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Old Thursday 3rd March 2011, 20:22   #26
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Wow, thanks for the rating. Super kind!
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Old Tuesday 8th March 2011, 11:24   #27
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Nothing new to add, but a couple of pics for you from Hyde Park yesterday, during a trip to London.
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Old Saturday 12th March 2011, 19:03   #28
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Many thanks for the rating, whoever it was. Much appreciated

11th March

Anyway, a trip to Slimbridge yesterday produced some good birds, including 13+ Black-tailed Godwits, and the usual ducks. A Cetti's Warbler calling was a welcome new bird, although I won't count it until I actually see one. This may be more difficult nearer to home since unfortunately I've not heard any at Otmoor since before Christmas, but hopefully it'll be easy on Lesvos.
Below are some images from yesterday.
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Old Tuesday 15th March 2011, 16:50   #29
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15th March

A trip to Oxford today for work was preceded by a whizz round Port Meadow to see what was about. Found 6 Redshank, a Dunlin, and a Little Ringed Plover, and as I was leaving, I heard my first Chiffchaffs of the year. I turned around and one was sitting in a bush behind me. Record shots of the (very distant) LRP and (rather closer) Chiffchaff below.

101. Little Ringed Plover
102. Chiffchaff
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Old Wednesday 16th March 2011, 15:29   #30
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No new birds today, but another quick trip to Port Meadow this morning produced 12 Redshank, 1 Dunlin, 1 Oystercatcher, the usual ducks including still a few Pintail (no more than about 4), and quite a few singing Chiffchaffs around Burgess Field. Below a couple of pics of one in a lovely flowering Blackthorn tree. Springtime!
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Old Friday 25th March 2011, 06:28   #31
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Birding this week has been limited to Port Meadow in Oxford, where I have unfortunately had nothing new to add to the list (missed the Garganey by a day ). But had a nice afternoon yesterday, getting good close(ish) views of 4 of the Little Ringed Plovers present, and some shots of the Black-tailed Godwits and the beautiful white Ruff. Some photos below
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Old Friday 25th March 2011, 20:21   #32
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25th March

An excellent morning's birding had us all on a family trip to Farmoor, where we had excellent views of Little Gull and Garganey, both year ticks, and in the case of the former also a UK tick, this species having been last sighted by us in Sweden in 2008. Nice views also of Gadwall and Goldeneye. A Slav Grebe was also reported, but we didn't walk down the other end to look for it, and we'd already had it for the year at Witney.
On the way home we had a quick walk down some local fields on the lookout for Corn Bunting; we didn't see any, but had good views of Skylark and Stock Dove.
It's now very bizarre that I haven't seen a Green Woodpecker. Must make some more visits to the local Grimsbury Reservoir to find one.
No hirundines, nor other warblers, quite yet, but they can't be far away now.

103. Garganey
104. Little Gull

Some photos below.
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Old Saturday 26th March 2011, 13:38   #33
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26th March

A morning family trip to Otmoor today produced a few good birds (despite a small boy with sore teeth!! ), and we managed a very distant sighting of the female Merlin sitting on a post to the right of the first screen, viewed from the bridleway. Another bird for the list
Plenty of Great Spotted Woodpeckers about, but still no Greens
Lots of other raptors about too, and we had reasonably close views of a perched Buzzard: a shot below.

105. Merlin
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Old Sunday 27th March 2011, 13:07   #34
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27th March

In the hope of finding a Green Woodpecker we took a trip around Grimsbury Reservoir this morning. No joy!
However, we saw quite a few Sand Martins (though not a Swallow as was also reported, nor any Wheatears). A bonus as we got back to the car was a Willow Warbler singing in a Weeping Willow tree. A guy we met at Otmoor yesterday had had a couple there, so they must be working their way north right now.
Two more species for the list:

106. Sand Martin
107. Willow Warbler

Some record shots below.
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Old Monday 28th March 2011, 09:40   #35
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28th March

A walk around Grimsbury Reservoir this morning after dropping off the little boy at nursery produced my first Swallow of the year, and I was also lucky enough on this occasion to hear and see my first Oxfordshire Willow Tit. Also, another Willow Warbler was seen in the trees by the canal. I note that my first Swallow is a week-and-a-half earlier than last year's.

108. Barn Swallow
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Old Thursday 7th April 2011, 11:37   #36
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Finally an update after a while away from the birds (work/conference followed by heavy cold)!

7th April

On my way into my office at work this lunchtime I had time for a couple of hours to look around Brandon Marsh, which I hadn't visited in some time. Turned out to be excellent indeed, since, in addition to seeing the Spotted Crake (lifer number 291), I picked up a couple of other year ticks, and managed a total of 52 species plus 1 heard. Unfortunately perhaps you won't be too surprised to hear that the heard was none other than Green Woodpecker - at least two were calling, but neither came into view at any point.

109. Cetti's Warbler (maybe 6 or more individuals were singing!)
110. SPOTTED CRAKE
111. Blackcap (at least 4 seen, plus lots of song)
[Green Woodpecker H] Grr!

