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Old Monday 3rd September 2007, 19:24   #1
davidg
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Lesvos 15/7 - 4/8 2007

This was our second holiday in Lesvos and we arrived on 15th July, exactly four weeks earlier than last year. Once again this was primarily a family holiday but I was able to get out on my own for a couple of hours early each morning and again late afternoon - given the heat I wasn't particularly anxious to be out birding in the middle of the day anyway. We'd spent a fair amount of our time touring the island by car the previous year and decided that, apart from a couple of minor expeditions, we would stay in Skala Kalloni for the entire three weeks so my first stop was to the bicycle hire shop.

On my first morning I cycled up to the inland lake and was delighted to find it reasonably full - I'd heard all sorts of stories about the lack of rainfall in Lesvos over the past year so had feared the worst. In fact water was being extracted to spray over the surrounding fields and I estimated the water level had fallen by about 2 feet by the time I left. Still for the first couple of weeks this wasn't a problem and I was delighted to find a family of Little Bittern and another of Night Herons in residence. The former would occasionally show very well, the male down to just a few yards, whilst the latter stayed at the far end of the lake and were much more difficult to see well. Other notables here during my stay included Temmink's Stint (2), Great Reed Warbler (3) and Whiskered Tern(2).

About a mile or so from the inland lake, and an obvious next port of call is the reservoir but this was disappointing during the first couple of weeks with just a couple of Little Grebes present. As the level of the lake sank however many of its birds transferred to the reservoir - in the final week there were numerous waders, Garganey, Grey Heron, Black Stork etc. Hirundines were regularly to be found drinking here - huge numbers of House Martins, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows but I only saw Crag Martin on one occasion. My two best views of Short-toed eagle were here - the first was of two flying low over the reservoir, the second of a single bird perched in a tree on top of a neighbouring hill, so close I even managed to get a rather dodgy photo!

The track runs inland from the reservoir along the Potamia valley and it was here that I hoped to pick up a couple of species I missed last year - Masked Shrike and Olive-tree Warbler. On my first trip along here a fine adult Masked Shrike showed beautifully in an olive tree; in fact, after Woodchat, this was easily the most frequently seen shrike of the visit, turning up at the inland lake and along the East River. Olive-tree Warbler was to prove difficult again - I never did get to visit the favoured spot at the top of the Potamia valley due to the unfriendly attentions of an untethered dog every time I tried (I had the same problem at the top of the East River along the track to the Dead Goat Pit, this time a Doberman made it clear that I was not welcome). Of the Warblers there were: Subalpine, Olivaceous, Common Whitethroat and once a Lesser Whitethroat identified itself after I’d been trying to get a good look at it for ages, by bursting into song – but no Olive-tree. Sombre Tit and Cirl Bunting were frequent and on one occasion 2 male Blue Rock Thrushes showed well from the bridge.

The ride along the length of the East River was perhaps the most productive last year both in the variety and sheer quantity of birds – there seemed to be warblers in every bush and a shrike on top – so I was a bit disappointed this year when it was all much quieter. I was obviously too early for migration, indeed birds that were common here on my last visit, like Red-backed Shrike, were almost absent – just 2 sightings this year. There was enough to keep me happy though – Long-legged and Honey Buzzard, Black-headed Bunting and Orphean Warbler but the inland lake and the salt pans always seemed to hold more promise. Indeed my most exciting view during my first trip along the East River was of three huge birds flying in to the distant salt pans – White Pelicans, I was sure, but I had to wait until the following day to make sure.

The next morning I made my way to the salt pans to check out the previous day’s sighting. As I made my way around the pans my attention was drawn to a tiny wader swimming around the legs of a group of Flamingos. I quickly set up my telescope and my suspicions were confirmed – a Red-necked Phalarope, one of the last birds I’d expected to see here and one I wasn’t entirely sure was a Greek bird at all! Reading up about it later it appears that this will be about the 8th record for Lesvos if accepted. The bird whilst well-marked, appeared rather dull so I think was probably a non-breeding male returning south – I’d appreciate any comments though. I returned later that same day and had some very distant views of the bird but the following day it had gone.

