Monday, 21 May 2018

Moths The Alcymist

Came home from Lesvos and first thing i did was to put the moth trap on, only woke up on the Sunday morning to a very very special moth.
The Alcymist. A first for Suffolk and come to it East Anglia and only about the 15th Record for the Uk.
Its a Southern European moth flying in France and Spain.
A mini twitch happened that day, sharing is what Birding and Mothing is all about for me. a lot of people went home happy that day.... Not sure ill beat this one in a hurry.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Lesvos trip report 5th-12th My 2018

Saturday 5th May
Today I was venturing out to Lesvos for the very first time, I've heard very good reports about the birding there for many years so this year I decided as there was now a direct flight and after some research on my target species, I decided this was the year I would do it. Before the connecting flights always put me off.
I wrote myself a list of target species before I arrived, some lifers some not. 

Anyway the Thomas Cook flights were from Gatwick to Mytilini, a bit of a pain but flights were limited. It was an early one 6-40am but that did get us there mid afternoon after loosing 2 hours.
I didn't know the island one bit so relied on finding birders on site for the first couple of days. We picked up the hire car from outside the airport and headed for our hotel the Pasephie Hotel at Skalla Kaloni. I couldn't resist stopping at a few places on the way and this had  me making my first stop at Mesa and Kalami Marsh. 
It also gave me my first lifer Olivaceous Warbler (one of the commonest Warblers on the island I find out later), a Marsh Warbler sang from nearby bush's also.  Wood Sandpiper and Water Rail were also here. Then another lifer Ruddy Shelduck flew over.

We moved to the fabulous Kalloni Saltpans where there were a couple of hundred Greater Flamingos, a wonderful sight to see.

I then had a good look around the pools to see many waders such as Ruff, Black winged Stilts, Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers. My first scarcity of the trip with a very distant Slender billed Gull, just about make it out in the picture and a 1st Summer Little Gull.

More good birds with 8 White winged Black Terns and 20+ Gull Billed Terns. White and Black Storks were visible as I moved further down the pans and a nice Temminck's stint showed nicely. My first eagle was a Short Toed Eagle and Bee Eaters seemed to be all over the place.

A Great snipe had been seen around the Masa Kalami Marsh area and as I hadn't seen it on my first visit and no one had seen it all day I decided to give it another try and blow me I found it skulking in a corner of the pool, also my first Black headed Yellow Wagtails. Poor record shots of the Great Snipe as it was as far away as it could get.

As it had been a very early start we headed off to relax with a celebratory beer and a meal at our hotel the Pasephie . I would highly recommend this perfect hotel, we absolutely loved everything about it even the calling Scops Owls in the grounds trees.

Sunday 6th May
I started early at the Kalloni saltpans and the N/E Hide which I didn't get to cover yesterday. Another lifer straight away Dalmation Pelican, I hoped I would get one.

I then turned around to another lifer a nice Masked Shrike. I didn't realize these were so numerous. 
On the pools 60+ Curlew Sandpipers many Little Stint, Avocets and 200+ Flamingos.

I returned to the hotel for breakfast and to pick Rachel up for a day around the Salt Pans, Mesa and Polichnitos.
A massive thunderstorm delayed us a while but it was awesome to watch whilst relaxing over breakfast.
We started back at the N/E Hide to show off this mornings Dalmation Pelican. Whilst there 2 Black Tern, 2 White Winged, Black Tern and 2 Gull Billed Tern. Also Little and Common Tern, 3 Grey Plover also.

Onto Mesa and Kalami marsh again, Yellow Wagtail and a couple of Citrine Wagtails as well as the Great Snipe again. 2 Drake Garganey were my first of the trip. Then the Dalmation Pelican turned up around the corner at the Mesa Pool so got another look at that.. 

Moved on towards Polichnitos passing a male and female Red Backed shrike, Turtle Doves and Black Headed Buntings (another proper tick). 