I thought I'd be more likely to see the Crake on Lesvos (heading there next week), but with birding I've learnt to take the opportunities as they come along.
All in all an excellent morning's work.
Below are a couple of shots of the Crake, and one of a Treecreeper also. The Crake was stalking exactly the same area as last year's Bittern, in the reedy section at the left end of the East Marsh hide. Showed well for me for about 40 mins before heading into the reeds at just before 10am.
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Old Friday 8th April 2011, 17:06   #37
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8th April

Another trip to Brandon this afternoon with the family produced quite an early Whitethroat. Also nice to see so many Orange Tip butterflies about. Didn't see the Crake today but didn't have long enough to sit and wait for it (though many others were staking it out).

112. Common Whitethroat

Below is a shot of a female Orange Tip. Though I'm not wild about this shot, partly because it's technically poor (should be side on, and the depth of field is far too shallow), this is my first ever photo of this butterfly, and it was after all taken with my walkabout birding gear (in this case D300/300f4+1.7TC handheld). And at least the head is sharply in focus
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Old Saturday 9th April 2011, 16:51   #38
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9th April

No new birds today, but quite a few nice fresh butterflies about. Holly Blues in the local park among the ivy there were very flighty, but I did get some shots of Comma and Speckled Wood. Below is a macro of the latter.

I'll also use this opportunity to start a list of my butterflies for the year which I'll update sporadically. Since I'm new to listing butterflies I only have 20 species for 2010 (though that was Oxfordshire only).

So far:
1) Peacock
2) Small Tortoiseshell
3) Brimstone
4) Orange Tip
5) Holly Blue
6) Speckled Wood
7) Comma
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Old Monday 11th April 2011, 10:15   #39
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11th April

A quick walk around Grimsbury Reservoir this morning after dropping off the little man at nursery produced two new birds for the list in the form of Common Tern and Sedge Warbler.

113. Common Tern
114. Sedge Warbler

Record shots of the Tern, and a Grey Wagtail:
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Old Tuesday 3rd May 2011, 17:58   #40
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Apologies for the absence, but now I'm back home from Lesvos and have almost caught up with things, here's a start at my list-cum-report for my visit.

Lesvos 14th–27th April 2011

A superb first ever visit to Lesvos produced some cloudy (and sometimes torrentially rainy) skies, some superb birding (including some unexpected birds), and some good company. Below I’ll be posting a day-by-day report with updates to the list, with a day-by-day list of birds and locations visited, with pictures as and when I’ve edited them (I have quite a few…). Staying in Skala Kallonis was a good decision, allowing me to catch up with the excellent local sites, to meet many other birders (including practising my French with the numerous French and Belgian birders present during my stay), and to contribute to the very helpful and useful Birding Log in the Pasiphae hotel. A few thanks: first to Roger & Ann Dewhurst (I think it was you!) for nice company over dinner one evening; to Bob Buckler of Wingspan and Paul Manning for help and advice on tracking down a few species; to the guides of Avian Adventures (sorry! forgot your names); and finally to Steve Dudley – who helped a great deal whenever or wherever I happened to bump into him (usually in the Dionysos in Skala, the Australia in Sigri, but often pretty much anywhere else in between!): also good fun and good banter!
A solo-birding list of 160 species for the trip surprised and delighted me. An excellent fortnight for waders and passerines; less good for raptors, but I wasn’t anywhere near to complaining!

14th April, Day 1.

Torrential rain (and hail ) from the airport all the way to Skala Kallonis wasn’t quite the intro to the island I was expecting (c. 8am-12pm!!), but I did manage to see one or two good birds along the way. The weather cleared up after lunch so I was able to explore a few of the local sites: Kalloni Pool, Metochi Lake, and the Christou River.

Just for starters, here’s the list for the day (lifers in bold): Yellow-legged Gull, Hooded Crow, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Grey Heron, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt, Black-eared Wheatear, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Little Egret, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Spanish Sparrow, Collared Dove, Blue Tit, Cetti’s Warbler, Greenfinch, Cormorant, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Moorhen, Coot, Chiffchaff, Little Grebe, Red-rumped Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Greenshank, Crested Lark, Common Swift, Sandwich Tern, Common Whitethroat, Greater Flamingo, Sparrowhawk, Jay, Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Black-headed Gull, Purple Heron, Little Crake (x3), Sand Martin, Starling, Great Tit

Wasn’t really trying very hard, and still picked up some great birds and a couple of lifers. Day-list: 44.
New for the year list:

115. Yellow-legged Gull
116. Hooded Crow
117. House Martin
118. White Stork
119. Glossy Ibis
120. Black-winged Stilt
121. Black-eared Wheatear
122. Corn Bunting
123. Spanish Sparrow
124. Red-rumped Swallow
125. Yellow Wagtail
126. Greenshank
127. Crested Lark
128. Common Swift
129. Greater Flamingo
130. Long-legged Buzzard
131. PURPLE HERON
132. LITTLE CRAKE
133. Sandwich Tern

Below is a pic of one of the stars of Metochi Lake, plus a wider early morning view inc. a Purple Heron, Moorhen, and (another) Little Crake.
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Old Wednesday 4th May 2011, 15:42   #41
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15th April, Lesvos Day 2

Today I was up bright and early for another visit to Metochi Lake, followed by a drive to the Kalloni saltpans via the Tsiknias River, plus a drive down to the race-track area past the saltworks, and a walk in the sheep fields area. The weather was (unusually!) sunny. After lunch, I went down to Achladeri Forest, and then back up to Kalloni for another trip around the saltpans and sheep fields. Altogether a highly productive day, including 6 lifers.

