TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT
Thursday 5th May - Thursday 12th May 2005
We are grateful to you all for making the holiday such a pleasant and memorable experience! Thank you all for your good company throughout the week and for sharing with us some incredible Lesvos birding and natural history highlights. We hope to see you all again on trips with us in the not-too-distant future.
The Travelling Naturalist itinerary was considerably altered this week. The adapted itinerary was planned and carried out with the utmost success. In fact the new pace and itinerary turned out to be superb both in the new locations visited and the number of and variety of species seen. New excellent sites close to Kalloni 11 Hotel were visited and birded in more depth, usually in the early mornings and late afternoons. Sites further a field were visited in the mornings, encompassing as much of the original itinerary as possible, allowing Lesley and John to retire to the hotel mid-afternoon as requested before we made our way to closer sites for the rest of the afternoon. The best local site where we spent many birding hours was the Inland Lake, less than 5 minutes drive from the hotel, also an excellent site for Dragonflies and Damselflies.
With only four group members we had a mini bus which proved invaluable in getting to otherwise inaccessible local birding hot-spot areas. Real highlights of the trip were two Happy in Napi excursions through the excellent rural Napi Valley area where we saw the most spectacular birds of the trip. The usual pre-breakfast birding sessions outside the hotel and surrounding area were not attended by the guests most mornings, thus the birds seen only by the leaders each morning have not been included in this report. The Kalloni Pools had become so dry by early May that the quality of birding there however had been much reduced.
Both Phil and I would like to give special thanks to the staff at the Kalloni 11 Hotel and to Lena our local agent with Erossos Travel.
Rebecca Nason and Phil Harris
Thursday 05th May
Mytilini Airport, Skala Kalloni
Weather: Hot and sunny. No cloud.
Rebecca, who was already out in Lesvos after co-leading a trip the week before, met up with the new group at Mytiline Airport. After a short wait until Phil arrived from a Manchester flight, we headed for Skala Kallonis and Kalloni 11 Hotel in our minibus. A swift stop and minibus evacuation at a lay-by near the Kalloni Saltpans enabled all to get excellent views of several raptors hanging in the air above a steep craggy outcrop. A Peregrine was seen mobbing a Short-toed Eagle which hung motionless in the light breeze above us. A minute or so later two larger raptors appeared just above the Short-toed Eagle and came low, hunting in the same air currents. These were two stunning Lesser Spotted Eagles! What a start to the trip!
As we arrived at our hotel, five Glossy Ibis took off from Kalloni Pools in front of the minibus. After checking into the hotel we soon found ourselves wandering around the immediate area where there were numerous House Martins, Sand Martins, Barn Swallows as well as the stunning Spanish Sparrows busy collecting nest material. The bird highlights were three Wood Sandpipers, five Grey Herons, as well as several Yellow-legged Gulls, Crested Larks and Olivaceous Warblers. One very showy Olivaceous Warbler was singing from a nearby Tamarisk in full view. A Nightingale sang from a regular perch at the back of the Hotel. Several Cettis Warblers were heard singing around the pool fringes and a Whiskered Tern made a brief appearance. Later in the evening after the first log call and welcoming buffet dinner, we enjoyed our first views of Turkish Gecko on the ceiling of the ground floor corridor.
Friday 06th May
Skala Kalloni, Derbyshire, Achladeri, Kalloni Salt Pans. East River.
Weather: Overcast, warm and breezy, clearing later.
A pre-breakfast walk revealed two Squacco Herons, a Whiskered Tern and several Reed Warblers, Olivaceous Warblers and Cettis Warblers all showed well. Dinah spotted a fabulous Goldfinch nest in a roadside Tamarisk, the red head of the adult bird peering from its closely woven nest cup.
By 09.30 we had arrived at the Derbyshire, area close to the Saltpans. From here we took a short walk along a small Thorny Burnet and Spanish Broom bordered track by shallow, open wetland on one side and an open scrub-vegetated hillside on the other. These two contrasting areas provided us with some excellent species. The first species of note was another Short-toed Eagle hunting over the hillside, followed by two pairs of Subalpine Warblers which ventured out from the scrub nearby. One pair showed extremely well standing out on the scrubby tops before darting into the vegetation where they were feeding young. Shortly afterwards a splendid Orphean Warbler made a brief but showy appearance. Also on the hillside we noted a pair of Red-backed Shrikes, a pair of Cirl Bunting, and numerous Corn Buntings. The wetland area revealed a pair of Black-headed Wagtails and two Black-headed Buntings feeding in the grasses. On closer inspection the short grassland was littered with Small-flowered Tongue Orchids. As we neared the minibus a Spur-thighed/Greek Tortoise was located just off the track and Spotted Fritillary, Clouded Yellow, Lesvos Meadow Brown and Eastern Dappled White Butterflies were found in the roadside flowers, mostly around the beautiful Winged Sea Lavender and Common Mallow. An Oriental Iris was also noted in full flower.
During the drive to Achladeri we noted 3 Shelduck from the minibus and later stopped along the roadside where in the late morning breeze, we watched ten Alpine Swifts and many Common Swifts moving through. As we scoured the adjacent area we were excited to find a Lesser Grey Shrike, Whinchat, Chaffinch and one lone Tawny Pipit.
Around mid-day we had reached Achladeri where we were to search for Kr_pers Nuthatch. A pair of Woodchat Shrikes greeted us in the car park and several Spotted Flycatchers were seen as we walked into the woodland. We were briefly taken with two giant black and white beetles which flew past us. One landed on the trunk of a pine and enabled close views! (see photos in rear of report!) This was a giant Click Beetle, one of the Eyed Elator species. We were soon enjoying excellent views of a nesting pair of Krüpers Nuthatch feeding young in a nearby tree stump. An incredible sight, and a fortunate one as the young were clearly not far off fledging!
