More Lesvos bird casualties

Again, my friends at the Lesvos Wildlife Hospital have sent me more sad images of injured and dead birds from the island.

The first of these, the White Pelican above, is the well-knowned and much-loved bird which has lived around the harbour at Skala Kallonis for many years. The bird was deliberately knocked down by a pick-up truck earlier this month and the hospital tell me that she (I never knew it was a she!) is likley to live but will almost certainly lose one of her legs. They are looking at whether they can fit an artificial limb.

The two Greater Flamingos were part of four birds found shot at Mytilini Castle. Three were dead when foud, the fourth had to be put down.

TSALIS - 15% off your Lesvos hire car!


Lesvos Birding uses TSALIS for all its rental vehicles and tour needs.

Birders - get 15% off by mentioning Lesvos Birding!

tsalis is a family-owned business based in Kalloni, Lesvos. By using local companies more of the money you spend stays on the island and supports the island's economy. Contact tsalis - click here.

*** prices held - 2011 prices for 2013! ***
2013 prices – mention Lesvos Birding and get 15% off listed prices

Most popular groups
Group A, Kia Picanto or similar with A/C
Day rate €36, 7 days €189 (€25 for each extra day)

Group B, Opel Corsa or similar with A/C
Day rate €41, 7 days €224 (€30 for each additional day)

Group C, Hyundai Accent 1.3 with A/C or similar
Day rate €46, 7 days €245 (€33 for each additional day)

Group F, AUTOMATIC, Opel Corsa Easytronic A/C or similar
Day rate €51, 7 days €294 (€40 for each additional day)

Group K, Opel Meriva with A/C or similar
Day rate €55, 7 days €308 (€42 for each additional day)

Group I, Suzuki Jimmy 1.3 Jeep or similar
Day rate €61, 7 days €315 (€40 for each additional day)

Group J, Suzuki Vitara 1.6 Jeep or similar
Day rate €71, 7 days €385 (€50 for each additional day)

Also available cabrios and minibuses – email for details, plus special rates for 3, 4, 5 or 6 days.

Remember – mention Lesvos Birding to get your 15% discount!
Contact tsalis - click here.

The above rates include: CDW, Taxes, delivery /collection from accommodation and 24hr road assistance.

Airport/Harbour Charge: €20. Free after 4 days.
Baby seats: Available on request with a daily charge of €2.00 (max €25.00).
NONE of the insurances cover damage of tires, wheel rims, mirrors, crystals as well as mechanical and underneath the vehicle damage!!
Reservations are made by group not by car type. Above terms and rates are subject to changes without notice.

Support local business (and not multi-nationals!) and use the TSALIS garage just north of Kalloni town centre on the Petra road to fill up your car.

For flights, etc.

Contact TSALIS - click here. Remember to mention Lesvos Birding!

Poaching on Lesvos

Corncrakes illegally hunted near Agiasos, Sept 07. Photo E. Kakalis courtesy HOS.

Last month one of the largest ever cases of illigal bird killing in Greece was uncovered from Lesvos.

In Sept game wardens unearthed the poaching around Agiasos which included an astonishing 32 Corncrakes, a species which is globally threatened.

Charges are being pressed.

For fuller story click here.

Terms and Conditions

Lesvos Birding day trip terms and conditions

1. Reservations
A reservation has been made when you have paid the required payment. Booking requests will be considered in order of receipt. A telephone or email booking will be noted from the date of the telephone call or email provided it is followed by receipt of the appropriate confirmation and payment within seven days.

A booking is accepted from the date your booking is confirmed. At this point, a contract between the applicant and Lesvos Birding is effective. All contracts and matters arising from it are subject to English law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.
Lesvos Birding reserves the right to decline any bookings.

2. Payments
Payment for single day trips are required in full at the time of booking.

Payment for multiple day trips require a £25 per person per trip deposit, the remaining amount to be paid in full by 31 January.

3. Refunds
Refunds for day trips cancelled by the customer will be made in full up to 31 January. Any cancellations between 1 February and 28 February will incur a £25 per person per day trip cancellation charge. No refunds for cancellations made after 28 February.

Where a trip is cancelled by Lesvos Birding the customer will receive a full refund of all monies paid at the date of cancellation.

Lesvos Birding strongly advises you take out adequate insurance cover to protect you from cancellation within four weeks of the date of the trip.

4. Consumer protection
All deposits and advance monies paid to Lesvos Birding in respect of my tours will be held in a trustee guarantee account until the completion of the trip. In the event of my insolvency all monies will be fully refunded.

5. Trip cancellation
Lesvos Birding reserves the right to cancel any day trip for which there are insufficient reservations up to the day before the date of the trip. In the event of my cancellation, all payments made to Lesvos Birding will be refunded in full.