The Metochi Lake area (and the short drive there) produced the following birds today:
Yellow-legged Gull, Hooded Crow, Swallow, Swift, Moorhen, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Cetti’s Warbler, Little Crake (3+), Kingfisher, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Jay, Blue Tit, and Little Grebe.

Seeing the Crakes agile enough to clamber all the way up the Phragmites was very cool, as was seeing the stunning Squacco Heron in the beautiful dawn light.

The Tsiknias River area then produced the following:
Collared Dove, Common Tern, Greenshank, Little Egret, Yellow Wagtail, Green Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Flamingo, Great White Egret, Little Bittern (1), Nightingale.

The Saltpans and flooded fields produced (just on a drive-by):
Wood Sandpiper, Black Stork (1), Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Ruff, Little Stint (3+), Glossy Ibis, Ruddy Shelduck (2), Marsh Harrier, White Wagtail, Dunlin.

The Sheepfields / Alykes wetlands produced:
Alpine Swift, Stone Curlew (1), Common Shelduck, Northern Wheatear, plus 1 Common Curlew on the shore, and 3 Black-necked Grebes offshore in the gulf.

After lunch it was time to try my luck with Krüper’s Nuthatch. 2 were finally located at the well-known stump, though they were quite hard to find – and it subsequently turned out during the next couple of weeks that the birds had abandoned the stump they’d used for the last few years. On this visit I managed 2 sightings in 2.5 hours, with no photos, so I’d have to come back again and have another look.

Birds here were as follows:
Woodchat Shrike, Tree Pipit, Short-toed Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blackbird, Krüper’s Nuthatch (2), Chiffchaff, Long-legged Buzzard, Masked Shrike.

Late afternoon took me back to the Saltpans and associated wetlands. This time round I picked up:
Hoopoe (2), Cormorant, Hen Harrier (f), Gull-billed Tern, Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit, Common Kestrel, Curlew Sandpiper, Kentish Plover.

Day-list: 70, including 7 lifers.

Day 2 updates to the year list:

134. GREAT REED WARBLER
135. Squacco Heron
136. Common Kingfisher
137. Lesser Whitethroat
138. Green Sandpiper
139. Great White Egret
140. LITTLE BITTERN
141. Common Nightingale
142. Wood Sandpiper
143. BLACK STORK
144. Avocet
145. Little Stint
146. RUDDY SHELDUCK
147. Marsh Harrier
148. Alpine Swift
149. STONE CURLEW
150. Northern Wheatear
151. Black-necked Grebe
152. Woodchat Shrike
153. Tree Pipit
154. Short-toed Eagle
155. KRÜPER’S NUTHATCH
156. Masked Shrike
157. Hoopoe
158. Hen Harrier
159. GULL-BILLED TERN
160. Short-toed Lark
161. Tawny Pipit
162. Curlew Sandpiper
163. Kentish Plover

Some shots below
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Old Thursday 5th May 2011, 06:39   #42
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Some more shots of birds so far:
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Old Friday 6th May 2011, 09:03   #43
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16th April, Lesvos Day 3

Day 3 was overcast and windy, but still produced some excellent birds.
The day started with a drive through Skala Kallonis to Metochi Lake again, followed by a trip north to Kavaki and Perasma reservoir to see what warblers I could pick up. Following that, a visit to the “Scops Copse” followed a brief stop at the Raptor Watch Point. Later, I visted the Salt Pans, Parakila chapel for buntings, and finally Achladeri Forest again for shots of Krüper’s Nuthatch. Quite a lot of driving!

The drive around Skala to Metochi lake produced the following:
Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Hooded Crow, Cetti’s Warbler, Corn Bunting, Barn Swallow, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull, House Martin, Greenfinch, Mediterranean Gull, Crested Lark, Greater Flamingo, Little Egret (the latter two on the Christou River as I drove past).

Metochi Lake produced:
Common Swift, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Redstart (heard as I was driving along the track), Squacco Heron, Great Reed Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Little Crake, and Little Bittern.

The Perasma Reservoir area produced the following:
Eastern Orphean Warbler, Blue Tit, Sand Martin, Coot, Blackbird, Grey Heron, Common Cuckoo (1x rufous female, 1x male), Red-rumped Swallow, Chaffinch, Masked Shrike, Subalpine Warbler, Nightingale, Yellow Wagtail, Hoopoe, Lesser Whitethroat, Sombre Tit, Blackcap, Black-eared Wheatear, and Yellow-legged Gull.

My first visit to Kavaki produced the following, in the oak and almond trees up the track on the right at the second layby (no Rüppell’s as yet, too windy/too early perhaps?):
Collared Flycatcher (x2), Jay, Wood Warbler (x2), Lesser Whitethroat.

At the Raptor Watchpoint I came up with:
Short-toed Eagle, Sombre Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch, Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Blue Rock Thrush.

The Scops Copse came up trumps with a cracking Scops on a relatively uncluttered perch:
1x Scops Owl.