Onto Achladeri forest where we were surprised to see and hear a singing Krupel's Nuthatch, a rare and hard bird to find. We then saw a family of Krupel's Nuthatchs even further down the track. Short toed treecreeper seemed numerous and a fabulous close female Goshawk flew past us.  My first Serin of the trip which weren't that numerous compared to Majorca.
Raven and Short toed eagle were the other notable birds. Headed towards Polichnitos and back towards the Kalloni Saltpans to drive the fabulous Tsiknias river where the weather had turned rubbish and wet. Its a great river though holding many birds and another lifer Marsh Sandpiper with the many Wood Sandpipers. Black Headed Buntings everywhere, Nightingales and Corn Buntings too. Night Heron and Little Bittern added to the list then one of the birds of the trip a magnificent Spur Winged Plover, shame it was pouring down and I was as wet as the poor Plover.

A little Owl was nice and plenty more Olivacious warblers and a few Black Headed Wagtails

Back to the Saltpans and to the salt pile when an Osprey flew over, another lifer a distant Long Legged Buzzard, I could just make out the long wings and Rufus tail.
Time was getting on and it had been an awesome day but time to head back to the hotel for dinner and a few drinks. The place is lovely both day and night

Monday 7th May.
Headed for the wonderful Molivos Castle stopping firstly at the Raptor Watchpoint which was very productive, more lifers with a family of Rock Nuthatch and a surprise Cretzschmar's Bunting. Cirl bunting was common here, Sub Alpine warblers were starting to appear, Black Eared Wheatear was nice and a Sardinian Warbler I think was in the area, Goshawk, Peregrine and Long Legged Buzzard being mobbed by a common buzzard was notable. Alpine Swift was a bonus. Many Ilex Hairstreaks too.

Moving on towards Molivos Castle Red and Woodchat shrikes were common and then a disappointing dip of the Ruppels Warbler from Kavaki. Did manage a distant view of my first pair of Orphean Warblers however. A Raven family showed well and a Lesser Kestrel flew past.

Crappy record shots of the Orphean

Onto the very nice Molivos Castle which was closed on a Monday but no birds of real note except more Black Eared Wheatears. Returned to Kavaki where I spotted the male Ruppels Warbler straight away. First and only Orchid too. More Lesser Kestrel and Raven were about the other notable records for the day here at Kavaki. The drive back to the hotel had the same birds as the trip up. Views from the Molivos Castle were exceptional

Tuesday 8th May
Days are going far too fast but started early again this time by the sea at the Kalloni Saltpans, 2 nice Black Necked Grebes were on the sea as well as Great Crested Grebe. A flock of 34 flamingos flew over heading towards the pan. After a short time I managed to find my next lifer 2 Rufous tailed Scrub Robins, they wouldn't flick there tails for a picture but it was great to see all the same.

A Distant Red throated Pipit 22 Ruddy Shelduck and a 1st Summer Med Gull on the Alykes Wetland added to my totals. Spanish Sparrows were cracking birds here too.

Back at the North hide and a Ring-tailed Hen Harrier flew over and I found 8 very nice Red Footed Falcons.

Headed back to the Hotel for a day of rest around the pool and some local walking. A Shag down on the beach during one of our walks towards Skalla Kalloni was a surprise... (the bird)

Wednesday 9th May.
Up early again to walk the Tsiknias River. My biggest string of the trip was what I thought and hoped sounded like an Olive Tree Warbler, after a short while of trying to see the bird I realised it was just a Great Reed Warbler (It did sound similar :-) ) but I could still add Great Reed Warbler to my every growing list. 4 Black Stork were in the river basin. Finally by the very last olive plantation a Middle Spotted Woodpecker was calling. It would be a lifer but I didn't count it on the reason of not actually seeing it. loads of Balkan Terrapins.

