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Lesvos 7 - 20 July 2011

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Old Monday 5th September 2011, 14:32   #1
aka Gan***face

Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Isle of Bute, UK
Posts: 97
Lesvos 7 - 20 July 2011

Trip Report Lesvos July 7 – July 20 2011

This visit to Lesvos was primarily a family holiday with occasional birding ventures to Lesvos’s well known birding sites. We were based at the Sunrise Hotel between Molyvos and Eftalou. This was classed as a 4 star hotel by Thomson’s, the tour company, and I can’t disagree with their rating as it was very comfortable with friendly staff, and was located looking over the channel separating Lesvos with Turkey, ideal for a bit of sea watching. My only reservation was that the brochure indicated that it was within walking distance of Molyvos but this was not really the case, it was nearer 2 miles to the town centre which was just too far for my family to walk in 35 – 40 degrees. However there was a courtesy bus that ran to and from the town 3 or 4 times a day (although not in the early evening) and a good local bus service from outside the hotel that passed at 19.45 and was ideal for an evening in Molyvos.
Prior to arriving in Lesvos I read Steve Dudley’s “A Birdwatching Guide To Lesvos” which gave a good deal of information about all of the sites visited during my trip and of course I read trip reports made available by others, which likewise were very helpful. New birds for the trip list are marked in bold.

Day 1 (7 July) – Mytilene – Molyvos
After arriving at Mytilene and exiting the terminal building a quick look around produced House Martin, House Sparrow and Yellow-legged Gull about the car park and the trip across the island to Molyvos by coach produced Hooded Crow, Barn Swallow, Collared Dove, Black-eared Wheatear and Feral Pigeon (These first eight birds were seen every day). As we passed Kalloni Saltpans I managed a brief look at Avocet (c300), Kentish Plover, Greater Flamingo (c60), Black Stork (flying overhead}, and White Stork. While over Kalloni Red-rumped Swallow was added to the list. That evening we ventured into Molyvos and while dining at one of the cliff top restaurants we were treated to c400 Swifts feeding above our heads.

Day 2 (8 July) – Molyvos
A walk around Molyvos produced one new bird, a Shag diving for fish in the harbour, and later that day Goldfinch and Common Kestrel were added to the list at the hotel. From the balcony at the hotel I was able to observe a pair of House Sparrows that were busy feeding young at a nest situated in the eaves of the building opposite. Over the course of the next few days the parents tirelessly attended at the nest with food items for the chicks that fledged during our stay.

Day 3 (9 July) – A walk to Molyvos landfill site. (2 hours)
This morning after breakfast with the family (9.30) I went for a wander up the hill to the rear of the Hotel and discovered the local dump. The walk up the hill gave me Blue Tit, Crested Lark and Rock Nuthatch (L), as well as a pair of Kestrel, and at a small pool to the rear of the land fill site there were more Crested Lark, Black-eared Wheatear, Rock Nuthatch and Cretzschmar’s Bunting (L). Back at the hotel a pair of Turtle Doves were perched on the telephone lines outside the hotel giving me another bird for the list. That evening the Swifts were again present in numbers above Molyvos but I was unable to pick out anything other than Common Swift.
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Old Monday 5th September 2011, 14:35   #2
aka Gan***face

Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Isle of Bute, UK
Posts: 97
Trip report Lesvos (2)

Day 4 (10 July) – A walk along the track past Eftalou (3 hours)
Getting adventurous I headed off in the other direction at 09.30, passing through Eftalou and for a mile or so along the track leading to Skala Sykaminias. This was a good decision as I added a few more species to the list. The walk through Eftalou produced Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Short-toed Eagle (overhead) and Common Buzzard, as well as the usual species including good views of Red-rumped Swallow, Goldfinch and Turtle Dove. The area up the hill, along the track past the spa, looked very promising with olive trees on either side of the track and good views out to sea. There I had Woodchat Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Eastern Olivacious Warbler (L) and Hoopoe, all new species for the trip, while Crested Lark and the ever present Black-eared Wheatear were seen in numbers. I intended to redo this walk earlier one morning as the habitat looked very promising and I am sure I would have been more successful if I had set off earlier in the day, before it was so hot.

Day 5 (11 July) – Sunrise Hotel
Day spent at the hotel and around Molyvos. No new birds seen.

Day 6 (12 July) – Another walk to the dump (2 hours)
A second walk up the hill to the Molyvos landfill site produced much the same as the first although in smaller numbers, with Crested Lark, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Hooded Crow, Kestrel, House Martin, Black-eared Wheatear and Rock Nuthatch all present. However, the small pool that had produced a number of good birds on my first trip was devoid of birds except for a single Black-eared Wheatear. The highlights of this day were a Short-toed Eagle over the hill west of the landfill, a Shag seen flying along the coast from the balcony at the hotel and Red-rumped Swallow back at the hotel.