Back at the Saltpans:
Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Ruff, Great White Egret, Wood Sandpiper, Ruddy Shelduck (±35), Glossy Ibis

Parakila Chapel produced the following:
Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Western Rock Nuthatch, Black-eared Wheatear, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Cinereous Bunting (quite a few heard calling, but I didn’t see any here without a scope), Goldfinch, Alpine Swift, Cirl Bunting (x1), Ortolan Bunting (x1), Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Corn Bunting, Stonechat (x1), Whinchat (x1).

At Achladeri Forest I searched for an hour-and-a-half for the Nuthatch, and finally tracked one down in the pines near the car-parking area, for some photos. No sign of the birds using the stump on this occasion. Also: Masked Shrike, Cirl Bunting.

A bonus in the evening on my walk into Skala for dinner:
1x Long-eared Owl perched in pines and then seen quartering fields, just after 8pm.

Day-list: 66+3 heard, 2 lifers

Day 3 updates to the year list:

164. MEDITERRANEAN GULL
[Common Redstart H]
165. EASTERN ORPHEAN WARBLER
166. Common Cuckoo
167. Subalpine Warbler
168. Sombre Tit
169. Collared Flycatcher
170. Wood Warbler
171. Western Rock Nuthatch
172. Blue Rock Thrush
173. Scops Owl
174. Cretzschmar’s Bunting
[Cinereous Bunting H]
175. Cirl Bunting
176. Ortolan Bunting
177. Stonechat
178. Whinchat
179. Long-eared Owl

Some pics from the day below:
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Old Sunday 8th May 2011, 10:01   #44
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17th April, Lesvos Day 4

Day 4 was again overcast, with also quite a bit of rain, but today I decided on my first visit to the west of the island, on the hunt for some passage migrants and more resident species. This was one of the best days of my trip despite the weather, partly because of some good (or lucky) choices on where to stop during rain showers.

On this occasion I chose to drive west via Eresos and the track to Sigri. I can’t say that this was much fun driving solo, since the track was very rocky and I had little option but to keep watching the road and looking out for farmers’ trucks and sheep . So more Cinereous Buntings heard, but none seen as yet!
However, this route allowed me to visit the Meladia Valley area first before heading to Sigri for lunch, and this was an excellent decision!
After lunch I visited the Faneromeni area, with some more fabulous birds, before heading back to Skala along the more usual route via Ipsilou.

The drive down to Meladia valley via Eresos from Skala produced the following today:

Yellow-legged Gull, Great Tit, Blackbird, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, (Cinereous Bunting H).

Once arrived at Meladia Valley, I then walked down to the river mouth after a very brief stop at the ford (where I picked up Moorhen and Little Grebe).
The walk down to the river mouth through the scrub and sheep-fields came up with:
Stonechat, Cetti’s Warbler, Nightingale, Purple Heron (x4), [Common Quail H], Rock Dove, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Common Kestrel, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Squacco Heron (x2), Greenshank, Hoopoe, Grey Heron, Reed Warbler, Raven, Peregrine Falcon, Crag Martin, Mallard, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Linnet, Red-rumped Swallow, Sombre Tit, Whinchat (x6).
The Fig Grove area then produced:
Woodchat Shrike (x2), Long-legged Buzzard, Common Buzzard, Collared Flycatcher, Blackcap, Common Redstart (1x m), Marsh Harrier, Goldfinch, Spanish Sparrow, [Chukar H].

After this, the rain set in, and I parked up by the cypress trees at the Meladia Valley Chapel, to sit it out for an hour or so. Here I picked up new birds for the day in the form of:
Firecrest (x1: a fantastic bird for me to find as both a lifer for me and a first record for Lesvos in four years ), Common Whitethroat, Pied Flycatcher.

The track back along to Sigri picked up:
Little Owl (perched on a post at the shepherd’s sheds), and Linnet.

After lunch, I then headed north from Sigri for a first visit to the Sigri fields and Faneromeni. Sigri beach and fields produced the following:

Hoopoe, Squacco Heron, Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Whitethroat, Collared Flycatcher (loads: at least x6 seen by me driving along), Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon (1x f in a large mixed flock of mostly Lesser Kestrels).

The road down to Faneromeni beach produced more Whinchats (x4+), 1x Purple Heron, and another star bird for the trip in the shape of one super Spur-winged Plover, a bird I've only seen very poorly once before in Cyprus.

At the beach I met a small group of Dutch birders looking at Shearwaters coming in quite close to shore in the dodgy weather: hence Scopoli’s Shearwater, Yelkouan Shearwater.

The Faneromeni Fords during my stay produced rather little in themselves, but the lanes up to both always came up with the goods in one way or another.

Faneromeni Lower Ford today:
White Wagtail, Moorhen, Woodchat Shrike, Little Egret.

Upper Ford: Squacco Heron.

Drive to Upper Ford: produced perhaps the most unforgettable birding experience of my entire trip. As I was stopped by the side of the road (probably scrouring the fig trees for passerines), I glimpsed a ring-tail Harrier over the trees in the distance. I duly got the camera onto it and took some shots. The Harrier then came closer and closer, eventually passing along the road right by my car at no more than 20 feet!! Absolutely amazing. A shot of this incredible female Pallid Harrier below (handheld from the car at 300mm only).

To finish off the day, a rainy journey back to Skala via Ipsilou produced another female Red-footed Falcon perched by the road, a couple of Chukar crossing the road in front of me, and a Short-toed Eagle.

