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Saturday, 29 September 2012

Samos Day 1 & 2: Birds, Butterflies, Moths, Lizards & Mantids

Jenny & I have just had a week's holidays on the Greek island of Samos, lying in the Aegean sea just 2 km off Turkey and just south of Lesbos. I was expectant of some great late autumn birding. I arrived almost too late and most of the summer visitors had already left! We were based on the east of the island at Pythagorian, a charming town with lots of history, old archaelogical sites a plenty and was formerly the home of the bane of many a maths student the Greek Mathematician Pythagoras (hence the town's name!). During the course of the week I had hurt my foot and am at present almost totally incapacitated! Landing at the airport, on Thursday 20th September, we picked up the hire car, a Large American Chevrolet car (we'd opted for a mini- hatchback with air conditioning from a well known hire car company!) It's tyres, I later found out were only half pumped up! We saw 2 Red- rumped Swallows flew by, whilst an evening trip to Potaki beach travelling along the road on the wires to the north some 30 Bee- eaters were amassed getting ready to leave to fly south. c10 Blue- headed Yellow Flava Wagtails were feeding on the road and rough ground in front of some sort of compound & had me driving around photographing them for 30 minutes until oops! an army soldier in full uniform walked out complete with Kalashnikov machine gun! I then nonchalently, drove off! By the marsh by a dyke, I saw an immature Purple Heron, it saw me and flew off joined by a further 2 immatures, 3 immature Purple Herons which flew around in circles three times before landing 110 yards behind their original haunt! 2 female Red- backed Shrikes seen on wires as I drove back, whilst trying to photograph, one of the Shrikes an Army vehicle drove up and observed me from 20 yards away before driving off! A Chiff- Chaff feeding on the ground by the Anna Studios car park. In the evening a walk revealed a Little Grebe on a Pool plus a YL Herring Gull in the harbour. An early morning walk on Friday 21st September revealed 2 Little Egret, a Grey Heron and 4 Little Grebe around the Pool. Plus 3 Little Owl, one on wires over the orchard, 1 on a post further along and 1 on a post in a field by the hotel, which posed for the camera nicely. A Fan- tailed Warbler flew out of some vegetation, 2 Great Tit also seen plus 2 calling Crested Larks and on wires a Hooded Crow was mobbing an unfortunate female Red- footed Falcon. 30 Bee- eaters were heard and seen flying high over the mountain. 2 Long- tailed Blue butterflies also seen. When we sat by the bar at the Anna Studios listening to the Thomson rep, 2 Crested Larks flew over low calling. Later on as I was taking things out to the car, I saw an excellent pale orange- tailed Long- legged Buzzard fly inland overhead and over the mountain. At Poseidon beach, Jenny went for a swim whilst in someone's back garden I saw a female Red- backed Shrike. Whilst walking back to the car parked in front of some Tamarisk Bushes I noticed first one then 2 then 3 Egyptian Grasshoppers perched along the branches checking further Tamarisk bushes I counted a total of 11 Egyptian Grasshoppers, a great tally. We then travelled near to Samos Town and on the journey saw another female Red- backed Shrike perched on top a bush. At Psilli Amnos, the water pans were completely dry although not completely devoid of life, a Mallow Skipper was seen on the grassy path down and it kept coming back to the area, posing for the camera. Plus 2 female and 1 male Spotted Darters species also seen further along on the left. The females had the ubiquitous yellow abdomens, the males slightly flattened orange red abdomens with notable yellow patches on the side. I had to be careful because 200 yards down the road was a large Army base!

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