Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lesvos 24 Apr - 1 May 08

A Speyside Wildlife holiday led by Steve Dudley ( & Mark Denman (Speyside Widlife)

Trip particpants: Peter, Jenny, Rosemary & Charlie, Chris & Richard, Annie & David.

Day 1, Thurs 24 April
Mark meets up with the group at Gatwick and board the First Choice flight direct to very sunny and hot Mytilini, Lesvos. Four hours later they are met by Steve and we are all soon in the vans and on our way to Skala Kallonis in the centre of this Aegean island.

We check in to the Pasiphae Hotel but are soon out and walking around the Skala Kallonis Pool just a few minutes from our rooms. Six Squacco Herons greet us and straight away it feels like a whole different place and that we are on holiday. Several of the Squacco Herons take flight, turning from rich buff to gleaming white in an instant. We walk on down to the Christou River marsh where we find a variety of waders including Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Little and Temminck’s Stint and a distant Stone-curlew.

It might have only been an hour but it’s given us an immediate flavour of being in the eastern Med and whetted our appetite not only for more, but for our taverna dinner!

Washed and brushed up we meet again an hour later in the bar and transfer to the Taverna Dionysos for the first of the week’s sumptuous Greek fare.

Day 2, Fri 25 April
After many years leading groups on Lesvos, we soon find Steve likes to do things a little differently to other groups. Not only are we the only group to eat out of the hotels at one of the fantastic tavernas each evening, but we also breakfast at a different time to the others too! Whilst the others are dragged from their beds at 6.00am for a pre-breakfast trip, we have a 7.00am breakfast and depart for the day as the others return for their breakfast. This means we are at least an hour ahead of all the other groups and have many of the sites to ourselves.

First stop this morning is the small lake at Metochi. The reeds are alive with Reed and Sedge Warblers and the guttural chunter of a Great Reed Warbler can be heard even if he can’t be seen. A Cetti’s Warbler belts out his familiar song but we manage to get good views. The air is thick with hirundines above us. We soon find not one but several of our main quarry, Little Crake and enjoy great views of two females and a great blue-grey male skulking under the tangle of branches.

We move on to the Kalloni Saltpans for a brief stop where we see plenty if Little Egrets, several distant Great White Egrets, Wood Sandpipers, several Kentish Plovers and three Sanderling.

We move on to Achladeri but are halted in our tracks when Mark spots a Roller on roadside wires. We are all out of the vans and soon getting fantastic views of this brilliantly coloured bird. The bird is feeding so we are treated to its vibrant colourful wings each time it takes flight in pursuit of prey. Nearby we also get great views of an adult Lesser Grey Shrike with its black forehead and peachy underparts.

At Achladeri Steve has us staring up at a lump in a large pine. He sets his scope up and there is the distinct shape of the head of an adult Long-eared Owl, ear-tufts erect as it is sat on its nest. Fab! We walk through the woodland seeing Masked Shrike and Cuckoo before Steve points out the nest hole of one of the island’s main attractions, Krüper’s Nuthatch. In no time the adult male appears with food in his bill. He comes down to the nest stump and pops in to the hole. He’s soon off followed by the female. The two feed excitedly in a nearby pine giving great views. The female returns to the nest hole and after more views of the male we move on through the woodland where we find several dragonflies in a dry river bed including a female Broad-bodied Chaser and a Lesser Emperor.

After lunching in the shade of the trees, we head off south towards the Polichnitos Saltpans. The coastal route delivers a flock of 22 Bee-eaters, brief views of Middle Spotted Woodpecker, singing Olivaceous Warblers and a hunting female Marsh Harrier. The Saltpans, as Steve predicted, are fairly quiet (for some reason they are always better in the autumn) with a small flock of Little Stints, 12 Curlew Sandpipers, some now in their brick red summer dress, a Spotted Redshank and several Kentish Plovers. At the far end of the pans Mark spots a close Black Stork and we get great views, the sun showing off its iridescent green neck.

