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WEATHER: a hot one today, bright sunshine with increasing wind. Top temp 28C

There are still a few Lesvos ‘specialities’ we have yet to see and to that end we set out today to try and find a few of them. Rufous Bush Robin is a sought-after species and when they arrive it usually creates great excitement amongst the birding fraternity.

One Bush Robin was reported near the mouth of the River Tsiknias on the western side yesterday morning, but we went to the eastern side because that is where I have seen them in the past. Only three of us turned up for this early morning jaunt, we had a quick look above the ford for a Citrine Wagtail, that was also seen yesterday, but we only found Wood Sandpipers.

On the east bank we had a good view of the sand bar at the mouth of the river and saw our first Great Crested Grebe of the trip. On the sand bar was a few Common Shelducks, Little and Common Terns and a Sandwich Tern sat on a buoy.

We walked a short distance into the tamarisk scrub and there was the Rufous Bush Robin, singing his heart out, we were looking into the sunlight so our views were bad. Over the next half an hour we tracked the bird as it moved from one song-post to the next, we finally got some great views of it.

Two pictures of the Rufous Bush Robin

Our first destination after breakfast, with a full compliment of group members, was the western side of the salt pans. We were hoping to find the Cattle Egret, an uncommon bird on Lesvos, in the sheep fields around the area. We never saw it, but we enjoyed the multitude of birds on the salt pans.

Next, we set out to see the Kruper’s Nuthatch! A must-see species during a visit to Lesvos. We had two sites to visit and both were in the pine woods near Achladeri. The first site took a while to find and when we did there was no sign of the Nuthatch. The nesting hole was fresh-looking. But we saw no activity during and hour-long vigil. We did see lots of Chaffinches, Blue and Great Tits, and a lovely Masked Shrike.

a typical pine woodland where the Kruper's Nutatch breeds. It perfers to nest in broken tree trunks. The chosen one in this picture is in the centre of the shot. We saw no activlty today.

The next site was in the woodland at a traditional area for viewing this bird, it took a while but we finally found it, a fallen tree provided a great seat from where the group could watch the nest hole. The nest was active!! We saw both adult birds visit on several occasions and had great views of them, they were obviously feeding a nest full of chicks.

Kruper's Nuthatch

the group (minus Zella) watching the Kruper's Nuthach

Walking back to the car we saw Chaffinches, greenfinches and Goldfinches, one or two people saw a couple of Serins but we couldn’t find a Short-toed Treecreeper.

We then made our way along the shoreline of Kalloni Bay heading towards Skala Polinitos. We stopped we eat our lunch in the Olive Groves, hoping to see an Olive Tree Warbler, but we never even heard one. At Alkoudi seasonal pool we saw Greater Flamingos, Ruddy Shelducks, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Wood Sandpipers and a few Yellow-legged Gulls.

the Alkoudi brackish Pool

We sat and ate ice-cream followed by a coffee latte before we turned inland to drive to Vatera on the south coast. At Vatera we stopped at the stream on the western side of the beach where we saw Olivaceous Warbler, Reed Warbler and dozens of Pond Terrapins.

We stopped in an area of thick scrub to look for Sardinian Warbler which eventually showed very well. An Eastern Orphean Warbler sang to us too, I love that song, the bird showed reasonably well before it flew off to another song-post.

Olivaceous Warbler 

Our sea-watch at Agios Fokas gave us good views of the eastern Mediterranean  Yelkouan Shearwater, we saw over a hundred of them flying past in groups of 15-20. We also saw a few European Shags and on land we saw Black-eared Wheatears, we had great views of Olivaceous Warbler, a Black-headed Bunting was also seen.

WE took the inland route back to Kalloni stopping just once at a pine forest above Achladeri, there we found the elusive Short-toed Treecreeper, but we could find a Serin there, we did see lots of Greenfinches and Chaffinches.

Our final hour of the day was spent back at the salt pans and the Lotzaria Track, looking for Marsh Terns, we saw none!  The light was fantastic and the visibility was back to normal after several days of misty cloudy conditions, you could see for miles. We saw Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle, also both Black and White Storks on the late afternoon thermals.

Spur-winged Plover

On the ground we enjoyed views of two Spur-winged Plovers, a distant Marsh Sandpiper and lots of common waders. At Lotzaria we scanned the fields and the seasonal pool. The pool held nothing at all! But the short grass in the field next to the track held lots of birds. Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Hoopoe, Bee-eaters, Yellow Wagtails of various races, Red-throated Pipits, Whinchats, Corn Buntings and crested Larks.

For dinner we walked into town and enjoyed some local cuisine, it was great to eat out and enjoyed the ambiance of the town square at its best.