GREECE – LESVOS 2005
Birdfinders' Lesvos tour was a great success again this year despite very low numbers of migrants. Based at a comfortable hotel in the resort of Skalla Kalloni, we ventured out daily in search of specialist species of this beautiful island and we were not disappointed. Little Bitterns gave multiple views including a superb adult male stood out in the open for most of the day. Both Black and White Storks (including nests) were seen well together with a small flock of Glossy Ibis on the first day. Greater Flamingo's remained in good numbers throughout at the saltpans and although generally elusive, five Ruddy Shelducks eventually gave themselves up with a flyover!
Of the raptors, we enjoyed several great views of Short-toed Snake-eagle as well as plenty of Long-legged Buzzards, but the highlights were flocks of Red-footed Falcons and a very impressive Lanner Falcon chasing migrants. Chukar is a tough bird to see these days because of excessive hunting but we found one together with a very showy Little Crake. Most of the common waders were present but for many, the highlight of the tour was a superb Spur-winged Lapwing, a less than annual visitor now.
European Bee-eaters are always special birds but a flock of 200 is even more so! A couple of nice Red-throated Pipits in summer plumage together with several races of Yellow Wagtail were nice, but Rufous Bushchats really stole the show with up to five seen in one day and one male singing on territory totally oblivious to our presence. Black-eared Wheatears of both forms and Isabelline Wheatear were both seen on multiple occasions whilst Blue Rock-thrushes were seen several times. Warblers included great views of Eastern Orphean, Great Reed, Eastern Olivaceous, Rüppell's and Sardinian Warblers but the normally elusive Olive-tree Warbler stole the show with several sightings including one bird sitting on a dead branch at the top of an Olive Tree singing it's heart out for 15 minutes allowing not only everyone to see it well but videos to be taken! Sombre Tits tried our patience for a while before giving themselves up but both Western Rock and Krüper's Nuthatches gave fabulous views at the nest.
Eurasian Golden Orioles added a splash of colour whilst all four species of shrike showed well including multiple views of Masked. We had to work harder to see European Serin and Rock Sparrow but were eventually well rewarded, but the buntings literally gave themselves up with Black-headed being abundant, Cretzschmar's common and half a dozen Cinereous seen well. Ironically, a real rarity was a Common Starling!