Day-list: 62+2 heard, 4 lifers

Day 4 updates to the year-list:

[COMMON QUAIL H]
180. Crag Martin
181. Common Redstart
182. FIRECREST
183. Pied Flycatcher
184. RED-FOOTED FALCON
185. Spur-winged Plover
186. SCOPOLI’S SHEARWATER
187. Yelkouan Shearwater
188. Pallid Harrier
189. Chukar

Some pics from the day below; sadly poor shots of the Firecrest, but at least I have some!
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Old Monday 9th May 2011, 10:38   #45
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18th April, Lesvos Day 5

Again overcast; I chose to stay local to the Kalloni area today. An early-morning walk down to the Kalloni pool was followed by a drive up the Tsiknias river to the Saltpans area. In the afternoon I made a first visit to Potamia valley.

The walk to the Kalloni pool produced the following:
Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Cetti’s Warbler, Barn Swallow, Hooded Crow, Yellow-legged Gull, Great Tit, Long-eared Owl (perched in the pines north of the bakery with the steps, as before), Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Little Egret, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Sedge Warbler, Crested Lark, Yellow Wagtail, White Stork, Wood Sandpiper, Tree Pipit (x2), Red-rumped Swallow, Moorhen, Coot, Little Grebe, Sand Martin, Great White Egret, Greater Flamingo, Common Snipe (x1), Black-winged Stilt (x2), Common Swift, Reed Warbler, Whinchat (x7! Incredible numbers of this species seen during my stay)

The Tsiknias river area then produced:
Nightingale, Whinchat (3 more), Collared Pratincole (x1), Pallid Swift, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo, Black Stork (x1), Little Ringed Plover, Short-toed Eagle, Collared Flycatcher.

The Saltpans West Channel then produced:
More Stilts, Avocet, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Marsh Harrier, more Whinchat (3+), Montagu’s Harrier (x1, probably a first-summer male), and White Wagtail.

The Sheepfields area produced, in addition to more Whinchats, the following:
Short-toed Lark (a flock of about 15), Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Red-throated Pipit (x4), Common Shelduck, Black-necked Grebe (x2 on the gulf), Great Crested Grebe (x2 on the gulf), more Glossy Ibis, Cormorant.

The top end of the Saltpans then had:
Ruddy Shelduck, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Marsh Sandpiper (my best-ever views).

In the afternoon, in the Potamia valley I had:
Black-eared Wheatear, Raven, Cirl Bunting (x1), Common Buzzard, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Collared Flycatcher (at least 5), Blackbird, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Sand Martin, Jay, Common Whitethroat, Woodchat Shrike (2), Whinchat, Spanish Sparrow, and Lesser Kestrel. On reviewing my photos, no clear-cut case of Semi-collared Flycatcher; I wasn’t interested in stringing any(!), and in fact don’t have this on my list for the fortnight. Evidence of recent Middle Spotted Woodpecker activity in the olive-groves, but none seen today: so far, by all accounts, quite elusive this year.

Late afternoon saw me back along the Tsiknias river, where I had a single Black Tern at the watchpoint overlooking the river mouth – my first views of this species in full summer plumage.

Another evening walk into Skala for dinner produced the Long-eared Owl again, perched in the same place as before.

Day-list: 70, 3 lifers

Day 5 updates to the year-list:

190. COLLARED PRATINCOLE
191. Pallid Swift
192. MONTAGU’S HARRIER
193. RED-THROATED PIPIT
194. Marsh Sandpiper
195. Spotted Flycatcher
196. Black Tern

Some pics from the day below:
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Old Tuesday 10th May 2011, 12:22   #46
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19th April, Lesvos Day 6

Weather was once again overcast with some rain in the morning, though it was sunny in the afternoon. Today, another visit to the Tsiknias river was followed by a relatively brief visit to the Napi Valley area (a failed attempt to find some woodpeckers!), then the Potamia valley (ditto!), Metochi Lake, and another drive down the Tskinias river. This was a relatively quite day (probably the quietest of my stay) but still produced some interesting birds.

The Tsiknias river drive produced the following:
Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Grey Heron, Corn Bunting, Yellow-legged Gull, White Stork, Cetti’s Warbler, Hooded Crow, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Crested Lark, Whinchat (at least 4 on this occasion), Common Tern, Yellow Wagtail, Greek Sandpiper, Sand Martin, Little Ringed Plover (x4), Black-winged Stilt, Sandwich Tern (x3), Greater Flamingo, Little Egret, Wood Sandpiper, Squacco Heron (x5), Common Sandpiper, Sedge Warbler, Blackbird, Goldfinch

Napi Valley (site 1 in Steve Dudley’s Book) produced:
Chaffinch, Nightingale, Woodchat Shrike, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Sombre Tit, Raven, (Cirl Bunting H), Collared Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, (Hoopoe H).

Koriani (1st lay bay going north-south) didn’t produce a great deal, just: Blackbird, Whinchat, Greenfinch, Common Buzzard, Collared Dove, Crested Lark.

However, another layby stop north of Napi produced a stunning encounter with a female Red-footed Falcon perched on and flying between telegraph wires: pic below. Nice bird!

A lunchtime visit to the Potamia Valley then produced:
Spotted Flycatcher, Collared Flycatcher, Grey Heron, Black Stork, Pied Flycatcher, Subalpine Warbler.