Day 7 (13 July) – A drive around the island and Agiasos
I arranged to hire a car through the hotel which was delivered at 09.30 that morning. The car, a Nissan Micra (with air con) cost 30 euro’s a day all inclusive from ‘Best’ car hire in Molyvos. We set off for a look around the island and once out of town I pulled into a layby for a quick photo of the view back towards Molyvos and a scan of the gorse at the side of the road. As I was standing there with bins in hand another hire car pulled up and a fellow birder (Phil from Birmingham) got out and asked if I was looking for the Ruppell’s Warbler, we got into conversation a result of which was that we arranged to meet up the following morning at 5.00 and have a look around the main Lesvos sites for some of the islands target birds. Back in car we continued our trip and ended up at Agiasos, a beautiful hilltop town in central Lesvos. Little time spent birding today and the only new species added to the list a Blackbird at the Ruppell’s site at Petra and a pair of Long-legged Buzzard flying over the road between Petra and the Kalloni raptor site. No Ruppell’s and not much else but I was looking forward to tomorrow. That evening the wind got up a bit and from my hotel balcony about 18 Shearwater were out in the middle of the channel. I watched them for a considerable time and eventually a couple came close enough for me to be confident that they were Yelkouan Shearwater (L).

Day 8 (14 July) – In search of Ruppell’s and Kruper’s
I met up with Phil at 05.00 in a dark car park in Molyvos and we headed up to the Ruppell’s Warbler site on the coast road north of Petra near the disused disco known as the” thunderbirds building”. Sitting in his hire car in a layby in the dark (we were a bit ambitious with our timing, the sun didn’t rise until around 06.00) it crossed my mind that there can’t be many legal activities where it is acceptable to meet a stranger in a car park and sit in a parked car in the dark. Never mind I was hopeful of getting some good birds with Phil’s assistance. As sun came up we wandered along the road towards Petra with little sign of anything other than the odd YL Gull passing by until Phil noticed a male Blue Rock Thrush sitting on an outcrop. Back up at the layby we eventually caught sight of the Ruppell’s Warbler (L), a female at first then a male in the scrub over the wall beside the layby. With one of our targets in the bag we set off. Next stop was the Kalloni raptor bandstand site where we had Black-eared Wheatear, Rock Nuthatch and Barn Swallow. A quick stop at Kalloni Pool produced Avocet, Kentish Plover, Little-Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Grey Heron and further along a couple of White Storks showed well. We then set off to look for Kruper’s Nuthatch at the known site at the campsite south of Pyrra and had a quick stop at the Bridge over the river at Pyrra where we had Spotted Flycatcher, Blue Tit and Middle-spotted Woodpecker (L) among other more common species. After a short while I got onto a Krupper’s Nuthatch (L) in the canopy above the bridge, Phil got a brief look at this as well but was not happy with his view so we left unsatisfied. At the campsite a walk through the forest produced Chaffinch, Short-toed Treecreeper (L) and Hoopoe, but no nuthatch so we returned to the bridge at Pyrra for a second look. This time a Woodchat Shrike was perched on the telephone lines and a Great Tit was skulking about in the bushes, but the Nuthatch was nowhere to be seen. A walk along the road heading north of the bridge produced another Treecreeper and a Common Kingfisher which flew by downstream. Then from nowhere a pair of Kruper’s Nuthatch came into view on our side of the stream giving us good views and a chance to get a picture. After this success we returned to Kalloni Saltpans for a second look and there we added Ruddy Shelduck, Cormorant and Black Stork at the pool before joining the main road, then along the west side of the saltpans Black-winged Stilt ,Yellow Wagtail, Wood Sandpiper, Common Tern, White Wagtail and European Bee-eater to the list. One last stop at Petra Reservoir produced Little Grebe and Sub-alpine Warbler. We returned to Molyvos for 2.00pm where, over a bottle of Mythos, we totted up the day’s list. Not bad 20 new birds for the trip list and 4 lifers. That evening there was a noticeable decrease in Swift numbers in Molyvos with around 30-40 flying around above the town
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Old Monday 5th September 2011, 14:37   #3
aka Gan***face

Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Isle of Bute, UK
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Trip report Lesvos (3)

Day 9 (15 July) – A drive to Sigri and the Petrified Forest
A long drive in near 40 degrees heat and a walk around the Petrified Forest with lunch at Sigri produced very little compared to the previous day. However I still managed to add Eurasian Jay, the eastern Mediterranean black-capped variety on the road near Skalochorio , and a Stonechat and Sombre Tit (L) at Ipsilou Monastry, to the list. Very little time spent with bins in hand but the Petrified Forest was definitely worth a visit. Other birds recorded were Woodchat Shrike, Turtle Dove and Red-rumped Swallow, a favorite of mine, at various locations along route.