6. What the price includes
The price of the day trip includes all land travel and meals as specified in the itinerary of each individual day trip and the services of a tour leader throughout.

The following items are not included in the cost: return airfare, travel insurance, passport and visa costs, vaccinations and medication, excess baggage charges, telephone calls, laundry, drinks and food (unless specified in the tour details), tips and items of a purely personal nature.

7. Alterations
Changes in the itinerary may occur. Changes will be made to the stated itinerary if it is felt that they will benefit the tour by providing better birdwatching and wildlife opportunities. The itinerary detailed in any promotion, advertisement, brochure or webpages is therefore an illustration of the sites we may visit to gain the maximum birdwatching and wildlife benefit from a tour, and any birds or animals listed are an example of the species present and which may be possibly seen.

Costs for spring 2013 are based on cost forecasts in August 2012. Lesvos Birding has done everything within its control to accurately forecast the costs of day trips based on information available at the time of planning. Lesvos Birding reserves the right to pass on any significant increases in costs to Lesvos Birding in providing the day trip due to currency changes or increase in local costs which are beyond the control of Lesvos Birding

8. Passport, visa and health requirements
In order to travel to Lesvos all visitors are responsible for, and must be in possession of, a full British passport, valid for at least six months beyond the end of the tour.

Visitors to Lesvos must obtain any necessary visas and vaccination certificates required for entry into Greece (none necessary for EU citizens). Because of changing requirements, and the fact that the tour details are published so far in advance, specific requirements are not always stated.

It is the visitor's absolute responsibility to seek medical advice regarding vaccinations and medication to ensure that they are prepared by the date of their departure. Any medical information supplied to Lesvos Birding must be considered as a guide only. Lesvos Birding is not responsible for your medical care and you must take all necessary steps to ensure that you are fit enough to undertake any trip including bringing with you any medication or medical care you may need during the duration of the tour and a copy of your travel insurance in case any medical needs arise.

Lesvos Birding recommends all EU citizens carry a European Health Insurance Card for tours.

9. Day Trip Information
General and more specific information will be made available to all participants. This may include details such as expected climate and clothing requirements, recommended reading, bird species we are likely to encounter, flight/ferry information, etc. Any information provided is done so as a guide and not an absolute and Lesvos Birding bears no responsibility for any actions taken on any advice given.

Please note, however, that there is absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that specific bird or other wildlife species listed in any information will be seen. Events such as floods, storms, fires etc. may prevent a day trip from visiting certain areas resulting in specific bird species being missed, Lesvos Birding will not accept responsibility for this. Any list provided is merely an indication of the species we may encounter on a tour.

10. Insurance
Travel insurance is essential. This will ensure that the necessary protection is provided against loss of payment, and medical costs, which can be enormous, should you fall ill during your visit to Lesvos. Please note that travel insurance rarely provides sufficient cover for expensive optical equipment; you are therefore recommended to add this to your home insurance policy under the 'All risks' section prior to departure. You will be required to provide Lesvos Birding with details of your insurance prior to departure.

11. Restrictions on participationLesvos Birding trips do not normally entail strenuous activity but, if this cannot be avoided, it will be made clear in the trip details. Nevertheless, participants must be able to complete moderate walks of several miles a day, sometimes on uneven or slippery surfaces, to meet the schedule of any trip. If you have any health problems or physical limitations, you are required to advise Lesvos Birding prior to booking.

Small groups do, of course, call for consideration from all to ensure that everybody enjoys the tour. Your co-operation in not participating in any antisocial behaviour is therefore expected.

Lesvos Birding operate a strict no-smoking policy. Tour participants will not be permitted to smoke whilst with the group.

Lesvos Birding reserves the right to cancel the participation of any any participant, and return to their holiday accommodation will be at their own expense, who will not conduct themselves in an acceptable manner, at my sole discretion.

12. Group size
Trips are restricted to 7 participants (excluding leaders). Lesvos Birding reserves the right to change leaders without notice. The minimum size of a group is 3 participants, if the number of bookings does not reach this figure up to the day before of any day trip, Lesvos Birding reserves the right to cancel the trip and refund the full amount paid by all participants.

13. Lesvos Birding responsibilityLesvos Birding will take all reasonable steps to ensure that all services provided are of an acceptable standard.

Lesvos Birding cannot accept liability for physical injury, loss, damage or expense resulting from any event whatsoever beyond its control. Insurance is therefore absolutely essential.

14. Your responsibility
In addition to any medical information pertinent to the trip (see 8), you are required to inform Lesvos Birding about any other personal condition or need (e.g. dietary requirement) in advance of the tour. Unusual conditions and diets should be checked with Lesvos Birding prior to a booking being made.