Metochi Lake (including a walk up to the rocky hillside area behind) then produced:
Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Short-toed Eagle, Goshawk (x1, being mobbed by a Hooded Crow), Purple Heron, Common Swift, Little Crake (at least 2), Western Rock Nuthatch, Jay, Grey Heron, Reed Warbler.

The evening drive down the Tsiknias produced, in addition:
Ringed Plover, Long-legged Buzzard.

In the evening I then heard two Scops Owls calling north of Skala, and saw the Barn Owl departing from its nest in the jewellery-shop chimney in the centre of Skala (a Barn Owl at long last!! Odd things like this happen if you've only been birding 'properly'(ish) for 4 years)

Day-list: 58+3 heard, 1 lifer

Day 6 updates to the year-list:

197. Common Sandpiper
198. Goshawk
199. BARN OWL

Some pics from the day below:
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Old Wednesday 11th May 2011, 11:37   #47
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20th April, Lesvos Day 7

Again the weather today was cloudy, with some heavy rain showers. Unperturbed, however, I decided on another visit out to Sigri to build on the excellent birds to be had on day 4. I wasn’t to be disappointed!

Before making the journey, I took a walk to the bakery in Skala harbour and a walk around the Kalloni Pool.

Here I picked up the following:
House Sparrow, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Hooded Crow, Cetti’s Warbler, Greenfinch, Corn Bunting, Chaffinch, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Pelican (ok, so I ticked the one-legged bird sitting in the harbour! My only semi-plastic aberration for the entire trip, promise!), Great White Egret, Collared Flycatcher (x3!), Common Tern, Moorhen, Coot, Slender-billed Gull, Great Reed Warbler, Little Grebe, Nightingale, Sand Martin, Sedge Warbler, Crested Lark, Whinchat.

The drive out west produced:
Jay (x5), Blackbird, Black-eared Wheatear, Chukar (x1).

Sigri Fields:
Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Little Egret, Yellow Wagtail, Ruddy Shelduck (x3), Glossy Ibis (x4), Squacco Heron (x4), Whinchat

The road to Faneromeni Beach:
Spotted Flycatcher, Collared Flycatcher, Purple Heron (x4), Whinchat (x2)

Faneromeni Lower Ford:
Common Sandpiper (x2), Moorhen

Sigri Beach, on way to Meladia Valley:
Woodchat Shrike, White Wagtail

Track to Meladia Valley:
Goldfinch, Black-eared Wheatear, Stonechat

Meladia Valley Chapel (stop in car during increasingly heavy rain, mid-morning until lunchtime):
Grey Heron (x6), Purple Heron (x2), Great White Egret, Sedge Warbler, Firecrest (x1 still), Barred Warbler (an unfortunately much too fleeting view of an absolutely superb bird: a pale, beautifully soft-barred female with a yellow eye, making it look like a miniature Cuckoo), (Nightingale H), Common Whitethroat, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Hen Harrier (f), Eastern Orphean Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Subalpine Warbler, Wood Warbler

Meladia Fig Grove:
Not a lot: Common Buzzard and a Pied Flycatcher

After lunch, a trip back to Sigri and Faneromeni:

Sigri Fields:
2x Citrine Wagtail, Stonechat, Whinchat (x5)

Road to Faneromeni Lower Ford:
Hoopoe (x2), Common Redstart (1x m), Great Reed Warbler, Blackcap

Don’t appear to have visited Upper Ford this day, not sure why not!

Back to Sigri Fields (large field by estuary):
31x Little Egret, Great Bittern (cool find, spent some time hiding in Asphodels at back of the field), Spotted Crake (x1 flushed from thick grass just on other side of fence when shutting boot of car! My only sighting during my stay, though I saw someone’s photo of one at Metochi Lake), Lesser Kestrel (x2), Common Swift.

Then made my way back to Kalloni, and made another visit to the Tsiknias River and Saltpans late in the afternoon (watery sunshine). Here I picked up:

Whinchat (x3), Greater Flamingo, Little Stint, Little Ringed Plover, Common Tern

Track to Saltpans across ford:
Whinchat (x4), Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper (x3), Spanish Sparrow (small flock), Ruff (40+), Glossy Ibis (40+)

Sheepfields area:
(Stone Curlew H: missed seeing the bird in flight by a couple of mins), Great Crested Grebe (2x on gulf still), Northern Wheatear (x2), Short-toed Lark (±10), Black Stork

Drive back up Saltpans:
Gull-billed Tern (x23), Little Tern (x1 in with the Gull-billed sitting on a sand-spit), Avocet, Common Shelduck, Black-winged Stilt, Greenshank, Ruddy Shelduck (12+), Glossy Ibis (40+), Black-tailed Godwit (25+)

Walk into and back from Skala for dinner in the evening, produced, finally:
Great Tit, Barn Owl (viewed as before).

A spectacular day’s birding despite the weather:

Day-list: 81+1 heard, 4 lifers

Day 7 updates to the year-list:

200. WHITE PELICAN (!)
201. Slender-billed Gull
202. CITRINE WAGTAIL
203. BARRED WARBLER
204. Great Bittern
205. LITTLE TERN

Some pics below:
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Old Thursday 12th May 2011, 11:46   #48
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21st April, Lesvos Day 8

The weather today was sunny but windy; I decided on another trip out to Sigri, after a morning visit to Metochi Lake, and to the small reservoir nearby (following a tip for Night Heron, a species very thin on the ground as per records so far). A stop-off at Ipsilou was rather brief since the wind was rocking the car as I stopped (I did, however, take a walk up the road on the south side to see what was about). Did pick up some good birds today, but in general the wind was rather unhelpful.