Day 10 (16 July) - Ag. Pareskivi and Petra Reservoir
A family trip to the Olive Press Museum in Agias Pareskivi was interesting with a White Stork nest complete with chick on top of the chimney, and a stop at Kalloni saltpans on the return journey produced five new trip birds in Little Tern, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Redshank and Black-headed Gull along with previously seen Avocet, Stilt, Plovers, Yellow Wagtails, Storks and Bee-eaters, all great birds at a fantastic site. However the best was yet to come. Having got back to the hotel for 4.00pm I was granted a pass for a quick look at Petra reservoir and immediately set off in the hire car. On arrival 5 minutes later, it was about 4 miles away; I parked the car at the end of the road leading up to the reservoir where I found Turtle Dove and Woodchat Shrike on the telephone wires and Cretzschmar’s Bunting and Corn Bunting in the nearby scrub. A good start, further along the road a pair of Kestrel were side by side on a telegraph pole and a male Black-headed Bunting (L) flew into a bush at the roadside giving great views. Further up towards the reservoir a Peregrine was tormenting Hooded Crows by flying at them as they hid in a tree, knocking individuals out of the tree and giving chase as they fled. Strange behavior as it didn’t catch any although it had plenty opportunity, however, in doing this it was flying about me giving me great views and photo opportunities. At the reservoir there were Little Grebe, Ruddy Shelduck (13), Cormorant, Grey Heron, Black Stork and Yellow-legged Gull. Another great day with a fantastic short visit to Petra reservoir for a frantic last hour.

Day 11 (17 July) – Petra Reservoir and Kalloni Saltpans
After the success of the previous day an early morning visit to the reservoir at Petra was a must, so off I set at 06.00 to arrive at sunrise at the road end. As per yesterday’s visit Woodchat Shrike was present on the telephone wire with Great Tit, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Turtle and Collared Dove, and Hooded Crow nearby. A flock of House Sparrow with an albino amongst them was in a field to the south of the road and a Jay flew into nearby trees. A Serin, a Willow Warbler and several Sub-alpine Warblers including juveniles were in the Scrub, European Bee-eaters could be heard up near the reservoir and Swallow both Barn and Red-rumped were flying overhead, with the occasional Swift seen also. At the reservoir the Ruddy Shelduck were still present as were the Gulls, Black Stork, Cormorant, Grey Heron and Little Grebe (c40). New birds from the previous day were a Wood Sandpiper, a female Gargany and Black-winged Stilt. The walk back to the car produced Blackbird, Crested lark, Sombre Tit and Goldfinch. Next a quick stop at the Ruppell’s site produced views of both male and female at the same bushes, and then a stop at the raptor bandstand added Raven to the trip list. Other birds there were Collared Dove, Rock Nuthatch and Stonechat. On route to Kalloni I spent 40 mins at the Scops Copse looking through the Eucalyptus trees for roosting owls without any joy, however, I got Chaffinch as a new bird for the day list. At Kalloni the usual waders were present – Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little-ringed and Kentish Plover (all with young), Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper gave good views and Little and Great White Egrets were seen in the distance. Common and Little Tern, Bee-eaters, Hoopoe, Corn Bunting, White Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail (including Black-headed) were the other birds of note recorded during my hour and a half at this site. On Route back to the hotel a pale phased Long-legged Buzzard flew over my car on the main road near Petra and gave me great views as it circled over my hurriedly abandoned car. The hire car was returned that evening and the remainder of the holiday was spent with little birding and no new birds.

Lesvos is a fantastic birding holiday destination. It has everything - comfortable hotels, friendly locals, great food and most important, many great birding sites with a long list of specialty birds. Hiring a car and finding your way around the well-known sites is easy and rewarding, and even though my opportunities to bird during this trip were limited and it was in the middle of summer, a period not usually associated with good birding, I still managed to gain 10 lifers (L) in a trip list of about 70. I know from the internet that while I was on the island others were finding species that I didn’t get and I’m sure that given more time I could have added a few more species. I will make a point of returning to Lesvos in the near future as I am sure that there is plenty left for me to see.
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Old Monday 5th September 2011, 14:59   #4
aka Gan***face

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Location: Isle of Bute, UK
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Pictures of trip

Here are some of the better pictures from the trip
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Old Friday 9th September 2011, 14:21   #5
Mick Sway
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Lesvos 7 - 20 July 2011

Originally Posted by Doug.M View Post
Here are some of the better pictures from the trip
Our first ever visit to Lesvos was in July 1999.
Nice to know that there are still some nice species about during one of the warmer months.
Thanks for sharing, nice picks also.
See my Lesvos Nature 2017 photos HERE.
Please share your Lesvos Birding photos here [/url][/b]
Algarve bird Images October 2015 here
Flickr Album - 10 years/130 images of species recorded on Lesvos.[/font]
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Old Tuesday 13th September 2011, 14:51   #6
Woodlarks DO exist...
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I'll echo Mick's sentiments.. can't wait to return next spring...
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