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WEATHER: cloudy all day, light breeze, prefect birding weather. Temp 12 – 20C

Our first full day began with a visit to one of my favourite sites on Lesvos, Metochi Lake. I had a keen group of people full of excitement and enthusiasm, it was going to be a great trip.

 We saw a few species along the way and even had a couple of nice species in the hotel grounds and on the Kalloni Pool opposite the main gates. A Nightingale sang from the bushes behind our rooms, it was showing very well. From road side outside the hotel we could see Wood Sandpipers, Moorhen and Common Snipe. Along the tracks to Metochi Lake we saw Crested Larks, Corn Buntings and a male Golden Oriole flew across in front of the bus.

The wind had dropped to zero, the lake was flat, mirror calm, but relatively quiet. We parked at the far end and scanned the reeds. Three Squacco Herons sat, waiting for the day to start, whilst Moorhens, Little Grebes and Coots had already began foraging for their breakfast. We found one single Little Crake, a female.

female Little Crake taken at Metochi Lake

We then joined other birders at the top of the lake were a Little Bittern sat, partially hidden. We found another two Little Crakes, all three had been females. Other species seen were Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler and we heard a Great Reed Warbler but it did not show.

After breakfast we began our day at the Salt Pans by visiting the mouth of the river Tsiknias where three species of Terns were settled on the sand bar. Little, Common and Sandwich, we also saw two Spur-winged Plovers, a few Little Ringed Plovers and a Common Sandpiper.

Black-headed Bunting

From the ford we saw three more Common Sandpipers and a Black Stork. From the bank above the ford a Black-headed Bunting was singing from the top of a bush. We parked there for a while and watched both Sedge and Reed Warblers, Sand Martins and some Bee-eaters flew over.

The seasonal pool that can be viewed from the Lotzaria Track was alive with birds and so was the field in front of it. We spent a long time there, it was great birding. I think my group was blown away by the variety of species we encountered in a 30 minute spell. Yellow Wagtails of several ‘races’ fed in the short grass with Crested Larks, Red-throated Pipits and a Common Starling.

a 'beema' Yellow Wagtail

We also saw Red-backed Shrike, two Hoopoes, more Black-headed Buntings and lots of Barn Swallows and Common Swifts. The pool held a good selection of waders, we ‘scoped Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stints, a Marsh Sandpiper, some Ruff and a Greenshank dropped in.

Also along this track we had a Harriers fest! We saw distant Marsh Harriers, a female Montagu’s Harrier and then a very close female Hen Harrier! Wowzah!!

Red-backed Shrike

The pans were covered in Greater Flamingos and Avocets as usual, the supply-channel held lots of Wood Sandpipers, Ruff and Black-winged Stilts. We searched for a Dalmatian Pelican that eluded us for now.

We ate lunch near the ‘race track’ at the beach area, we watched Little Terns and Crested Larks whilst we ate. In Alykes Wetlands there were two or three pools of water and each held a selection of waders. Many Little Stints and Kentish Plovers were joined by a few Ruff, Little Ringed Plovers and we saw three Whimbrels. Yellow Wagtails were everywhere, we had fly over Ruddy Shelduck, Black Storks and Common Terns.

Kentish Plover

Our search for Short-toed Lark was rewarded with several sightings, mostly in flight, singing above us, the grass was too long to see them on the ground. A Zitting Cisticola showed really well, they seem to be everywhere this year.

Our search for the Pelican continued, we stopped at several place on the south and west side of the pans. From Hide No. 2 we heard Common Quail and saw a Little Gull, from the west track we watched three Mediterranean Gulls and a fenceline held several Whinchats, those males are something special!

The east track finally produced the goods, a Dalmatian Pelican, a huge bird dwarfing everything around it. We also saw Olivaceous Warbler along the track, a few butterflies and lots of Dark Spreadwing damselflies. Our last sighting at the pans was of a Stone Curlew.

Dark Spreadwing Damselflies

We drove into Agia Paraskevi for a coffee stop before we returned to the hotel at 5pm. Some of the group were still up for a last outing to the river so I obliged. We drove to the main bridge on the Mytiline road and took the west track along the Tsiknias river.

Glossy Ibis

The light was perfect and we saw lots of birds. New species included Purple Heron, Glossy ibis, Jay, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, we had superb views of Olivaceous and Cetti’s Warblers, we also saw two Masked Shrikes, our third shrike of the day. Up to fifteen Little Egrets, a couple more Purple Herons, the list went on and on….

We saw 87 species today, a lot of them were new for the group. It is a testament to Lesvos, showing what  a great place it is at this time of the year!