During our sortie back to the car park for lunch we passed a number of remains of Violet Birds Nest Orchids which were now over. However we found one huge full flowering individual which was still in full glory! Our lunch stop was pleasantly interrupted by over twenty Alpine Swifts passing overhead, two Bee-eaters on nearby wires and a Long-legged Buzzard.
Within a few minutes of leaving Achladeri on our way to the Saltpans we pulled over next to a tall craggy inland ridge where we saw a Dark-breasted Barn Owl roosting half hidden in a small weathered cove in the rock face. A male Black-eared Wheatear exploded into song on the ridge top and more Alpine and Common Swifts were moving through ahead of a front. On arrival at the Saltpans we were greeted by over 150 Greater Flamingos feeding in the pans. The breeze dropped slightly and the sun pounded down on the pans and the wealth of waders feeding on them. Here we had over sixty+ Little Stints, thirteen Curlew Sandpipers, a Little Egret, four Ruff, ten+ Black-winged stilts, six+ Bee-eaters, one hundred+ Avocets, ten Little Terns, one White-winged Black Tern, two Kentish Plover and many Common Terns. The excitement of the approaching White-winged Black Tern which had us all with binoculars raised, coupled with a sudden gust of wind caused Phils Kowa telescope to violently hit the deck! A close inspection of the damaged goods proved to only alarm us further as the telescope was completely bent in the middle and several loose parts were noted rattling around inside. Three telescopes between us became two!
As the afternoon cooled, we headed away from the Saltpans and took a dirt track inland from the East River where we briefly stopped and saw our first Levant Water Frogs and Balkan Terrapins. We parked up further inland along the track and had a recce around the local vicinity. Here we hoped for Rufous Bush Chat which we had not seen at Derbyshire during the morning excursion. We parked up along the track and had a walk around the local vicinity/minibus. Here birds were in abundance, with three Black-eared Wheatears, four Red-backed Shrikes, one Lesser Grey Shrike, a male Cirl Bunting, one male Cretzschmars Bunting and another Orphean Warbler. The increasing activity by late afternoon (around 5pm) also saw three Long-legged Buzzards, a Peregrine and six White Storks. As we wearily started loading up the minibus for our short drive back to the hotel, Phil spotted what we had been hoping for, one of Lesvoss true highlights, a Rufous Bush Chat, stood brassy and full of charisma on top of a small bush close by. What an end to the day!
Saturday 7th May
Kallonis, Vatousa Gorge, Ipsilou Monastery. Inland Lake.
Weather: Very breezy and overcast all day, force 6-7.
Before heading towards Sigri, we visited a site just north of Kalloni where we had wonderful views of a pair of Middle-spotted Woodpeckers at their nest hole. Unfortunately the roosting Scops Owl which had been frequenting the Eucalypts in the same vicinity the week before was now gone, possibly due to people pressure, the remains of many fireworks which had been set off in the car parking area to welcome the Easter celebration, the very strong gales during the night before, or a combination of all three! There was also a lovely juvenile Long-eared Owl, not far off fledging, looking down at us from its pine tree retreat.
Our next stop was Vatousa Gorge on the main road towards Sigri. Here we parked in a small lay-by close to the road and stood overlooking the impressive scenery. Here we had two pairs of Crag Martin which circled about hunting in the gorge before sweeping up into their nest chambers on the rock face. Also noted were two Red-rumped Swallows, feeding on the wing and temporarily sitting out on a bare branch overhanging the gorge. Before long we spotted two male and a female Blue Rock Thrush, followed by an incoming pair of Rock Nuthatches. Other birds of note at this wonderful spot included a Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Cirl Bunting, Spotted Flycatcher, Black-eared Wheatear and an elusive but singing male Bonellis Warbler. A proud and attractive Holy Orchid was very lucky to escape being trodden on amongst the vegetation here too. A few minutes drive back to Vatousa followed for a much needed coffee stop mid-morning.
On our way towards Ipsilou Monastery we stopped to view a recently killed large Whip Snake at the side of the road and a Southern White Admiral floated past as it fed along the verge. On our way up to the Monastery we halted on the one-way track up as we approached another stationary vehicle. A fellow birder was watching a bright, singing Cinereous Bunting perched on a boulder. After some minutes a pair of Blue Rock Thrushes started to bring food into the vegetated rock face, where young were heard being fed. A Stonechat was also seen along with several Cirl Buntings, three Cretzschmars Buntings, three Rock Nuthatches and Black-eared Wheatears. On arrival at the Monastery we sat overlooking the awesome scenery from our vantage point and were soon viewing a bird Dinah had spotted with much excitement. This was our one and only Rock Sparrow of the trip at a well known annual site for them. (Lets not mention the sausage lunch!).
Another dead snake, this time a Montpellier Snake was seen on the drive back towards Kalloni. After returning Lesley and John to the hotel mid-afternoon, we headed out for a recce to the Inland Lake before the evening log. What a delightful spot! We were soon fixed on the reedbed bordering the pool, where two Great Reed Warblers were singing heartily and one allowed good scope views. On arrival at the site the sky was thick with hirundines, feeding over the small water body and the pool edges were teeming with Balkan Terrapins and Levant Water Frogs. A Black Stork circled overhead as it drifted along in the calm afternoon skies. Other species here included Moorhens, Little Grebe, Great-crested Grebe, Cettis Warbler, Reed Warbler, ten+ Bee-eaters, Black-headed Bunting and a Woodchat Shrike. As we drove back to the hotel, a brief spell at the bridge over the West River revealed three Kentish Plover, a Black-winged Stilt and a female Marsh Harrier.
