Eastern Mediterranean Birding - Lesvos - 12-18th May 2005

Published by Steve Richards (alan.richards19 AT btopenworld.com)

Participants: Steve Richards


Several years ago I visited Cyprus on a family holiday. Being based in Paphos, I was able to get a lot of birding done at the same time. Species such as Cyprus Warbler, Cyprus Pied Wheatear, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Black Francolin, and Rüppell’s Warbler whetted my appetite for South Eastern European birding, and I longed to get back and catch up with more of those localised birds.

After reading several trip reports, I was seduced by the impressive array of avifauna which the Greek Island of Lesvos had to offer. Additionally, the diversity of habitats and landscapes ensured a good range of species in a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere. There were several species of bird on the island which I had never previously encountered, and this gave me an extra incentive to visit this part of Greece.

As we had left booking the necessary accommodation rather late, we were unable to find spaces available in the small town of Skala Kalloni, where many birders to choose to stay. We consequently booked an apartment on a self-catering basis in the Northern coastal town of Petra. This was extremely well situated and offered wonderful birding opportunities on the doorstep. Travelling from here was rather easy, with little traffic and no long journeys to undertake. The stereotypical ‘mad Greek drivers’ were not particularly evident and we had very few problems on the road indeed. Clearly, it was necessary to explore some areas with rougher tracks, but we found, with a little care, these posed few problems. General facilities were also excellent here, with a superb mixture of good restaurants, bars, grocery shops, bakers etc to fuel the hungry and thirsty birder. The beer was particularly good, and many a night was spent sampling the finest local beers after an excellent day out in the field. We also found the people here extremely friendly, and they seldom bothered us when birding in and around the town.

The weather experienced all week was very pleasant, with a mainly warm, sunny climate enabling good birding conditions. There was little wind and rain, and the only disadvantage of such weather was the heat haze, particularly when birding around the saltpans late morning and early afternoons. Even though this time of year was not the peak period for migration, I found it to be a superb time in which to connect with the islands speciality breeding birds.

I travelled with my parents from Manchester Airport early on Thursday 12th May and we arranged a hire car with Avis for the week. On the journey across Europe, I thoroughly studied my Collins Field Guide and other reports in anticipation of the birds awaiting me a few hours away.

I hope this trip report informs the travelling birder on up-to-date ‘gen’, and I hope you will visit Lesvos and enjoy this excellent island as much as we did.

If you would like any further information on the birds and sites mentioned below, please do no hesitate to contact me at the following e-mail address : alan.richards19@btopenworld.com

Thurday 12th May

We arrived in at Mytilini Airport in Lesvos early afternoon and we had to wait some time before collecting our bags and getting on the coach to take us to our apartment. We eventually arrived at the apartment in Petra around 15:00. On opening the shutters to the windows in my room, I was immediately met with the ‘purring’ of a couple of Turtle Doves and a ‘loud as usual’ Nightingale, which sang from the gardens and olive groves surrounding the local holiday apartments. A quick scan of the skies above the town from my window revealed the usual Swallows, House Martins, Common Swifts, and even better, a few Alpine Swifts wheeling around dwarfing their smaller relatives. Hooded Crows and Yellow-legged Gulls were also evident and present in good numbers.

Our hire car had been booked for the following day, so we decided to explore the local area and town with a slow amble before finding a restaurant early evening. We closed the gate of the apartment and I couldn’t believe my luck when a woodpecker landed in a nearby tree at very close range – Middle Spotted Woodpecker! What a start, and such an easy way to get my first lifer of the trip. It continued to feed unperturbed by our presence for at least 5 minutes showing the complete red crown, streaking on the flanks, plainer face etc, characteristic of this species. Whilst watching the woodpecker, an unfamiliar song eminated from the sallows around a small stream. Without much of a wait, our first Eastern Olivaceous Warbler of the trip appeared and showed well. This species turned out to be very common around Lesvos, in practically any area with damp scrub and bushes.

We reached the beach in Petra after just a couple of minutes walk and I decided to have a scan across the bay whilst my parents visited a local shop. Yellow-legged Gulls were common and I was pleasantly surprised to locate 3 adult Mediterranean Gulls loafing in the bay. A further 2nd Summer Mediterranean Gull was also observed on the beach and took no notice of the local fishermen.

