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Day 1 Friday 23rd April
Everyone met on time at London's Heathrow Airport for the overnight flight to Mitilini, Lesvos.
Day 2 Saturday 24th April
After a short wait in Athens for our connecting flight we were soon boarding our `Sopwith Camel' (or something very similar according to Clive) and on our way across the Aegean. After a 45 minute flight, we touched down on the Greek island of Lesvos just as the sun was rising above the distant hills. Once the luggage was loaded onto our two minibuses we headed west across the island to the wonderfully located Kalloni 2 hotel. On arrival a nice buffet breakfast was consumed, before taking a walk out to the Kalloni Pool, situated directly over the road from our hotel. Immediately noticeable was a pair of Whiskered Terns, flying back and forth over the pool and surrounding reedbed before they headed north, whilst several Sedge Warblers could be heard singing from the dense vegetation. The beach was only a hundred yards away and we decided to check out the bay and mouth of the West River, and as we walked along the road a Cetti's Warbler showed well, singing from an exposed perch right by the road. As we scanned across the bay several Common Terns were seen flying around, and a Great White Egret was spotted in the distance, whilst a close Crested Lark fed along the tide line. Overhead, a large flock of Barn Swallows held several Red-Rumped Swallows and a couple Sand Martins. With nothing new on offer, it was time to check into our rooms and have a siesta. Well, that is the usual procedure, but everyone was so keen to go out birding straight away that we threw this plan aside! After a short time just to get unpacked and have a shower, we all met in the car park and scanned the pool and adjacent meadow. A female Garganey skulked in the dense vegetation, whilst on the other side of the road a White Stork was very close, and our first Hooded Crow was well appreciated. Suddenly, a superb White-winged Tern appeared over the pool and gave a wonderful display as it continually dropped down onto the water taking insects, before it too headed north. Starting a trend that would last all week, we headed over to Skalla Kalloni and a nice little shop where we stocked up on bottled water and cookies before heading out on each day's excursion, which today would start over on the East River. Taking the dirt track towards the river we stopped by some rather uninspiring small pools as some movement caught my eye, which turned out to be a few European Bee-eaters that kept alighting on some distant wires. Showing the magic that is Lesvos in the spring time, we soon found several other goodies, with at least 4 Wood Sandpipers skulking at the water's edge, quickly followed by a cracking male Black-headed Wagtail that flew in, and after initially being elusive, gave good views. Then an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler started singing in the bush next to us, a distant Little Owl was seen perched on a farmhouse roof, several Blue-headed Wagtails arrived, and a superb and rather close Red-throated Pipit in full breeding plumage appeared right in front of us. And this was just a `grotty' little bit of no-man's land! From here it was just a few minutes drive to the East River. Parking alongside the river, everyone got out of the minibuses quickly and scanned the surrounding area. With the river itself holding several little islands, dense waterside scrub and bushes and several miles of surrounding farmland, meadows, and olive groves, this is always an exciting area and one of our favourite spots. Another White-winged Tern was seen flying low over the water below us and everyone enjoyed looking down on this little stunner. Whilst scanning the mouth of the river, where a flock of Yellow-legged Gulls were roosting, a Eurasian Hoopoe flew behind us. A walk upriver produced a female Little Bittern, a couple Great Reed Warblers and all the while our walk was accompanied by a Common Nightingale singing its heart out from some dense bushes. One of the characteristics of this island is the extraordinary number of birds everywhere, characterized by a healthy population of both Crested Larks and Corn Buntings, which are literally everywhere! How many times did we stop for a bird perched on tops of bushes or posts, only for it to turn out to be one of these culprits? Anyway, our route upriver was pretty eventful, with several Little Ringed Plovers and Temminck's Stints, and a few Common Greenshanks. Crossing the ford, part of which seemed to have been washed away, a close Great Reed Warbler appeared in the bushes right next to us, and as we were trying to get views of this bird from the minibuses a couple Black-headed Buntings flew over, their plumage glowing golden yellow in the strong sunlight. The uneven track was bordered on either side by lush meadows, and in one of these several Collared Pratincoles were spotted by Mike, and as we scoped them a few took flight and it was a lovely sight to see over 10 of these elegant waders hawking for insects in the clear blue sky. Driving on, it was noticeable that there had been a huge fall of Whinchats as every bush and hedge was adorned with one. The saltpans were next on the agenda, and we passed a huge flock of