Sunday 8th May
Inland Lake, Potamia Valley, Parakila/Chapel of the Holy Cross,
Weather: Bright, sunny and hot, occasional breeze and scattered cloud.
A pre-breakfast excursion to the Inland Lake proved to be a great success, with our first crakes of the trip, a Little Crake followed by a Baillons Crake showing briefly amongst the base of the reed stems and allowing scope views and good comparisons for all. A 1st summer Black-crowned Night Heron stood fixated at the waters edge. A Red-rumped Swallow skimmed the waters surface before darting off along with numerous Sand Martins, Barn Swallows and House Martins, spooked by a passing Peregrine.
Two Great Reed Warblers showed well as they fed on insects lining the reed stems along with up to eight Reed Warblers. A familiar calling from high up in the morning sunshine soon revealed distant Bee-eaters, up to fifty individuals hawking overhead, along with seven Little Egrets. Turtle Doves purred from the olive groves lining the track and a magnificent male Masked Shrike appeared near the road-side enabling our first good views of this species. Seven Red-backed Shrikes were also of note on our way back for breakfast.
With all the group together again after breakfast, we headed out along the Potamia Valley and River basin where we had several small sorties along the river side track and returned to the bridge over the river for our lunch stop. Though restricted from walking any distance along the river side track, taking the minibus enabled short stops and allowed us excellent opportunities for many species. Here particularly, we were able to catch up with and identify several species of Dragonfly/Damselfly. These were Calopteryx virgo (Beautiful Demoiselle), Platycnemis pennipes (White-legged Damselfly) and Platycnemis pennipes nitidula (a Balkan White-legged Damselfly), Anax imperator (Emperor Dragonfly), Caliaeschna microstigma (a hawker), and Libellula depressa (Broad-bodied Chaser).
Several raptors were seen, hunting high along the ridge on the opposite side of the river. In total three Long-legged Buzzards were seen, one of which we saw at lunchtime over the bridge carrying a long snake in its talons! Also a Peregrine, three Short-toed Eagles and four Honey Buzzards were noted. Also after lunch and of great excitement was a family party of five Sombre Tits which appeared as they moved through the olive groves. The River was alive with Balkan Water Frogs and Terrapins and we had a treat as a Grass Snake slithered in the shallows near the Weir. Several Balkan Wall Lizards were seen as well many young Balkan Green Lizards (with their chocolate coloured backs and lime green stripes!) and a handsome adult Balkan Green Lizard was seen. Butterflies observed along the river included Scarce Swallowtail, Eastern Festoon, Brown Argus, Small Skipper, Small Copper, Lesvos Meadow Browns, Orange Tips and Spotted Fritillaries.
Our final port of call was Parakila and the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Here we had a pair of Rock Nuthatches at their amazing nest, seen from the road side. They had an incredible nest construction which appeared to be like a dried mud dome with a protruding funnel entrance hole. Here we were entertained by a pair of Nuthatches bringing in food for their young and removing faecal sacs from the nest site. Up to twelve Red-rumped Swallows were seen and a pair was located nesting under a concrete bridge allowing superb close flyovers. At the Chapel itself there were at least three Subalpine Warblers, one pair were nest building, and a pair of Stonechats. Sixteen Alpine Swifts moved silently through and two Turkish Geckos were located in the Chapel. After dropping our guests back at the hotel for refreshment and rest, Phil and I continued our search for new local sites.
Monday 9th May
Panorama View Point, Eftalou, Molivos Castle, East River (Upper Valley)
Weather: Very hot and sunny, minimal cloud cover.
The pre-breakfast walk by the leaders along the West River saw several Little Stints, Kentish Plover with chick, a Red-rumped Swallow, Common Terns and a Little Tern.
On our way to Eftalou we stopped at the PanoramicView Point just beyond Petra. Soon after we arrived we were all delighted by a superb pair of Rüppells Warblers, the male singing out on top of a very close bush allowing incredible views. An unexpected delight was the sound of a River Warbler also close by in dense vegetation near the car park, but despite a patient wait could not be seen. In the distance our first European Shag was seen flying along the coast.
After arriving at Eftalou we enjoyed a brief walk around the beach area and the start of the coastal track. Within a few minutes a stunning pale Eleonoras Falcon glided inland from over the sea and two Starred Agamas were noted basking on nearby boulders. We then had an extremely good lunch at the Eftalou Taverna, enjoying fresh local fish and a cool beer, as the calm sea breeze gave light relief in the dabbled shade of the veranda. After lunch we headed further along the coastal track, through rich coastal scrub vegetation and woodland. Another Eleonoras Falcon passed swiftly overhead, hunting low along the coast. Also seen were two more European Shags out at sea and Olivaceous and Orphean Warblers below us in the wooded coastal valley. The male Orphean Warbler gave superb views! Up in the wooded hillside inland, we soon became aware of three European Jays, (a different subspecies from our own having black crowns!) disputing between themselves in the high branches. Butterflies were in abundance here too, with Small Copper, Southern White Admiral, Southern Comma, Eastern Bath Whites, Scarce Swallowtail, Red Admiral, Small Skipper, Eastern Festoon, Clouded Yellow and numerous Lesvos Meadow Browns. An excellent afternoon walk.
Molyvos was our next destination where many Common and Alpine Swifts circled over the town. An hour was spent eating ice-cream, birding at the town fringes or pottering for gifts along the narrow steep town lanes. A relaxing and endearing location.