15. Data Protection Act
Your records are maintained on a computer and are not divulged to anyone else.

16. Errors and Omissions
Whilst the greatest care is taken in the preparation of any trip details, mistakes can occur. Unless the error or omission has a major effect on a trip to the extent that the number of species seen is materially affected then no claim for compensation can be entertained.

Your guide, to your Guide, Steve Dudley

Sorry, I'm not one of life's naturals in front of the camera. All the ones below are from one of my Gambian trips with Liz - she's usually the only one who can get a shot of me! Here I've been captured on a summer's evening birding the Nene Washes.
Email me.
I'm increasingly known as 'Mr Lesvos' after visiting the island annually since 2000 and leading over 30 birding trips, spring and autumn, to Lesvos and in recent times running I've also recently written a new birding guide to the island - A Birdwatching Guide to Lesvos.
For more about the man behind the bins, read on . . .
Born in Lancashire I’m one of those loud northern types (but very likable none-the-less!). Even though I left Lancashire aged 18, I still have a decidedly Lancastrian twang to my accent which to be truthful I’m immensely proud of. I always say I’m proud of being Lancastrian but would never want to live there! Well, the weather’s crap and eastern England birding and wildlife watching is infinitely better!

Although I largely grew up in the country, I took up birding late at the age of 17. My Uncle Paul was a huge influence being the nature-lover of the family. I soon realised that this is ‘what I wanted to do’, so at 18 I left home to go and live as a full-time volunteer at the RSPB Fairburn Ings reserve where in 1986 I was appointed as Summer Assistant Warden (then the RSPB’s youngest warden) and my first ever boss in birding was Geoff Welch (who is stil with the RSPB as their International Management Plans Adviser). I did a couple of years of contracts with the RSPB working in interesting places such as Nene Washes, Gwenffrwd & Dinas and Ynys Ferig (Ynys Mon).

In 1987 I arrived at the BTO. I did my now usual trick of sticking around as a volunteer, and in 1988 I was appointed to the staff in the Ringing Unit processing ringed bird recoveries and working alongside the great, but sadly late, Chris Mead. In 1991 I was appointed as the BTO’s Membership Development Officer working with Paul Green running the BTO’s Regional Network, the Bird Clubs Partnership, organising conferences, and all things to do with members. At the BTO I worked and birded with some great people (a couple mentioned above) including John Marchant whose Shorebirds book I had long-treasured. Also working in the same building with the likes of Rob Fuller whose Bird Habitats book was my first proper ornithological rather than birding book.

I rarely feel at home anywhere other than when at home. The real exceptions are Lesvos, and as here, in The Gambia.
By this time I lived in Norfolk and was a national birder and twitcher. I sort of leapt to twitching infamy in 1990 when I, some would say recklessly, hired the MS Oldenburg to twitch the Ancient Murrelet on isle of Lundy (Devon). It was a £10,000 gamble which thankfully paid off! In 1991 I ran the BTO’s Leica-list competition – a year-long listing competition. I undertook the year-list challenge myself and clocked up over 300 species (this was pre-pagers, so this was more than good at the time) and the whole thing raised c.£50,000 for the BTO.
I was an early digiscoper but since I rarely carry a scope in anger in the UK anymore, the chances are few. Digiscoping is now mainly something I do on trips.

In 1995 I went to work for Leica as their UK National Optics Manager. I had already been involved in product development since 1991 and although I left their staff in 1997, I remained a member of their Optical Innovation Team until 2010 and helped to design all their observation products since the early 90s (Televid scopes, Ultravid binoculars, etc). I’ve long been obsessed with birding kit, optics in particular. Being involved with one of the greatest optical companies in the world, and they listening to this upstart from Lancashire in developing some of the greatest birding optics we’ve ever seen, is one of my proudest achievements.

In 1997 I moved back into ornithology when I left Leica to run the British Ornithologists’ Union. When I started my career in birds as a young RSPB warden, I never thought for a minute that I would end up being a charity administrator! The BOU might be small, but it’s diverse and allows me to express myself. I’m a publisher, conference organiser, accountant, designer – I’m the jack of all trades that a small charity such as the BOU needs to get by. I get to work from home in the fens for a great employer who allows me great flexibility in what else I can do.

