Visit your favourite destinations
|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Lesvos, 23rd April to 7th May 2009,
Crested Lark against a backdrop of the Gulf of Kalloni, Dave Thexton
Lesvos had been mooted as a possible venue for one of our birding trips on several occasions but had always been discarded in favour of other, seemingly more attractive, options. However, in Spring 2009, as our potential pool of six participants dwindled away to just two, it rose to the top of the list, being easy to organise, limited travelling and lots of information available on the island’s sites and birds.
Lesvos is scenically attractive, dripping with good birds, especially in spring, and has an excellent infrastructure of hotels and restaurants with friendly welcoming locals. The one drawback as far as we were concerned - though to many it will add to the attraction - was that, during spring migration, the island is heaving with visiting birders, not something we were used to on our birding trips abroad. It was akin to autumn on Scilly at times. That said, if you enjoy the company of lots of other birders of greatly varying abilities and interests (and we met some very good birders and some very nice people but sadly also witnessed some selfish and irresponsible behaviour by a few photographers and at least one bird tour leader) then you’ll love ‘The Lesvos Experience’ but if you prefer to bird in solitude then it’s not for you, at least not at this time of year.
And what of the birds? Just brilliant: a superb mix of breeding specialities such as Eleanora’s Falcon, Kruper’s Nuthatch, Rufous Bush Chat, Ruppell’s Warbler, Olive Tree Warbler and Cinereous Bunting and exciting migrants including Dalmatian Pelican, Pallid Harrier, Red-footed Falcon, Little Crake and Citrine Wagtail plus a host of herons, waders and terns, many of them very confiding, all made for a memorable experience. Spring birding on Lesvos twenty years ago before the island was ‘discovered’ must have been truly magical.
We chose to stay at Anaxos in the north of the island, largely to escape the birding ballyhoo associated with Skala Kalloni where the tour companies and the majority of other birders are based. This did mean we had a drive of around 30 minutes to get to the main wetland sites around Kalloni on rather twisty up and down roads but that was no great hardship and there was plenty of good birding close at hand. Birders wishing to be on the doorstep for the Kalloni area would be better basing themselves in Skala Kalloni - you pays your money and takes your choice.
For information we used Birding on the Greek Island of Lesvos by Richard Brooks and the website http://athene-birdinglesvos.blogspot.com/ run by Steve Dudley, supplemented by a number of trip reports on the internet. Richard Brooks’ book, whilst pioneering in its day and containing lots of useful information, suffers from the site maps all being grouped at the end away from the text and we found the directions themselves difficult to follow, especially if you choose not to stick exactly to the same route as the author. Probably sacrilege to criticise this book in the company of Lesvos aficionados but there you go! The Lesvos birding website contains a wealth of up to date information on all aspects of birding on the island, even to the extent of daily sightings updates during the peak Spring passage season. Before we booked our trip, Steve Dudley also kindly advised us on the arrival dates of Rufous Bush Chat and Olive tree Warbler, two species we were keen to see. We used the Road Editions map 212, which, at a scale of 1:70000, proved more detailed than most we’ve used on foreign trips.
Travel and Accommodation
We booked a package with First Choice/Thomsons, flying from Manchester to Mytilini via Gatwick and staying at the Hotel Anaxos in the village of the same name. For this we paid a total of £461.34 each, which included return flights and board only in a three-bed apartment. The outgoing flight was a shambles; staff at Gatwick were unaware that the flight already had passengers from Manchester on board and had allocated their passengers seats already occupied by the Manchester people. This resulted in over an hour’s delay while the plane sat on the tarmac and everyone ran around like headless chickens, leaving the Gatwick passengers standing on the plane’s steps waiting to board. Whatever happened to increased airport security? Eventually, all was resolved and we still managed to arrive on Lesvos on time. The return journey, direct to Manchester, was straightforward.
