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WEATHER: sunshine all day, a lovely cooling breeze. Top temp. 24C

My first day back on Lesvos since 2019 was fantastic, all those memories came flooding back and the weather and the birding is still just fabulous.

The airport was new, they have moved the entire Terminal building 1 mile down the road, I must say it is a big improvement. Pete, Sue and I arrived last night at 10pm and spent the night in an hotel local to the airport, the Loriet Hotel is wonderful and I highly recommend it, the breakfast this morning was lovely sitting out in their courtyard.

After our lovely breakfast our minibus was delivered to the hotel and we set off for some birding, we had already logged Red-rumped and Barn Swallows as they are breeding in the hotel buildings. The rest of the group are arriving today but not until 3:45pm which gave us almost a complete day to go birding before they arrived.

We decided to stay on the Mytiline Peninsular and headed towards Haramida  some 15 kilometers from our hotel. Our first stop involved a walk in a pine forest just after 5km into the journey. The mature pine trees looked good habitat for Kruper’s Nuthatch but after a 30 minute walk we saw absolutely nothing.

Further along the coast we stopped a couple of times to look at the wonderful landscape and the views across the picturesque bays. We found a singing Blue Rock Thrush, several Sardinian Warblers, two Cretzschmar’s Buntings, a Common Kestrel and lots of Chaffinches. One stop near the village of Haramida produced excellent sightings of an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear and after following the song of an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler we found the bird.

Our best birding of the day came from a walk from the beach at Haramida. We parked the bus and took a walk away from the beach past some reedbeds and through an olive plantation to overlook some grass meadows. We had a fantastic couple of hours there which started with sightings of Grey Heron and two Little Egrets which flew up from the marsh area. We could hear Little Grebe trilling and Water Rail squealing, also Reed Warblers singing from the reeds.

From the footpath which took us up a slope we had better views of the marsh where we saw dozens and dozens of Alpine Swifts. At first we thought the swifts were hawking insect but then we got views of open water and the swifts were in fact coming down to drink. What a fantastic sight, a sky full of Alpine Swifts, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Balkan Green Lizard taken by Sue Hayes

Walking further we found more Sardinian Warblers as well as an unexpected Wood Warbler, Blue and |Great Tits, a pair of Jays, a pair of Ravens, three Bee-eaters and some orchids.

Butterflies were on the wing we saw a good number of Eastern Festoons, also Large Wall Brown, Holly Blue, Orange-tip and a couple of Iolas Blues was a nice find. We had a close encounter with a Balkan Green Lizard, this individual walked all around us as we kept perfectly still, it was an amazing experience.


Holly Blue

Just as we turned back we looked up and saw 4 Dalmatian Pelicans circling over the hillside, they gained height and were lost to sight, wow! That’s a biggie for Lesvos!

Two of the four Dalmatian Pelicans - taken by Sue Hayes

After the walk we drove to the next bay at Agios  where we sat at a beachside restaurant and had another delicious lunch, Greek Salad and fried Aubergine, truly delicious!

Iolas Blue

Soon it was time to collect three more participants for the trip, Mike, Paul and John. They arrived on time and we quickly loaded up the bus with their luggage and set off for our hotel in Skala Kallonis.We made two stops along the way to our hotel and the first was at Mesa and Kalami Marsh. We stood on an old bridge and scanned the marsh finding Purple Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Eurasian Coot, a few Pond Terrapins and not much else.

Black-eared Wheatear

The brackish pools on the beach side of the road held a lot more birds of interest. Several wader species were out there as well as Greater Flamingo, Great Egret, Common & Ruddy Shelduck and more Black-winged Stilts. We saw Little Stints, Wood, Green  and Common Sandpipers, Ruff, Little Ringed Plover and few Black-headed Western Yellow Wagtails, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks and Common Stonechats.


Walking a little further into the area called Mesa we added Black-tailed Godwit and three Stone Curlews were standing on the beach. A few Yellow-legged Gulls were dotted about, but we saw no Terns. The only raptor recorded at this stage was a distant Long-legged Buzzard.


Our last birding stop of the day was at the Kalloni Salt Pans. We stopped at the entrance to the western side of the pans and just scanned the first couple of ‘pans’. Hundreds of Pied Avocets fed all over the water and they were also crowded onto to an island.


A magical sight was that of a group of White-winged Terns, they circled the water-filled salt pan and eventually landed on the island. We also noted Little Terns, Greenshank, European bee-eater, I heard a Golden Oriole call from some distant trees and a group of European Bee-eaters dashed about quite far from us. God I love this place, Lesvos!! Birds are everywhere and in such variety. We notched up over 30 species in less than two hours and many of them were great birds to see.


We called it day at that point and drove to our hotel making a short stop at the local supermarket for provisions. Dinner was consumed at 7:30pm and I was back in my room by 9:30pm writing this blog. Stick with us as we venture out early tomorrow for our first full day on the beautiful island of Lesvos.