Lesvos (part 1)

Last weekend I visited Lesvos. Lesvos is a very popular destination for birdwatchers and photographers. This is for two main reasons. The first is that it combines a wide variety of habitats with the most famous being the Kalloni saltworks. The second reason is that a number of bird species very difficult (if not impossible) to be spotted elsewhere in Greece or even in Europe can be seen there. Species such as the Kruper’s Nuthatch, the Cinereous Bunting or the White-throated Robin. The best time to visit the island is from early April to early May.

I arrived at the airport of Mytilene on Friday morning. Savvas picked me up since he had arrived the previous night, but the bad news was that the weather was very cold and it was raining, which is unusual for the season. Nevertheless we set off for the region of Achladeri hoping to find the Kruper’s Nuthatch for the first time. On our way there and as we were passing by the area of Skala Kallonis we spotted two Ruddy Shelducks in a relatively short distance. It was a good sign and we cheer up a bit despite the bad weather.

Unfortunately in Achladeri we only managed to find many Masked Shrikes, a species which is quite difficult to find elsewhere in Greece but in Lesvos proved to be very common. We spend the rest of the day at the Skala Kallonis area and we found several species of Waders, Terns and Herons (with one Cattle Egret among them). Unfortunately, although we searched every possible site in the region we were unable to find Citrine Wagtail or Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin which were our most ambitious targets.

The next day the weather was better and the company became bigger but the time available for photos was less. That is because both Nicks arrived, were avid birdwatchers but not photographers. With the help of Helen who is resident on the island we managed to find our first Kruper’s Nuthatch at Achladeri area but my initial enthusiasm soon became disappointment as my main camera lens (a Canon EF 500 f/4L IS) failed suddenly. Fortunately I had my trusty 100-400 so I managed to have some decent photos, even though more cropped than my preferences.

The rest of the day was spend scanning the area of Kalloni and the entire west side of the island with many successes and disappointments and even though we found Cinereous Buntings in Agra and Isabelline Wheatears at Ipsilou monastery, we were unable to find Citrine Wagtail, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, the Baillon’s Crake seen earlier that day in a small pond near the village Dafia, Olive-tree Warbler or White-throated Robin which is very rare for the island anyway.

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