At Mytilini airport, we picked up a four door Hyundai Atos from Auto Union booked on the internet through 121 Car Hire www.121carhire.com for £235. This proved an excellent choice; smooth, hassle-free pick-up and drop-off and no problems at all with the car itself, in contrast to several other birders we spoke to who complained about a number of faults with their vehicles hired from other firms.
The family run Hotel Anaxos was brilliant; comfortable and clean, with an excellent restaurant and really friendly welcoming staff who all spoke good English (well Australian anyway!). In our first week, just five rooms were occupied and this was the only place in Anaxos that was open. Several other birders were also staying here and as a new initiative one of the owners started a logbook, kept on the reception desk, for visitors to enter their sightings. It became slightly busier in the second week as May 1st is the official start of the summer season on Lesvos. If, like us, you’re happy to stay away from the masses in Skala Kalloni then this is a great choice.
Lesvos had had its wettest winter for many years, as we were constantly reminded, so all the wetland sites were, indeed, wet. During our two weeks, the weather was at times unseasonably cold (though not by British standards) and occasionally showery, often with a cool and blustery wind. Maximum daytime temperatures ranged from about 12 to 25C. This did mean it was never too hot to bird all day and birding conditions were often ideal.
Main Sites Visited
With so much detailed site information available, no directions are needed for the main sites so comments are restricted to a few personal observations. Whilst Richard Brooks employs mostly made up Anglicised place names, Steve Dudley tends to stick to local versions that can be found on the maps; both are given in most cases below (though we refused to use the ridiculous “Derbyshire” for Messa (how many saltmarshes have you seen in Derbyshire?).
Petra/Kavaki/Petra Reservoir Being just a few minutes from our base at Anaxos, this was one of our favourite areas. The Kavaki headland is the main site on the island for Rüppell's Warbler. Though we’d read that the Petra/Molivos reservoir had been drained and was not expected to be re-filled, it was, in fact, full of water and, despite its artificial plastic-lined banks, well worth visiting.
Ruppell’s Warbler, Dave Thexton
Dalmatian Pelican, Dave Thexton
Species seen in the overall area included Shag, Yelkouan and Cory’s Shearwaters, Dalmatian Pelican, Squacco Heron, Glossy Ibis, Ruddy Shelduck, Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Eleanora’s Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Hobby, Chukar, Crag Martin, Alpine Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Golden Oriole, Blue Rock Thrush, Orphean Warbler, Rüppell's Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Red-backed Shrike and Cretzschmar’s Bunting.
Black-eared Wheatear, Dave Thexton
Gulf of Kalloni from Raptor Watchpoint, Dave Thexton
Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint (the Kalloni bandstand) Always worth a stop when passing (which we did virtually every day) with Short-toed Eagle and Black Stork almost ever present. Other highlights here included Goshawk and Cretzschmar’s Bunting.
Metochi Lake, Dave Thexton
Little Bittern, Ian Kinley
Metochi Lake (Inland Lake) A scenic and tranquil site (except when surrounded by tour buses!). Particularly good for Little Crake and Little Bittern. Other birds seen here or nearby included Squacco Heron, Black Stork, Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Golden Oriole, Olive Tree Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Masked, Woodchat and Red-backed Shrike.
Kalloni Pool Becoming increasingly overgrown and difficult to view but always worth a quick look. Highlights here included Little Bittern, Bittern, Squacco Heron, Great Reed Warbler and Garganey.
River Christou (Kalloni West River) Though visited on just a few occasions, we saw few other birders here and it would surely repay more attention. Birds we did see included Red-throated Pipit, Tawny Pipit, and a variety of waders.
Tsiknias Rivermouth, Ian Kinley
Black Stork, Ian Kinley
Lower Tsiknias Valley (Kalloni East River) One of the main sites but, though we saw lots of good birds here, a bit disappointing in some respects, with none of the anticipated crakes and rather few herons or waders. Still unmissable though, with birds seen including Little Bittern, Black Stork, Pallid Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Red-footed Falcon, Lesser Kestrel Temminck’s Stint, Collared Pratincole, Slender-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Citrine Wagtail and Lesser Grey Shrike.
