reaction to your presence and overall I thought they were pretty nervous. Species like Nightingale and Cetti's Warbler were difficult to get good pictures of but Black Headed Bunting were real posers. Wildflowers abound like I have never seen before and it seems the wet winter and early spring this year had helped. The farming practices seem sympathetic to nature as a lot of the land is cultivated in a very basic fashion ie by hand and small machinery.Plenty of other wildlife around with several species of Turtle, Dragonfly, Butterfly, Lizard, Squirrel and Fox being seen. Sadly on our strolls through Skala Kalloni Orchards and farmland numerous spent (and that's a lot) shot gun cartridges were noted but we did only see evidence of one casualty which was a Yellow Legged Gull. 
BUGS We took plenty of insect repellents with us but we did not use any. We did get bit by various insects mainly Mozzies and the usual itching occurred. We used a roll on bite & itch soother from lifeventure which worked to some degree. I think in total I was bitten 12 times in two weeks. Things on more than two or four legs were not a problem around the hotel as we could tell. One thing that does stand out is the amount of dogs and cats around the restaurants and hotels and in general around the island. We found them endearing and had no problem with them at all, as all those encountered were very friendly and had good manners. Some of the dogs could follow you and one occasion two dogs did follow us all day. It was quite nice to have them along as they were well behaved and once we returned to the centre of Skalla they disappeared into the streets! They are part feral and we noted one giving birth on the beach in a cardboard box. The Greeks seem to view them as an object that can be useful in farming and no doubt to help keep rodents down.
WEATHER The temps were very good with nice warm days and cool nights which aids sleeping. We saw one real day of poor weather, sadly this was the day we chose to go into the mountains and Ipsolou monastery. It was drizzly all the way there and a very strong and cold wind also accompanied the rain. I was very surprised at how cold it was and so much so that the Monastery was given a miss until the journey back from Sigri. The weather reverted back to sunny and warm in the afternoon and the visit to the Monastery was far more pleasing. On the whole it was clear skies and mainly light winds although at times the winds did pick up but for me being fair complexion this was a bonus as it keeps me feeling cool. Speaking to the birders that arrived a week or two before us mentioned that the temps had been cool to very cold on quite a few days.
 

  
TOP 5 HIGHLIGHTS
1) White Winged Black Tern
2) 18 Red Footed Falcon
3) Old Fashioned Pace To Life and Agriculture
4) Wildflowers
5) Food
TOP 5 DISLIKES
1) Richard Brookes Strong Advice Not To Get Out Of The Car
2) My Own, & Others Peoples Liking For Only Visiting Well Known Sites (Richard Brookes Book)
3) First Choice For Changing Flights From Direct to Via Gatwick & Saying Nobody Was Getting On At Gatwick Which Was Not True.
4) Some Superiority Shown From Some Birders About The Island ("Iv'e Been Coming Here 10 Years Don't You Know")
5) Slamming Doors & Talking, Laughing Loudly In early Mornings (from 5:00am) In The Hotel
EQUIPMENT USED
Pictures Stating ©M.R.Photpgraphy were taken by Mandy using 
DSLR Nikon D80 with sigma 100-300 f/4 lens and sigma 1.4x teleconverter
Pictures taken stating ©www.wildrossendale.co.uk were taken by myself using
Digiscoped Zeiss Diascope 85T with Nikon p&s P5100 with SRB Gritturn digiscoping swing bracket v1 &
DSLR Nikon D80 with sigma 100-300 f/4 lens and sigma 1.4x teleconverter

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