Greater Flamingos which must have numbered into several hundred. From here we crossed the main road and followed the track that runs alongside the Upper East River, and saw quite a few Ruff in various plumage phases, a few Curlew Sandpipers, and another Little Bittern. About a kilometre further on, the craggy hillside to our left produced a couple Black-eared Wheatears with both black-throated and pale-throated forms present. As we watched these two birds singing from their prominent positions, a rather non-descript female was spotted, and our first Rhodes Dragon climbed on top of a rock on the skyline. An attempt to cross the ford was aborted due to the high water level, so we backtracked to the olive groves near the grain silos, where Viv and I set out the picnic on a couple of tables donated by the hotel. I feel I must mention it was Julie's idea to carry the legs on the table top - a very time saving suggestion, cheers!! I must admit that I was a bit taken aback by the speed that lunch was consumed, with everyone eager to resume birding. This was a theme that lasted all week, with lunch only being protracted by birds being spotted between courses! Today, a female Eurasian Golden Oriole made a brief appearance as it flashed through the trees, and the male Masked Shrike was a real stunner as it sang from the telegraph pole right above our heads.
We then decided to recheck the saltpans, which turned out to be a good idea, as there were lots of new birds which must have just arrived since our last visit earlier today. In the first corner of the channel a delicate looking Marsh Sandpiper fed avidly, whilst several Kentish Plovers were perched amongst a pile of rocks and a flock of Little Stints flew in. On the first lagoon, we saw 3 Spotted Redshanks, Common Shelduck, lots of Pied Avocets with what looked like eggs, and a Short-toed Snake Eagle flew over. Driving around the saltpans, a Gull-billed Tern flew over, and we saw good numbers of Black-winged Stilts, and more Collared Pratincoles in a field. Our final stop of the day was to a small copse on the edge of Kalloni village, where after a short search, everyone was delighted to gain great views of a roosting Eurasian Scops Owl before returning to the hotel in the early evening. Whilst Viv and I were unloading the minibuses, some of the group took a walk alongside Kalloni pool and saw Mallard and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk.
Day 3 Sunday 25th April
Our pre-breakfast excursion started with a fine adult Purple Heron roosting in the middle of Kalloni pool, before we drove over to the East River. Following the track upriver practically the first birds we saw were a pair of Black-headed Buntings flying over. Scanning the surrounding meadows and hedgerows produced a fine male Red-backed Shrike, whilst the waterside vegetation held Eastern Olivaceous, Great Reed and European Reed Warblers. There was a cacophony of birdsong all around, with a Common Nightingale winning the award for most beautiful song. In fact this morning was the very epitome of Mediterranean birding, as European Bee-eaters were everywhere, and there was also a flock of 13 European Turtle Doves in a field, and in the distance we heard Common Quail and Common Cuckoo. After a delightful buffet breakfast we went to the Inland Lake. Set in a beautiful picturesque setting, this is always an exciting place to birdwatch and this morning proved no exception with great views of 2 Little Crakes seen skulking at the water's edge, but eventually coming right out into the open. A female Little Bittern was quite obliging, as were the 10 Black-crowned Night Herons roosting amongst the bushes on the far side of the lake. Having cleaned up our three target birds, it was only a short drive through the village of Kalloni before our next stop at Derbyshire when an interesting bird was spotted from the vehicles. It turned out to be our first Red-footed falcon, a nice female that seemed to have been roosting in the field, and within a couple of minutes of our arrival took flight and headed north. Whilst here a couple Stone Curlews appeared, a Great Egret was seen in the distance, whilst much closer was a fine male Black-headed Wagtail and a small flock of Greater Short-toed Larks showed well. From here, Achladeri was literally just around the corner, and we only stopped on the way to look at a roadside European Serin that had taken to singing from the crash barrier! Our arrival at Achladeri was greeted by the sight of three Long-legged Buzzards soaring over a nearby hill, and a confiding Woodchat Shrike perched close to the car park in a pine tree. The short walk up to the traditional nesting site of Kruper's Nuthatch didn't take long, and on arrival we positioned ourselves some distance away, but there was a distinct lack of activity, which I initially thought was due to the brainless positioning of a well known author and bird photographer right under the nesting tree! Whilst here some of the group saw a Short-toed Treecreeper, and also heard it singing. However, our attention was distracted when we heard a nuthatch calling from the hillside above, and after a little searching were able to witness a delightful little Kruper's Nuthatch excavating a new hole in a dead tree stump, some distance away from the old site.
