Sunday, 31 May 2015

Waders, Woods and Marsh Warbler

30th May

I went down to the seafront to check the presence of any waders which proved fruitful again, the 4 dunlin, 2 sanderling, 9 turnstones, 22 ringed plovers and 5 curlew still lingering on...for what. Another surprise was a lone bar-tailed godwit that kept company with the curlew and oystercatchers. The 37 strong shelduck flock still patronized the area in front of the outfall, now almost a month, why they are here I don't know, I've never see so many at this time before. The only other birds of note were a couple of common terns and 4 egrets.
On the plots the usual species including buzzard, whitethroat, stonechat, goldfinch, swallows and swifts, also a fox in the pumping station grounds.

 A young Fox I Think


As the tide came in the waders flew to one of the beaches as someone felt the need to walk out onto the 'island that was' and flush them. In a way, fortunate, as I was able to get a closer shot from the top of seawall down onto the beach.

 Dunlin (a big one on the left) and Ringed Plover

The left hand sanderling seems to have a very long bill!

From there I had a diversion to Tesco after which I made a quick visit to a pond in Thornden Wood to photograph some odonata. The only ones on show were broad-bodied chasers and a couple of blue-tails, a bit disappointing.

Watching the chasers I noted that after mating the female went to deposit eggs into some floating weed but escorted/guarded by the male who stayed quite close while she did this.

Early evening, I received a text from Andy Malone who heard a marsh warbler singing whilst walking his dog. Fortunately, Andy stayed with it as my ears would never pick it up but I did manage to get a few distant shots.  

Marsh Warbler

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Westbere and Seasalter

28th May

Just before going to Westbere I stopped to check the HT roost finding; 34 turnstones, 5 dunlin and 14 ringed plovers.

At Westbere it was still windy and mainly sunny which was not the best conditions. I met Mike Roser, Warren Baker and friend, all of us hoping for some good views of odonata. 

 Blue-tailed Damselfly

 Variable Damselfly

Baby Blackcap on path!

Spoonbills at Grove

27th May

After hearing about the Grove spoonbills I nipped down there at 7.00pm., rather dull but they were still visible from the ramp allowing me a couple of record shots. Plenty of coloured rings!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Waders Still Present at SS

26th May

I only had a chance for an evening visit today and to my surprise again waders are still present on the 'island' roost. I counted 34 turnstones, 4 dunlin, 25 ringed plovers and 2 sanderling. Also a cuckoo was calling all the time from the plots.

  What was once an island has now joined the main beach which may lead to the roost being disturbed 

Some nice vegetation growing on the beach at Seasalter

Monday, 25 May 2015

Seasalter Again

Mon.25th May

A visit to the HT roost at Seasalter this evening produced 11 dunlin, 23 ringed plovers and 13 turnstones, unusual for this time of year. Unfortunately, whilst I was watching some 'chap' just walked out onto the 'island' (that was, now joined to the beach) and scared everything off. How is it when you are clearly watching something people feel the need to go and do this - he was just seeing how far he could through stones. Give him the benefit of the doubt, he perhaps didn't realize what I was doing with my scope!  Also 1 Sandwich tern and 4 egrets over the plots. It was just a short visit and quite cold. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015


24th May

As the tide was going out I was surprised to see 6 dunlin, 6 ringed plovers, 4 turnstones and 6 curlew still to be seen on the shingle bar. Inland, the coot family still had their 7 chicks and the stonechat family were still active along with all the reed warblers and whitethroats etc.. Geoff recorded a bearded tit and an overflying greenshank which is a new one for the year. A short visit tonight revealed 71 black-tailed godwits near the Sportsman, close into the beach as the tide went out. Also 2 sandwich terns, 4 common terns, 3 egrets, whitethroat but still no little tern.  There were 5 possibles this morning but being so far out it was not possible to be sure.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Dragonfly Time

Thurs. 21st
Took a leisurely walk around Thornden Wood finding a couple of ponds with dragonflies on the wing. Also I saw several garden warblers, two that were especially close plus chiffchaffs and blackcaps. Only had the little bridge camera which gives a big depth of field but not a particularly detailed shot.

 Azure Damselfly - Coenagrion puella. The only 'blue' seen

 Large Red Damselfly- Pyrrhosoma nymphula

 Female Broad-bodied chaser - Libellula depressa. Egg laying, chased by several fast flying males

Large red damselfly- never realized the female has blue legs!
Also my 3 books describes the thorax as black with red stripes not GREEN as seen here! Perhaps it changes colour later???