We move on further south to Vatera. We find the ford of the River Almiropodamos is overgrown so we quickly move on and head up the Ambeliko Valley. We park the vans and go for a lovely long walk. The wind is a little cool, but the sun is warm. We find several singing male Subalpine and Sardinian Warblers (the latter a new site for the species on the island). A Serin belts out his tinkling song from below us but we can’t get a view of the tree he is in for other trees. Damn! Short-toed and Long-legged Buzzards appear in the sky and we get good views of both, the eagle with its pale underparts and dark hood, the buzzard with its long, plain, reddish tail. A Middle Spotted Woodpecker taunts us constantly with its chattering call from the valley below. We arrive back at the vans when a female Blue Rock Thrush appears in wires nearby. Annie then spots a gleaming yellow male Golden Oriole which gives all too brief views.

We drive the rest of the Ambeliko Valley with some stunning views, through the picture-postcard village of Ambeliko itself, clinging tightly to the steep hillside. We arrive back at the Kalloni Saltpans in time to spend a productive hour watching Gull-billed Terns, super-close views of a Marsh Sandpiper and a Peregrine causing mayhem with the waders

As we drive across the rough cross track to the hotel, Steve spots a different white shape amongst the many Yellow-legged Gulls feeding in a field. ‘Cattle Egret!’ he yells to his van and down to radio to Mark. We get good views form the vans and Steve gets a couple of record shots with the camera. He explains that it’s a rare bird on Lesvos and only about the eight record in recent times.

Out last port of call is the mouth of the River Tsiknias and Steve spots a couple of adult Slender-billed Gulls feeding. Even at some distance their distinctive long necks and long head and bills are very clear to see.

We retreat to the hotel for an hour or so rest and freshen up before nipping down to Skala for yet enough stunning Greek dinner and highly entertaining evening.

Day 3, Sat 26 Apr
We head north today and on the way out of Kalloni we stop at the mini soccer pitch and get great views of a roosting Scops Owl. It’s chosen a little hidey place tight against the trunk of a tree with an overhanging piece of bark forming a little roof. Perfect!

We arrive on the coast north of Petra and are soon stuck in to the birds. Two singing Black-headed Buntings greet us. There are a couple of Lesser Whitethroats flitting about the scrub and a male Cirl Bunting joins in the bunting chorus. The rocky outcrops around us are dotted with Black-eared Wheatears and a single Blue Rock Thrush is seen. ‘Eagle!’ yells Steve pointing to a huge raptor coming low over us form the north. It sweeps past us and down the slope towards Petra. ‘Steppe Eagle’ proclaims Steve who then yells ‘Black Kite!’ as a smaller raptor comes in following the same line being chased by a Hooded Crow. Wow! What a few minutes! The eagle is an island tick for Steve (and only about the eighth record for the island) and the kite only his fourth showing how rare these two raptors are here.

Eventually Rüppell’s Warblers appear. Two males and a female are seen well. At one point, a pair of Rüppell’s, a Subalpine and an Orphean Warbler are actively mobbing something in a section of rocks. Almost certainly a snake says Steve. The males continue to perform showing off their black hoods and white moustaches.

We move on to Efthalou where a quick look at the sea produces the required Yelkouan Shearwaters. We head up on to the rough north coast track. It’s windy and the first of the gullies is a little too open. We park the vans a walk. We find a few sheltered nooks and crannies and soon see Woodchat and Masked Shrikes, Cirl and Cretzschmar’s Bunting and a cracking family party of Sombre Tits. We get some great views of the birds here, most flitting from rock to rock between little ‘chicken wire’ bushes. Whilst we are enjoying the smaller birds Steve points out an Audouin’s Gull as it glides by showing off its blood-red bill and paler wings than the surrounding Yellow-legged Gulls.

We stop for lunch in a sheltered valley during which Steve spots another eagle coming over. Mark and Steve scrutinise the bird carefully before agreeing it is an adult Golden Eagle. We get good views as a Long-legged Buzzard comes in to mob it! The eagle climbs higher and higher over the next ten minutes or so until it is a dot to the naked eye and it turns to make the flight across the short crossing to Turkey.

The picturesque harbour village of Skala Sikaminias is our next stop where we enjoy a coffee in the warm sun sheltering from the cool northerly breeze – bliss!

Refreshed we make our way through the little villages and towns on route to Napi Valley stopping for Crag Martins and a White Stork on its lofty chimney at Mandamados.