Everyone enjoyed fantastic views as it made repeated visits and it was a real privilege to spend time with this stunning speciality. When everyone was satisfied with the views, we walked back to the vehicles for our picnic lunch, seeing a Long-tailed Tit on the way. During lunchtime the wind seemed to pick up a little and we decided to head right down to the south coast for a seawatch. The journey to Agios Fokos didn't take too long, and the drive was enlivened by our first Northern Wheatear and some Red-rumped Swallows that seemed to be nesting under a cattle culvert. On arrival at the headland it was apparent that there was hardly any wind, but we did manage relatively good views of several Yelkouan Shearwaters, and also saw a distant group of Scopoli's Shearwaters. Still the scenery was very pleasant and the potential of the site for attracting igrants was very apparent. So we left and drove to one of our favourite sites, the picturesque Napi Valley, seeing 4 Stone Curlews right by the road, as well as Whinchat, Mistle Thrush and Kentish Plover. There is always something to see here and it is worthy of several visits in a week, and we were not to be disappointed this evening. Everyone had a great time, with new birds just falling at our feet! Viv picked up a Lesser Grey Shrike way up on the hillside, whilst closer goodies included a pair of Sombre Tits, and amazingly prolonged views of an Eastern Orphean Warbler. A flash of black and white flew right over us and landed some distance away on top of a dead tree, which turned out to be a Middle Spotted Woodpecker, and it stayed in the same spot for ages. This is one of the best places on the island for views of Eurasian Golden Oriole and we saw several males on the hillside above us, glowing like yellow light bulbs on top of the oak trees! Other birds present here included a nice male Subalpine Warbler, a distant Eurasian Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike, a pair of Cirl Buntings feeding young, European Jay, Long-legged Buzzard, and a hovering Short-toed Snake Eagle. Satisfied with today's haul we returned to our hotel where we consumed a rather tasty evening's buffet!
Day 4 Monday 26th April
It was rather cold this morning after some heavy overnight rain, so donning fleeces we paid a visit to the inland lake before breakfast, where we saw 3 Little Crakes, with Black-crowned Night Herons now totaling 13, and a flock of 11 Squacco Herons flying over. Once breakfast was over and the shop run was completed, the west side of the island beckoned, and we hadn't travelled far before a fine male Cretzschmar's Bunting was spotted singing from a telegraph wire. Further scanning of the rocky hillside revealed a distant male Blue Rock Thrush. The scenery as we drove west was in total contrast to what we had become used to, with rocky covered hillsides, deep valleys and stands of deciduous woodland. At one gorge quaintly known as Grand Canyon, several Eurasian Crag Martins were flying around giving good views, and there was also a nice Black-eared Wheatear nearby. A little further on, a gently sloping hillside with scattered rocks was home to a couple pairs of Isabelline Wheatears, who were much more obliging than in previous years. Whilst here, a couple Black-headed Buntings flew over and landed above us, a Eurasian Hobby passed overhead, and a whole bunch of Alpine Swifts were spotted zooming around the far side of the valley. From here we could see Ipsolou Monastery way up on a tall peak in the distance, but it didn't take us long to get there. On arrival, an extremely close Rock Sparrow was singing from a telegraph wire at the monastery front door, whilst scanning of the trees below only produced a few Wood Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats. Some steps inside the main courtyard led to a brilliant vantage point on the north side of the monastery, where the view was superb, with mist rising from the valleys as far as the eye could see. A male and female Blue Rock Thrush were busily feeding young below a window sill, and they gave incredibly close views. With all being quiet on the north side, we searched the southern section seeing distant Chukar and Western Rock Nuthatch. I walked down the path across the hillside, and birds were much more in evidence and we all eventually saw at least two cracking male Collared Flycatchers amongst the more numerous European Pied Flycatchers.
