GREECE – LESVOS 2003
Strong prevailing north-easterly winds for the first three days made conditions quite cold, and difficult for bird-watching, but had the advantage of holding migrants up on the island with a great variety of species on show, but none in great numbers. From day four the wind began to ease, the temperature began to rise, and numbers of migrant species began to reduce. An influx of warblers was reported on day five which included Blackcap, Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Barred, Garden, Wood and Willow Warblers. Flycatchers were in good supply for most of the week but large migrant "falls" passed the island by.
On day two, during a long walk in the general area of Skala Kallonis, we amassed a creditable list of 90+ species which set the holiday off on a high note and emphasized the quality of birding on the island. We had excellent views of Collared Pratincole and Short-toed Lark were had along the East River, two Eurasian Stone-curlews on the banks of the West river, a stunning male Montagu's Harrier, a tally of seven tern species, a Collared Flycatcher on the track between Skala Kallonis and the East River gave us a top-quality tally for our first full day. A juvenile Dalmatian Pelican on the salt pans and good views (albeit brief) of Ortolan Bunting were overshadowed by Krüper's Nuthatch and a Black Kite on day three. An early start to day four found us at the picturesque Inland Lake where both Spotted and Little Crakes were recorded along with Moustached Warbler and Black-crowned Night-heron. The rest of the day was spent traveling to Sigri via Ipsolou where we added some of the island's specialties such as Isabelline Wheatear, Cretzschmar's and Cinereous Buntings, Western Rock Nuthatch and Rock Petronia. The highlight in Sigri was the Semi-collared Flycatcher at the upper Faneromeni Ford.
Day five saw us heading to the north coast with visits to Petra, Molivos and a scary drive along the dirt track to Skala Sikaminias culminating with inch-perfect driving along the quayside. We saw Rüppell's Warbler, a distant European Roller and Audouin's Gull. The highlight of day six was a brief but exciting view of an immature Golden Eagle, a just reward for an arduous climb through the chestnut wood at Agiasos.
Day seven found us on the Goat Pit track, Upper East River where we had spent some time the previous evening searching for Barred Warbler and a "suspect" report of Olive-tree Warbler. From there we scoured the Napi Valley adding Hawfinch and finished the afternoon at the headland of Aghios Stephanos where we found Sardinian Warbler. A sleeping Eurasian Scops-owl ended the day's outings. A return to the Inland Lake on the morning of day eight held us spellbound with its magical setting and rounded off a superb week of top quality bird-watching.
In addition to our list a detailed and accurate description of a Spur-winged Plover by Jill was a fly-over sighting missed by the rest of the group along the East River. A report of this species on the same day came from the salt pans near Achladeri thus confirming Jill's sighting. We set off for home furnished with some life-long, wonderful memories and a good bird list to boot, a testament to the excellence of Lesvos, the birding 'Jewel of the Aegean'.