The other things the BOU allow me to do help to keep me sane! Over the last 20 or so years I've had my fingers in many pies including helping Leica to develop new products, as both a contributor and consultant for Bird Watching magazine, and I am or have been consultant for many other birding-related companies such as Vine House Farm Bird Foods, Newpro UK. In recent years I have been acting publisher for Subbuteo Natural History Books/Arlequin Press, publishing works as diverse as All the birds of Brazil and the second edition of The Red Kite monograph. I've recently teamed up with old optical friends who run Minox. They sponsored by Lesvos book and are now to be involved with Lesvos Birding and me involved with them. Looking forward to a new challenge.
My second wildlife love has always been dragonflies. I was introduced to them when I was at Fairburn Ings by warden Geoff Welch. I’ve enjoyed them just as much as birds over the years, and one of the reasons I moved to the fens in 2002 – I wanted to be closer to both birds and dragonflies and the fens is great for both. Whenever I want, I grab my bins and walk out of the door on to the open fen and breathe. Birds and dragonflies are my lungs – without them I can’t breathe.

The drive in all my work is ‘sharing knowledge’. I like to share my knowledge and help to develop products for birdwatchers and wildlife lovers. I get a real kick when I see someone using a product I helped develop, reading a book I wrote, edited or published, or just to overhear someone talking about something I have written or been involved in.
One of life's great feelings - being utterly, but pleasantly, exhausted from a great days birding in somewhere like The Gambia.
I’ve been leading bird and wildlife trips for 20 years. I started organising private trips, mainly to Scotland for birds and increasingly invertebrates. I started guiding for Speyside Wildlife in 2000, taking groups around various parts of England and Scotland, Shetland, Orkney (inc. covering the fantastic Neolithic archaeology), The Gambia, Botswana, and of course Lesvos. I lead a trip to Spitsbergen in summer 2008. Leading wildlife trips is the ultimate sharing of knowledge for me. Its my ultimate buzz. Seeing the joy in someone’s eyes as they see something new for the first time, or get their best ever view of something. I just love sharing wildlife with people.
. . . but some days are simply too much! This was towards the end of a great two-week holiday with Liz in The Gambia. We were on our way back to the coast along the River Gambia and just at this point only a shout for Pel's Fishing Owl would have raised me!

One of my ambitions was to write a book. So far I have achieved three and am in the process of penning two more! Rare Birds Day by Day (Dudley, Benton, Fraser & Ryan, Poyser, 1996) was the inspiration of my best mate Tim Benton and I was thrilled for both of us to see it in print. Watching British Dragonflies (Dudley, Dudley & Mackay, Subbuteo, 2007) was the culmination of a 10-year project with my first wife Caroline (now assistant editor of British Birds) and birding friend Andy Mackay. And my real pride, A Birdwatching Guide to Lesvos (Arlequin Press, 2009), saw me deliver a much-needed new ‘where to watch’ guide for my real birding love – Lesvos.
And Lesvos is where I spend as much of my annual leave as possible – currently four weeks a year (it would be more if I could!). The longer I’ve been visiting this Aegean jewel of an island, the more at home I have felt. Its one of only a few places where I truly relax (relax mode usually kicks in just after I have navigated my way through Mytiline from the airport to the hotel!). My love for the island has manifested in, an online resource for birders visiting the island (begun in 2007), and in 2009 my book, A Birdwatching Guide to Lesvos.

In 2006 I married Liz. We met on one of my trips to Shetland and Orkney so she knew exactly what she was taking on! We had a fabulous wedding in Liz’s home county of Sussex (she’s a Sussex pig, I’m a northern tosser) with our families and (most of) our closest friends. We honeymooned on the magical island of Bryher, Isles of Scilly (at the fantastically named Hell Bay Hotel!). We live in the Huntingdonshire fens south of Peterborough and are still in the seemingly endless process of renovating and converting two old farm-workers cottages as our home.
In November 2009 we got Jax, a Spanish Water Dog pup. He's been a central part of our lives ever since!

Bryher on the Isles of Scilly is one of the other places I feel at home - especially at the Hell Bay Hotel! Well, I am on my honeymoon. Note the orange juice - I'm one of the few tea-total birding types!
Things I love:
my wife Liz (my life)
Lesvos (where I feel at home)
Birds (without them I can’t breathe)
The Gambia (where I relax)
Man Utd (the lad side of me)
my Mum and siblings (my family)
sharing my knowledge of birds (a passion)
dragonflies (my second wildlife love)
poetry (for expression)
watching footie (more lad side)
all different sorts of music (but I’m a punk at heart!)
The POSH (real life and local footie - a season season ticket holder)
Leica optics (because I’m so proud to have been involved in their development)
butterflies (because of their beauty)
all things natural (from where we came)
the fens (for its flatness, freedom and skies)
swifts (my favourite bird family)
Stiff Little Fingers (my youth)
being at sea watching seabirds and cetaceans (total freedom)
my garden (a joy to look over)
the smells of Africa and India (it calms me)
Carry Akroyd artwork (for the soul)
contemporary design and architecture (flare)
stripy things by Paul Smith and Ted Baker (they make me feel happy)
the sense of freedom (for freedom’s sake)
stroking Liz’s hair (because she enjoys it and I love making her smile)
bird song (nature’s orchestra)
Neolithic man (our ancestors before we advanced and began to destroy the planet we inhabit)
birding only with bins ('au naturale' as I like to say!)
You can contact me here.