At the top of Napi Valley we turn east along the Platania track and park up. We walk along the track and are interrupted by a couple of feeding Rock Nuthatches. We watch them actively collecting food and follow them to their mud nest on the side of a large rock. A Black-eared Wheatear flits around the rocks above them as the birds too and fro delivering food and taking away faecal sacks. A little further along the track we find a Woodlark sat in a small tree which gives brilliant close views. The pale supercillium joining in a V at the back of the nape is very clear.

We walk down in to an area of scattered olive and oak trees. Immediately we hear the chuntering song of an Olive Tree Warbler. It’s intermittent and at times difficult to hear amidst the many singing Masked Shrikes around us. Eventually we all manage good views of the large, pale grey warbler, with its large bill and wing panel.

We head back south and arrive on the Kalloni Saltpans. The ‘moat’ around the pans is alive with waders, Black-winged Stilts, Ruff and Wood Sandpipers. The first pan has a large number of Avocets, some swimming as they feed. There are more Flamingos around now, with pinks dots scattered across the pans. A small party of Little Stints land on a muddy fringe. We scan the banks between the pans and find several Grey Herons, Little and Great White Egrets and a couple of Stone-curlew. We eventually drag ourselves away and head back to the hotel to freshen up before yet another delightful taverna dinner and checklist.

Day 4, Sun 27 April
We leave promptly at 8am and head west. The morning is cool and overcast, northerly winds with a faint sniff of rain. Steve and Mark are optimistic that these are good conditions for migrant hunting out west. We make a brief stop in the Lardia Valley for a song spectacular. Everything is in song – Nightingale, Wren, Blackcap, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Subalpine Warbler, Black-eared Wheatear, Turtle Dove and the odd fluty call of a Golden Oriole. It’s magical!

We move on and the landscape suddenly changes. Gone are the wooded hillsides and groves. The whole place is barren and rocky. We stop at the top of a gorge which has a few trees leading down to the tree-lined valley bottom. The wind is blowing a bit and it’s decidedly cool – not what we expected! Within seconds we forget about the cold as we are soon watching the first of many Isabelline Wheatears. The males are singing from prominent rocks and short bushes. There song is whacky and reminiscent of something out of Star Wars! Steve spies a couple of Rock Sparrows on the slope above us and most get on to this stripy sparrows before they take flight. A male Golden Oriole is singing below us when Mark locates the singing male Cinereous Bunting we had been struggling to find. Scopes are trained on the bird and we get great views of its lemon yellow head contrasting with its grey body. There are also several Cretzschmar’s Bunting kicking around the rocks at the top of the gorge and several Woodchat Shrikes on the bushes below us.

As we climb back in the vans, Steve points out the cloud-covered mountain to our west. The cloud is hiding the mountain top monastery of Ipsilou, our next destination. It doesn’t look warm!

We arrive at Ipsilou and park at the bottom. The wind is blowing hard from the north and the mountain is shrouded in cloud, and it is cool. We begin walking up the south-facing side of the mountain which is sheltered from the northerly wind. There is no sign of birds to start with, but approaching the tree line Steve spots a warbler. ‘Wood Warbler!’ shouts Mark. It soon becomes apparent we are surrounded by birds. Now we’re cooking! Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats cover nearly every tree and bush we look at. There are hundreds of them. The excitement and expectation increases with new tree work our way through. More common species are popping out – Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and more Wood Warblers. An Isabelline Wheatear and a couple of Cinereous Buntings are singing to remind us where we are! We then find the first of four Red-breasted Flycatchers which includes a lovely red-throated male. A Cuckoo joins in the fray and there are Golden Orioles appearing briefly here and there, the males singing. A Jay appears to which Mark remarks ‘black cap on a Jay’ to much hilarity as we all envisage a Blackcap sat on a Jay steering it through the trees! It’s not something he is going to be allowed to forget too quickly! We continue to work our way through the endless Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats and begin to pick out more and more goodies. Steve finds a bright yellow Icterine Warbler which we all get good views of. A male Barred Warbler appears and disappears. Mark and several of the group are deliberating on a female flycatcher down the slope. Steve and the others don’t get on to it but from what Mark has seen it’s definitely a female Semi-collared Flycatcher. Great find! A female Golden Oriole sits out in the open for us all to see when Mark finds a stunning male Collared Flycatcher for us to enjoy. The first of several Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers begins to sing and we see one bird briefly. Another Cuckoo is seen just as we find a Thrush Nightingale sat out in the open. We get great views as it hops from branch to branch and even better views of a singing male Cinereous Bunting at the top of a nearby oak tree.