On looking Eastwards, I could see the road leading around the headland towards Molivos. This did not appear to be an arduous task, so we decided to walk a mile or so to check the coastal scrub and hillside. We soon encountered Crested Larks and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears around the first patch of rocky ground next to the road. In fact, several of both species were quickly counted. Only a few yards further up the road and a rather mournful song came from a small rock - A male Cretzschmar’s Bunting advertised his presence constantly. This was yet to be another very common bird here.

Before long, we were on the headland near the disused nightclub. A few more Cretzschmar’s Bunting were seen and the fluty song of Blue Rock Thrush came from the coastal cliffs. After an hour or so, we saw several of the gaudy males in residence around this part of the coastline.
The best bird of this little sortie however, were the superb Rüppell’s Warblers which have a decent colony in this part of the island. We encountered three males and one female in a short amount of time. One male in particular, gave crippling views as he constantly sang from a roadside bush showing off his moustachial stripes and red eye rings to the impressed onlookers. Much commoner, but also very aesthetically pleasing were a few male Black-headed Buntings which sang from the tops of nearby bushes.

We began our walk back to the town watching all of the species just mentioned when I caught a glimpse of another lifer in flight, Western Rock Nuthatch. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long, and we were rewarded with great views of this large Nuthatch as it hopped around the tops of the rock around the coast. A Peregrine looked down upon us from the rocky crags above as we left the headland behind us.

We arrived back at the apartment to freshen up before going out for the evening, when we were greeted by the Middle Spotted Woodpecker in the same tree. Shortly after, that unmistakable Mediterranean call of European Bee-eaters could be heard. Twenty seven individuals hawked around for several minutes before departing over the apartments.

We ended the night with an excellent meal in a local Taverna washed down with a few ‘large’ beers. As if that wasn’t enough, on settling down for the night, a male Scop’s Owl began singing from somewhere within the town. A fitting end to a long, but nonetheless rewarding first day.

Friday 13th May

Before breakfast, we decided to take a leisurely stroll around the overgrown gardens and olive groves near to our apartment on the edge of Petra. Once again, just as we departed, we were accompanied by the Middle Spotted Woodpecker, which landed on a telegraph pole, before flying off with a local dog walker approaching. The stream just outside the apartment again held the singing Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, but this time, its song being overpowered by a skulking Cetti’s Warbler.

Not having to walk far at all, other species became prominent including numerous singing Nightingales, several Red-rumped Swallows, male and female Red-backed Shrike, and numerous ‘black-capped’ Jays. A couple of small areas of lush vegetation and reeds held a couple of singing Great Reed Warblers, whilst overhead several spiralling Alpine Swifts were noted.

After finishing breakfast, we picked up our car hire and made the half hour journey South towards Skala Kalloni traversing rather pleasant rolling hills and scrub-covered hillsides en route. We decided to have a look around the Kalloni Pools and the nearby saltpans, which are a magnet for migrating birds. Just before we reached Kalloni, I asked my dad to quickly stop the car as a Black Stork was circling very low overhead. This was quickly followed by a White Stork giving a nice flight comparison. It was clear that we had missed the main migration period as numbers of passage birds had dwindled, but nevertheless interesting species were observed around several of the pools and saltpans including Greater Flamingos, Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Kentish Plover, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, and many Little and Common Terns, all keeping a watchful eye on the patrolling male Marsh Harrier. Herons were rather disappointing,and the only real interest was provided by a lone Great White Egret.
Black-headed Wagtails, including many smart males, were in good numbers around the saltpans, whilst many of the bushy areas held Eastern Olivaceous Warblers and Black-headed Buntings.

The best birds of this area though, were the four Collared Pratincoles, which hawked around the saltpans at relatively close range. I have observed this species many times in other European countries, but I never fail to make the most of viewing this most enigmatic of wading birds.

We then moved on to an area known as ‘Derbyshire’ just a mile or so to the South West. This area, comprising a large tidal lagoon and a rocky outcrop had held a lone Spur-winged Plover the previous week. However, despite extensive searching, it was clear that the plover had moved on. There were other birds here though including 5 adult Ruddy Shelduck including one pair with young, Common Shelduck, Great White Egret, Red-rumped Swallows, and singing Cirl Bunting. Ruddy Shelduck always have the ‘plastic’ label to them in the UK, but these birds are definitely the genuine article.