I returned back to the hotel to pick Rachel up and head to the area around Sigri.
On the way up the valley my first Cinerous Bunting was singing from wires, plenty of butterflies including a Scarce Swallowtail. Spotted Flycatcher was the first of the trip. Walked different areas around the Ipsilou Monastery area which is incredible by the way and added some really great birds such as Cretzschmar's Bunting, finally saw a Middle Spotted Woodpecker infact a few of those in various areas. Northern Wheatear, Black Eared Wheatear, my first Issabeline Wheatear, Wood Warbler, Eastern Bonnelli's Warbler. Raven and a Persian Squirrel.
Butterflies are Aegean Fritilliary, Blakan Marble White and Meadow Browns? Scarce Swallowtail too. Also had the normal Swallowtail. The Cricket is a Saddle-backed Cricket (Ephippiger ephippiger)

Carried onto Sigri and the Petrified forest museum but it was closing so headed slowly back to an old site of the Petrified Forest sight and had great views of Chuckar, Woodlark and Cinerous Bunting also all the Wheatears again. Rock Nuthatch and Red Backed Shrike showed really nicely too. Back to the Hotel and into Skala Kallonis for meal and drinks.

More Great Views from the Monastery

A Wood or European Nuthatch.

Thursday 10th
Started at the famous Metochi Lake hoping for Crakes but the water levels were high and the crakes were illusive. My Second Alpine Swift a Sedge Warbler, Little Bittern, Great Reed Warbler and Night Heron were the pick of the other birds. Had a lovely drive up the Napi Valley and had a walk along the Platania track. Arrived at a small woodland copse. Where I really could hear Olive Tree Warbler this time, in fact up to 4 singing away and a couple showed nicely. Also Orphean Warbler, Woodchat, Red Backed and Masked Shrikes, Middle spotted Woodpecker and Hoopoe. Sombre Tits were all over and a lifer as were the Olive Tree Warbler, blimey there big. Golden Oriol was a bonus bird for the day.

Back to the car where we took a tourist route around the east through the Lepetimnos Mount ending up at the Molivos Castle again. Bird of the trip however had to be a stunning male Levant Sparrowhawk as it flew alongside the car and off down the hill, great views too. Lunch at Molivos Castle and then onto Kavaki again for another brief view of a Ruppells Warbler with food.
Sub Alpine Warblers were singing everywhere. Swallowtail Butterfly and a Thistle Long-horn Beetle.

Finished the day locally in the next village over from Kalloni, the small village of Kerami for great views of 2 Scop's Owls with at least 2 more calling all around us.

Friday 11th
Tried the Erreoss valley which was very nice but didn't add any birds so made our way back to the Ipsilou Monastery which was awesome again, my target for the day were Collared Flycatcher and I managed 3, 1st Winter Male, Adult Male and a Female. More Agama Lizards on the way up too.

Added a male Blue Rock Thrush to the list, More Cinerious Bunting, Cretzschmar's Bunting , several Bonnell's Warbler, my first Icterine Warbler of the trip and a Raven. At the monastery a Wood Nutchatch was a surprise find. Back down to the bottom of the Monastary and another cracking Female Goshawk.

Back to the Hotel and onto Skala Kallonis for Dinner. On the walk back to the Hotel in the dark we could just make out a Long Eared Owl and Nightjar singing, two more for the list.

Saturday 12th
It was time for home boooo. So had a leisurely Breakfast and made a quick stop back at the Saltpans,managed to twitch cracking Lesser Grey shrike, another target ticked.

Took a few more shots of various different stuff on the way back down the tracks.

Finally a slow drive back to Mytilini airport where we were able to check our bags in and nip back outside for a short seawatch, Great numbers of Yelkoin Shearwaters and a few Scoplois Shearwaters to end a fantastic trip to Lesvos, we will certainly be back next year.

A few shots of other stuff from the island. Boarded Straw Moth

European Checkered Scorpion, Nice Cafe in the mountains, Common Dragon Arum lily and Glow Worm Larve

Great White Egrets, Holy Orchard, Jupiter, Ladybird Spider, Dung Beetle, Mammoth Wasp, Levant Water Frog, Mediterranean Banded Centipede and some special Monastery's and remembrance items all over the island.

Odalisque Epallage fatime, Snake Eyed Lizard and could not resist the local Hooded Crows. Southern Skimmer and Spur thighed Tortoise

White Stork., Yellow Legged gull and Yellow Spotted Millipede.

Finally some pics from Sigri and Skalla Kaloni

147 Species for the trip. List here
Back to my list with 18 lifers and 28 target species found.

Already rebooked for 2019.