We lunch at the top of the mountain at the monastery. It’s an eerie atmosphere as the mountain top is shrouded in cloud and as we sit there we can see the cloud swirling around below us and a slither of light between the distant mountain tops and the dark sky. There are few birds up here in the swirling mist, so once we have refuelled we jump in the vans and head off in search of more migrants.

On our way to the Maladia River Ford we find a flock of seven Lesser Kestrels hunting a roadside hillside. They hang effortlessly in the wind before swooping to the ground to collect a beetle or other insect. The rough track down to the river ford provides little evidence of migrants. A Little Owl on top of a stone building looking just like a little rock! We spy the odd Red-backed Shrike, Cretzschmar’s Bunting and the unavoidable Crested Larks (now christened custard tarts!). We arrive at the ford chapel and find a single, super-bright, Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat and Red-backed Shrike. Still no real feeling of the fall witnessed earlier at Ipsilou. We head down to the ford and that feeling soon changes as the place is hoochin’ with migrants including 10+ Lesser Grey Shrikes, 40+ Red-backed Shrikes, 20+ Black-headed Buntings! Wow! The ford holds a female Little Bittern and singing Cetti’s and Great Reed Warblers – but no flycatchers or migrant warblers. We venture down to the fig grove where we find some Whinchat, a few Pied Flycatchers but little else. Richard spots a cracking male Redstart by a little building and whilst watching it Steve spies a Thrush Nightingale sat on top of a large rusty oil drum! Its right out in the open and seemingly in no rush to move off. Scopes are on to it and we all get great views of this little seen bird. At one point a Common Nightingale appears in the vine branch a few inches above it and they both eye each other quizzically! What great views! We spend every available minute at here enjoying the shrikes and Black-headed Buntings in particular and grilling every inch of the area in search of migrants before the hour-long drive back to Skala Kallonis to freshen up before a one-off dinner at the hotel (the tavernas are closed or fully booked for Greek Easter Sunday celebrations) which proves to be a shadow of what we are used to at the Dionysos taverna (and that’s being polite!).

Day 5, Mon 28 Apr
We wake the following morning with our heads buzzing of yesterday’s migrant bonanza. It would have been easy to head back west to try for another day of migrant bunting, but Steve and Mark opt for a quieter local day for us to catch our breath!

After breakfast we head down to the lake at Metochi. Eleven Whiskered Terns fly gracefully to and fro with occasional swoop to the water to pick off a morsel from the surface. A Jay (complete with black cap!) bounces around the trees behind us and a couple of Turtle Doves flit from tree to tree. A female Little Crake provides great excitement. It doesn’t matter how many times you see these diminutive crake they always get the pulse racing. At the far end of the lake we are told of a couple of Baillon’s Crakes and after some waiting manage great views as they fight on another for supremacy of a tiny stretch of reed-fringe! Whilst watching them a female Little Bittern nearly takes our heads off as it flies right over us! A party of Red-rumped Swallows appear over the lake amongst the Whiskered Terns and a Peregrine soars overhead.

After an hour or so we move off northwards. We spend half an hour at the Kalloni Bandstand raptor watch point but see little, so we move on to Petra. We stop at the entrance to the Old Monastery of Alexandros where we set up our scopes to watch a dead popular tree peppered with woodpecker holes. Within minutes an adult Middle Spotted Woodpecker appear at one of the holes delivering a food parcel for the inhabitants. Great stuff! We watch the nest for half an hour before hunger pangs get the better of us and we head off to find a lunch spot.

We head east to Kremastes where we lunch by a small stream bridge. We are surrounded by the sound of purring Turtle Doves and song-flighting Subalpine Warblers and Annie wins Mark’s ‘spot the frog’ contest!