Our final location was the East River (Upper Valley), where we spent the rest of the afternoon. Along the river we encountered a pair of Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilts, two Turtle Doves and a distant calling Hoopoe. We headed inland back towards the Rufous Bush Chat site which seemed so favourable in the late afternoon a few days before. We were not disappointed! A fabulous Rufous Bush Chat presented itself at close quarters along the track within a few minutes, allowing views down to 6 feet, as it sang heartily and characteristically raising its rufous stiff tail, displaying with great enthusiasm from boulder to bush top. A little further along the track we stopped again and looked for raptors. Soon we had encountered a Peregrine, followed by a Long-legged Buzzard and eight Black storks, enjoying the afternoon thermals. The Hoopoe could still be heard in the distance and three Bee-eaters hawked their way passed us, soon followed by two Raven. four Red-backed Shrikes and four Black-eared Wheatears.
Tuesday 10th May
Papianai School, West River, Napi Valley route 1, Derbyshire, Saltpans, Inland Lake.
Weather: Sunny and hot, no cloud.
A pre-breakfast excursion to the grounds of the local Papiana School provided us with the species which had eluded us at a usual favoured spot north of Kalloni a few days before Scops Owl. A magnificent individual sat sleeping in the thin swaying branches of a Eucalyptus. What a start to the day!
After breakfast we headed to the West River, where we saw a very smart close Temmincks Stint feeding with eleven Little Stints, also two Avocet, one Grey Heron, one Black-headed Wagtail and an elusive Stone Curlew! The severe gales on the previous Saturday had caused a surge in bay water to be blown up through both river mouths and thus the loss of first nests of Kentish Plover and Stone Curlew which had been evident the week before. The Stone Curlew in particular on the West River had disappeared from its previous scrape site where it had shown superbly the week before. Morning excursions out onto the saltmarsh and the West River Bridge had not provided us with Stone Curlew views all week, so the elusive individual, head visible above tall grasses not far from the original nest sight was a welcome relief.
We then headed up into the unknown territory of the Napi Valley, putting my map reading and Phils driving to the test! We were not disappointed as were soon Happy in the Napi as we exclaimed throughout the rest of the morning! Soon after driving off-road and heading along a very bumpy track, we pulled over as we spotted small raptors on nearby telegraph wires. We were soon transfixed by at least sixteen stunning Red-footed Falcons, both males and females as well as a female Lesser Kestrel. Pausing briefly on the wires, they would then head off, hawking in the hot breezeless valley before heading down and landing on a large bare dead tree. The morning continued to produce some superb species as we steadily worked the valley track. Two Eurasian Sparrowhawks, four Long-legged Buzzards, five Subalpine Warblers, four Masked Shrikes, eight Woodchat Shrikes, one Red-backed Shrike, two singing Bonellis Warblers, a Cretzschmars and Cirl Bunting were seen. At one stop, whilst lunching, we saw a pair of Golden Oriole who could be heard calling for some time, but only showed very briefly as they flew through the woodland. Hoopoes were also evident, one pair at a nest site and at least three actually seen. As we ate lunch an impressive huge Northern Goshawk glided over us and into the valley treetops out of sight. At a pine belt before we headed back along the track we found at least two Serin, a vocal Wren and a noisy agitated Mistle Thrush. Butterflies of note today were Painted Lady, Orange Tip, Scarce Swallowtail and Eastern Festoon. We also had another much bigger Spur-thighed/Greek Tortoise cross the track in front of us as well as a Starred Agama and several Balkan Wall and Green Lizards. As we headed back towards the saltpans we went through Ag. Paraskevi, where there we spotted a mating pair of White Storks on their nest platform high up on top of a very tall brick chimney.
On the way back to the Saltpans early afternoon, we stopped briefly in the Derbyshire area two see a scarce Spur-winged Plover which had been reported there. This individual allowed close scope views from the side of the road. A real treat!
The saltpans again produced good numbers of waders, with 30+ Little Stints, 15 Curlew Sandpipers, a Ringed Plover, 12+ Kentish Plover, Wood Sandpiper and at least 6 Ruff. Numbers of Terns had increased, with 23 Whiskered Terns feeding close to the track as well as numerous Little and Common Terns and a lone, superb Gull-billed Tern. There were also over 200+ distant Greater Flamingos and 2 Stone Curlews on the banks of one of the pans. Of great excitement however was the sudden and brief encounter with up to 6 Collared Pratincoles, which passed through as fast as they had arrived, with only one individual taking a quick pause for rest on the scorching sandy ground before swiftly and gracefully departing with the others. These birds had been late moving through Lesvos this year and these were some of the first to be recorded. We then took a brief excursion to the Sheep Field area of the saltpans where we had 2 Rufous Bush Chats, a Little Owl and a Short-toed Lark.
After escorting John and Leslie back to the Hotel and seeing two Squacco Heron and a Little Bittern on the now dry Kalloni Pools, we returned to the Inland Lake for late afternoon. The reed-beds and pool were alive with birds again, the highlights being two female Little Bitterns, an adult and immature Night Heron, one Great Reed Warbler, six+ Reed Warblers, two Cettis Warblers, a Nightingale, Red-rumped Swallow, two Bee-eaters and two Little Grebes. Our first Water Rail was also heard. Also of interest were Blue-tailed Damselflies, Emerald Damselflies and two Common Tree frogs. We headed back to the hotel around 6.30pm where we met for the log before our enjoyable evening dinner out at a local Taverna in Skala Kalloni.
Wednesday 11th May
Napi Valley route 2, Petra, Papiana School, Inland Lake via West River.
Weather: Sunny and hot, minimal scattered cloud.