A spring week in Lesvos with Steve Dudley

Scops Owl

See what others have said about their Lesvos holiday with me!

I've been visiting Lesvos for over 10 years and have run over 30 birding trips so far to the island, most of them leading bird and wildlife groups around the island. I'm one of the few birders who visit Lesos in both spring and autumn. I know the island and it birds intimately and I am the author of the highly acclaimed A Birdwatching Guide to Lesvos.

Knowing the island so well, I do things a little different to other groups. My weeks tend to be more relaxed and are aimed at all birding abilities. No matter your level, you'll be very welcome and you will learn a great deal about the birds of Lesvos, bird identification, bahaviour and birdwatching from someone with over 20 years experience working in birding and ornithology.

One of the main differences you find on a Lesvos Birding week is meal times. I've long felt that enjoying a foreign country means enjoying its food. Lunch is spent at one of several of the excelelnt tavernas around the island whilst evening meals are at one of Skala Kallonis top tavernas. All tastes and diets are catered for (Greek food is a vegetarian's delight) and you can go for locally caught seafood or stick closer to home with many English dishes on offer. Mealtimes are a perfect opportunity for the group to relax together, have a laugh, and lunchtime taverna stops provide an opportunity to use a clean loo!

Here is what to expect during your spring week with me on Lesvos.

Day 1
I'm usually already on the island before any of my groups come out, so on arriving in Mytilini I will either meet you personally or arrange for a transfer for you to the Hotel Pasiphae in Skala Kallonis.

The Hotel Pasiphae is one of the best hotels on the island and is situated just inland of the coast of the northern edge of the Gulf of Kalloni. Its established itself as the hotel of choice for birders in spring. The hotel itself hosts breeding Spanish Sparrows and seemingly forever singing Nightingales. Long-eared and Scops Owls are occasionally seen too and I’ve even seen a male Collared Flycatcher and Wryneck in the garden!
Hotel Pasiphae, Skala Kallonis

Days 2 - 7
Lesvos’ main attractions are several breeding species which are very difficult to see elsewhere in Europe, and its amazing migration.

Lesvos is one of the eastern Aegean Islands and nestles just five miles off the coast of Turkey. It feels distinctly ‘middle eastern’ in many respects and the island offers unrivalled birding in the European part of the Mediterranean basin. Lesvos remains unspoilt by mass tourism, and most visitors find that they soon fall in love with the fantactic scenery, friendly people and the fabulous birdwatching.

Because of its close proximity to the Turkish mainland, Lesvos enjoys a terrific migration that isolated islands fail to achieve. Our search most parts of this idyllic island and the migrants for resident and migrant breeding species and the huge number of passage migrants moving across the island to breed further north (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, etc).
Potamia Valley

The Skalla Kallonis Pool lies just a few hundred yards from the hotel and provides pre-breakfast , birding for the early risers. Here you can look for the more secretive wetland species in the long grass around the small open water areas - Garganey, Little Bittern, Purple Heron and crakes are all regular. Hirundines also use the tall reeds as a roost and the incoming swirls of swallows and martins is real spectacle. The nearby sea is also worth looking over for those late departing wintering species such as Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes as well as terns and gull. The beach and saltmarsh also attract many waders and herons including Kentish Plover, Stone-curlew, Great White Egret and Black Stork.
On our travels we will also look out for roof- and chimney- top nesting White Storks

The small lake at Metochi is a real draw and we will visit it several times during the week. Here we will search the reed-fringed lake for all things secretive – crakes (possibly three species) herons, warblers. Marsh terns frequently pass through and the air is often thick with hirundines and swifts (including the occasional Pallid). The surrounding mountains provide not only a spectacular backdrop but also the chance of a raptor – Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, or maybe even a fly-through Eleanora’s Falcon. The lake itself boasts an enormous population of Stripe-necked Terrapins plus the chance of the much scarcer European Pond Terrapin.

Baillon's Crake - the rarest of the crakes is found most springs at sites such as Metochi Lake or the Meladia River Ford

Marsh Frogs can be found wherever there is standing water

The Tsiknias River is one of the ‘wet’ rivers at this time of year. Even after the wettest of winters, many rivers soon run underground, but this river, running north from the top of the Gulf, provides a real migration corridor for many species. The river mouth is best checked early morning and late evening as its often the resting place for newly arrived migrants. Gulls, terns and waders all rub shoulders on the small spits of sand here including scarcer species such as Gull-billed Tern, godwits and Slender-billed Gull.