We head in the Napi Valley and take a walk just below the town of Napi. The ever-present song of the Common Nightingale drifts up from the densely vegetated gorge below us. A pair of Common Buzzards circle together in the afternoon sun and a Cirl Bunting sings from atop a large bush. We reach the old horse bridge where Steve finds a Tree Frog sat out on a rock. Aftre we have all had good views from the bridge, Steve goes for a closer looks as he thinks it doesn’t look too healthy. His suspicions are confirmed when he finds it has a bad leg so he places it in the shade of a small bank-side bush.

We wend our way south and arrive at the Kalloni Saltpans. The north-west corner of the moat holds plenty of Ruff and a fresh arrival of Curlew Sandpipers, some of them in their purple-red finery of summer breeding colours. A couple Stone-curlews are seen on the near bund when a Black Stork flies right over our heads. Awesome! Mark spots a group of terns distantly. We scope to find a couple of Whiskered Terns and a single White-winged Black Tern at the far side of the pans. They are coming this way so we stay put and within a couple of minutes the three marsh terns are lazily flapping by. We move around to the Saltworks entrance where we find five Red-throated Pipits by the fast-evaporating seasonal pool. Half a dozen Ruddy Shelducks sit in the field behind the pool and three Short-toed Larks are flitting around. Chris then spots a bright coloured wagtail and asks what it is. ‘That’s the Citrine Wagtail!’ exclaims Steve! The wagtail feeds among the pipits and lone female yellow wagtail which provides good comparison. Chris’s claim the other evening that she never gets a mention in a trip report has just come to an end!

We wander in to the Alykes Wetlands where we find a group of Short-toed Larks feeding in short grass. A small pool holds a Spotted Redshank, Green Sandpiper and a couple of Common Snipe. Annie then spots our main quarry – Collared Pratincole – sat right behind us! We scope this unusual wader for some time before it flies providing us with great views and its tern-cum-swallow-like flight.

We call in on the Tsiknias River on the way back to the hotel and are treated with a lovely female Red-footed Falcon hunting from a wire and a Black Stork feeding in the river.

Day 6, Tues 29 Apr
Today we head off back west. We do a different route to the other day, heading straight out to the fields north of Sigri. Despite things being slower than two days ago, we aren’t disappointed. We walk the track down to Faneromeni Ford and continually pick things up as we walk along. One trees holds 10 Black-headed Buntings! Spotted and Pied Flycatchers (or Flied Piecatchers according to Rosemary), great views of Lesser kestrels, loads of Bee-eaters passing overhead, a couple of Peregrines and a Masked Shrike. A come across a crop field with single Whiskered and White-winged Black Terns flying up and down it feeding off insects from the top of the crops as if they were feeding over water. We get staggering views as they drift backwards and forwards right in front of us. ‘You wont get better views anywhere’ says Mark. We move on to find a cracking male Collared Flycatcher in a nearby olive grove. Its difficult viewing but eventually we all get great views of this smart flycatcher, summed up succinctly by Peter, ‘grand!’.

Mark and Steve leave the group at the ford whilst they cadge a left back to collect the vans left near Sigri. On arriving back they hear that a female Levant Sparrowhawk has been seen only by Jenny from our group when it was shouted by a group of other birders. Little Bittern and Squacco Heron have been enjoyed by everyone, as have a couple of Short-toed Eagles and a single Long-legged Buzzard.

After lunch we head off back across country to the Meladia River Ford. We head straight out to the ford where we find four Little Bitterns and several dragonflies including Red-veined Darter and Emperor. Several Crag Martins feed overhead showing off their white tail spots. In the fig grove we find only a handful of Pied Flycatchers and the male Redstart from the other day is still present by the little building. Rosemary finds a male Common Whitethroat and we get good views of a family part of Sombre Tits. A Cretzschmar’s Bunting is re-christened by Annie as ‘stretch-marks bunting’ – that’ll stick!

We take the track down to the river mouth. A female Marsh Harrier quarters the area when Rosemary spots a Purple Heron flapping across the river mouth. Along the river we get stunning views of four Bee-eaters as they feed from bushes on the opposite bank. Nearby two Great Reed Warblers perform brilliantly and give us our best views of these over-sized warblers.

We again eek out every minute here to ensure that we enjoy all the birds on offer before heading back to the hotel and then on to Dionysos for another evening of excellent food and exhilarating chat around the dining table!

Richard and Chris had opted for a day off around the hotel area and on our return discover Richard had found a stunning male Citrine Wagtail at the pool by the hotel!

