A banner.full


WEATHER: all day sunshine, very windy (chilly north-easterly) at Ipsilou and Sigri. Temp 20C

We had an epic day of birding, we saw Lesvos at its best, producing lots of species again and many new ones for our trip list. Our pre-breakfast trip to Metochi Lake found the birding very slow to start with, but it did pick up.

the group at Metochi Lake this morning

After about 20 minutes we had seen just glimpses of a Great Reed Warbler, a Sedge Warbler and seven Squacco Herons, they flew off after a while. Then at the far end of the pool we found a Little Bittern and finally a Little Crake, it was a female and it showed very well at times. We also saw Black-headed Bunting, Red-backed Shrike and the usual Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Grey Heron and Cetti’s Warbler in flight. Common Nightingale could also be heard but that was about it, we were late for breakfast arriving back just before 8am.

Two pictures of the Little Crake at Metochi

At 9am we set off for the far west of the island, namely Ipsilou Monastery, we made a quick scan of the pool outside the hotel because someone had seen a Spotted Crake there earlier, Tom found a Water Rail and the usual Wood Sandpipers were present with a pair of Black-winged Stilts.

Our first intended stop was along the new by-pass above the town of Skalachori, we pulled over into an official car park and made a speculative scan of the oak woodland above and below us. Within twenty minutes we had a list of eighteen species which included Hoopoe, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Cirl Bunting, Red-backed, Masked and Woodchat Shrikes, Subalpine Warbler, Lesser whitethroat, Raven, Common Buzzard and a really nice Goshawk! 

the view from the lay-by overlooking Skalachori

An unscheduled stop at Lardia Valley was to look at a Blue Rock Thrush, we never got out of the buses. On the new road above Andissa we spotted three Rollers in one tree, we inadvertently flushed them getting out of the vehicles but two of them perched on a pylon not too far away.

record shot of two of the three Roller seen near Andissa

We never stopped at the Eresos junction to look for Isabelline Wheatear because there wasn’t space for two buses, I knew we would see the wheatear later on. At Ipsilou we parked at the base and the wind was quite strong and cold, it was in the opposite direction to last week’s visit so our walking route was also done that way.

Below us on the rocky hillside we saw Northern Wheatears and we found a Western Rock Nuthatch’s nest, glued to an overhang on a large rock, we watched the adult birds arriving to feed the chicks. A little further up we found Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting and Cinereous Bunting, we were up to our ears in buntings!

one of the many Black-eared Wheatears we saw at Ipsilou

a Rock Nuthatch standing on a rock- where else?

As the track entered the wooded area we started finding woodland birds, one of the first was Red-breasted Flycatcher, it wasn’t a male in full breeding plumage like last week’s bird, but a plain looking 1st year bird or an adult female, nevertheless it was an R B Fly. We also saw in the same bush and nearby: Blackcap, Wood Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. More of the same appeared as we walked up the hill in sunshine. We had two Golden Oriole sightings, lots more Black-eared Wheatears, a Woodlark and plenty of raptor movement in the sky. Short-toed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzards and a Red-footed Falcon appeared.

waiting for a Flkycatcher to appear on the slopes of Ipsilou

As we mounted the ridge and turned to the west we met the oncoming north-easterly wind, birding was almost impossible from that side of the monastery hill, so we turned around and walked back.

We never saw anything new but we did have great views of Cinereous Bunting, Cretzschmar’s Bunting and Cirl Bunting, as well as seeing a few warblers again. Other wildlife noted was: Persian Squirrel, Balkan Green Lizard, Starred Agama and Balkan Wall Lizard, lots of butterflies including our first Red Admiral.

From the Monastery we drove to the approach road to the Pefrified Forest, about 2km along this road there is a drinking pool for the sheep and very often birds come to drink too. We parked close to the pool and distributed the packed lunches throughout the two buses. We ate and watched and waited!

Cinereous Bunting taken ast Ipsilou

Nothing came for a while then a party of Linnets arrived, followed by Corn Buntings and a Crested Lark. No more species turned up for the next 30 minutes except for a nice Cretzschmar’s Bunting as as we were leaving.  On the way back we searched for Chuka and found a couple of pairs of Isabelline Wheatears, they showed very well.

Further along the road during our exit from the Petrified Forest we stopped to scan  a steep valley where we found a Common Buzzard on a rock, a Cinereous Bunting on a fence and an odd sighting of a Willow Warbler also on the fence.

At Sigri we stopped for coffee and ice-cream during that time we saw a large bunch of Jackdaws and a quick scan ohe bay revealed Yelkouan Shearwaters and a European Shag. The wind had forced a lot of raptors over the island and reports of many sightings were coming in.

We saw Buzzards and Short-toed Eagles just as we left Sigri and our time along the Faneromeni Track produced several more. We had singles of footed Falcon several times, a couple of levants Sparrowhawks, one high up and one at eye-level. A few Common Kestrels and probably Lessers but they were too high up to clinch the ID.  More Short-toed Eagles drifted over with flocks of Bee-eaters appearing everyu once in a while.

Red-backed Shrike with a Spanish Sparrow

We saw two Rollers on a power line and a Little Owl on a building, finding warblers and flycatchers wasn’t easy because of the wind but in some sheltered areas we found Common Redstart, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Blackcaps, lots of Shrike, sBalck-headed Buntings, Swallows and Swifts.

At the Upper Ford we stood for about 40 minutes just watching shallow pools, we had agreat time there, the wind had dropped and the light was perfect. Six Wood Sandpipers were joined by a single Little ringed Plover and a Squacco Heron. The birds that came to drink or bathe were numerous and varied: we saw Yellow Wagtails, Goldfinches, Linnets, Black-headed Buntings, a Garden Warbler, a Great Reed Warbler, Spanish Sparrows and in the giant fennel and giant reeds we saw Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Olivaceous Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler and we heard a Common Nightingale.

Wood Sandpipers seen at the upper Faneromeni Ford

We left at 5:40 and drove back to Skala Kalloni in 50 minutes along the new and fast by-pass. We had seen another 80 species today and our overall total is now 125 after 2 days.