The leaders had a Whimbrel, female Marsh Harrier and Great White Egret towards the West River before breakfast, as well as the two Squacco Herons still present at Kalloni Pool. Our first stop of the morning was the West River. Here we had a Great White Egret and Marsh Harrier again, as well as a male Red-backed Shrike, three Black-headed Wagtails, Avocet, Ruff, Little Stint, Kentish Plover and Common and Little Terns. The now familiar Cettis and Olivaceous Warblers sang from the Tamarisks.
A different route down the Napi Valley was taken today with Olive Tree Warbler a prime target. We were not to be disappointed, as only a short drive along the valley track took us to excellent habitat and a brief walk along the track soon found us a beautiful Olive-tree Warbler in full song. Three birds were heard and two were seen well along with a cracking Hawfinch which fed at close quarters on caterpillars in mature Olive trees. Already on a high from our Olive-tree Warbler sightings, Phil and I nearly collapsed with excitement after I spotted two male Levant Sparrowhawks overhead, steadily and purposely moving through. Other top birds noted in this haven included four Long-legged Buzzards, one Lesser-spotted Eagle, two dark phase Eleonoras Falcons, a Common Kestrel, two Short-toed Eagles, four Masked Shrikes, six Woodchat Shrikes, three+ Red-backed Shrikes, one Middle-spotted Woodpecker, four+ Hoopoes, five+ Golden Orioles, two Orphean Warblers, two Cretzschmars Buntings and twenty two Cirl Buntings. A pair of Woodlark showed superbly next to the vehicle, one was clearly feeding young. What a place! We had to drag ourselves away! As we headed along a country-route towards Petra where we were due to have lunch, a stunning female Pallid Harrier appeared next to the road and stayed briefly above us for some minutes, allowing great views. As the Pallid departed, another Northern Goshawk swept low over the road and powered into the distance.
We had a fine lunch in the Womens Co-operative Restaurant in Petra (once we had got the mini-bus through the very narrow old streets and parked up), after which some explored the town and cafes for a relaxing break mid-afternoon. We then headed back to the Papiana School near Kalloni to revisit the Scops Owl as Lesley had not joined us on the morning trip the day before.
Before heading back to the hotel to begin thinking about packing, we took one last trip to the Inland Lake. Here we encountered a male and female Little Bittern, a cruising Black Stork overhead, a female Lesser Kestrel, four high Bee-eaters, two Red-rumped Swallows, and the usual Reed Warblers and Cettis Warblers amongst the Tamarisk and Reeds. Also of note were two Black-tailed Skimmers and more Emerald Damselflies.
Thursday 12th May
Saltpans, Mytilini Airport
Weather: Hot and sunny, slight breeze. Overcast early pm.
A last stop at the saltpans before leaving for the airport enabled us to view many active Whiskered, Little and Common Terns and six Bee-eaters hawking over the long sun-lit grasses and on the telegraph wires. There were the usual good numbers of Little Stint and two Black Storks moved high and quickly over the pans heading inland. The highlight however, and wonderful end to the trip, was when we were alerted by numerous strong meowing noises in the distance, which got closer and closer in the heat haze, until suddenly twenty five Mediterranean Gulls came into view over us. All in full adult breeding plumage, these little gems spent some time hawking flies together over the pans, before drifting off and out of view.
Last birds seen were four Grey Heron and a Great White Egret on the way to the airport, where we said our farewells to the Gatwick bound group. Phil and I went to the beach to enjoy our last Kalloni 11 Hotel packed lunch before our return flight to Manchester. A superb and memorable trip had come to an end.
The various species lists below use the following references:
Birds: We use the suggested worldwide English names and systematic order as found in World Bird Species Checklist: with alternate English & scientific names (Wells, M.G., 1998). Commonly used alternates are enclosed in [ ] or separated by / .
Collins Bird Guide (Svensson, L., Grant, P.J., Mullarney, K. & Zetterström, D., 1999)
Butterflies: Collins Field Guide: Butterflies of Britain & Europe (Tolman, T. & Lewington, R., 1997)
Mammals: We use the suggested worldwide English names and systematic order as found in Mammals of the World, A Checklist (Duff, A. & Lawson, A., 2004)
Collins Field Guide: Mammals of Britain & Europe (Macdonald, D. & Barrett, P., 1993)
Amphibians and Reptiles: Collins Field Guide: Reptiles & Amphibians of Britain & Europe [second edition] (Arnold, E.N. & Ovenden, D.W., 2002)
Plants: Mediterranean Wild Flowers (Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C., 1993)
Little Grebe / Dabchick: Noted on 3 days, singles on the 7th, 8th and 2 on the 10th at Inland Lake.
Great Crested Grebe: One on the 7th at Inland Lake.
European Shag: Two on the 9th at Eftalou.
Grey Heron: Noted on 4 days with biggest group being 5 on the 5th over hotel.
Great [White] Egret: Singles noted on two days.
Little Egret: Noted on 4 days, biggest flock of 19 seen on Upper East River on the 9th.
Squacco Heron: Noted on 3 days, 2 individuals a Kalloni Pool.
Black-crowned Night-Heron: Noted on two days, one 1stSummer on the 8th and 1Ad + 1st S on 10th.
Little Bittern: Seen on 3 days, with 3 seen on the 8th. All seen at Inland Lake.
Greater Flamingo: 200+ noted on 4 days, all at the Saltpans.
Black Stork: Seen on 4 days. Eight together on Upper East River on the 9th.
White Stork: Noted on 2 days. Six on the 6th and a pair on nest on the 10th.
Glossy Ibis: 5 noted on 1st day at Kalloni Pool.
Common Shelduck:. Noted on three days.
European Honey-Buzzard: Noted on 2 days, with 4 seen at the Potamia Valley on the 8th.
Short-toed Eagle: Noted on 4 days, with 3 on the 8th in the Potamia Valley.