In fact we spent quite a bit of time watching these splendid birds, as at first they were rather shy but as insect activity increased as the day warmed up they eventually came right out into the open. There was also a confiding Cinereous Bunting singing his heart out from on top of a rock, and with another of the island's specialities under our belts, we returned to the vehicles for our picnic lunch. At lunch, as well as doing battle with the local feral cat population, we saw another Eurasian Hobby fly over, as well as another Western Rock Nuthatch and male Collared Flycatcher. From here it was just a short drive to the coastal plain near the village of Sigri. Along the way we stopped to view a flock of Lesser Kestrels, initially getting moved on by the local military who obviously didn't want us to get to grips with the finer points of the falcon's i.d! Whilst here a Long- legged Buzzard appeared alongside the vehicles as it caught some thermals from the steep sided valley next to us. Driving along coast road we passed through lovely flower filled meadows, interspersed with stands of olive groves, where one of the first birds seen was a male Woodchat Shrike. With the vehicles safely parked off the road we started walking, seeing a large flock of Spanish Sparrows perched along a hedgerow, and amongst them were quite a lot of Black-headed Buntings. At the ford, it was apparent that a lot of the waterside habitat had been cleared, but even so scanning both directions produced at least two Collared Flycatchers, a pair of Little Bitterns, Spotted Flycatcher, and a few Tree Pipits, with two distant Red-footed Falcons flying over. Walking back to the vehicles, a bold Eastern Orphean Warbler was spotted singing next to some olive trees giving great views, and there were also a couple Red-backed Shrikes, and more European Pied Flycatchers. Next stop was over by the beach, where at the mouth of the little river we saw a cracking male Citrine Wagtail, Purple Heron, summer plumage Curlew Sandpiper, Little and Temminck's Stints, White Wagtail, a flock of Sand Martins, and a female Little Bittern. Amongst the sheep in the field next to us, was a male Black-headed Wagtail and a variety of Yellow Wagtails, with flava, thunbergi, and superciliaris all being seen. Meanwhile a big tree nearby held at least 30 European Turtle Doves, and out to sea there were a few distant Yelkouan Shearwaters passing by. On leaving this area, three Ruddy Shelduck looked rather out of place as they stood in the middle of a large field.