The trip to Metochi Lake area:
House Sparrow, Collared Dove, Greenfinch, Barn Swallow, Yellow-legged Gull, Cetti’s Warbler, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Little Crake (4+), Red-rumped Swallow, (Savi’s Warbler H), Sand Martin, Jay, House Martin, Great Tit, Sedge Warbler, Black-crowned Night Heron (x1: the tip paid off ), Whinchat

The stop at Ipsilou:
Collared Flycatcher (at least 5), Pied Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Black-eared Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, (Chukar H), Raven, Cinereous Bunting x1 (finally)

The track from Sigri to Meladia Valley:
Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Collared Flycatcher, Whinchat, Yellow Wagtail, Collared Pratincole (x1, wandering along the track in the middle of nowhere?! A ridiculous pic below taken from the car window ! ), Woodchat Shrike, Common Swift

Meladia Valley Chapel:
Goldfinch, Marsh Harrier, Purple Heron (x2), Whinchat (lots and lots!), Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Sedge Warbler, Great Tit, Common Buzzard, Woodchat Shrike, Common Whitethroat. Too windy for a prolonged look-out for skulkers that remained stubbornly skulking, so back to Sigri.

Track back:
Woodlark, Peregrine Falcon, Tawny Pipit, Linnet (x4), Northern Wheatear (x3), Chukar, Lesser Kestrel

Sigri beach (inc. trees):
(Eastern Orphean Warbler H), Collared Flycatcher, Little Egret, White Wagtail, Common Buzzard

Sigri Fields (big estuary field):
Pied Flycatcher, Little Egret, Squacco Heron, Whinchat

Road to Faneromeni beach:
Rock Dove (x5), Woodchat Shrike, Turtle Dove (x2), Ruddy Shelduck

Road to Lower Ford:
Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike (x3), Turtle Dove (x2), Great Reed Warbler, Collared Flycatcher (x3), Purple Heron, Common Redstart, White Wagtail (2).

Road to Upper Ford:
Pied Flycatcher, Turtle Dove (x3), Spanish Sparrow, Masked Shrike, Nightingale, Common Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle

As before, neither ford held very much: perhaps, in part, due to the high water levels, and, in part, to the large number of farm vehicles and sheep passing to and fro.

Back to Sigri Fields:
Squacco Heron (x3), Little Ringed Plover (x3), Ruff (x7), Red-throated Pipit.

Drive back to Skala via Eresos:
Stonechat (x2), Purple Heron, Common Kestrel, Short-toed Eagle, Northern Wheatear (3+)

Another visit to the “Metochi Reservoir” (helped that I had a Google Earth printout for the Metochi area to find this; I took a few Google Earth satellite printouts with me, though by far the most useful were for the Metochi Lake area and the Sigri/Faneromeni area, for which the other published maps can be a little misleading):
Moorhen, Little Grebe (x4), Hoopoe, Night Heron, Little Crake, (Savi’s Warbler H: was unfortunate not to actually see one, though I did do a couple of stake-outs! Also, an iPod in my fleece pocket with the Roche Birdsong CDs on it was a useful tool to have with me), Marsh Harrier, Purple Heron (2), Hooded Crow, Reed Warbler.

Finally, the drive back to Skala past the Christou River estuary picked up:
Wood Sandpiper (2), Kentish Plover (2)

Day-list: 68+2 heard, 2 lifers (including the Savi’s heard)

Day 8 updates to the year-list:

206. BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON
[SAVI’S WARBLER H]
207. Cinereous Bunting
208. Woodlark
209. Turtle Dove

Not a great day for pics, but one or two below (with apologies for the dreadful light on the Night Heron)
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Old Friday 13th May 2011, 12:50   #49
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22nd April, Lesvos Day 9

Today was a bit of a mixed bag: I decided to try out some sites I hadn’t yet visited, partly on the search for a Middle Spotted Woodpecker, and partly to try some of the areas to the East of Kalloni. Neither turned out to be hugely successful, but I still came up with some good birds for the day. The weather was, again, sunny but windy.

An early morning visit to the Kalloni pool:
(Cetti’s Warbler H), Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Moorhen, Marsh Harrier, Yellow Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, Sedge Warbler, Sand Martin, Common Shelduck (3 over), Black Stork (over), Hooded Crow, Great Reed Warbler, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Tern, Goldfinch, Crested Lark

Drive past the Kalloni Saltpans:
Red-footed Falcon (1 f perched on wires), Common Tern (2), Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Greater Flamingo, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis (±50), Great White Egret, Common Buzzard, Common Swift, Black-eared Wheatear

Visit to Dimitrios Chapel and track (for Middle Spotted Woodpecker): nest-holes visible in poplar tree, but no sign of any Woodpeckers! However, a walk along the track along the river produced:
Wren (1 heard! only one for the trip), Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Wood Warbler

I then took a drive back down to the coast to check out the Polychnitos Saltpans area. Not a great deal to report unfortunately!