Pallid Harrier: One female noted on the 11th, excellent views as we left the Napi Valley!!
[Eurasian] Marsh Harrier: One noted on the 7th.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk: Noted on one day, with two individuals on the 9th.
Levant Sparrowhawk: 2 males noted on the 11th in the Napi Valley.
Northern Goshawk: Noted on 2 days. A female on the 10th and a cracking male on the 11th.
Common Buzzard: One noted on the 6th.
Long-legged Buzzard: Noted on 5 days. Maximum daily count of four birds seen on the 10th.
Lesser-spotted Eagle: Noted on two days, two together on the 5th and a single on the 11th.
Lesser Kestrel: Noted on two days, one on the 10th and another on the 11th, both females.
Common/Eurasian Kestrel: Noted on one day, a male on the 11th.
Red-footed Falcon: Noted on 1 day, 16 seen well in the Napi Valley.
Eleonora's Falcon: Noted on 2 days, two light phase birds on the 9th and 2 dark phase on the 11th.
Peregrine Falcon: Singles noted on 5 days.
Water Rail: A single bird heard on the 10th at the Inland Lake.
Baillons Crake: One on the 8th at the Inland Lake.
Little Crake: One on the 8th at the Inland Lake.
Common Moorhen: Noted throughout.
Eurasian/Common Coot: Noted on 3 days.
Black-winged Stilt: Noted most days.
Pied Avocet:.Noted most days.
Stone-curlew: Noted on 2 days, 1 on the 6th at the West River, 4 at the Saltpans on the 10th.
Collared Pratincole: 6 birds noted on the 10th at the Saltpans.
Spur-winged Lapwing: One handsome individual seen at Derbyshire on the 10th.
(Greater) Ringed Plover: 3 noted on the 10th.
Little Ringed Plover: 2 on the 9th along the East river.
Kentish Plover: Noted most days.
Whimbrel: One individual see on the 11th along the East River
Wood Sandpiper: Noted on 4 days. Maximum of 3 on the 5th.
Sanderling: Noted on 2 days at the Saltpans.
Little Stint: Noted on 4 days.
Temminck's Stint: Noted on one day, a single bird on the 10th at the West River.
Curlew Sandpiper: Noted on two days, maximum of 13 at the Saltpans on the 6th.
Ruff: Noted on 2 days.
Yellow-legged Gull: Noted each day.
Mediterranean Gull: 25 superb birds noted on the 12th at the Saltpans.
Little Gull: One on the 10th at the Saltpans.
Whiskered Tern: Noted four days, along the East River and the Saltpans. Maximum of 23 on the 10th at the Saltpans.
White-winged [Black] Tern: Noted only on one day, with a single on the 6th.
Gull-billed Tern: Noted on one day, with a single on the 10th at the Saltpans.
Common Tern: Noted each day.
Little Tern: Noted each day.
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon: Noted each day.
European Turtle Dove: Noted most days.
Eurasian Collared Dove: Noted each day.
Dark-breasted Barn Owl: One seen near Achlideri on the 6th.
Eurasian Scops Owl: Noted on 2 days.
Little Owl: One seen on the 10th at the Saltpans.
Long-eared Owl: One juvenile seen on the 7th just north of Kalloni.
Alpine Swift: Noted on 4 days, with a maximum of 50+ on the 6th.
Common Swift: Noted each day.
European Bee-eater: Noted each day.
Eurasian Hoopoe: Noted on 3 days.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker: Noted on 4 days, with a pair at the nest on the 7th, north of Kalloni.
[Greater] Short-toed Lark: One at the Saltpans (Sheep Fields) on the 10th.
Crested Lark: Noted each day.
Woodlark: A pair feeding young in the Napi Valley on the 11th.
Sand Martin: Noted each day.
[Eurasian] Crag Martin: 2 pairs at Vatousa Gorge and 2 pairs also at Ipsilou Monastry on the 7th.
Barn Swallow: Noted each day.
Red-rumped Swallow: Noted on 5 days.
[Common] House Martin: Noted each day.
Black-headed Wagtail: Noted on 3 days.
Tawny Pipit: One seen near Achlideri on the 6th.
Red-backed Shrike: Several noted most days.
Lesser Grey Shrike: Noted on 3 days.
Masked Shrike: Noted on 2 days, maximum counts of 4 on the 10th and 11th.
Woodchat Shrike: Seen on 5 days, with maximum count of 8+ on the 10th.
[Winter] Wren: A single heard on the 10th.
Blue Rock Thrush: Noted on the 7th only, with 5 birds seen.
Common Blackbird: Noted most days.
Mistle Thrush: One bird noted on the 10th.
Common/Rufous Nightingale: Noted most days.
Rufous Bushchat/Scrub-robin: Noted on 3 days, a single at the Upper East river on the 6th and 9th and 3 birds on the 10th at the Saltpans.
Whinchat: One noted on the 6th.
Common Stonechat:. Noted on 3 days.
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear: Noted most days.
Cetti's Warbler: Noted each day.
River Warbler: One heard on the 9th at the Panoramic View Point and leaders saw one briefly at the Inland Lake on the 12th.
[Eurasian] Reed Warbler: Noted on 5 days.
Great Reed Warbler: Noted on 4 days at the Inland Lake,
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler: Noted most days.
Olive-tree Warbler: Seen on 1 day with at least four birds singing and two seen well in the Napi Valley on the 11th.
Bonellis Warbler: Singles heard singing on the 7th and 10th.
Orphean Warbler: Noted on 3 days.
Rüppell's Warbler: Noted on one day, with a pair on the 9th at the Panoramic View Point.
Subalpine Warbler: Noted on 3 days, with 6+ on the 6th.