Whilst watching the phalarope I’d also being keeping an eye out for the pelicans from the day before but with no luck. I decided to cycle around the far side of the pans where I had seen a single White Pelican the year before. (At this stage can I just warn anyone cycling on main roads in Greece to keep their elbows in – no allowance seems to be made and the cars pass within inches – deeply scary!). Once I’d got to the far side and was off the main road (and had ceased hyper-ventilating) I was delighted to find 3 immature White Pelicans sat on some rocks in the middle of one of the pans – so close I managed some photographs. They had also disappeared the following day. I estimated there were 750 Greater Flamingoes present including at least two juveniles – does this mean they are breeding here? In Richard Brook’s book breeding isn’t recorded but with birds here from at least mid-summer it seems likely to me.

Our main excursion of the holiday was to take the day-long boat trip around Kalloni Gulf on the rather nice old fishing boat ‘Anemos’. Captain Panayiotis (understandably, I think, I just called him ‘Captain’) cooked a mean barbecue and whilst it was a bit light on birds, the trip was a wonderful. Groups of Shag sat on the water in the middle of the gulf and just off Parakila a Gull-billed Tern flew past. The Captain had said that Monk Seal was a possibility, and dolphin unlikely – sadly we saw neither.

We stayed at the Aegeon hotel to the west of Skala and when a Hoopoe perched on telephone wires by the side of the swimming pool I started a hotel list. Not extensive but quite classy I think with White and Black Stork, Bee-eater and Stone Curlew the highlights but a tiny Tree Frog on our apartment wall almost stole the show. Not much compared to you guys at Kalloni 2 in spring, but I’m happy.

I think this was our last trip to Lesvos for a little while and we’ve decided to try either Limnos or Chios next year. Again I’d be delighted to hear from anyone who has any experience of these islands, particularly from a birding point of view.