Black-headed Bunting, Dave Thexton
Olivaceous Warbler, Dave Thexton
Upper Tsiknias Valley The area north of the Kalloni-Mytilini road is a well-known Rufous Bush Chat site but none had arrived there before we left. However, species did include Short-toed Eagle, Chukar, Rock Nuthatch Woodchat Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, and Cretzschmar’s Bunting.
Kalloni Saltpans, Dave Thexton
White-winged Black Tern, Dave Thexton
Kalloni Saltpans Major wetland site including the saltpans themselves, Alykes Wetlands (the sheep fields) and the channel alongside the saltpans access road, which was particularly good for very close views of waders.
Curlew Sandpiper, Ian Kinley
Little Stints & Wood Sandpiper, Dave Thexton
Some of the many species seen in this area included Great White Egret, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Black Stork, White Stork, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, Garganey, Pallid Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Osprey, Red-footed Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Temminck’s Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Collared Pratincole, Little Gull, Caspian, Gull-billed, Whiskered and White-winged Black Tern, Short-toed lark, Red-throated Pipit, Tawny Pipit, Rufous Bush Chat, Woodchat Shrike and Lesser Grey Shrike.
Marsh Sandpiper, Dave Thexton
Glossy Ibis, Ian Kinley
The Lardia Valley (Grand Canyon): This deep gorge-like valley between Vatousa and Andissa was en route from our base at Anaxos to Ipsilou and Sigri. Crag Martin, Rock Nuthatch and Rock Sparrow all breed, with Long-legged Buzzard also seen here on our visits.
Ipsilou, Dave Thexton
Isabelline Wheatear, Dave Thexton
Ipsilou: One of the top migrant areas on the island. Some birders park at the bottom before the road up to the monastery and walk, other, like us, drive around the one-way route, stopping and exploring at likely spots. Some of the many birds seen on our visits included Long-legged Buzzard, Eleanora’s Falcon, Golden Oriole, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Nuthatch, Rock Sparrow, Isabelline Wheatear, Sombre Tit, Collared Flycatcher, Cinereous Bunting and Cretzschmar’s Bunting.
Sigri to Eressos Though we drove the stretch from Sigri to the Meladia River Ford on all our visits to the area, only once did we complete the entire journey through to Eressos. Notable stopping points included the Sigri sanatorium and the small plantation by the chapel near Meladia. Species seen from or close to the track included Honey Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Rufous Bush Chat, Isabelline Wheatear, Sombre Tit, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Cretzschmar’s Bunting.
Sigri, Dave Thexton
Red-backed Shrike, Dave Thexton
Meladia River Ford The fig grove just north of the ford is excellent for migrants and the ford itself is an attraction. Birds in this area included Little Bittern, Lesser Kestrel, Quail, Tawny Pipit, Icterine Warbler, Sombre Tit, Roller and Red-backed Shrike
Faneromeni The Faneromeni river mouth was inaccessible due to roadworks while we were there and, due to lack of familiarity with the area, we also missed out on the upper of the two river fords. However, birds at the lower ford and in the nearby area included Night Heron, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Ruddy Shelduck, Montagu’s Harrier, Levant Sparrowhawk, Red-footed Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Quail, Icterine Warbler, Woodchat and Red-backed Shrike.
Napi Valley The main site for Olive Tree Warbler while we were there was on the west side of the road north of Napi village a couple of hundred metres south of the start of the track leading to the obvious radio mast on the left as you drive north. Other species here included Short-toed Eagle, Golden Oriole, Orphean Warbler and Masked Shrike.
Great White & Little Egrets, Ian Kinley
Black-headed Wagtail, Dave Thexton
Messa We looked at this area only en route to and from Achladeri so did not give it a great deal of attention. Nevertheless, we did see Great White Egret, Black Stork, Ruddy Shelduck and Lesser Grey Shrike.