Day 5 Tuesday 27th April
Before breakfast we paid a visit to the East River, where it was pretty cold this morning and everyone was wrapped up in fleeces against the elements. It was apparent that there had been a fall of warblers during the night, as the fields and hedgerows were alive with Great Reed and Sedge Warblers. In the distance, several Red-footed Falcons could be seen perched on telegraph wires, and there was also the unmistakable silhouette of a European Roller. So we drove upriver and had great views, with the Roller eventually settling away from the sun, before flying over the fields and out of sight. Unfortunately some of the group had stayed behind this morning, so would we be able to find another one? The drive back to the hotel was enlivened by no less than three Lesser Grey Shrikes, and plenty more Black-headed Buntings. On our return to the East River after breakfast there was no sign of the Roller, so we crossed the ford and headed towards the salt pans. A Lesser Grey Shrike gave great views as it perched on a fence, and we spent some time watching him, whilst behind us a flock of European Bee-eaters were flying around. The fields nearby held several Collared Pratincoles, whilst on view at the same time were a pair of Montagu's Harriers, and a female Western Marsh Harrier. As there was nothing new at the top end of the salt pans, we worked the sheep fields, where Red-throated Pipits gave us excellent views, and both Ringed and Kentish Plovers fed around the edges of some small ponds. Yellow Wagtails are always good value here, and amongst the numerous flava race, a couple thunbergis were seen. As it was so windy here, we walked over to the beach where it was a little calmer and warmer, seeing Ruddy Shelduck and two summer plumaged Black-necked Grebes. Leaving here, a short drive to the upper east river for lunch was interrupted by a pair of Western Rock Nuthatches visiting their nest, and a singing Cretzschmar's Bunting. After a veritable feast that Viv and I laid out on the tables, a walk along the river led to Paul finding a European Roller on the other side of the river, which thankfully everyone in the group was present to see. Unusually, this bird was perched low down in a thicket, and must just have arrived as it didn't move the whole time we were present. We then decided to try our hand at the Napi Valley again, and it certainly didn't disappoint! There were several birds passing through and it was a real joy to witness visible migration taking place. First of all, a pair of Black Storks appeared overhead and circled a few times before drifting northwards, a flock of Red-footed Falcons were feeding on the far hill before they too drifted away, a Peregrine Falcon was seen, then a Western Marsh Harrier, before a superb female Pallid Harrier put in an appearance. All this was taking place whilst we were trying to watch the Eurasian Golden Orioles sunning themselves on tops of the trees! At one stage we even had Lesser Grey, Woodchat, Red-backed and Masked Shrikes all in view at the same time, with a Long-legged Buzzard hovering over a close ridge, and a Sombre Tit singing behind us. Wow! But time passed all too quickly here and we had stayed much longer than intended, so headed straight back to the hotel for dinner, passing big numbers of roosting Wood Sandpipers and Ruff along the East River. Barn Swallows numbered in the hundreds as they flew into the riverside trees and reeds to roost, and made quite a spectacle with which to end another superb day.
Day 6 Wednesday 28th April
By popular demand a return visit to the East River was made before breakfast, this time concentrating on the area above the ford. Birds present this morning included another Black Stork, good views of several Great Reed Warblers, more Lesser Grey Shrikes, and a frustratingly uncooperative Icterine Warbler. After breakfast we drove to the north coast, passing through more splendid scenery, and stopping along the roadside when some raptors were spotted above a ridge. Present in the same area were a pair of Northern Goshawk, with both European Honey and Common Buzzard providing useful side-by-side comparisons. We drove through Petra to Molivos Castle, where Alpine Swifts gave terrific views before the military moved us on! So we drove towards Skala Sikiminia along a narrow coastal track, stopping at a sheltered valley which was alive with birds. Possibly the highlight here was the presence of a number of Ortolan Buntings some of which were roosting in the oak trees, and we also saw Tree Pipit, another brief Icterine Warbler, and both Common and Lesser Whitethroats. Our search for Audouin's Gull wasn't going too well, but with clear blue skies and the close proximity of the Turkish coastline to distract us, another fine picnic lunch was consumed on a quiet little beach. A quick look in the valley next to us produced just a Western Rock Nuthatch and a close Rhodes Dragon, so we drove to Skala Sikiminia where one of the little tavernas proved too hard to resist, and sat in the shade sipping the local brew! Suitably refreshed after a nice rest, our search resumed and we followed the same track, only stopping to view the gulls sat on the calm Mediterranean waters. Finally, one such stop produced the goods and we were fortunate to get crippling views of Audouin's Gull for over half an hour - indeed it was the closest bird and certainly had me jumping around. As Brian would say, "cool"! On the way out, another stop in one of the valleys produced more Ortolan Buntings, as well as really nice views of Masked Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow, and both Eastern Orphean and Subalpine Warblers.
