Sunday, 19 June 2022

Hollesley and more Orchids

Sunday Morning on the patch 2 Spotted Redshank were special, 3 Greensand and a Greenshank meant there was some returning Wader movement.  These were all from Warren Prison. I didn't get down to the main reserve. 
Nipped to Winks meadow again where I was able to find 2 Frog Orchid spikes and loads of Pyramid Orchids including a very unusual white one.

A poor mole was dead above ground.

Returned to the patch later in the evening. Barn Owl hunting was the first id seen here this year. 1 Adult Spoonbill, 1 Great White Egret, Greenshank 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 60 Avocet, 22 Redshank and 2 Med Gulls were the highlights.

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Hollelsley and some Suffolk Orchids.

Didn't get bank holiday Thursday off but did get Friday off, so a weekend on the patch. Its great there is still water in the flash however birds are still sparce, mind you its great for the 100+ Gadwall on site and for the couple of pairs of Pintail and 3 pairs of Coot. 

Spoonbill are becoming daily now with upto to 4 seen.

A male Stonechat had me checking for Siberian as the white rump, in the wings and neck were very close to a male Siberian. Not enough white in the rump however making this just a well marked Common Stonechat.

This afternoon i nipped inland to a site I had been kindly given for Man and Bee Orchids. Man Orchid being one id not seen before I don't think.


Friday, 3 June 2022

Lesvos 5th to 12th May

Well this holiday is finally here after Covid put a stop to any visit since 2019

So i booked a package this time through Jet 2, I felt just incase covid stopped us going again i would protect ourselves by going as a package. It worked very well and cost slightly more than booking hotel and flights separately but it was worth it just for piece of mind. 

Day 1. 5th May

Flights were early morning arriving in Mytilini at 1230.  Losing 2 hours due to the time difference. We were greeted outside the airport by Alison from Lesvos car hire to collect our car for the week and soon made our way through some small villages and dirt tracks to Loutra. 

We started here due to the first bird on my list being a lifer in the form of a Laughing Dove. There was now a small breeding population here in the small village. Unknown origin but an armchair tick all the same. We drove through the village spotting the Village store and Café that the birds had been visiting, We drove further down the hill to find a car park space and then made our way back up the hill to the café where we were called over by the locals to see the bird nesting on the convenience store sign. The locals were so friendly and it was wonderful to sit and have a drink and some food whilst watching the doves feeding on the grain put down by the café. They loved us birders being there.

We enjoyed the bird and the area for a couple of hours before heading towards the hotel. 

We Stopped at our usual place the Kalami Marsh and Pools where it was great to get close views of Black winged Stilts, a Purple Heron and great views of Red Rumped Swallow, whilst listening to Turtle Dove and Olivaceous Warbler. Our first Orchids too Serapias bergonii

Our first Flamingos was great on the coastal pool, we never tire of seeing them.

We continued onto the Kalloni Saltpans and started at the East Hide which has had its day and was very dangerous to get up to now. Scanning the River and pans 5 Dalmatian Pelicans was a great start. 

We moved to the West side following the road to the coast picking up Temmincks stint, White winged Black Terns, Whiskered Tern and plenty of Flamingos and a Single Collared Pratincole.

A distant Spur Winged Lapwing was again a great bird to find on our first day. 

We spotted lots of species it took a few days to get on our last visit. We finished birding and checked in to the hotel Kalloni Bay, our first time here as we felt Pasaphae was a little tired on our last visit. Kalloni bay hotel didn't disappoint and we had a nice room with a nice view over the back.  The pool in front of the hotel was already dry which was the only disappointment. That platform too was a danger. 

We went into Skalla Kalloni for food and drinks what a wonderful end to the day.

Day 2. 6th May 
Had a lovely breakfast before going birding, the surroundings from the breakfast bar at the hotel is stunning.  
However birding was started at the Kalloni Saltpans with photographing the Bee eaters taking some time.  The White winged black terns and Whiskered terns were still there and there were now 4 Collared Pratincoles. On the coast from here 4 Whimbrel but the Spur winged lapwing had disappeared. 

Other birds of note, Plenty of Spanish Sparrows, Wood Sand, Little Stints, Avocets, White and Black Stork and a Short toed Eagle.

We moved onto Achladeri Forest where the Krupers Nuthatch was hard to find at first but with a bit of perseverance following its call we eventually manged some good but brief views. Masked Shrike showed well as did Cirl Bunting and Short toed tree creepers were there but not easy either. 


We had lunch at a smart little Taverna in the bay of the Gulf where the Red Mullet was to die for. 

We then headed for Alikoudi pools where we got Good views of Flamingo, Alpine Swift, Kentish Plover, Red And Woodchat Shrikes and 2 Glossy Ibis flew over. The Flowers were stunning.

I thought Pheasant was an unusual one.

Back to the Saltpans and our one and only Great Spotted Cuckoo. Crested lark were now everywhere.

 Black headed Wagtail were the predominant Wagtail but it did get a normal female Flava one too. 

Back to the hotel fairly late to head out for dinner. Back at the Kalloni bay hotel and a Scop's owl was showing well.  A great end to the day.