Day 7, Weds 30 Apr
Some of us venture out for a pre-brekky trip to the Saltpans where we get great views of three Red-footed Falcons. The hoped for Spur-winged Plover seen yesterday doesn’t materialise so we head off up to the ‘dead goat pit track’ north of Kalloni to Madaros where we see Ruddy Shelduck, Hoopoe, Cirl Bunting and the newly-named ‘stretch-marks bunting’.

We meet up with the others for an 8am breakfast and are back out at 9am and calling in at the Metochi lake. We head round the back of the lake to search the creeks where we get great views of a Spotted Crake and a superb fly-by Great White Egret.

We head off to the Kalloni Bandstand raptor watchpoint where we are greeted with superb views of Cretzschmar’s Bunting and a pair of Subalpine Warlbers. A male Blue Rock Thrush bounces around and a couple of Rock Nuthatches are seen. A female Goshawk is seen circling distantly as well as several Short-toed Eagles and Long-legged buzzards, one of the latter being mobbed by a Peregrine.

We head up Napi for lunch where we find more Short-toed Eagles and Long-legged Buzzards and another Goshawk – this is getting good! A Raven gronks noisily around us and a male Red-footed Falcon hunts a nearby hill. Chris then finds a mini Spur-thighed Tortoise – one of last years offspring judging by its diminutive size – ensuring her second appearance in the same trip report!

We head up to the top of Napi Valley and head east along Platania for a long walk. Bee-eaters continually pass overhead, some flocks unseen but heard, but we do manage flocks of 11, 13 and 18. A group of four perform well from a dead tree where a single Sombre Tit is also seen. A Hummingbird Hawkmoth zips by us and we enjoy a small section of track which peppered with insects including Lesser Spotted Fritillaries, Mallow Skipper, a stunning male Broad-bodies chaser dragonfly and a bee fly.

We head back south to spend the evening at the Kalloni Saltpans. On arrival we are greeted by 21 White-winged Black Terns and a couple of Whiskered Terns. The nearest pan holds 53 Curlew Sandpipers and the Stone-curlews seen the other day are still in situ. Eleven Grey Herons is a good count, and proof that this species is a migrant in these parts, as these birds are on their way north to breed. A Squacco Heron flies past giving great views. By the saltworks entrance we find four Red-footed Falcons hunting from wires when a flock of 24 Grey Plover is seen flying in off the sea and go down in the nearest pan. The nearby fields are littered with Collared Pratincoles, 11 in total, when we stumble across the Spur-winged Plover we dipped in this morning! Great! It’s a splendid adult, unlike the two previous birds Steve has seen on Lesvos which have both been scruffy looking birds. We spend an hour or so here enjoying the plover, pratincoles and falcons in near-perfect light for birding.

We head back towards the hotel and call in at the Tsiknias River Mouth. The bar is covered in birds and scoping them soon reveals 27 Gull-billed Terns! We get great views of these large terns plus a single Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit – the latter with the longest bill Steve and Mark have ever seen on the species. Peter then spots a late Great Crested Grebe out on the sea. The species winters here but are usually gone by mid-April so this is a good find.

We enjoy our last evening at the Dionysos taverna in Skala Kallonis. The food here as been one of the bonuses of the holiday and the evenings have been fabulous entertainment.

Day 8, Thurs 1 May
We only have a an hour or so before we need to head off to the airport, so a trip up the ‘dead goat pit track’ to Madaros in search of Rufous Bush Chat is needed. Unfortunately no bush chats are forthcoming, and although the walk has an end of holiday feel, we manage some good views of Orphean Warbler, Rock Nuthatch and a lone Peregrine.