Spotted Flycatcher: Noted on 3 days.
Sombre Tit: Noted on 2 days, with a family party of 5 seen well on the 8th at the Potamia Valley.
Great Tit: Noted most days.
Blue Tit: Noted most days.
Krüper's Nuthatch: A pair feeding young at the nest on the 6th at Achlideri.
Western Rock Nuthatch: Noted on 2 days, maximum of 5 on the 7th.
Eurasian Jay: Noted on 5 days.
Hooded Crow: Noted each day.
Common Raven:. Noted on one day with 2 birds seen on the 9th.
[Eurasian] Golden Oriole: Noted on 2 days, 2 on the 10th and up to 5 on the 11th, all in the Napi Valley.
Corn Bunting: Noted each day.
Cinereous Bunting: One bright singing male seen at Ipsilou Monastry on the 7th.
Cretzschmar's Bunting: Noted every day.
Cirl Bunting: Noted most days.
Black-headed Bunting: Noted most days.
Common/European Chaffinch: Noted most days.
European Serin: A pair noted in the Napi Valley on the 10th.
European Greenfinch: Noted most days.
European Goldfinch: Noted most days.
Common Linnet: A pair noted on the 7th.
Hawfinch: One noted collecting food in the Napi Valley on the 11th.
House Sparrow: Noted each day.
Spanish Sparrow: Noted each day.
Rock Sparrow: One noted at Ipilou Monastry on the 7th.
Scarce Swallowtail: Noted on 4 days.
Eastern Festoon: Noted on 4 days.
Large White: Noted.
Small White: Noted most days.
Eastern Bath White: 1 seen on the 9th.
Eastern Dappled White: Noted on 2 days.
Orange-tip: Several seen on the 8th.
Clouded Yellow: Seen on 3 days.
Small Copper: Noted most days.
Holly Blue: 1 noted on the 9th.
Brown Argus: 1 noted on the 8th.
Southern White Admiral: Noted on 2 days.
Red Admiral: Noted on 2 days.
Painted Lady: Noted on 1 day.
Southern Comma: Noted on 1 day.
Spotted Fritillary: Noted most days.
Lesvos Meadow Brown (Maniola megala): Seen every day.
Small Heath: Seen most days.
Orbed Red-underwing Skipper: Noted on 2 days.
Small Skipper: Noted on 3 days.
Cream Spot Tiger: 1 seen on the Hotel wall on the 9th.
Pale Shoulder: 1 seen at Eftalou on the 9th.
Riband Wave: 1 at hotel on the 5th.
Brown China Mark Moth: 1 seen on the 12th at the Saltpans.
DRAGONFLIES AND DAMSELFLIES
Calopteryx virgo (Beautiful Demoiselle): 1 female noted at the Potamia Valley on the 8th.
Platycnemis pennipes (White-legged Damselfly): Noted at the Potamia Valley on the 8th.
Platycnemis pennipes nitidula: Noted at the Potamia Valley on the 8th.
Lestes barbarus (A Southern Emerald Damselfly): Noted on 2 days.
Ischnura elegans (Blue-tailed Damselfly): Noted on several days.
Anax imperator (Emperor Dragonfly): Noted on 2 days, one at the Potamia Valley and another at the Inland Lake.
Caliaeschna microstigma (A Hawker sp): Noted on 1 day.
Libellula depressa (Broad-bodied Chaser): One noted at the Potamia Valley on the 8th.
Orthetrum canellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer): Several seen at the Inland Lake on the 11th.
Orthetrum taeniolatum (A darter sp): 1 individual seen at the Inland Lake on the 11th.
AMPHIBIANS & REPTILES:
Common Tree Frog: Noted on 2 days at the Inland Lake.
Levant Water Frog: This is the Marsh Frog we were seeing and hearing regularly and daily.
Spur-thighed/Greek Tortoise: Noted on 3 days.
Balkan Terrapin:. Noted each day.
Starred Agama: Noted on 4 days.
Turkish Gecko: Noted around the hotel and at Parakila.
Balkan Green Lizard: Noted most days.
Balkan Wall Lizard: Noted most days.
Montpellier Snake: 1 road casualty seen on the 7th.
Large Whip Snake: 1 road casualty seen on the 7th.
Grass Snake: 1 noted on the 8th in the Potamia Valley.
Persian Squirrel: Singles noted on 4 days.
Eastern Hedgehog: Several road casualties noted.
Bat species: At least two species around the hotel lights, the species remain unknown.
Eyed Elator Species (A giant click beetle): 2 seen at Achlideri on the 6th.
Xylocopa violacea (A species of Carpenter Bee): Fabulous large violet/black bee, noted most days.
PLANT LIST: (All plants recorded during annual Lesvos Trips with The Travelling Naturalist).