Day 3. 7th May
Today we tried something different, we drove the normal way to Sigri but came back along the Eresos track, The road has been a bit dodgy for a normal car but i had been told it was passable with care now. So the main route to Ipsilou Monastery highlights were 2 Golden Oriol chasing each other. On arrival to the Monistary and a very windy walk around the rock all 3 Wheatears or 4 if you include White and black throated Black eared Wheatear,  Isabelline Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Several Wood Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, 2 Rock Sparrow, always a highlight, Blue Rock Thrush, and Sombra Tit. No Buntings on this occasion. The wind really did hamper birding.

On arriving at Sigri, We had 2 Elenoras Falcons, Jackdaw numbers increased, Yelkouan and Scopoli's Shearwaters were plentiful outside the bay. 

We Returned carefully via the Sgri to Eresos track, it was the most amazingly scenic road and one well worth doing, it took sometime as there were plenty of birds flitting about which always needed checking. Lesser Kestrel flew over, Little owl sat sunning itself and most birds were an adult Barred Warbler, (never seen an Adult) Icterine Warbler, plenty of Orphean Warbler, a Sardinian Warbler, Cretzmars Bunting, Blackcaps, Whitethroat Great Reed Warblers Black Headed Buntings and a couple of Rock Nuthatchs.

Agma lizards were everywhere as were Glass lizards.

Raptors were still few and far between so Marsh harriers and Short toed eagle needed to be checked.
This took most of the day so by the time we returned back to the hotel it was time to go out for the evening for some food. 

Day 4. 8th May 
We headed past the Achladeri Forest again and onto the pools hoping to see the long staying Great Snipe, we were a day to late though as the pool was now dry, however there was a possy of 20 Little Stints still. Other highlights along the way were Raven, Elenoras Falcon, Shag Cirl Bunting, Short toed treecreeper and Serin. 
We then nipped to the large Potamia Reservoir where there were masses of Yellow legged gulls, a Crag Martin was our one and only for the trip. Orphean, Olivaceous and Subalpine Warblers were plentiful. As were Ruddy Shelduck.

We walked the Metochi track to hear and see at least 3 Olive Tree Warblers, always too quick for photos though. Short toed eagles and White Storks were in the sky as was a Long legged Buzzard.

Finally doing the Tsknias River properly today walking and driving to the end. Bee eaters were all over the place as were most of the shrikes including a showy Red backed shrike. In the river mouth Little Terns and Curlew Sandpipers. A great white egret was showing down to feet on one of the Fords.

Day 5. 9th May
The wind had dropped slightly so we gave Ipsilou Monastery another visit, Not before nipping to Antissa for some stunning spikes of Monkey Orchids Orchis simia 

We then headed for Ipsilou, this time giving the place a bit more of a grilling. European Nuthatch was a highlight as were good views now of Cretzshmar's and Cinereous Buntings. The Blue Rock Thrush. Rock Sparrow and Woodlarks were also still present. Only Spotted Flycatchers seen so disappointed not to be able to grill any black and white ones. Garden Warbler was a trip tick and there were again lots of Blackcap. Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Icterine Warbler and the Wheatears all still present. We had lunch in Sigri again before heading back to via the Petrified Forest, Little Owl, Elenoras, Lesser Kestrel, and heard only Chukar being the highlights. 

Day 6. 10th May
Headed For Molyvos and its castle, We love the Wisteria covered streets and wonderful views here and this year was no different although the wisteria wasn't in flower, still the streets had plenty of Mumming bird hawkmoths and an array of butterflies. Agma lizards again all over the place. Birds were secondary to todays visit so nothing new to add to the list. Others had tried for the Ruppell's Warbler which hadn't been seen so didn't spend anytime looking.

We nipped into Kalloni and the old school grounds where I was able to pick out a day roosting Scop's Owl. Couldn't find a Long eared on this occasion.

Onwards back to Potamia valley and the old Reservoir where I was lucky enough to get a brief view of a Little Crake, 5 Night Herons and 2 Persian Squirrels. White storks circling above us and a Long Legged Buzzard again. Lesser Grey shrike was also nice.

Onto Metochi lake, but it was very quiet, photos of a red-rumped swallow was all I got really. 

Finished on the Tsiknias River again where the Spur Winged plover had finally given itself up and showed nicely.

Finally at Dinner in Skalla Kalloni the Barn Owl from X Dianas Shop flew over.

Day 7. 11th May
Didnt venture far today Staying around the Saltpans and Skalla Kalloni. Stone Curlew opposite our hotel was a highlight and down the racetrack a Greater Short toed lark, 3 Squacco herons at Kalami marsh  pools Mesa, and a visit to Kalloni Environmental Centre. Other than that it was a day of relaxation.  

Day 8. 12th May
Time for home, so a slow drive back to the airport, stopped at a few places but a Purple Heron was a highlight from the Kalami Coastal pool. 

In Summary, I was quite a few species down this year, 141 species compared to 147 a few years ago, missing Ruppels Warbler, Marsh Sand, Black Tern, Rufous Bushchat, Red-throated Pipit and Citrine Wagtail to name a few. I didn't really put any effort into twitching these so missed them, but highlights were Laughing Dove, Barred Warbler and a Little Crake. 
We had a thoroughly enjoyable trip so ive already booked for April 2023.
As always the Whats App group was extremely helpful.