The holiday over we all choose our favourite bits of the week. Species of the week is Spur-winged Plover (chosen by Peter, David, Annie and Mark), with Rock Nuthatch (Jenny), Roller (Richard), Black-headed Bunting (Chris), Krüper’s Nuthatch (Charlie and Rosemary) and Wood Warbler (Steve) all getting a shout. The place of the week (other than the Dionysos taverna!) is the magical monastery mount of Ipsilou chosen by Peter, David, Steve and Mark. Platania (Jenny), the Saltpans (Richard and Chris), Ambeliko Valley (Charlie), Metochi Lake (Annie) and Meladia River Ford (Rosemary) all get a mention. Magic moments are either that one-off magical group event or very personal moments. Peter’s was seeing the cryptic Scops Owl, Jenny’s was a personal moment at Sigri surrounded by birds and the sound of goat bells, Richard’s was finding his own Citrine Wagtail by the hotel, Chris was finding the female Citrine Wagtail near the Saltpans ensuring her first ever mention in a trip report(!), Charlie’s moment was the first views of Squacco Herons on our first evening which immediately heralded that he was somewhere special, Rosemary’s was the synchronised flying of the Lesser Kestrel squadron, David enjoyed the Hooded Crow attack on the Long-legged Buzzard at Ipsilou, Annie was mesmerised by the flock of Whiskered Terns at Metochi Lake, the fall of migrants at Ipsilou provided Steve with one of his most memorable moments ever on Lesvos and Mark couldn’t see beyond seeing his first ever Red-throated Pipit – a bogey bird for many years!

At the airport we bid our farewells. The group say goodbye to Steve who is staying on for a third week and holiday with his wife Liz. The group wish they could stay with him!

Great Crested Grebe
Little Grebe
Yelkouan Shearwater
Little Bittern
Squacco Heron
Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Great White Egret
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Black Stork
White Stork
Greater Flamingo
Ruddy Shelduck
Common Shelduck
Ferruginous Duck
Short-toed Eagle
Steppe Eagle
Golden Eagle
Black Kite
Hen Harrier
Marsh Harrier
Levant Saprrowhawk
Common Buzzard
Long-legged Buzzard
Common Kestrel
Lesser Kestrel
Red-footed Falcon
Spotted Crake
Little Crake
Baillon’s Crake
Water Rail
Black-winged Stilt
Collared Pratincole
Little Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
Grey Plover
Spur-winged Plover
Little Stint
Temminck’s Stint
Curlew Sandpiper
Bar-tailed Godwit
Spotted Redshank
Marsh Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Common Snipe
Audouin’s Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Common Tern
Little Tern
Whiskered Tern
White-winged Black Tern
Rock Dove
Collared Dove
Turtle Dove
Scops Owl
Little Owl
Long-eared Owl
Common Swift
Alpine Swift
Middle Spotted Woodpecker
Short-toed Lark
Crested Lark
Sand Martin
Crag Martin
Barn (Common) Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
House Martin
Red-throated Pipit
‘Blue-headed’ Yellow Wagtail
‘Grey-headed’ Yellow Wagtail
‘Black-headed’ Yellow Wagtail
‘Romanian’ Yellow Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail
White Wagtail
Wren (heard)
Common Nightingale
Thrush Nightingale
Common Redstart
Northern Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear
Black-eared Wheatear
Blue Rock Thrush
Mistle Thrush (heard)
Cetti’s Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Olivaceous Warbler
Olive Tree Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
Rüppell’s Warbler
Orphean Warbler
Barred Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Sardinian Warbler
Common Whitethroat
Wood Warbler
Willow Warbler
Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher
Collared Flycatcher
Semi-collared Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Sombre Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Krüper’s Nuthatch
Rock Nuthatch
Golden Oriole
Red-backed Shrike
Lesser Grey Shrike
Woodchat Shrike
Masked Shrike
Hooded Crow
House Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow
Rock Sparrow
Serin (heard)
Cirl Bunting
Cinereous Bunting
Cretzschmar’s Bunting
Black-headed Bunting
Corn Bunting

Amphibians and reptiles
Marsh Frog
Balkan Green Lizard
Balkan Wall Lizard
Agama Lizard
Turkish Gecko
Glass Snake
Stripe-necked Terrapin
European Pond Terrapin
Spur-thighed Tortoise

Persian Squirrel
Beech Marten (deceased)

Egyptian Grasshopper
Dung Beetle
Small Skimmer
Broad-bodied Chaser
Mediterranean Hawker
Red-veined Darter
Scarce Swallowtail
Black-veined White
Eastern Dappled White
Small White
Large White
Wall Brown
Small Heath
Orange Tip
Clouded Yellow
Painted Lady
False Apollo
Eastern Festoon
Red Admiral
Small Copper
Painted Lady
Mallow Skipper
Meadow Brown

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