Our next port of call just several miles away was for a major target bird. We found the parking area in the pinewoods at Achladeri and we hadn’t been walking for a couple of minutes when I heard a rather piping call. This immediately led me to the nesting area of the superb pair of Kruper’s Nuthatch. Here, we were joined by several other birders enjoying the adult birds constantly returning to their tree stump nest feeding their rather downy youngsters. The male was particularly attractive with his large rusty patch on the breast, black forecrown and prominent white supercilium. This was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trip for me, and a welcomed lifer. We watched the birds for a considerable amount of time whilst enjoying the food we bought that morning from the bakery. We also were given brilliant views of a male Cirl Bunting here, as well as Hoopoe, Spotted Flycatcher and several Long-tailed Tits(quite scarce in Lesvos). On returning to the car, we located a few Serins taking advantage of what was left of the stream and a male Woodchat Shrike.

Being absolutely delighted with our sightings, we began the return trip to Petra making a detour inland of the ‘East River’ near Kalloni towards an area known as the ‘Goat Pit’. Along the river itself 5 Little Egrets flew by, many Bee-eaters were hawking, and a single Common Buzzard soared overhead. Just before taking the bumpy track up hill, we had a quick stop next to the river, where a pair of Western Rock Nuthatches were attending their nest of mud on the underside of a small rock face. Additional interest here was provided by a rather brief Eastern Orphean Warbler, whilst Black-headed Buntings, Eastern Black-eared Wheatears, and Cirl Buntings were all very common around this area. We made our way a mile or so up the bumpy track towards the ‘Goat Pit’ noting at least 5 Red-backed Shrikes en route. After waiting for around half an hour we were treated to fabulous views of three Rufous Bush Robins displaying, singing, and chasing each other around the scrub. These birds were clearly more grey-brown than those I have observed in Spain, but they are still extremely attractive and put on a wonderful show.

We returned to the apartment, found another great taverna, and enjoyed a few beers reminiscing on the day’s events. Once again, as we sat on our balcony, the male Scop’s Owl began his usual routine of song until the early hours.

Saturday 14th May

We began the day with breakfast in Petra, and our usual collection of food from the bakery. Whilst making the short walk to the town, I was distracted by a familiar buzzing song I last heard in Staffordshire in 1996 from an area of long grass – River Warbler (yes in Staffs!). Despite waiting, the bird was clearly not going to show itself, but the regular Nightingales, Jays, and a single Red-backed Shrike were much more confiding.

After talking to other birders holidaying on the island, we decided to take a trip to the Napi Valley, which would hopefully provide some excellent birding. We were not to be disappointed!

Finding the valley was rather difficult, but after fortunately bumping into a few other birders, we followed them up to where the first cattle grid crosses the track. This was a wonderful spot in which to watch and listen to many species. Within minutes of arriving, I couldn’t believe our luck when our target bird for the day, Olive-tree Warbler, began singing very close to the road. The ‘drunken’ Great Reed Warbler-type call was extremely distinctive and it didn’t take me long to locate one male sat right in the open on an under-hanging branch on one of the olive trees. The large, stout bill, pale wing panel, grey upperparts, and very long primaries could all be easily observed during such fantastic views. This bird was joined by a second male, which led to them chasing each other before returning to their favourite song posts. I was really surprised how easy these birds had been, especially after having read reports of birds being very elusive and remaining in cover for long periods.
Spending a couple of hours in this spot was extremely fruitful, and birds such as Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Woodlarks feeding young, Eastern Black-eared Wheatears, Woodchat Shrikes, Cirl and Cretzschmar’s Buntings, all keeping us thoroughly entertained. Even better, were a superb pair of Masked Shrikes showing well.
Birds were not only confined to the bushes and scrub, and we were pleased to observe Black Stork, 2 Ruddy Shelducks, 2 Short-toed Eagles, our first Long-legged Buzzard, and Lesser Kestrel overhead all in excellent light conditions.

We carried on up the track for another 300 yards or so, when I suddenly heard an unfamiliar tit-like call. I was consequently delighted to find a family party of at least 4 Sombre Tits feeding around a patch of several bushes on the brow of a small hill. This species had been reportedly a little tricky this year, and being a lifer, made the sighting even more exciting. Being rather elevated here, we decided to have lunch and see what else appeared. We were not to be disappointed, as a cracking pale phase Eleonora’s Falcon constantly graced the skies, and was conveniently mobbed by a Hobby giving a wonderful comparison. A rather elusive male Golden Oriole showed a couple of times, but the Hoopoe feeding its youngster gave a better example of how birds should show.