Day 7 Thursday 29th April
Before breakfast the early risers headed over to the sheep fields, via the East River where we saw a group of 5 Temminck's Stints on a sand bank and another Lesser Grey Shrike and several Black-headed Buntings. The wires along the salt pans held several very close Red-footed Falcons that we managed to drive very close to as they sat unconcerned above us, and the views were fantastic in the early morning light so every single detail of their plumage could really be appreciated. Then we dived up to the top end of the salt pans to check the roosting islands for anything new, but it was all quiet except for the usual flock of Greater Flamingoes, Pied Avocets and a small party of Whiskered Terns, so we headed over to the sheep fields. The pools along the approach road held a Marsh Sandpiper and a Common Snipe. On arrival two Tawny Pipits fed along the small racecourse, before walking over the channel and heading towards the beach. A group of 12 Mediterranean Gulls flew over, as did a Purple Heron and a fine male Montagu's Harrier gave good views. The ponds held a few Northern Pintail, as well as lots of Yellow Wagtails, Greater Short-toed Larks and Red-throated Pipits. Somewhere in the distance a Stone Curlew called. After breakfast we headed up to the Napi Valley where an Olive-tree Warbler had been reported. We passed another birdwatching group on the way up through the valley, our friends from Sunbird with Killian Mullarney and Ian Lewington. We agreed to wait at the parking area for them to catch us up and walked up the road together to view the oak trees that the warbler had been seen in the previous day. Almost immediately our quarry began singing from deep within the grove of oak trees. So we all waited patiently by the side of the road, as the bird seemed to be doing a little circuit of the trees and returning to the same area every few minutes. Now, if we could only find it.! Whilst waiting a very close Subalpine Warbler sang from top of a thin bush, a couple White Storks migrated north, and Short-toed Snake Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Masked Shrike and Eastern Orphean Warbler were all seen. Eventually the Olive-tree Warbler played ball, and after a few tantalizingly brief glimpses it decided to sing from a sparsely leafed tree, allowing everyone the opportunity to watch it through the telescope. From here we retraced our route back down through the valley, taking an obscure side track that led us through a picturesque setting of oak-lined hedgerows and flower-filled meadows. A couple Eurasian Hoopoes gave us our best views so far, but an Icterine Warbler only gave fleeting glimpses. The road we were following eventually led us to a nice little area where we could park by a stream and some shady trees. As Viv and I laid out the buffet on our tables, the rest of the group saw a very obliging Common Nightingale singing from an exposed perch, and during lunch a pair of Sombre Tits looked down on us from the hillside above. Leaving here a Middle Spotted Woodpecker flew alongside the minibuses, and a Tree Pipit sang from the top of a tree. It was only a short drive to the Upper East River area and the grain silos, and instead of parking next to them we drove higher up the little valley. The walk down produced another Eastern Orphean Warbler, a Ruppell's Warbler, female Ortolan Bunting, several Cretzschmar's Buntings, a pair of Blue Rock Thrushes, Western Rock Nuthatch, Lesser Grey Shrike, and a flyover Western Marsh Harrier. Then we drove to the salt pans to quickly check if anything new had arrived, and saw a flock of over 50 Curlew Sandpipers, with most being in fine summer plumage, several Black-headed Gulls, and some crippling views of a Black Stork that fed totally unconcerned by the ring of cars and minibuses that watched just a few yards away. Another quick stop at the sheep fields produced all the same birds as this morning, including several Common Shelduck, Marsh Sandpiper and a flock of White-winged Terns.