Achladeri, Dave Thexton
Kruper’s Nuthatch Ian Kinley
Achladeri Well known as the Kruper’s Nuthatch site on the island. We were fortunate to have it to ourselves on our three visits and the nest site could be watched from the car. The birds themselves were unmissable. Other species here included Masked Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Serin and Cirl Bunting.
Squacco Herons, Ian Kinley
Red-throated Pipit, Dave Thexton
Skala Polichnitou Saltpans Being somewhat off our normal routes, we paid just one visit to this area, which is much smaller than the Kalloni Saltpans and receives far less attention except from resident birder Terry Robinson. The coastal track between Achladeri and Polichnitou (inc Skamnioudi Pool) passes through some interesting country and is well worth taking your time over. Birds seen at the saltpans or en route included Shag, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Little Bittern, Black Stork, Ruddy Shelduck, Short-toed Eagle, Red-throated Pipit, Tawny Pipit, Woodchat Shrike and Lesser Grey Shrike.
23rd April: Flew from Manchester to Mytilini and drove to Anaxos, with some birding at Achladeri and a few other brief stops en route.
24th April: Birding at Kavaki, Petra Reservoir, Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint. Kalloni Saltpans, Tsiknias Valley.
25th April: Birding at Metochi Lake, Kalloni Saltpans, Tsiknias Valley.
26th April: Birding at the Lardia Valley, Ipsilou, Faneromi, Sigri, Meladia River Ford area.
27th April: Birding at Kavaki, Petra Reservoir, Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint, Kalloni Saltpans, Tsiknias Valley, Kalloni Pool.
28th April: Birding at Messa, Achladeri, Achladeri to Skala Polichnitou (inc Skamnioudi Pool, Skala Polichnitou Saltpans, Kalloni Saltpans.
29th April: Birding at Metochi Lake, River Christou, Kalloni Pool, Kalloni Saltpans, Tsiknias Valley. Daily Species Total
30th April: Birding at Kavaki, Petra Reservoir, Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint, Tsiknias Valley, Napi Valley, Kalloni Saltpans, Kalloni Pool.
1st May:Birding at Faneromi, Sigri, Meladia River Ford area, Ipsilou, the Lardia Valley (Grand Canyon).
2nd May: Birding at Metochi Lake, River Christou, Kalloni Pool, Kalloni Saltpans, Tsiknias Valley.
3rd May: Birding at Kavaki, Petra Reservoir, Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint, Kalloni Saltpans, Tsiknias Valley, Kalloni Pool.
4th May: Birding at Metochi Lake, Napi Valley, Kalloni Saltpans, Tsiknias Valley.
5th May: Birding at the Lardia Valley, Ipsilou, Faneromi, Sigri, Meladia River Ford area, track to Eressos.
6th May: Birding at Kavaki, Petra Reservoir, Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint, Kalloni Saltpans, Tsiknias Valley, Kalloni Pool.
7th May: Birding at Kalloni Saltpans, Messa and Achladeri in morning then flight from Mytilini to Manchester.
We recorded a total of 163 species, listed below. The figures in brackets represent the number of days each species was recorded e.g. (4/14) means that a species was seen on four days during our 14 day trip (bearing in mind that the first and last days involved just a few hours birding) and gives a crude indication of how easy each species was to see. More details are given of the rarer or more interesting species.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis (6/14)
Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea (1/14) 18 off Kavaki on 24/4.
Yelkouan Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan (1/14) 12 off Kavaki on 24/4.
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo (4/14)
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis (4/14) Small numbers of the desmaresti race at a few coastal locations such as Kavaki, Kalloni and Skala Polichnitou
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus (1/14) A single immature bird on Petra Reservoir on 3/5 was something of a surprise, particularly as we almost ignored it as a distant rock! It eventually took off at 09.30 and circled higher and higher over the reservoir for a considerable time until lost to view.
Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris (1/14) One at Kalloni pool on 27/4.
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus (9/14) Single figures at Metochi Lake, Kalloni Pool, Kalloni Saltpans, Faneromi, Meladia River Ford, Lower Tsiknias Valley and Skala Polichnitou area. Some stunning views, especially at Metochi Lake.
Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax (1/14) A single adult at Faneromi on 5/5.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides (10/14) Single figures at Petra Reservoir, Metochi Lake, Kalloni Pool, Kalloni Saltpans, Faneromi, Lower Tsiknias Valley and the Skala Polichnitou area. Some stunning views, especially at Kalloni Saltpans and Metochi Lake.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta (13/14) Present, generally in fairly small numbers, at most wetland sites.
Great White Egret Ardea alba (10/14) Seen in low single figures at Kalloni Saltpans and Messa.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea (10/14)
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea (12/14) Single figures at Metochi Lake, Kalloni Pool, Kalloni Saltpans, Faneromi, Lower Tsiknias Valley and the Skala Polichnitou area.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra (11/14) Frequent sightings of birds in flight at and near the Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint plus single figures, both in flight and on the ground, at sites such as Kalloni Saltpans, Lower Tsiknias Valley, Skala Polichnitou Saltpans and Messa. Often giving very good views.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia (7/14) Scarce with just the occasional single in the Kalloni area though, admittedly, we did not look for any of the known nest sites.
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus (9/14) A maximum of 50 at Kalloni Saltpans with just a handful elsewhere.
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus (11/14) Ever present at Kalloni Saltpans, with up to 500 noted.
Mute Swan: Cygnus olor (4/14) Small numbers on Alykes Wetland until 29/4.
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea 12(/14) Low single figures at Petra Reservoir, Kalloni Saltpans, Skala Polichnitou Saltpans, Messa and Faneromi.
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna (8/14)
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (1/14) 2 flying over Kalloni Saltpans only on 02/05.
Garganey Anas querquedula (5/14) At Kalloni Saltpans there were four drakes on 25/4 and one drake on 4/5 while Kalloni Pool held two drakes on 27/4 and one drake on 2/5.
Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus (1/14) Just two flying north near Sigri sanatorium on 5/5.
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus (11/14) Widespread with frequent sightings, especially from the Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint where birds could often be watched displaying.
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus (10/14)
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus (4/14) Very good views of a second calendar year bird at Kalloni Saltpans on 25/4, Lower Tsiknias Valley on 27/4 and Kalloni Saltpans again on 29/4. Possibly a different second calendar year with a single grey tail feather gave excellent views at Kalloni Saltpans on 7/5.
Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus (4/14) Single ringtails at Kalloni Saltpans on 23/4, 25/4 and 29/4 and at Faneromi on 5/5.
Goshawk Accipiter gentiles (3/14) Two displaying at Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint on 30/4), one at Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint on 3/5 and one south of Anaxos on 6/5.
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus (3/14) Surprisingly common for what was, according to Richard Brooks, mainly a winter visitor.
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes (2/14) Single males at Faneromi on 1/5 and 5/5.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo (7/14)
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus (8/14) Widespread with frequent sightings at sites including Lower Tsiknias Valley, Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint, Kalloni Saltpans, Petra Reservoir, Metochi Lake, Lardia Valley and Ipsilou.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus (1/14) One at Kalloni Saltpans on 25/4..
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni (6/14) Quite widespread, mainly in small numbers, except at Faneromi where they were quite numerous – we had our largest gathering of 20+ there on 26/4.
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus (3/14) Probably under-recorded, many unidentified small falcons may have been this species.
Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus (5/14) One at Kalloni Saltpans on 29/4; two at Lower Tsiknias Valley on 2/5; one at Kalloni Saltpans on 4/5; at least six at Faneromi and three between Sigri and Eressos on 5/5; three at Petra Reservoir on 6/5.