Little Bitterns occur at many wetland sites and rivers

Olive grove - there are an estimated 11 million olive trees on Lesvos. Thats a lot of olives!

The river itself is now just a trickle through a pebble and sand river bed now exposed. Waders dot the water edges – numerous Wood Sandpipers, Ruff, Temminck’s and Little Stints as well as breeding Little Ringed Plover, plus ‘yellow’ wagtails, often in their hundreds, in a variety of flavours! The tamarisk-lined banks provide refuge for warblers including Olivaceous and Great Reed, whilst the shadowy overhangs should be checked carefully for skulking crakes and Little Bitterns. The small fields and groves either side of the river are great for shrikes – Woodchat, Red-backed, Masked and Lesser, Whinchat, buntings and raptors such as Red-footed Falcon and Montagu’s Harrier. Newly arrived Black-headed Buntings and Bee-eaters will perched up on fences, wires and trees adding a blaze of colour to proceedings. In full swing few areas can compete for the hurly burly of migration in full swing.

Red-footed Falcons can appear anywhere on there way north to eastern European breeding grounds

One of species at the top of most visitors’ ‘need’ list is Krüper’s Nuthatch (see banner at top of page). We’ll spend a morning searching pinewoods on the edge of the Gulf of Kalloni looking for this diminutive little nuthatch which behaves more like a Blue Tit as it bounces around the pines uttering its little nasal Jay-like call.

The island boasts two areas of saltpans at Kalloni and Polichnitos. The Kalloni pans lie at the northern edge of the Gulf of Kalloni and its salt mound can be seen from all coastal parts of the Gulf for over 30kms! These pans are one of the largest in Greece and cover a huge area. During spring the saltpan company is obliged to maintain water levels for the breeding and migrant species which use the area. Many of the outlying pans are easily viewed from the access road or tracks. In recent years observation hides have been erected which helps viewing in to more distant pans. The pans themselves can be alive with migrant and breeding waders – Avocet, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, plus the daddy of all long-legged birds – Greater Flamingo. White and Black Storks, Grey, Purple, Squacco and Night- Herons, Spoonbill and Little and Great White can all be expected either feeding or resting up on the bunds between the pans – the latter also providing breeding sites for Stone-curlew. White-winged Black, Whiskered and Black Terns all grace the area, sometimes in flocks of over 100 birds, plus Gull-billed Tern and Mediterranean and Slender-billed Gulls. The chance of a real rarity is always on the card here, and those wader flocks, bunds and pan edges should be checked very carefully! If everything, including the flamingos take flight in panic, then look up – it might an incoming large eagle or even a pelican! A passing Osprey has a much rather reduced effect!

View of part of the vast Kalloni Saltpans. The salt mound can be seen in the distance

The fields surrounding the pans can be just as rewarding. After a wet winter, seasonal pools and marshes form along the southern and western areas including the Alykes Wetlands. These areas become magnets for many migrant wetland birds and passerines such as ‘yellow’ wagtails and Red-throated Pipits, Collared Pratincoles, Ruddy Shelduck plus harriers and falcons passing through looking for a snack. You should always check those ring-tail harriers as Pallid is an annual migrant here.

The second of the saltpans lies on the eastern side of the Gulf. They are much smaller than the Kalloni pans, and in spring hold limited water and so attract fewer waders, but are non-the-less worth visiting as the pans and surrounding area always provide good birding. In autumn they are a must visit site when surface water is at a real premium. Venturing down this eastern side of the Gulf also allows us to explore areas few groups get to. Depending on the day we might venture along the Almiropotamos River, explore the Agios Fokas headland, check the Vourkos River mouth or walk along the picturesque Ambeliko Valley overlooked by the might of Mount Olympus.

The harbour at Agios Fokas

The Napi Valley runs north from the Kalloni Saltpans. It provides a natural corridor for birds heading straight through or leaving the pans after a pit stop. We’ll search this softly-undulating valley with its tree-peppered slopes, and its surrounds, for resident and migrating raptors, Hoopoe, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Black-eared Wheatear, Subalpine and Orphean Warblers and much more! Platania lies at the top of the valley and is one of the most beautiful walks on the island, and from late April plays host to Olive Tree Warbler.