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Lesbos, Day 14

Fri. 1st May

A beautiful sunny day, temperatures rising to 24 degs and no wind - the last day before going home  a potential for some more ticks!  I heard olive tree warblers were in at one of their usual spots so it was out and straight there. That being a good forty minute drive towards the  Polynichtos olive grove and yes a couple singing away nicely. Back to the raptor watch point seeing a squacco heron perched on a rock by the shore.  There was a unpresidented  amount of traffic as it was a bank holiday but they couldn't have all come from Mytilini - we were told later they were all from Turkey!

Squacco Heron

There were c.20 birders at the viewpoint peering out to the south all the while Turkish holidaymakers were waving and tooting as they drove past wondering what all these strange people were doing! We were told a lesser-spotted eagle had gone over earlier which is one I wanted to see however, whilst everyone was looking through their scopes I spotted something large coming our way. It soon took the shape of a griffon vulture as I have seen plenty before in Africa.  Getting a few scopers onto it they all confirmed the ID and then another was found higher up.  

Olivaceous Warbler

After that excitement together with a sparrowhawk as well, we went for lunch in Skala Kalloni, I dropped the other half off to do some packing etc whilst I went to the saltpans again.  Yet another two ticks were on the cards, a black tern was mixed in with the whiskered flock and a bird that has always been easy to see in past years finally revealed itself, bee-eaters, a flock of seven, couldn't imagine it possible not to see them.  Over the two weeks, 153 species - only took my bins and camera.

The Saltpans Always Busy In The Evening

 Black Stork

 Black-winged Stilt


That about wraps it up, sorry its been a long time getting this blog done but going through the 1300+ pictures I brought back, plus I was deleting each night, it has been a learning curve, ie not to do it again! A more shortened type of account in the future I think. 

Lesbos, Day 13

Thurs. 30th

A lovely sunny day and hot with no wind. We took a drive to the saltpans through the East River and on the way saw black stork, sedge and reed warblers, several cetti's, black-headed bunting, great reed warbler and a wooodchat.

 Black-headed Bunting

 Finished Penduline Tit Nest 

Afterwards took the other route towards Eressos, via Agra with several stops seeing woodchat and masked shrikes, Persian squirrels, a tortoise, orphean warblers and black-eared wheartears.


  Made our way back throught the centre island road and called in at the Limonas Monastry for coffee and a search for the middle spotted woodpecker which was in a out of sight hole behind the cafe.

The woodpecker could only be seen on this pole as it neared its tree nest

Whilst I sat watching for the woodpecker with another photographer our two wives took a tour around the monastry- some lovely peacocks in the grounds. Of note there appeared to be a series of large cages in the grounds involved a breeding programme for the chukars!

Lastly we returned to the saltpans which were pretty empty, nothing new anyway but on our return to the East river and hotel we stopped to hear two quail calling on the track only a feet away but impossible to see.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Lesbos, Day 12

Wed. 29th

Followed Rob up to the Potamia Valley where he pointed out a middle-spotted woodpecker's nest hole in the olive grove he found the other day. 

 I took a few distant photos then we headed over towards Mt Olympus to a small valley we usually visit finding serins, greenfinches, wren and a short-toed eagle (the commonest raptor). 


 Short-toed Eagle

We then drove the beach track to Polynichtos and the saltpansbut again very little to see, just a few stilts and woodsands.  The drive back was better with half a dozen black-headed buntings, a short-toed lark on the track, and a masked shrike in the olive grove.

 Masked Shrike

Short-toed Lark

Making our way back to the saltpans we stopped to see a red-backed shrike and at the saltpans a citrine wagtail was on view and posing for lots of photographers.  I also got a few close shots of a female marsh harrier from the track back to the East river. Later on after dinner we watched the barn owl that has a regular nest site in a chimmney in the village square.


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Lesbos Day 11

Tues. 28th

A sunny day with temperatures rising to 24 degs but a very strong wind. First stop was to visit the Demoiselle crane (first ever for Lesbos) again as it was still in the same field and just behind us a reed warbler was singing away.

 'I'm a celebrity get me out of here'

 'Got any bread'

Reed Warbler

Next stop was to pay our respects to the scops owl mob at the mini soccer pitch and also try to see the middle-spotted  woodpecker  that was  nesting close by. It was then time to earn  brownie points as  I promised an hours 'shopping' for the other half in Kalloni. Sat in a cafe some of the time then  did the business, it  was surprising  to  see  the variety  of shops that  lurked in  the  little back roads of   this 'agricultural' town.

 Jay - different to ours

Scops Owl - Only Found Three This Morning

After lunch in the village we went back along the East river finding a group of ibises feeding in the shallows. The wind  was still very strong and  most small birds were  hiding up so  we drove out to Acklederi beach  again seeing  almost  absolutely nothing. We finished  off at the saltpans as usual finding  nothing new, I counted  the 320 strong  flock of  avocets that  is always  there, then photographed a couple of common terns.