Hobby Falco subbuteo (4/14) Ones and twos at quite a few sites.
Eleanora’s Falcon Falco eleonorae (3/14) One perched on rocks at Ipsilou on 26/4; one on roadside wires between Anaxos and Kalloni on 27/4; one hawking insects above Petra Reservoir on 3/5.
Peregrine Falco peregrinus (1/14) One between Petra and Kalloni on 6/5.
Quail Coturnix coturnix (1/14) Heard at Faneromi and Meladia River Ford on 26/4.
Chukar Alectoris chukar (3/14) One heard near Andissa on 26/4; one seen at Kavaki on 27/4 and one heard at the Upper Tsiknias Valley on 29/4.
Little Crake Porzana parva (5/14) Seen on every visit to Metochi Lake with three on 25/4, two on 29/4, two on 2/5, one on 4/5 and one on 6/5.
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus (7/14)
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (12/14) Most numerous at Kalloni Saltpans.
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta (11/14) Seen only at Kalloni Saltpans with 100+ present at times.
Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus (8/14) A handful at Kalloni Saltpans and Skala Polichnitou Saltpans.
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola (3/14) Two at Kalloni Saltpans on 24/4, five at the Lower Tsiknias Valley on 25/4; two at Kalloni Saltpans on 4/5.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius (10/14) Small numbers in most wetland areas.
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula (4/14) Usually present at Alykes Wetland from 29/4 onwards.
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus (9/14) Small numbers at Alykes Wetland and occasional birds elsewhere on the Kalloni Saltpans complex.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola (1/14) Eight at Kalloni Satpans on 7/5 only.
Sanderling Calidris alba (2/14) A single at Messa on 24/4 and five at Tsiknias River mouth on 25/4.
Little Stint Calidris minuta (10/14) Most numerous at Kalloni Saltpans with a maximum 50 present. Also seen on Lower Tsiknias River and Petra Reservoir in small numbers.
Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii (4/14) One at Kalloni Saltpans on 27/4; five at Kalloni Saltpans on 3/5; singles at the Lower Tsiknias Valley on 4/5 and 6/5.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea (10/14) Up to 150 at Kalloni Saltpans.
Dunlin Calidris alpine (1/14) Five on Alykes Wetland on 28/4 only.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax (11/14) Very common at Kalloni Saltpans with up to 400 seen. Small numbers elsewhere.
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa (1/14) Six at Kalloni Saltpans on 28/4 only.
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythopus (3/14) Scarce with just one at Kalloni Saltpans on 24/4, one at Skala Polichnitos on 28/4 and two at Kalloni Saltpans on 30/4.
Redshank Tringa tetanus (3/14) Only records were of singles at Kalloni Saltpans.
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis (1/14) A single, still largely in winter plumage, at Kalloni Saltpans on 6/5.
Greenshank Tringa nebularia (8/14) Just modest numbers seen, all at Kalloni Saltpans.
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus (1/14) A single at Kalloni Saltpans on 2/5.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola (13/14) The commonest wader at times, seen in virtually all wetland habitats, with large numbers at Kalloni Saltpans where lovely close views were often to be had.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos (8/14)
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus (4/14) Up to four at the Lower Tsiknias Valley rivermouth.
Little Gull Larus minutus (3/14) Two first-summer birds at Kalloni Saltpans on 2/5 and 3/5 with one there on 6/5.
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus (1/14)
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei (2/14) Up to four at the Lower Tsiknias Valley rivermouth.
Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans (14/14)
Little Tern Sternula albifrons (10/14) Ever-present at Kalloni Saltpans.
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica (2/14) One at Kalloni Saltpans on 25/4 and 10 there on 7/5.
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia (1/14) Three at Kalloni Saltpans on 24/4.
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida (6/14) Seen on most visits to Kalloni Saltpans with a maximum count of 41.