After lunch, we reached the second cattle grid along the track. This spot held at least another one singing Olive-tree Warbler, which occasionally came into the open and showed very well. Equally as confiding was a smart male Eastern Orphean Warbler, which sang from the highest branch of a small oak tree. The ‘aah’ factor was awarded to the female Masked Shrike sat tightly on her nest in the angle of two branches of a tree, and she was occasionally attended to by the male bird. Many of the other birds already mentioned were also seen here.

We began our walk back to the car, and were chuffed to locate three juvenile Eastern Orphean Warblers sat on a low bush being fed by the female. The male put on an unbelievable show, singing on fences and showing fully in the open. Equally as pleasing, were a pair of Hawfinches by the first cattle grid. The male was very mobile, but the female was fortunately spotted by one sharp birder sat on the nest with young.

This had been an excellent visit, and I was very surprised on the wonderful views we obtained of some of the supposedly elusive species.

With a couple of hours left, we decided to have another look at the Kalloni Salt Pans. The ubiquitous Greater Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Kentish Plovers, Little Stints and Ruff predominated. A couple of new species for the trip included 3 Turnstone and 2 Little Ringed Plovers.

By taking a walk near to the salt-processing plant, we were able to enjoy a rather confiding Rufous Bush Chat on the fences, amongst many Bee-eaters and Black-headed Buntings. The machinery and buildings here held many Spanish Sparrows amongst hordes of House Sparrows, and we also observed our first Short-toed Lark of the trip on a dried lagoon.

With a couple of target birds out of the way, we again un-winded in another Taverna, and the thought of the days lifers being seen made the beer taste even nicer!

Sunday 15th May

With yesterdays birding being such a success, we decided to have a rather local day, and explore the valley above the village of Eftalou, just a few miles to the East of Petra. By parking along the driveable track not far from the village, we were able to bird the scrub-covered hillsides and small copses in this hilly terrain. The location here means that you are only six miles away from Turkey, which can be clearly seen across the narrow strip of sea. Being on the coast saw us encounter the first of several Shags.

As to be expected, a few raptors were encountered in the general area with Long-legged Buzzard and 3 Short-toed Eagles being noteworthy. Another large raptor was observed at great height before it flew over the sea towards Turkey. From general ‘jizz’ and colouration, I strongly suspected Lesser Spotted Eagle, but the poor views were not enough to clinch specific species identification.

The scrub and trees held all the usual suspects with good numbers of Bee-Eaters, Hoopoes, Red-rumped Swallows, Red-backed Shrikes, Black-headed and Cretzschmar’s Buntings, along with single Eastern Subalpine and Eastern Orphean Warblers. Also of note were 3 migrating Blue-headed Wagtails.

On returning towards the car, I heard something scratching around the base of a small bush. As I approached the area, I was expecting to see one of the large lizards, which we had commonly encountered on the island. With a little perseverance, my patience reaped rewards as a completely unexpected Corncrake walked from cover looking as baffled as I did. I alerted my parents immediately who joined me and watch the bird scurry through cover thinking it hadn’t been seen. The bird was clearly tired, so we thought it best to leave it alone and let it feed up for it’s onward journey.

After having lunch, we thought it would be a good idea to spend another couple of hours on the headland between Petra and Molivos, which we had visited the first day. Once again, two stunning male Rüppell’s Warblers showed extremely well, and these were also joined by a less obliging male Eastern Orphean Warbler. It was also pleasing to note regular birds again like several Blue Rock Thrushes, Eastern Black-eared Wheatears, Red-rumped Swallows, and Cretzschmar’s Buntings. Additionally, 3 Black Storks coming in off the sea here emphasised the importance of Lesvos as being a major stop-off point for migrant birds. It was this kind of birding which I had hoped for and which had harboured my desire to visit this part of Europe again.

On reaching the edge of Petra, we looked back up the rocky hillside and once again observed the Peregrine looking down upon us. Even more satisfying was observing a pair of Long-legged Buzzards which were nesting on these rocks giving good ‘scope views.

On returning back to the apartment, we were once again greeted by our now ‘friend’ Middle Spotted Woodpecker.