Rock Nuthcatch occurs in rocky areas across the island

We will search the nooks and crannies of the north coast for migrants refuelling for the hop over to Turkey which is almost touchable here across the narrow straights. The skies are always worth checking for raptors as the hills provide the perfect thermal updrafts for northerly-heading migrants as well as thermal fun rides for breeding species such as Long-legged Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle (both on the look out Montpellier or Whip Snakes or Balkan Wall and Agama Lizards). Breeding birds include Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Masked Shrikes, Sombre Tit, Orphean Warbler and Black-headed and Cretzschmar’s Buntings (see banner at top of page), whilst offshore we’ll look for the two Medierranean shearwater species, Yelkouan (the eastern Med race of Mediterranean Shearwater) and Scolpoli’s (the eastern Med race of Cory’s) and Audouin’s Gull. This coastline is also great for butterflies Scarce Swallowtail and Cleopatra.

The song of the Cirl Bunting is one of the ever-present sounds of Lesvos

The amazing and beautiful Thread Lacewing

The villages and towns of this northern area are both picture postcard and varied - the beautiful fishing harbour village of Skala Sikaminias, overlooked by its inland cousin Sikaminia clinging to its hillside perch, whilst the castle-capped town of Molivos can be seen for many miles in most directions boasts a beautiful harbour and steep and narrow streets.

Sikaminia - one of the many villages clinging to steep hillsides

Molivos harbour

Between Petra and Molivos we will search the headland areas for migrants and the scarce breeding Rüppell’s Warbler. This scarce syvlia warbler is a star attraction with its white moustaches slicing through its black hood.

Male Rüppell's Warbler

Travelling west the island becomes more arid and at times utterly barren as volcanic hillsides replace the olive groves and oak-clad hills. The rocky areas are home to the rare lemon-headed Cinereous Bunting and Rock Sparrow whilst Rock Nuthatches bounce around the rocks with beakfuls of insects which they ferry to their young tucked up safely in funnel-shaped nests made of mud clinging to the face of a rock.

Male Cinereous Bunting

Ipsilou Monastery has perched high on its mountain top and has seen more than its fair share of sackings. From its top you can view the island in all directions whilst searching the skies for raptors and swifts which are just as likely to appear below you as they are above you! Eagles, Honey-buzzard, Lesser Kestrel and Eleanora’s Falcon, Levant Sprrowhawk, Alpine and Pallid Swifts, Crag Martins and other hirundiens should all be hoped for. The tree-clad slopes may look quiet, but during a good fall the trees and bushes can be dripping with migrant warblers, flycatchers, chats, shrikes and Golden Oriole. The rocky parts of the mountain slopes should be checked for Rock Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrush, Cinereous and Cretzschmar's Buntings, Isabelline and Black-eared Wheatears and Little Owl. The meadow areas are packed with flowers and if you see a moving boulder it will be either a Chukar or Spur-thighed Tortoise! The monastery itself should be visited. Its chapel is simply stunning and Persian Squirrels scurry around the monastery walls.

Spur-thighed Tortoise

At the far western end of the island lies Sigri. Here the coastal fields provide a lush green oasis to tempt down hungry migrants. These fields lead to the sheltered Faneromeni River, flanked on either side by tall stands of bamboo which can provide refuge for tired migrants. If the river holds water Little Bittern and Great Snipe might be found out in the open. Lesser Kestrels and migrant harriers hunt over the surrounding hills, meadows and beaches where we also stand a change of finding such scarcities such as Roller and Collared Flycatcher.

Time permitting, in Sigri we might visit the newly opened Petrified Forest Museum (entry €5). Outside the museum lie huge stumps of a petrified trees, redwoods and pines that were covered in volcanic ash and turned to stone millions of years ago. The museum itself explains the process brilliantly and contains numerous other petrified items and geological finds from both Lesvos and further a field.

Along the 13km rough track which serves as a road connecting the towns of Sigri and Eresos, lies the Meladia River Valley. This forms a wide, flat plain at its mouth, narrowing quickly to the north pointing directly up to the mount of Ipsilou. This flat plain is one of the magnets for newly arriving migrants. The small ford pools offer shelter, food and water for Great Reed Warbler, crakes and herons. The open scrubby plain itself can swarm with ‘yellow’ wagtails, pipits and buntings, whilst the nearby fig grove can be dripping with warblers, flycatchers, Bee-eaters and Golden Orioles. Rufous Bush Robins should be on territory from early May. It’s a rare day you don’t get something here.

The Meladia River plain

Rufous Bush Robin breeds near the Meladia River Mouth and many other scrubby areas across the island

Whilst travelling around this incredibly beautiful and varied island, wherever we are we will have magnificent scenery forming stunning backdrop to our days birding.

One of my many happy groups (and friends!) I've led around Lesvos

Day 8
We must bid farewell to this Aegean jewel and head home – but many of us will return!

Lunch - each day we will lunch at one of the fantastic tavernas across the island sampling the local fayre.

Dinner - each evening we will eat at the Dionysos taverna in Skala Kallonis. Be prepared for a culinery sensation! Lost of local dishes for you sample and enjoy including fresh seafood and fish. Fantastic!