Black Tern Chlidonias niger (1/14) By far the scarcest of the marsh terns with just a single at Kalloni Saltpans on 7/5.
White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus (8/14) Seen on most visits to Kalloni Saltpans with a peak of 30.
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis (2/14) Several occasionally to be found at the Lower Tsiknias Valley rivermouth.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo (11/14) Ever-present Skalloni Saltpans.
Feral Pigeon Columba livia (14/14)
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto (14/14)
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (12/14)
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus (4/14) Seen or heard at Petra Reservoir and KalloniSaltpans.
Scops Owl Otus scops (3/14) Seen on each of our two visits to the well-known daytime roost in trees by the Kalloni mini soccer pitch with a single on 29/4 and two birds on 3/5. Also one heard calling from the Hotel Anaxos at 22.35 on 27/4.
Common Swift Apus apus (12/14) Try as we might, we failed to make any into Pallids.
Alpine Swift Apus melba (5/14) Low single figures at Kavaki, Petra Reservoir, Metochi Lake and Potamia Valley.
Bee-eater Merops apiaster (14/14) Widespread and numerous. Early in the trip most often in migrating flocks passing high overhead but, increasingly, perched birds were the norm.
Roller Coracias garrulous (1/14) Two in the Meladia Valley on 5/5.
Hoopoe Upupa epops (3/14) Quite scarce.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus medius (3/14) Relatively scarce, seen only in Potamia Valley and Achladeri.
Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla (4/14) Up to four in the Alykes Wetlands area of Kalloni Saltpans.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata (14/14) Ubiquitous, seemingly present in all habitats.
Woodlark Lullula arborea (2/14) Singing birds at a handful of sites.
Sand Martin Riparia riparia (8/14)
Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris (6/14) Quite widespread, most easily seen at Kavaki and the Lardia Valley.
Swallow Hirundo rustica (14/14)
House Martin Delichon urbicum (14/14)
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica (13/14) Widespread and common.
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris (5/14) Low single figures at Kalloni Saltpans, River Christou, Skala Polichnitou Saltpans and Sigri.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis (2/14)
Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus (10/14) Widespread in small numbers at sites including Kalloni Saltpans, Alykes Wetland, River Christou and Skala Polichnitou Saltpans.
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava (14/14) Widespread and numerous with some sizeable flocks and an at times bewildering array of races that included Black-headed feldegg, Grey-headed thunbergi, Blue-headed flava, Romanian dombrowski and doubtless a few others.
Citrine Wagtail Moticilla citreola (1/14) Close views of a stunning male by the ford at the Lower Tsiknias Valley on 3/5. Although the species was being reported all over the place, this was our only sighting; we skilfully managed to avoid all the others!
White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba (4/14)
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes (1/14) Recorded at the Lardia Valley only.
Rufous Bush Chat Cercotrichas galactotes (2/14) Singles near the beach café at Kalloni Saltpans on 2/5 and the Sigri sanatorium on 5/5. Neither was as obliging as we’d hoped, perhaps due to the amount of disturbance to which they were subjected by some photographers and, in the case of the Sigri bird, being tape-lured by a tour leader.
Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos (14/14) Ubiquitous.
Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus (1/14) A single in the Meladia Valley on 1/5.
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra (11/14) Abundant: at times every bird on a fence seemed to be either a Whinchat or a Spotted Fly.
Stonechat Saxicola torquata (2/14)
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina (3/14) Very obvious and obliging near Ipsilou; in particular, a displaying pair around an old sheepfold at the bottom of the monastery road. Also seen from the track between Sigri and Meladia.
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (3/14) Seen on three dates at Ipsilou.
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica (9/14) Common in suitable habitat, particularly around Kavaki.
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius (6/14) Small numbers in suitable habitat at sites such as Kavaki, the Lardia Valley and Ipsilou.