Alikoudi Pool:
Greater Flamingo, Avocet, Yellow-legged Gull

Road to Polychnitos Saltpans (nothing at all seen at the Saltpans!):
Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat (4+), Corn Bunting, Purple Heron

Drive back to Achladeri:

Skala Vasilikon pool:
Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper

Beach road to Achladeri:
Common Sandpiper, Northern Wheatear

Another visit to Achladeri Forest (such a nice piece of habitat, who wouldn’t want to go back?):

Tree Pipit (3), Pied Flycatcher (3+), Short-toed Treecreeper, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-legged Buzzard

Also some good views of Balkan Wall Lizard

Mesa Wetlands:
Grey Heron (5), Great White Egret (2), Ruddy Shelduck

Then decided to take a drive to the Dipi Larisos Reedbed:
Not much doing here either, but: found a Zitting Cisticola – to provide further evidence that they’re back on the island (or perhaps they never went away??); also Hoopoe, Reed Warbler, Coot, Lesser Whitethroat, (Little Grebe H).

Then back to the Kalloni Saltpans area:
Ruff (4), Wood Sandpiper (2), Marsh Harrier, Gull-billed Tern (3)

Tskinias River mouth:
Squacco Heron, Little Ringed Plover, Montagu’s Harrier (1 f), Purple Heron.

And finally… a trip back up to the Potamia valley:
Cirl Bunting (2), Black-eared Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike (3+), Blue Tit, Red-rumped Swallow, Whinchat, Jay, Collared Flycatcher (3+), Common Whitethroat (2)

Potamia Reservoir:
Common Sandpiper (4)

Day-list: 64+3 heard

Day 9 updates to the year-list:

210. Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
211. Short-toed Treecreeper
212. Zitting Cisticola

More pics below:
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Old Wednesday 20th July 2011, 10:20   #50
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Many apologies for my total lack of activity in the last couple of months: work has been very busy and domestic life is also increasingly time-consuming. Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to finally finish off this list, with more updates from Lesvos. Thanks for being patient.

23rd April, Lesvos Day 10

This day was again excellent, wish sunshine though some wind. Another trip out to Sigri produced some more great birds, some more lifers, and some more/better shots of birds I’d already had.

Road to Ipsilou:
Collared Dove, House Sparrow, (Cetti’s Warbler H), (Nightingale H), House Martin, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Tern

Sigri and Faneromeni fields:
Blackbird, Spanish Sparrow (100+ flock), Goldfinch, Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Ruff, Little Egret, Squacco Heron (2), Yellow Wagtail, Blackcap (3), Lesser Whitethroat (x2), Collared Flycatcher (4), Little Ringed Plover (3), Common Sandpiper (2), Grey Heron, Black-winged Stilt

Faneromeni track to beach:
Whinchat (6), Woodchat Shrike (3), Rock Dove (5), Turtle Dove (5), Common Whitethroat, Starling, Whinchat (2), Hoopoe, Lesser Kestrel

Track to Lower Ford:
Spotted Flycatcher, Nightingale, Golden Oriole, Purple Heron

Lower Ford:
Common Sandpiper (2), Green Sandpiper, White Wagtail, Moorhen

Road to Upper Ford:
Little Bittern (2 in very small pond on right hand side half way along to ford), Hooded Crow, Whinchat, Blackcap (3), Woodchat Shrike (2), Reed Warbler

Upper Ford:
Wood Sandpiper, Collared Flycatcher, Whinchat (2)

Then back via Sigri to Meladia valley:

Track along:
Whinchat (8), Collared Flycatcher, (Woodlark H), Black-eared Wheatear, Linnet (5), Lesser Kestrel (2), Short-toed Eagle, Raven (2), Woodchat Shrike

Meladia Chapel:
Goldfinch, Marsh Harrier (1x male), Pied Flycatcher, Grey Heron, Hen Harrier (2x female), Collared Flycatcher, Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher

Fig grove:
Reed Warbler (2), Sedge Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Blackcap, Common Buzzard, Rock Dove (3)

Meladia Chapel again:
Ortolan Bunting (2), Rufous Bush Robin, Common Swift

Track back to Sigri:
Cretzschmar’s Bunting, (Stonechat H)

Sigri fields again:
Purple Heron (2)

Road to Upper Ford:
Spotted Flycatcher

Lower Ford:
Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper

Lower Ford Road:
Common Redstart (1x female), Hoopoe

Road back to Skala:
Raven (5), Long-legged Buzzard (2), Jay

Later afternoon visits to the local river areas:

Upper Tsiknias River:
(Turtle Dove H), Chaffinch, Wood Sandpiper (3), Little Ringed Plover

Madaros (not much doing):
Whinchat, Red-rumped Swallow, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Stork, Pied Flycatcher

North-West Saltpans area, inc. pools on north side of main road:
Red-footed Falcon (1x female), Black-winged Stilt, Greater Flamingo, Citrine Wagtail (2x male), Black-tailed Godwit (2), Little Ringed Plover (3), Ruff (±25)

Kalloni Pool area:
Coot, Greenfinch

Christou River:
Stone Curlew, Greenshank (2), Black Stork (3)

Day-list: 70+3 heard

Day 10 updates to the year-list:

213. GOLDEN ORIOLE
214. RUFOUS BUSH ROBIN

Some pics below:
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