Lesvos Birdwatching Trip 2022, Part II: The wild west

Lesvos Birdwatching Trip 2022, Part II: The wild west

After having a unforgetable first day (Read here about Day 1) birdwatching in Lesvos, the next day April 30th 2022 was dedicated to the wild west part of the best greek island for birdwatching. The highlight bird species are mostly hosted in the dry western part of the island, so our plans were to spend most of our day in that part.

Cinereous Bunting at Lesvos, Greece
Cinereous Bunting (Emberiza cineracea),
 a Lesvos highlight

Starting from Kalloni area, our first stop was Metochi Lake, a small pond that attracts crakes. Indeed, a Little Crake was spotted, as well as Night Herons, Woodchat and Masked Shrike. A Long-legged Buzzard was perching at a poplar beside the pool, and flew off after we arrived at the spot.

Turtle Dove at Lesvos, Greece
Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) at Metochi Lake, Lesvos

Red-rumped Swallow at Lesvos, Greece
Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)

Purple Heron
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)

Masked Shike in Lesvos island, Greece
Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus) at Metochi Lake, Kallon area

Persian Squirrel Lesvos, Greece
Persian Squirrel (Sciurus anomalus)
is a highlight mammal in Lesvos, Greece

Then we drove to the famous the famous mini soccer pitch, just 5 min drive north of the town of Kalloni. This is the best place to look for Scops Owl that roost basically in the eucalyptus and plane trees. This year, most of these trees were heavily pruned, however we managed to see a couple of birds, and take a few pictures.

Scops Owl at Lesvos Island, Greece
Scops Owl (Otus scops). Lesvos is the best place in Greece 
to enjoy great day views of this cryptic species of owl.

The journey to the west has just started. The hill at Ipsilou Monastery is a must stop for any birder visiting the island in spring. This year, the north winds were really strong, so the area was not very producting. The hightlights were 3 Short-toed Snake Eagles and 2 Sombre Tits. Normally, one could spend even an entire morning birdwatching on this hill, but because of the weather, we decided to move to the coast, hoping for more favorable conditions.

Short-toed Snake Eagle, at Lesvos Island
One of the three Short-toed Snake Eagles (Circaetus gallicus) at Ipsilou Monastery

The Sigri Pertified Forest is one of the most important geological parks of the world. It is also breeding area for one of the two most wanted birds on the island: the Cinereous Bunting. Lesvos island is the only European place that this species breeds successfully. We had excellent views of several male and female birds, about 1 km before the entrance of the Petrified forest. We also enjoyed many Eastern Black-eared Wheatears, Stonechats and lots of Crested Larks.

Cinerous Bunting at Sigri Petrified Forest, Lesvos
Cinerous Bunting at Sigri Petrified Forest, Lesvos

Crested Larks in west Lesvos
Crested Larks (Gallerida cristata) are everywhere in west Lesvos

Our next stop was Faneromeni. The whole area around the river mouth of Faneromeni ford is excellent for passing migrants. Among other, lots of Lesser Grey Shrikes, Little Bitterns and hundreds of Bee-eaters were recorded. Red-rumped Swallows were building their nest in the chapel right that is on the north part of the beach. One can sit inside the chapel and enjoy the process of nest building, from these wonderful hirundines.

Spanish Sparrow taking a bath at Faneromeni river
Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis) taking a bath at Faneromeni river

Levant Sparrowhawk migrating north
Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes) migrating north

Female Red-footed Falcon perching at Sigri area
Female Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) perching at Sigri area

After a short lunch stop at Sigri, we started driving the road that connects Sigri and Eressos. The road this year was in excellent condition, hopefully it will stay like this from now on. Two  Levant Sparrowhawks were the first species of raptors that we briefly saw in the area, and later on a female Red-footed Falcon and two Lesser Kestrels. The chapel at the beginning of Tsichliondas stream (know also as Meladia Valley) was full of migrants warbler, such as Icterive Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Subalpine Warbler, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler. A female Montagu’s Harrier was flying low over the fields.

Eastern Orphean Warbler at Meladia Chapel
Eastern Orphean Warbler (Sylvia crassirostris) at Meladia Chapel

Lesser Whitethroat at Meladia Chapel, Lesvos
Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) at Meladia Chapel

Montagu's Harrier at Tsichlondas, Lesvos
Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygarcus) at Tsichlondas river mouth

Spotted Flycatcher at Meladia Chapel
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) at Meladia Chapel

Starred Agama everywhere in Lesvos island
Starred Agama (Laudakia stellio) is probably
the most abundant lizard in Lesvos island

After spending two very productive hours birdwatching around the chapel, we had one of the days hightlights a few minutes later, at the road bridge that overpasses Tsichliondas stream. A striking female Citrine Wagtail wondering between the rounded stones, constantly catching small insects from the water. The bird was rather dare, not seeming to be affected in any way by our presence. Another awesome bird was a Temminck’s Stint and a Spotted Redshank

Citrine Wagtail at Tsichlondas stream, Meladia valley
Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola) at Tsichlondas stream

Citrine Wagtail at Tsichlondas stream, Meladia valley
Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola) at Tsichlondas stream

Little Stint at Tsichlondas stream, Meladia valley
Little Stint (Calidris minuta) in a very rocky habitat

Levant Water Frogs at Tsichlondas stream, Meladia valley
Levant Water Fogs (Pelophylax bedriagae) basking on a rock

We ended our birding day in the west part of Lesvos at Eressos area, were we saw a pair of Rock Nuthatches taking care of their nest. A long but absolutely satisfying day of birding had come to an end, with a delicious dinner at the picturesque village of Skala Eressos.

Just an hour before sunset we were again at Kalloni wetlands, were a Spotted Crake was very active in the north part of the area, just beside the main road. A few more pics of Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts and sevral species of Terns

Spotted Crake at Kalloni wetlands
Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) at Kalloni wetlands

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

Ruff (Phylomachus pugnax) at Kalloni Lesvos
Ruff (Phylomachus pugnax)

Black-winged Stilt at Kalloni Lesvos
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), an elegant shorebird

Full bird list for April 30th 2022

Greater Flamingo
White Stork
Black Stork

Little Crake
Little Bittern
Squacco Heron
Purple Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Great Egret
Little Egret 
Long-legged Buzzard
Common Buzzard
Short-toed Snake Eagle
Montagu's Harrier
Levant Sparrowhawk
Lesse Kestrel
Common Kestrel
Red-footed Falcon
Black-winged Stilt
Temminck's Stint
Little Stint
Little Owl
Scops Owl
Middle Spotted Woodpecker
Red-backed Shrike
Masked Shrike
Woodchat Shrike
Lesser-Grey Shrike
Hooded Crow
Feral Pigeon
Collared Dove
Turtle Dove
Common Swift
Pallid Swift
Alpine Swift
House Martin
Red-rumped Swallow
Barn Swallow
Sand Martin
Black-capped Eurasian Jay
Rock Nuthatch
Great Tit
Sombre Tit
Crested Lark
Blue Tit
Citrine Wagtail
Black-headed Yellow Wagtail
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Cetti's Warbler
Reed Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Eastern Orphean Warbler
Lesser Whithtroat
Icterine Warbler
Willow Warbler
Wood Warbler
Sardinian Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher
Collared Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher
Common Nightingale
Blue Rock Thrush

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear
Northern Wheatear
House Sparrow
Cirl Bunting
Cinereous Bunting
Cretzschmar's Bunting
Corn Bunting