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Lesvos - July 2010 (1 Viewer)

Macswede

Macswede
The decision to travel to Lesvos on 16th July was a sudden one. We had attended my god-daughter’s wedding earlier in the month and felt like a holiday abroad as we hadn’t had one for a few years. There weren’t many places to choose from at the last minute and Lesvos seemed by far the most attractive. Not only did it seem to be an interesting and beautiful island, it is one of the best-known birding spots in Europe. Of course I didn’t expect to see as much many species as in spring or autumn but I thought there would be a fair amount to see. In the event we weren’t disappointed. On the contrary, there were some species I thought we might see and didn’t but lots more that we saw unexpectedly, including a Terek Sandpiper at the Kalloni Saltworks.
Travelling at the last minute we had no idea where on Lesvos we would wind up. In the event we found ourselves in Anaxos on the north coast of the island. We stayed at the Filoxenia Apartments, simple but clean self-catering apartments, though we never ate anything more advanced than water melon there.
We were lucky enough to choose the Omega Tavern on the main street for our first meal. Not only was there a Barn Owl nest under the roof but Alison, one of the owners proved to be a mine of valuable tips and information and lent us folders and a book of walks to use during our stay. We hired a car from her husband Costas during our second week. It was a real treat to eat excellent food in the evenings and wait for the owls to go hunting. The only disappointment was that we didn’t get to see the owlets.
 
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Macswede

Macswede
16/7/10 Barn Owls, Red-rumped Swallows (there were lots of them and I got some good close-ups from the balcony of the apartment) as well as Barn Swallows and House Martins. There are large numbers of Collared Doves on Lesvos.
 

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Macswede

Macswede
17/7/10 A Jay flew over a swimming pool. There turned out to be lots of Jays in Anaxos. In the Evening we saw a Common Buzzard and a Short-toed Eagle from the terrace.
 

Macswede

Macswede
18/7/10 I discovered a great walk to the coast in the early morning. On or near the path there were families of Black-eared Wheatears, some Sombre Tits and a Middle Spotted Woodpecker, and when I got nearer the coast I saw my first Hoopoe fly off. There were lots of Crested Larks, a Stonechat, and a Rock Nuthatch, and at the coast, Yellow-legged Gulls in the air and Shags on the rocks. On the way back I saw Subalpine Warbler and a pair of Turtle Doves in a field, a nice change from Collared Doves.
 

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Macswede

Macswede
19/7/10 Back on the coast path in the morning. Saw my first Greenfinch and a Rock Nuthatch singing. Photographed a couple of Cirl Buntings on a wire on the way back.
 

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Macswede

Macswede
20/7/10 I took the usual walk to the coast and got better pictures of the Turtle Doves. I saw juvenile Woodchat Shrikes as well as a stoat. We saw a Common Buzzard later that day when we went to Ambelia Beach to feed bread to the terrapins in the river mouth. There was a large green Tree Frog on the taps in the toilets at the tavern on the beach. On our way back we saw our first Goldfinch and a Rock Nuthatch singing.
 

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Macswede

Macswede
22/7/10 In the morning we collected our car, a Ford Fiesta. First we drove down a dirt road to a beach near Ambelia on the north coast where we saw amphibians, terrapins and dragonflies, we saw a Short-toed Eagle in a tree on the way back up from the coast. At the Petrified Forest I saw a male Cretzschmar’s Bunting and when it flew off there was a female at the same spot though someone in the ID forum thought it might have been an Ortolan.
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=177429
We also saw 2 very noisy Rock Nuthatches. When I looked down at the path in front of them I saw the biggest snake I have seen outside of a zoo.
We drove on a dirt road with spectacular scenery from Sigri to Eresos. At the beginning there were lots of Crested Larks and I stopped the car to take pictures. Later that day we also saw our first adult male Woodchat Shrike and a Bee-eater on a wire.
 

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Macswede

Macswede
23/7 A Red Squirrel (I assume a Persian Squirrel Sciurus anomalus) crossed the road and we stopped the car to have a look at it. At Skala Kalloni we saw Black-headed Gulls, Common Terns and a Great Cormorant. We drove on to the marsh at Parakila (nothing in the rivers on the way) and scared up 2 Black Storks and a pair of Grey Herons. We should probably have stayed in the car. Later we finally arrived at what became our favourite place on Lesvos for birds, the salt works at Kalloni where we saw Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Little Ringed Plovers, Little Terns, Greater Flamingos (they were there on every subsequent visit), Redshanks, Common Sandpipers, Little Egrets, a Terek Sandpiper (though at the time I didn’t know what it was), Greenshanks, Little Stints, a Black Stork and a solitary Ruddy Shelduck that my wife spotted.
 

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Macswede

Macswede
23/7/10 continued
 

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Macswede

Macswede
23/7/10 part 3
 

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Macswede

Macswede
24/7/10 We drove to Mithimna (Molivos) and climbed up to the castle. The girl at the ticket desk had no change and she suggested we visit the cafeteria. Lucky we did because 2 Eleonora’s Falcons flew past as we sat admiring the view. Later in the day we saw a family of Little Grebes at a pond, somewhere on the north coast, east of Mithimna.
 

Macswede

Macswede
25/7/10 We returned to the salt pans at Kalloni. We saw a flock of about 15-20 Ruddy Shelducks in flight but I didn’t manage to get any pictures. That was the last time we saw Ruddy Shelducks during our stay. There was a Kestrel (not a Lesser) hunting across the road from the salt pans.
After that we visited Polichnitos. There was a Stork’s nest in a chimney but no Storks were at home. On to Vatera but no luck there. At some point during the day we saw a Raven. On the way back to the salt pans we saw Great White Egrets on the coast. At the salt pans we saw the Terek Sandpiper for the second time and Kentish Plovers.
 

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Macswede

Macswede
26/7/10 We stopped at Kalloni on the way to the salt pans and my wife looked up and saw a White Stork on a pole. Then we saw a nest with 3 fledged young White Storks.
There were Curlew Sandpipers at the Salt Pans. Nothing at the marsh at Parakila that day but just south of the village there was a place with a ruined minaret and power lines where we saw Bee-eaters. While I was watching them a Hoopoe landed on a branch few feet away. As soon as I raised my camera it was gone. We stopped at the salt pans on the way back to Anaxos and there was a Black Stork there.
 

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Macswede

Macswede
27/7/10 We went to the salt pans where we saw a Lesser Grey Shrike, a Bee-eater and a Black Stork. We walked in the forest on the way to Vasilika looking for Krüper’s Nuthatches but no luck. We returned again to the salt pans during the afternoon. Then we went to Kalloni to photograph the White Storks.
 

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Macswede

Macswede
28/07/10 Last day with the car. Back to the Salt Pans where the Greater Flamingos were a little closer than usual. After that we visited Kalloni to photograph the Storks. Then we went back to the place with the Bee-eaters and took some pictures but it was hard to get close to them.
 

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Macswede

Macswede
29/7/10 No car so we took the path to the coast. Saw some Linnets. Then we went to Ambelia Beach to feed the terrapins.
 

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Steve Dudley

aka The Toadsnatcher
An excellent report Graham and excellent photos. Thanks for sharing this with us. Some very interesting records (in addition to your Terek Sand) inc. some good breeding records and early returning Curlew Sands, Black-headed Gulls (usually picked up first at Polichnitou Saltpans but then there is often no one covering Kalloni pans during July).

I followed your thread re. the bunting and I think it is an adult female Cretzschmar's - no hint of yellow for me, all salmon-toned and white eyering (and feeding with a male Cretzsch when they could still be feeding young).
 

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