Day 8 Friday 30th April
Soon after sunrise we paid a visit to the inland lake, where there were several parties of newly arrived birdwatchers already there, so we drove to the far side and parked. On the lake, several Black-crowned Night Herons were perched at the water's edge, and in the beautiful early morning light their reflections on the water were very clear and made for some great photographic opportunities. Further searching revealed the first of four Little Bitterns, with a couple of them showing really well right out in the open, and Julie picked up a female Little Crake working its way along the base of a group of reeds. After breakfast we headed around the south-west corner of the island towards Eressos. The scenery was subtly different, being more arid and rocky, with tall peaks across the horizon. Our first roadside stop produced Eurasian Nuthatch, Woodpigeon, Lesser Whitethroat, a brief Eurasian Hoopoe, and a flock of over 50 Alpine Swifts, with some coming incredibly close to the buses. The road continued through the village of Agra, and soon after we saw Little Owl, Eurasian Hobby and Lesser Kestrel, with the latter being a fine male soaring directly overhead. As we came up through a very picturesque valley, a stop alongside some roadside lakes was made. This area seemed to have more vegetation than on our visit here last year, and there were definitely some good birds around. Creeping about on the water's edge was a single Temminck's Stint, and a pair of Black-winged Stilts were seen displaying, whilst Sand Martins were seen landing on the ground. The distant hills seemed to be attractive to raptors, with a group of Long-legged and Common Buzzards congregating below the skyline, and a pair of European Honey Buzzards passed over. Slightly closer was a pair of Red-footed Falcons, whilst the highlight here was undoubtedly the Eleanora's Falcon that appeared low over the ridge behind us and followed the hilltop all the way along until going out of sight. Nearby, a small pond held a Yellow Wagtail of the race thunbergi, and a stunning male Citrine Wagtail.
By now it was late morning and we wanted to reach Ipsolou Monastery for our lunch. As we neared the bottom of the hill where the monastery is located, a pair of Black Storks was seen soaring over a near rocky ridge. Yet another delicious buffet picnic, Lesvos-style was consumed from on top of the hill, in company with the local feral cats that were definitely in danger of extinction if they got any closer to our food! We spent quite a while after lunch scanning the now almost fully leaved oak trees below the monastery building. At the bottom of the ridge, a Eurasian Hoopoe was scoped as it perched on top of a tree, our first Common Raven of the trip flew across the valley, whilst a Eurasian Sparrowhawk made a few hearts flutter as it flew below us, whilst Clive picked up a male Common Redstart, and a Rock Sparrow was seen briefly. Brian wandered off and managed to get some good views of the breeding pair of Blue Rock Thrushes. We decided to follow the main road down the hill, where the trees were alive with Wood Warblers, European Pied and Spotted Flycatchers and up to 4 Collared Flycatchers. The Eurasian Hoopoe was sat perched on the same tree, and called constantly as we made our way lower down. Below us a Common Cuckoo flew low over the rocks, perching at the base of a tree where we were all able to look at it through the telescope. From somewhere down in the bottom of the valley below us, an Olive-tree Warbler was singing, whilst at least 2 pairs of Cinereous Buntings were seen well. At one stage there was a Rhodes Dragon, Western Rock Nuthatch and Black-eared Wheatear all in the same scope view. Calling in to Perivoli Monastery on the return journey to Kalloni, we saw a Purple Heron and a Black-crowned Night Heron. As it was quiet here we carried on, calling into the local supermarket in Kalloni for the obligatory purchase of Ouzo before heading over to the sheep fields for a last ditch attempt at finding Rufous Bushchat. The pools on the approach road held a Common Snipe and 2 Marsh Sandpipers. Needless to say we were not successful, but had an enjoyable time seeing several Greater Short-toed Larks and Red-throated Pipits, Montagu's Harrier, as well as a couple Yelkouan Shearwaters that were found by Pat and Julie. Driving back along the salt pans, more waders seemed to have arrived, with bigger numbers of Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers than we had previously seen, and a couple groups of summer plumage Spotted Redshanks. Further away, we saw a group of over 40 Whiskered Terns, whilst an equally large flock of White-winged Terns were more distant. And all too soon we had to leave, and all that was left to do was our final evening buffet and checklist before the dreaded packing.
Day 9 Saturday 1st May
A very early breakfast was prepared by the ever reliable Steve, before we boarded our coach and headed off to Mitilini Airport. The short flight to Athens was followed by a bit of last minute shopping before our flight back to London's Heathrow Airport where we all said our goodbyes.