LESVOS: Spring Migration Magic
April 28 - May 6, 2017
Contact email@example.com to reserve your space!
Past Trip Reports: 2012> 2013> 2015> 2016>
Leaders: Gina Nichol & Steve Bird
April 29 - May 5
From the moment you step outside the hotel door you are in bird heaven! The pond beside our hotel can be alive with Whiskered, White-winged and Black Terns hawking insects just a few meters in front of us. A further search of reedy edges can produce Glossy Ibis, White Stork, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Garganey, Black-winged Stilt, and occasionally something more unusual such as Great Bittern, Great Snipe or Spotted Crake. Streams of Barn Swallows can often be accompanied by a few Red-rumped Swallows, Sand Martins and wheeling flocks of Common Swift that could have Alpine and Pallid among them. Yellow Wagtails of several very distinct races including the very smart Black-headed will vie for our attention, while Spanish Sparrows, Turtle Doves and a raptor or two will make the first hour of birding all you had hoped for!
The surrounding sheep fields can hold flocks of Greater Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit, Citrine Wagtail and Red-throated Pipits with beautiful brick-red throats. Up to four races of Yellow Wagtail will keep us working hard and we will constantly keep an eye out for raptors and terns passing overhead. This is a great place for seeing some of the more unusual species such as Caspian Tern, Lanner Falcon, Short-toed Eagle, Honey Buzzard, Golden or even Lesser or Greater Spotted Eagle.
Heading inland from the salt pans, we drive into a beautiful wooded valley full of oaks and olive trees. It is here that we should see our first Masked Shrike, Sombre Tit and Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Pied Flycatcher, Long-legged Buzzard or even a Rufous Bush Robin. As Hoopoes lazily drift by and Golden Orioles fill the valley with their flutey calls we will look for the shy and difficult Olive Tree Warbler, a bird that is a late arrival and only really possible toward the end of our stay.
As we continue on towards the wild rocky north coast we will make a few stops to look for breeding Rüppell's Warbler and Eastern Orphean and Bonelli’s Warblers, plus Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Peregrine Falcon, Goshawk, Crag Martin, Rock Nuthatch, Alpine Swift, and along the coastline the rare Audouin’s Gull, and flocks of Yelkouan Shearwaters with even the possibility of the potential ‘new’ Scopoli’s Shearwater. With views of the Turkish coast in the distance this area sees many migrants leaving the island and a nearby inland lake can be a great place to find Ortolan Bunting, Hobby or something a little unusual such as Thrush Nightingale, Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, Great-spotted Cuckoo or the rare White-throated Robin.
The western side of the island with its arid volcanic hillsides is home to one of the birds everyone wants to see, the rare Cinereous Bunting. Lesvos is one of the best places in the world to see this little-known species, and we hope to find them singing from the rock strewn hillside. Here too are Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Rock Sparrow, Isabelline and Black-eared Wheatears, Blue Rock Thrush and more chances for Rock Nuthatch.
Ipsilou Monastery is one of our favorite picnic stops, set on top of a small hill we can enjoy superb views of the west coast. If weather condition are right this spot receives amazing falls of migrant birds; we saw a flock 27 Levant Sparrowhawks very low over our heads on one tour and often get Honey and Long-legged Buzzard, and Short-toed Eagle. The surrounding trees and bushes can hold Collared, Spotted, and occasionally Semi-collared or Red-breasted Flycatchers, Golden Orioles, Chukar, Wood Lark, Wood, Eastern Bonelli’s, Icterine, Barred and other warblers. This is also a good spot for butterflies with Southern Festoon nearly always present.
The west coast itself especially around Sigri, is a very fertile area that can be exceptionally good for migrants with incredible numbers present on a good day. It’s not unusual to see hundreds of shrikes or buntings and careful searching can reveal Wryneck, Great Snipe, Levant Sparrowhawk, Collared Pratincole, Great Reed Warbler, Lesser Gray Shrike, while flocks of Red-footed Falcons and Lesser Kestrels hunt over the fields.
Another area we traditionally take a pre-breakfast walk, is around a small pond where Little Crake and sometimes Spotted and Baillon’s Crake can be seen very well. There are often a few Black-crowned Night-Herons and Squacco Heron to be seen, while Red-rumped Swallows pose on the reed tops where they have spent the night. Reed, Sedge and Great Reed Warblers can certainly be heard and we will search for Savi’s and possibly River Warbler as well as Little Bittern. This can be a magical place early morning as the sunlight allows for stunning photography.
Birding this beautiful unspoiled island is not the only thing that will have you wanting to return. In addition, we will also discover the butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles and flowers of this magical island.
LEADERS: Gina Nichol & Steve Bird
Black Stork. Photo by Gina Nichol.
Below: Collared Flycatcher.