[Nos. on right refer to Grey-Wilson & Blamey, Mediterranean Wild Flowers]
Juniperus oxycedrus macrocarpa Prickly Juniper 15a
Castanea sativa Sweet Chestnut 23
Quercus coccifera Kermes Oak 24
Quercus ilex Holm Oak 25
Juglans regia Walnut (planted) ----
Morus alba White Mulberry (planted) 41
Ficus carica Fig 42
Urtica atrovirens Stinging Nettle 46
Urtica pilulifera Roman Nettle 48
Carpobrotus acinaciformis Red Hottentot Fig 116
Silene dichotoma Forked Catchfly 172
Silene colorata Seaside Catchfly 180
Anemone coronaria Crown Anemone 211
Delphinium sp. - ----
Papaver rhoeas Common Poppy 283
Papaver minus - 288
Papaver nigrotinctum - 289
Papaver apulum - 291
Glaucium flavum Yellow Horned-poppy 293
Malcolmia maritima Virginia Stock 316
Matthiola sinuata Sea Stock 326
Reseda alba White Mignonette 375
Umbilicus rupestris Navelwort 396
Platanus orientalis Oriental Plane 400
Rosa sempervirens Wild Rose 404
Sarcopoterium spinosum Spiny/Thorny Burnet 411
Pyrus amygdaliformis Almond-leaved/Wild Pear 416
Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn 420
Prunus domestica Wild Plum 426
Spartium junceum Spanish Broom 481
Lupinus angustifolius Narrow-leaved Lupin 486
Robinia pseudacacia False Acacia 488
Vicia dasycarpa Fodder Vetch 510a
Vicia lutea Yellow Vetch 525
Vicia pannonica - 526
Lathyrus sphaericus - 541
Lathyrus cicera Red Vetchling 545
Trifolium uniflorum One-flowered Clover (white form) 651
Trifolium campestre Hop Trefoil 656
Trifolium resupinatum Reversed Clover 657
Trifolium pilulare Ball Cotton Clover 659
Trifolium stellatum Star Clover 662
Linum bienne Pale Flax 777
Euphorbia dendroides Tree Spurge 792
Euphorbia acanthothamnos Greek Spiny Spurge ("Wire-netting Bush"!) 794
Euphorbia myrsinites Broad-leaved Glaucous Spurge 801
Euphorbia characias Large Mediterranean Spurge 818
Melia azedarach Indian Bead Tree / Persian Lilac 843
Pistacia terebinthus Turpentine Tree / Terebinth 861
Malva sylvestris Common Mallow 898
Cistus creticus Cretan Cistus 962
Cistus parviflorus Small-flowered Cistus 964
Cistus salvifolius Sage-leaved Cistus 965
Tamarix (smyrnensis ??) Tamarisk 1022
Ecballium elaterium Squirting Cucumber 1032
Eryngium maritimum Sea Holly 1073
Eryngium creticum Small-headed Blue Eryngo 1076
Smyrnium perfoliatum Perfoliate Alexanders 1088
Bupleurum nodiflorum - 1121
Ferula communis Giant Fennel 1141
Tordylium apulum Tordylium 1149
Torilis purpurea (Hedge-parsley) 1164
Orlaya grandiflora Orlaya 1166
Daucus carota Wild Carrot 1168
Lysimachia atropurpurea 'Purple Loosestrife' 1191
Anagallus arvensis Scarlet Pimpernel (red, blue & pink forms) 1198
Cyclamen graecum Greek Cyclamen 1205
Limonium sinuatum Winged Sea-lavender 1220
Olea europaea Olive (planted) 1248
Convolvulus althaeoides tenuissimus Mallow-leaved Bindweed 1331a
Echium italicum Pale Bugloss 1380
Echium angustifolium Narrow-leaved/Red Bugloss 1382
Echium plantagineum Purple Viper's Bugloss 1383
Echium parviflrum Small-flowered Bugloss 1388
Anchusa undulata hybrida Undulate Anchusa 1406a
Ballota acetabulosa Garden Horehound 1469
Lamium amplexicaule Henbit Deadnettle 1478
Melissa officinalis Balm 1502
Lavandula stoechas French Lavender 1528
Verbascum thapsus Great Mullein / Aaron's Rod 1597
Verbascum undulatum Wavy-leaved Mullein 1602
Linaria pelisseriana Jersey Toadflax 1621
Veronica cymbalaria Cymbalaria-leaved Speedwell 1646
Plantago coronopus Buck's-horn Plantain 1696
Valeriana asarifolia Cretan Valerian 1721
Cephalaria transsylvanica - 1730
Knautia purpurea Purple Knautia 1734
Knautia arvensis Field Scabious 1735
Campanula rapunculus Rampion Bellflower 1759
Legousia speculum-veneris Large Venus' Looking Glass 1778
Evax pygmaea Pygmy Evax 1805
Pallenis spinosa - 1847
Anthemis tomentosa Woolly Chamomile 1861
Anthemis rigida Rayless Chamomile 1870
Doronicum columnae Heart-leaved Leopardsbane
Chrysanthemum segatum Corn Marigold 1894
Chrysanthemum coronarium Crown Daisy 1895
Galactites tomentosa Galactites 1971
Silybum marianum Milk Thistle 1982
Centaurea cyanus Cornflower 2008
Tragopogon porrifolius Salsify / Mediterranean Goatsbeard 2055
Crepis rubra Pink Hawksbeard 2070
Asphodelus aestivus Common Asphodel 2089
Tulipa orphanidea Orange Wild Tulip 2141
Fritillaria pontica Pontic Fritillary 2154
Ornithogalum narbonense Slender Star-of-Bethlehem 2166
Ornithogalum montanum Montane Star-of-Bethlehem 2167
Ornithogalum nutans Large Star-of-Bethlehem 2173
Muscari neglectum Common Grape Hyacinth 2206
Iris orientalis Oriental Iris 2287
Dracunculus vulgaris Common Dragon Arum 2358
Arum conophalloides Eastern Arum 2364
Cephalanthera longifolia Narrow-leaved Helleborine 2383
Limodorum abortivum Violet Bird's Nest Orchid 2386
Orchis morio picta Green-winged Orchid 2403a
Orchis tridentata Toothed Orchid 2407
Orchis quadripunctata Four-spotted Orchid 2419
Ophrys sicula (syn. O. lutea galilaea) Yellow Bee-orchid 2423x
Serapias bergonii (syn. S. vomeracea subsp. laxiflora) Lax-flowered Tongue-orchid 2450b
Serapias parviflora Small-flowered Tongue Orchid 2452