We ended the night visiting our favourite Taverna, and discussed the following days proceedings. This would be another day with a major target. The Scop’s Owl once again began singing as darkness fell and it was joined in harmony by a female bird.

Monday 16th May

A reasonably early start saw us heading towards the West of the island which took us around 1.3/4 hours. The landscape was much hillier and barren than that further East. Consequently, we anticipated several new birds for the trip. Our first stop was just through the small town of Andissa, at the junction signposted to Sigri in one direction and Erresos in the other. This particular location is well known for the localised Isabelline Wheatear, and indeed two birds were found immediately and they performed impeccably during our hour-long visit. It was evident that the birds were nesting here, as they were extremely busy collecting food and returning to the same small patch of cover time after time. We also noted a single Stonechat in this location. The wooded area here held a singing Eastern Orphean Warbler, but this individual was more typically skulking than the others already observed during the trip.

Being at a higher elevation resulted in more ‘soaring’ birds being seen. These included Black Stork, Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, a large female Goshawk carrying prey, and an Eleonora’s Falcon. Another large raptor was located soaring rather distantly, but fortunately, this individual came much closer and enabled the white patches at the base of the primaries on the upperwing and the rump, and the contrasting paler brown wing coverts with the darker flight feathers to be observed, and clinched the identification of an adult Lesser Spotted Eagle. The bird was eventually watched to gain great height and drift North.

After a successful first port of call, we travelled the short distance to the Ipsilou Monastery. A car park at the base of the hill enables you to undertake a relatively easy circular walk encompassing the monastery, passing rocky and scrub-covered slopes below.

There were many buntings here, with lots of Cretzschmar’s in the rocky areas, and Cirl, Corn, and Black-Headed around the srcub and bushes. Without hardly any effort at all, our first Cinereous Bunting was located singing from a rock no more than 20 feet away. This bird was also joined by the female, and gave remarkable views. By making the walk around the monastery, we must have seen no less than 8 Cinereous Buntings, with all males in full song from prominent positions. The awesome views were bettered by the excellent light behind us, enabling prolonged ‘scope sightings of another lifer for me.

This area was also excellent for Western Rock Nuthatch with 6 birds being counted. Other passerines included Blue Rock Thrush, Whinchat, Stonechat, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Blackcap, and Spotted Flycatcher. Much less expected was an Olive-tree Warbler singing from deep cover on the densely vegetated slope on the return leg of the walk. Clearly, this individual was out of habitat and must have been a passage bird.

With our main quarry ‘done and dusted’, we drove the road towards Erresos making a few stops en route. By now, I had ‘my ear in’ to the song of Cinereous Bunting, and I managed to locate at least another 3 birds amongst the now abundant Cretzschmar’s. This route also provided Long-Legged Buzzard, Blue Rock Thrush, and a few more Western Rock Nuthatches. Despite extensive searching, we were unable to find any Rock Sparrows reportedly in the area.

We gradually began to make our return journey, but this time returning on the road further South. This was a rather lucrative manoeuvre bird-wise. By a matter of fortune, we stumbled upon a few small pits by a rather large rocky outcrop on the road between Skala Erresos and Messotopos. Although small, these did hold birds including 2 Little Grebes, Purple and Grey Herons, Moorhen, 3 Little Stints, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 3 Wood Sandpipers, and 3 Black-headed Wagtails. Birds were also noted overhead with single Short-toed Eagle and male Peregrine. These raptors were completely outshined though by a superb pair of Lanners. These birds showed several times for over half an hour giving great views even through our ‘bins’. Lanners apparently breed in small numbers in the East of the island, but are clearly difficult to pin point in such vast rugged terrain. This was one species in particular which I hadn’t thought would be ‘in the bag’ at the end of the trip, so this came as a real bonus to us.

Continuing back towards Skala Kalloni we made a relatively brief visit to Parakila Marsh. This is a rather small area, but included a lot of reeds, juncus, and small pools. Consequently, seeing birds here can be very difficult. The first birds seen here were actually overhead with single Long-legged Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle.

Passerines were particularly difficult, and we only managed to get glimpes of Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, and many Eastern Olivaceous Warblers despite all being constantly in song.

A couple of Little Egrets were noted in flight above the reeds, but the best bird was a male Little Bittern seen flying around a small pool at close range before landing out of site.

