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Thursday, 30 April 2009

Lesvos Magic!



Jenny & I are just back from a holiday to the magical Greek island of Lesvos.
Being one of the eastern most islands (just west of Turkey) and the third biggest Greek island, Lesvos is well situated to attract a wide range of migratory birds.
We were not disappointed, as the island was teaming with birdlife. I would say that arguably this has to be one of the best places in Europe to witness bird migration and probably the best for bird photography with many of the birds being very confiding ( I can personally vouch for this having filled up 5 memory cards!!).
With all this avian activity, the island particularly around Skala Kalloni in the south with its saltpans and extensive wetlands in the south attracts many admiring birdwatchers especially tour groups led by companies such as Steve Dudley's Lesbos Birding, Avian Adventures, Heatherlea, Bird Tours and Limosa Tours which lead large birdwatching parties.  Steve is to be congratulated for running an excellent website, which he regularly updates nightly, on news of the most exciting birds and migrants. This spirit of co-operation of spreading the news to a wider audience as possible is to be applauded (thanks also to Avian Adventures and Heatherlea who were generous with sharing information too) and the leaders of the last 2 tour parties on the list please take note!
Personal highlights for me were the close views of a Kruper's Nuthatch, a gorgeous lemon yellow headed male Citrine Wagtail, a soaring Levant Sparrowhawk overhead, singing male Cinerous Buntings, a Little Bittern feeding just a metre away from me! a roosting Scop's Owl,a family party of confiding Golden Orioles, a flock of 80 Ruff feeding just a few metres away from the car, a trio of soaring Black Storks, 400 Greater Flamingo's feeding on the Saltpans and Sombre Tit along the Makara Track and the numerous photographic opportunities that were available.
So prolific that it will be a while before I can load up some of the pictures for you to see.
I was also really pleased to see 8 species of Orchid including a Late Spider Orchid, Provence Orchids, Tongue Orchids, Violet Bird's Nest Orchids, Loose- flowered Orchids, Green- winged Orchids and a group of tiny Dense- flowered Orchids which had finished flowering in the shade of a Pinewood as well as the bell-shaped Green Wild Fritillaries.
Butterflies were very thin on the ground but including 2 sightings (but sadly no photo's) of the beautiful False Apollo butterflies as well as the more familiar Mediterranean Scarce Swallowtails. As the temperature soared during the last couple of days, foot- long Balkan Green Lizards and Persian Squirrels (like a Red X Grey Squirrel hybrid perish the thought!) were seen.
The island is developed enough to have an extensive road system, so access to places is relatively easy, but there are a lot of dirt tracks to navigate in order to reach some of the best wildlife sites.
Lesvos, is in short a magical place, with pristine habitat which attracts an incredible amount of wildlife. I for one will be booking up again for next year! 





 

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