Blackbird Turdus merula (14/14)
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti (13/14) Ever-present at wetland sites.
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus (8/14) Small numbers in most reedy areas.
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus (10/14) Common in reedy areas.
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus (10/14) Common in reedy areas with some migrants in drier locations.
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais pallida (13/14) Widespread and numerous, perhaps the commonest warbler.
Olive Tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum (2/14) One heard in a small, apparently unnamed, valley west of Metochi Lake on the relatively early date of 25/4 but not on subsequent visits. Two singing, one of which showed very well out in the open, in the Napi Valley on 4/5.
Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina (2/14) Singles at Faneromi on 1/5 and the Meladia Valley on 6/5
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla (4/14) Small numbers at Ipsilou.
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca (2/14)
Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis (9/14) The best place we’ve been for this species with birds quite widespread and often showing well. Kavaki was especially good.
Whitethroat Sylvia communis (6/14) Small numbers passing through.
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans (7/14) Common along northern coastline.
Ruppell’s Warbler Sylvia rueppelli (5/14) Seen on every visit to the stronghold at Kavaki. The best site proved to be the track leading uphill opposite the second lay-by where up to two males and a female were present and usually showing very well. Just a single elusive male seemed to be near the first lay-by with an almost equally elusive pair at the second lay-by.
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix (4/14) Plenty of passage birds at Ipsilou.
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus (2/14) Singing on two visits to Ipsilou.
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa sriata (9/14) Abundant.
Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva (2/14) One west of Metochi Lake on 25/4 and a cracking male at Sigri sanatorium on 5/5.
Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis (1/14) At least two females at Ipsilou on 26/4.
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca (4/14) Small numbers on passage.
Sombre Tit Parus lugubris (4/14) Quite widespread and often obvious with birds seen at sites including Ipsilou, Meladia River Ford, Sigri track, Napi Valley.
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus (12/14)
Great Tit Parus major (12/14)
Kruper’s Nuthatch Sitta krueperi (3/14) Unmissable at the famous Achladeri breeding site where they could be watched at good range from the car without disturbing them in the least. We were fortunate enough to have the site to ourselves on each of our three visits.
Nuthatch Sitta europaea (1/14) One in the Napi Valley on 30/4.
Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer (3/14) Seen at sites such as the Lardia Valley, Ipsilou and the Upper Tsiknias Valley.
Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus (8/14) Common, particularly at Ipsilou.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius colluria (7/14) After our first, a male near Metochi Lake on 29/4, the species became increasingly numerous with records including 10+ in the Meladia Valley on 5/5.
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor (4/14) One near Skala Polichnitou on 28/4; two at the Lower Tsiknias Valley on 29/4; one at the Lower Tsiknias Valley on 2/5; one at Kalloni Saltpans on 2/5 and one near Messa on 7/5.
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (11/14) Widespread in small numbers.
Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus (7/14) Widespread in small numbers with Achladeri especially favoured.
Jay Garrulus glandarius (14/14) Common in wooded areas.
Jackdaw Corvus monedula (3/14) Seen around Sigri Fort only.
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix (14/14)
Raven Corvus corax (8/14)
House Sparrow Passer domesticus (14/14)
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis (12/14) Common, mainly away from towns.
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia (2/14) Seen in small numbers at the Lardia Valley and Ipsilou.
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs (14/14)
Serin Serinus serinus (1/14) Several at Achladeri on 7/5.
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris (7/14)
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis (14/14)
Linnet Carduelis cannabina (9/14)
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirius (13/14) Common in suitable habitat.
Cinereous Bunting Emberiza cineracea (3/14) Up to four singing males present on each of our visits to Ipsilou
Cretzschmar’s Bunting Emberiza caesia (10/14) Widespread and numerous in all suitable habitat.
Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala (11/14) Following our first at Kavaki and Kalloni Saltpans on 27/4, the species quickly became very common and widespread with males singing all over the place.
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra (14/14)