Little Grebe – up to 16 on inland lake then on reservoir
White Pelican – 3 imm. on Salt Pans 18-19/7
Cormorant – common on Salt Pans
Shag – up to 20 on Kalloni Gulf 25/7
Little Bittern – family of 2 ad. and 2 juv. at inland lake 16-28/7
Night Heron – group of 2 ad. and 8 juv. at inland lake throughout
Little Egret – common on Salt Pans
Great White Egret – 1 at East River 17/7 and 1 at Salt Pans 4/8
Grey Heron – common at most sites
White Stork – 1 regularly at West River/inland lake; 4 at Salt Pans 4/8
Black Stork – up to 3 regularly at inland lake/reservoir and at Salt Pans
Spoonbill – 1 at Salt Pans 31/7
Greater Flamingo – c750 at Salt Pans
Common Shelduck - up to 8 + chicks at Salt Pans
Mallard - pair at inland lake
Garganey – 8 at inland lake then at reservoir
Short-toed Eagle – up to 2 occasionally over inland lake and Potamia valley
Common Buzzard – 1 over reservoir 16/7
Honey Buzzard – 1 at East river 19/7 and 3/8
Long-legged Buzzard – 1 at East river 27/7 –3/8
Goshawk – 1 at East river 30/7
Sparrowhawk – 1 at upper east river 3/8
Kestrel – 2 over Skala Kalloni 26/7
Eleanora’s Falcon – probable over olive groves near inland lake 21/7
Peregrine – 1 at Salt Pans 2/8
Moorhen – up to 6 at inland lake
Avocet – 300+ at Salt pans
Black-winged Stilt – common at Salt Pans; occasional at inland lake and reservoir
Stone Curlew – up to 3 at Salt Pans; heard calling from West river
Little Ringed Plover – common at Salt Pans and inland lake
Kentish Plover – up to 4 at Salt Pans regularly
Red-necked Phalarope – 1 at Salt Pans 19/7
Temmink’s Stint – 2 at inland lake 16/7; 1 at East River 3/8
Little Stint – up to 3 at Salt Pans
Wood Sandpiper – up to 3 at inland lake
Green Sandpiper – up to 4 at inland lake
Common Sandpiper – common on inland lake and salt pans
Redshank - common at salt pans
Greenshank – up to 3 at East River; 1 occasionally at reservoir
Curlew – 1-2 occasionally on East River and salt pans
Common Snipe – occasional at inland lake
Ruff - 1 at East River 17-18/7; 2 on 2/8
Black-headed Gull - common
Mediterranean Gull – 1 in harbour 15-18/7; up to 3 on East River 17-21/7
Yellow-legged Gull – common
Gull-billed Tern – 1 past Parakila 25/7
Little Tern – up to 20 at salt pans
Common Tern – common at salt pans and East River
Whiskered Tern – 1 at salt pans 19/7; 2 at inland lake 20/7
Collared Dove - common
Turtle Dove – regularly in Potamia valley
Rock Dove – 1 at East River 28/7 (possibly feral?)
Little Owl – 2 young dead by roadside
Common Swift – small numbers over Skala regularly
Alpine Swift – 1 over inland lake 20/7
Hoopoe – common at all sites
Kingfisher – 1-22 regularly at inland lake
Bee-eater – common at all sites
Middle Spotted Woodpecker – common in olive groves
Crested Lark - common
Crag Martin – 5 over reservoir 23/7
House Martin - common
Swallow - common
Red-rumped Swallow – common at inland reservoir
White Wagtail – 1 at East River 17/7
Black-headed Wagtail - common
Nightingale – 1 at inland lake 1/8
Rufous Bush Chat – up to 5 along East River-salt pans track; 1 at inland lake 3/8
Northern Wheatear – occasional at salt pans
Isabelline Wheatear – 1 at salt pans 26/7 and 4/8
Black-eared Wheatear - common
Blue Rock Thrush – 2 males at Potamia valley 22/7
Blackbird - common
Orphean Warbler – up to 3 at Upper East River
Lesser Whitethroat - common
Common Whitethroat - common
Subalpine Warbler - common
Cetti’s Warbler – common at inland lake and East River
Sedge Warbler – 1 at East River 2/8
Reed Warbler – occasional at inland lake; 2 at East River 19/7
Great Reed Warbler – up to 3 at inland lake
Olivaceous Warbler - common
Great Tit – common in olive groves
Blue Tit – common in olive groves
Sombre Tit – regular along Potamia valley and Upper East River
Rock Nuthatch - regular along Potamia valley and Upper East River
Red-backed Shrike – 1 at inland lake 20/7; 1 at East River 24/7
Woodchat Shrike - common
Masked Shrike – common at Upper East River and along Potamia valley
Lesser Grey Shrike – 1 at salt pans 28/7
Jay – common in olive groves
Hooded Crow - common
House Sparrow - common
Spanish Sparrow – 5+ at entrance track to inland lake throughout
Chaffinch – common in olive groves
Linnet – occasional at Upper East River
Goldfinch - common
Greenfinch - common
Serin – flock of 30+ regularly along Potamia valley
Black-headed Bunting – 1 adult male at East River 17/7; up to 3 juveniles regularly at East River
Ortolan Bunting – common at East River and inland lake
Cretzschmar’s Bunting – 1 at East River 29/7
Cirl Bunting – common along Potamia valley
Corn Bunting – common along East River – Salt pans track
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Old Monday 3rd September 2007, 19:41   #2
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Sounds like a great trip and you managed to see a lot of birds while on a family holiday....not always an easy balance to get right so everybody stays happy.
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Old Saturday 8th September 2007, 17:17   #3
Mick Sway
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Lesvos in July

Great report , you can't complain at that tally in July.
Well done and thanks for sharing.
Best
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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 04:02   #4
Dimitris
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Red-necked Phalarope and Greater Flamingo.

Hello David,

Nice trip report and I'm very glad you enjoyed Lesvos. Allow me to answer your 2 questions concerning these 2 species.

Red-necked Phalarope isn't considered a rarity in Greece, however I do not know about Lesvos, so it may be a regional rarity. If your sources tell you so (i.e. it's a local rarity). Then just fill in the form here:

http://rarities.ornithologiki.gr/en/eaop/form.htm

and send it to the e-mail adress listed on the same page.

