Even with all the media refugee scare stories I new Lesbos would still be a great place to bird and so I booked getting the lowest price ever! After a few days it was clear there were no refugee problems and we didn't see one or any sign of them at all. However, many small businesses across the island suffered because of the media scare stories and our flight was only two thirds full, birders and aid workers. We arrived a couple of hours after the Pope flew in for his visit and had a few delays with road closures as the Pope made his way to the camp at Moria which is a few miles from Mytilini.
It was quiet the first week and quite hot (28 degs) some days and later windy which on one day made birding difficult. The saltpans channel contained virtually nothing, just a few stilts, very disappointing although in the second week the odd greenshank, marsh sandpiper put in an appearance plus a regular 3 Temminck's stints and a few other waders but nothing like what I have seen in the past. The Kalloni pool is still overgrown but several wood sandpipers and a regular flock of c.30 glossy ibis's were always good to see.
The East River or its real name 'Tsiknias River' has always turned up the goods and so it did this year with the penduline tits nesting again and downstream to the ford, spotted, little and Baillon's crakes coming out onto a partially submerged tyre in the river. This shortly went missing after a couple of days, removed for some reason, no doubt by a photographer who didn't want it in his picture as one or two photographers were camped out on the dry river bed rather than viewing from the river bank!
Black storks were quite common, always a couple on the river or saltpans and often seen soaring in the sky. This one below was dancing around trying to catch small fish fry.
Red-throated pipits were easy to see this year with up to 22 on the damp field in front of the pans, it was quite dry this year, other times this field has been a sheet of water with loads of birds.
Just a small wet patch for the red-throated pipits this year.
Several yellow 'dombrowskii' Romanian wagtails around the saltpans.
On Monday the 18th took the usual route to the pans seeing; little owl, marsh harrier, com. sandpiper, little bittern, grt reed warbler, 1 grt egret, 12 little egrets and wood sands etc.
Great Reed Warbler
Then a drive north to the Kavaki cliffes to see the Ruppells warbler, perched on its usual bush as it has done for year upon year. Also here were blue rock thrush, black-eared wheatears, linnets and raven.
After lunch in Petra we made our way back to Kalloni stopping at the mini soccer pitch to see Scop's owl then onto Achlerderi finding goshawk serin, cirling bunting and a middle spotted woodpecker.
Another morning we saw kingfisher, 10 purple herons and a nice citrine wagtail with the red-throated pipits. A new bird for me was pheasant, seen along the coastal track too the Polichnitos saltpans after which we found tawny pipit a couple of woodchats and a masked shrike.
Driving to higher areas we found wren and a lovely all blue damselfly with the odd name, Odalisque, found near streams, which it was.
A trip to the western part of the island was very poor, just the odd collared flycatcher, no migration seen at all, a real job to find spotflys and wood warblers compared to other years. However, on the way crag martins, Cretzschmars bunting, rock nuthatches and buzzards.
Towards the end of the first week we had seen, 5 red-footed falcons, lesser kestrels, 10 bee-eaters, whinchats, red-rumped swallows, LRPs, middle spotted woodpeckers and Kruipers nuthatch.
Whinchats - common
Bee-eater on fence at the saltpans
Kruipers Nuthatch found at a different site this year
Another successful visit to see the Ruppells Warbler- at least 3 in one spot, raven also
This was a surprise, I thought all the donkey users were gone but clearly one or two are still in use!
One of the Glossy Ibises opposite the hotel
Six Ferruginous ducks were found at the start of the Potamia Valley
Black-headed buntings began to arrive in the second week
Common Sandpiper along the coastal track
Two collared pratincoles were on the beach by the Alikoudi Pool
Ruff - small numbers
The usual Spur winged plover paid its annual visit but didn't bring any friends
Lesser Grey Shrike
On the last day a roller- distant shot plus a great spotted cuckoo