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WEATHER: cloudy and misty which cleared late afternoon. Windy again in the afternoon. Top temp. 28C

Four species of Owls were seen today, four different Shrikes and five Buntings ! It was one of those great Lesvos Birding days when everything turned up, it wasn’t dripping with birds but almost!

 We heard of a breeding pair of Long-eared Owls in the next village and took an early morning jaunt to look for them. It didn’t take us long to find 6 Long-eared Owls!! Four chicks and two adults were all sitting out in the open, wowzah!!

two shots of  Long-eared Owl - taken this morning by Helen Stedman

After our great start to the day we set off with lunch in a box and breakfast in our bellies, this was our second trip out west to Sigri, but today we were taking the long, scenic route, via Eresos. At Parokila we turned onto the beach road and stopped in search of a nest site of the Middle Spotted Woodpecker. After some messing around in the wrong place we eventually found the correct site. Two birds were visiting a nest with food everyone had great views in the ‘scope.

Turtle Dove near the Woodpecker nest

very bad light and distance render this as a poor record shot at best of the Middle Spotted Woodpecker

When we finally got to the coastal track leading from Eeresos to Sigri we thought things were very quiet, in fact, we hardly saw a bird for the first few kilometers. Cirl, Corn and Cretzschmar’s Buntings, Black-eared Wheatears, Stonechats and Red-backed Shrikes.

It was when we entered the Meladia Valley that things started to pick up, we stopped near a small ridge with an obvious vertical rock face, an abandoned Rock Nuthatch nest ad been taken over by a apir of Rock Sparrows, we watched the adults taking food in and bringing out fecal sacks. In the scrub around us we saw Orphean Warbler, Red-backed and Woodchat Shrikes and Lesser Whitethroat, on a farm building we saw a Little Owl.

Little Owl in the Meladia Valley

We began our walk towards the famous birding spot at the Meladia Ford. We saw many species but the highlights had to be the Golden Orioles! A male was in pursuit of a female, he was carrying a food offering and chasing her around, displaying his bright colours and sitting out in the open, what a show-man! The group loved the show. During the same time we saw Black-headed Buntings, Masked Shrikes, Subalpine Warblers, Blackcap, Buzzards and Short-toed Eagles overhead.

Golden Oriole

We settled at the ford to eat lunch where we saw Green and Wood Sandpipers and heard Cetti’s Warbler, Common Nightingale and a distant Great Reed Warbler. Before we opened our packed lunches we got news of a real ‘goodie’ seen just along the track. So we bundled back into the bus and drove to the Chapel about ¼ mile further along the track.

We quickly found a male RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER in full breeding plumage. This is a rare sighting on Lesvos, you never usually see them in this plumage, it was stunning. We also saw Spotted Flycatcher and a Wood Warbler.

the stunning male Red-breasted Flycatcher - never seen one like this before on Lesvos

After eating our lunch we continued the drive towards Sigri, stopping to look at shrikes and buntings. We found our first Lesser Grey Shrike and ad views of many other birds but we never saw a Roller which ws our new target species.

After a quick coffee stop in Sigri we headed to Farenomeni Fords and fields. A side track led into some filed and scrub areas, it was quite windy by now and we sought sheltered bushes to look at. A Bonelli’s Warbler fed in the Giant Fennel, showing well. We found Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher (2) and a Red-backed Shrike in sheltered disused quarry. In the fields we saw Black-headed Buntings and Masked Shrikes and plenty of Bee-eaters flew over us, this was the spot where we saw the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater a couple of days ago, so we checked every Bee-eater that flew over.

Temminck's Stint

Wood Sandpiper, Ruff and an out of focus Little Ringed Plover

 At the upper ford we found our first Temminck’s Stint, it was feeding alongside singles of Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and a White Wagtail. A walk at the lower Ford produced very little it was dry there and not many birds. We did see Lesser Kestrel, Hoopoe more Bee-eaters and lots of sparrows.

As we headed back we bumped into another group who told that a Roller had been seen back at the ford, so we turned around and headed back. After walking to the wrong place we heard that the Roller was back near our bus, doh!! We got the bird, hooray!!

very distant Roller

At 5:30pm we set off back to Kaloni, it took 40 minutes to get there, a tired group fell out of the bus and dragged themselves to their rooms.

Spotted Flycatcher

After dinner we visited the square in Skala Kaloni where a Barn Owl stake-out takes place every night. We saw the owl flying over us and visiting a chimney where it has nested for the last 20 years, we also saw another Little Owl. Back in my room I heard a Scops Owl calling at the back of the hotel. I searched the eucalyptus trees with my torch and saw the bird flying from one tree to another! Four Owls in one day on Lesvos!!