For a list of what is currently listed as a vagrant in Greece please check:

http://rarities.ornithologiki.gr/en/..._bird_list.htm

Finaly concerning your young Flamingos. Yes, there have been numerous breeding attempts in the country, but sadly none have beem succesful. Therefore, young birds visiting Greece are considered to have arrived from colonies outside of Greece, and in the case of Lesvos, from Turkey.

Cheers!

Dimitris
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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 07:21   #5
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Hi Dimitris,

Thanks for the info - I'll report the phalarope just in case. Can't be long before the flamingos breed on Lesvos, surely.

You don't know anything about birding on Chios or Lemnos, do you?

David
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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 10:40   #6
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Red necked phalerope

Hi
If I recall correctly, there was a r.n in.phalerope on the "flooded sheep field " area, opposite the salt works gates during April/May 2006.
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Old Sunday 9th September 2007, 22:01   #7
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An enjoyable read David. I had similar species whilst on (family) holiday in Lesvos in the summers of 2003 & 2004. Like you I found large numbers of Flamingo in the saltpans & very spectacular they were too.
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Old Monday 17th September 2007, 07:47   #8
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I love Lesvos and have visited twice at similar time to your trip this year. In 2001 (26/8) I had three Red-necked Phalaropes together in the main channel of Kalloni salt pans.

I found very few birders in July/August and I would guess that RNP is more frequent that records suggest.
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Old Monday 17th September 2007, 08:23   #9
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Nice report David - thanks for writing it up.

Already got Lesvos on my list of places to go birding - this has just reinforced my thoughts!


All the best....
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Old Monday 17th September 2007, 12:13   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Edwards View Post
I love Lesvos and have visited twice at similar time to your trip this year. In 2001 (26/8) I had three Red-necked Phalaropes together in the main channel of Kalloni salt pans.

I found very few birders in July/August and I would guess that RNP is more frequent that records suggest.

Hello Robin.

If you have field notes from the time (or better still photos). The comitee would probably be interested in recieving a report from you. (if you are willing to send them in that is.)

Cheers!


Oh and something that may interest those who are searching Black Stork on the island...There has been one pair breeding on the island for some time now (3 years??). Don't know the location I'm afraid...
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Old Friday 5th October 2007, 23:34   #11
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Hi,
Sorry to respond so late to this, but I havent had much access to the net for the last few months. Dimitris pointed out the RN Phalarope isnt a rarity in Greece, but I thought Id still mention that I saw one (a lifer for me) near Missalonghi. The place I saw it seemed to be a fish farm/bird sanctuary. I have a terrible photo as the bird was quite far from the shore, but it is ok for id purposes.
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Old Saturday 6th October 2007, 10:44   #12
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Hi Dimitris,

I've sent a report in for the RNP sightings in 2001. Also I note with interest the breeding record for Black Stork. I Photographed a group of Black Storks feeding in the "Derbyshire" area in July 2005, the group consisting of a pair of adults and three or four juveniles. It would be nice to know that these may have bred locally.

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Old Tuesday 9th October 2007, 03:18   #13
Dimitris
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Quote:
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Hi Dimitris,

I've sent a report in for the RNP sightings in 2001. Also I note with interest the breeding record for Black Stork. I Photographed a group of Black Storks feeding in the "Derbyshire" area in July 2005, the group consisting of a pair of adults and three or four juveniles. It would be nice to know that these may have bred locally.

Regards
Robin
Many thanks Robin. Please continue to enjoy birding in Greece.

Suzzane: I'll ask the comitee and inform you on the sighting. As far as I know the species is most regular on the eastern side of Greece (Evros delta etc). Oh and what is the date of the sighting?

Cheers!

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Old Sunday 14th October 2007, 17:40   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dimitris View Post
Many thanks Robin. Please continue to enjoy birding in Greece.

Suzzane: I'll ask the comitee and inform you on the sighting. As far as I know the species is most regular on the eastern side of Greece (Evros delta etc). Oh and what is the date of the sighting?

Cheers!

Dimitris
Hi Dimitris,

The date was Aug. 29, 2007. The place was south of Missalonghi just off the causeway that connects Missalonghi to the small Island of Tourlis. Unfortunately that day, I also saw a huge pile of empty shot-gun shells on the same road.
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