Thursday, 31 May 2012

Greek Odyssey

Carolyn, Malcolm and I chose a new destination for our Spring holiday this year – the Greek island of Lesvos [5-12 May]. Although it’s Greek it lies just 5 miles off the coast of Turkey, and for birders this means that the island holds a number species which are difficult to see anywhere else in Europe. Birds such as…       
Cinereous Bunting..

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Masked Shrike...

and Krϋpers Nuthatch...


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We stayed in the Aegeon hotel, just outside the small town of Skala Kallonis – a good base for birders because it’s fairly central to the island. Many evenings, as we strolled down to the town for a meal with the sound of sheep bells and Marsh Frogs filling the warm air, we saw what I think are Balkan Green Lizards along the side of the road:

Amongst the other ‘non-avian’ species seen were Spur-thighed Tortoise…

and Scarce Swallowtail Butterfly...


Lesvos also gave me the chance to get a first half decent photo of my favourite bird…


European Bee-eater
 With so many fantastic birds to choose from it was difficult to pick out our ‘Bird of the Trip’. Owls were the choice of Carolyn and Malcolm... 

Scops Owl...

and Long-eared Owl...


But for me it was the Crakes. A Spotted Crake turned up at the Tsiknias River – just a few minutes’ drive from our hotel, and this pair of Little Crakes were foraging along the banks of Metochi Lake in early morning sunshine. The top one is a male, with the female below...
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By the end of the holiday we’d seen a total of 117 species, 24 of which were lifers for me. We’ve still several more to get there (for instance, I dipped on a few warblers that I hoped to see).  Fortunately there’s already talk of another trip next Spring, maybe for two weeks.  I hope so. Lesvos is a great place for a birding holiday – or indeed any holiday. Weather was scorching, the locals lovely and friendly, the scenery spectacular, and of course there were the birds…
Ruppell's Warbler


Black-eared Wheatear
Cirl Bunting
Cretzschmar's Bunting