We reached the outskirts of Skala Kalloni and made a quick visit to the saltpans. A Terek Sandpiper had been present earlier in the day, but despite searching by several birders, it could not be relocated. Many of the usual birds were seen again, and things were lightened up a little by several White-winged Black Terns and a couple of Gull-billed Terns.
Both appearing in attractive summer dress.

After a ‘tip-off’ by another English birder, we entered Kalloni town and luckily found the primary school with the building site next to it. Here, several birders had already gathered, and we were rewarded with unrivalled views of a Scop’s Owl roosting in the trees behind the school. The bird was no more than 20 feet high, and it would occasionally stare at birders with its piercing yellow eyes. After watching the bird for a good 45 minutes, we decided to head back to base.

During the evening, I made contact with some birding friends back in England to see what was happening. I almost choked in my beer as I was told that Britain’s second Barrow’s Goldeneye had been found on the Ythan Estuary. I tried to take my mind of it by drinking more beer and thinking back on what had been a fantastic days birding.
(Fortunately, the Barrow’s Goldeneye remained and I managed to connect with it the following Saturday).

Tuesday 17th May

By now, we had connected with all of our target birds. This felt quite a relief, and meant we could spend more time sat, soaking up the sun and relaxing. We began this day with a visit to the Kalloni Inland Lake. This body of water is very small and I was surprised to read the list of birds which regularly occur here. In fact, we saw rather little bird-wise, with the highlights being a 1st Summer Night Heron, Short-toed Eagle, Common Buzzard, and Reed Warbler. I dare say though, an early morning visit earlier in the season would provide some excellent herons, crakes, and warblers etc.

Our next stop was the now regular Kalloni Saltpans and river. We really took our time around here and stopped for an hour to have lunch. We concentrated a little more around the West River today, and this consequently produced Great White Egret, 2 Little Egrets, 3 Stone Curlews, and a few Red-backed Shrikes. The saltpans also held a few new birds passing through including 5 Black Storks, Spoonbill, Greenshank, 1st Summer Little Gull, more White-winged Black and Gull-billed Terns, and 2 Short-toed Larks. There was again no sign of the Terek Sandpiper which had presumably moved on.

We returned to our apartment early and rested on the balcony, watching and listening to the commoner Lesvos birds. More drinks were consumed this evening as we found a bar which sold a variety of draft beers….heaven!

Wednesday 18th May

This was our last full day. My mom decided to spend the day around the shops, whilst my dad and I opted for a few hours birding in the Potamia Valley. This valley had been raved about in many reports from previous years, but many birders this year had found the Napi Valley to be far better for many species with easier viewing circumstances. Nevertheless, we gave it a go. Ironically, we were the only people in the whole of the valley, except for two farmers!

Birds are prey were evident in the valley and included Goshawk, Long-legged Buzzard, several Common Buzzards, and a superb view of a Short-toed Eagle.

Smaller birds were rather tricky as the vegetation in the valley was very dense and impenetrable. Nevertheless, we were still pleased to locate Middle Spotted Woodpecker, numerous Nightingales, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, 2 Masked Shrikes, and many Cirl and Black-headed Buntings. A single male Olive-tree Warbler was heard to sing several times, but was distant and we had no chance of seeing it.

The heat became more intense as the day progressed so we made our return journey, as birds became more skulking. We passed the new reservoir on the way back to the main road and saw a single Coot amongst many Yellow-legged Gulls. This was perhaps one of the only Coots on the island!

As usual we visited the Kalloni area again and birded down the East River and the Saltpans. Birds of interest included an adult Night Heron, Stone Curlew, more White-winged Black Terns, Great Reed Warbler, and a family of at least 3 Rufous Bush Robins. These birds showed impeccably as we observed them from inside the car. Rather more pleasing, however, was a small group of 6 Rose-coloured Starlings. This species is a late migrant on Lesvos, and it was nice to see them in full summer plumage.

We headed back towards Petra and made one final stop at the viewpoint in the hills overlooking the whole Kalloni area. As to be expected the usual raptors were noted with Short-toed Eagle, and Long-legged and Common Buzzards. A few passerines were also seen with Blue Rock Thrush, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, and the ever-present Cirl and Cretzschmar’s Buntings.

We finished the day in our favourite Taverna and had an early night. The next day we were picked up by the coach to take us back to the airport. En route, a flock of at least 30 Rose-coloured Starlings flew past, once again demonstrating the migration that takes place on this wonderful island.

Thank you for reading.

Steve Richards