Lesvos Birdwatching Trip 2022, Part I

Lesvos Birdwatching Trip 2022, Part I

Lesvos Island is best birdwatching destination in South-Eastern Europe. Every year, thousands of birds use the islands' unspoiled and variable habitats to breed or simply as a vital stopover during their annual migration movements.

Cretzschmar's Bunting at Haramida, Lesvos
Cretzschmar's Bunting at Haramida, Lesvos

After two years of COVID-19 quarantine, a birding trip in Lesvos was a must for most European avid birders. We decided to organize a short, 3 days tour in the island, after waiting so long before our last visit.

We stayed at Pasiphae Hotel, like we do in the last 10 years. The owner Vasilis Vogiatzis and his family are always there to welcome birders from around the world that arrive in spring.
For our car rentals we used Tsalis Car Rental https://www.lesvosrentals.gr/ always reliable with great prices and customer services.
For our two-way flights Athens to Mytilene we used Aegean Airlines

So we arrived early in the afternoon of Friday, April 29th 2022 at Mylilene Airport. The first birds we saw were flying House Martins, looking for small flying insects. They nest in the buildings of the airport terminal, lots of nests can be easily seen just stepping out of the main entrance. Hooded Crows were just next to our car parking, while Great Cormorants were seen at the sea. 

Since we had only a few hours available the first day, we decided to discover the east-south part of the island, close to the airport. Our first destination was the rocky area before the village of Haramida, about 20min drive from the airport. This is an excellent spot for breeding Rueppell's Warblers, with easy access, right on the main road. The majority of birders avoid this area, as they drive right to Kalloni Bay, really missing one of the best locations, not only for Rueppell's Warbler, but also for Cretzschmar's Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear, Cirl Bunting, Subalpine Warbler, Chukar.

Ruppell's Warbler at Haramida, Lesvos
Ruppell's Warbler at Haramida, Lesvos

Just a couple of kilometers away, Haramida wetland is found, which can be excellent for close views of all marsh Terns. The west part of the island has recently become a must-visit birding site because of another reason: Laughing Doves have started to breed since 2020, with great success. Since then, 8 birds are present today at the village of Loutra. Locals treat Laughing Doves at their village masquote, as these birds attract visitors who want to enjoy this rare for Europe, species of dove. The birds are nesting in old house windows, in relatively exposed places, offering close up views of their everyday life.

Laughing Dove at Loutra, Lesvos
Laughing Dove at Loutra, Lesvos

Heading towards Kalloni Bay, we stopped at Messa wetland. Ruddy Shelduck here is the highlight species, as there are always 10-20 birds just beside the main ponds facing the sea beach. We also saw the first waders, Litte Ringed Plovers, Ruff, Wood Sandpipers, Little Stints. A beautiful Steppe Buzzard is recorded there since winter time, so we had the chance to see this raptor flying next to us for a while

Colorful fields in full blossom in Lesvos island
Colorful fields in full blossom in Lesvos island

Here is the species list of an afternoon birding in Lesvos on Friday,
April 29th 2022
 warming up for the next days!

White Stork
Great Cormorant
Little Grebe
Ruddy Shelduck (@Messa, Kalloni)
Black-winged Stilt
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Squacco Heron
Great White Egret
Little Ringed Plover
Little Stint
Wood Sandpiper
Water Rail
Common Buzzard
Steppe Buzzard (@Messa)
Common Tern
Little Tern
Whiskered Tern
Black-winged Tern
Alpine Swift
Common Swift
Pallid Swift
Barn Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
House Martin
Collared Dove
Laughing Dove (@Loutra)

Hooded Crow
Eurasian Jay
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Black-eared Wheatear
Cetti's Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Olivaceous Warbler
Sardinian Warbler (@Haramida)
Ruppell's Warbler (@Haramida)
Lesser Grey Shrike
Woodchat Shrike|
Red-backed Shrike
House Sparrow
Cretzschmar's Bunting (@Haramida)
Cirl Bunting
Corn Bunting

Spyros Skareas
Bird Guide and Certified Tour Leader
Athens, GREECE