What's included?
You need to make your own flight arrangements to Lesvos (I can advise you on these), but thats all you have to do. Here is what is paid for when you get there -
- transfer to and from the hotel
- B&B accommdation at the excellent Hotel Pasiphae, Skala Kallonis
- taverna lunches
- evening dinner - at the outstanding Dionysos taverna in Skala Kallonis
- the expert guiding of your very own 'Mr Lesvos' in the form of me!

So all you need to bring is a little spending money for the occasional coffee or ice cream stop, postcards and wee prezzies you might want to take home for loved ones!

Click on the following for some trip reports from some of my previous trips –

Steve Dudley (Lesvos Birding) & Oliva Rama Tours group.

A Lesvos Birding week with Steve Dudley.

Steve Dudley (Lesvos Birding) & Speyside Wildlife group.

1 - 8 May 2008
Steve & Liz Dudley (
List of sites visted and species seen. Several photos. (More Lesvos pictures here)

24 April - 1 May 2008
Steve Dudley ( & Speyside Wildlife
Detailed trip report and species lists (sorry no pictures see here)

17 - 24 April 2008
Steve Dudley (
Neil Bew provides a participants insight in to a Steve Dudley led trip!

20 - 27 September 2007
Steve & Liz Dudley (
List of sites visted and species seen. Several photos. (More Lesvos pictures here)

26 April - 10 May 2007
Steve & Liz Dudley ( & Speyside Wildlife
Detailed trip report with many pictures and species lists

20 - 27 April 2006
Steve Dudley ( & Speyside Wildlife
Detailed trip report and species lists

24 Sept - 1 Oct 2005
Steve Dudley ( & Speyside Wildlife
Detailed trip report with many pictures and species lists

14 - 21 April 2005
Steve Dudley ( & Speyside Wildlife
Detailed trip report and species lists (sorry no pictures see here)

22 - 29 April 2004
Steve Dudley ( & Speyside Wildlife
Detailed trip report and species lists (sorry no pictures see here)

25 April - 1 May 2003
Steve Dudley ( & Speyside Wildlife
Detailed trip report and species lists (sorry no pictures see here)

25 April - 2 May 2002
Steve Dudley ( & Speyside Wildlife
Detailed trip report (sorry no pictures see here)

Lesvos 20 - 27 September 2007

Steve & Liz Dudley (Athene/Toadsnatcher)

Pithariou Reservoir and Monastery

Yes there is standing water on Lesvos in autumn! We spent a terrific week on the island clocking up 119 species and some great records including -

White Pelican - on three dates including a flock of 144!
Bluethroat - at the above Pithariou Reservoir - only about the 3rd/4th island record.
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler
Masked Shrike - 2 different juvs

Raptors included Golden and Booted Eagles, Eleanora's Falcons, Levant Sparrowhawk and Goshawk.

For more details see here.

Reporting your birds records

I encourage everyone to submit their bird records. You can do this as follows:

For the Lesvos annual bird report - you can send your records direct to me by email. I prefer records to be sent as Excel files and should preferably include columns as follows - species name, number of birds, date, location, your name and other observers. I will let you know if the Lesvos Bird Records Committee (of which I am a member) require any further details of any particular record.

You can also submit your records via OrnithoTopos which is an Internet-based spatial database about birds, their science and their distribution, that allows users from anywhere in the world to input and query Greek bird data.

For nationally rare species, these should be submitted to the Hellenic Rarities Committee (Greek equivelant of BBRC). Check the HRC website for species it covers.

The Hellenic (Greek) Rarities Committee (HRC) was founded in 2004 and publishes its annual reports online -

HRC report for 2008

HRC report for 2007

HRC report for 2005

From Nikos Probonas (HRC secretary) -

HRC are in the process of re-organizing our archives, especially the photo material, and we would like to ask for assistance regarding photos of rare species in Greece. If you are aware of such photos, not appearing on the HRC website gallery, we would appreciate if you informed us of their existence and the way to obtain them (URL of website or email of phorographer). We are interested even in the oldest photos.

The full list of the rare species for Greece can be seen here.

HRC would like to thank all those who have already submitted their records of rare birds seen in Greece.

Please do not hesitate to ask for any clarification on or

Good birding.

Nikos Probonas
HRC Secretary

Go to the HRC website

A complete list of amphibians and reptiles

Eastern Spadefoot Pelobates syriacus
Green Toad Bufo viridis
Common Tree Frog Hyla arborea
Bedriaga’s (Marsh) Frog Pelophylax bedriagae

Spur-thighed Tortoise Testudo graeca
Balkan Terrapin Mauremys rivulata
European Pond Terrapin Emys orbicularis
Turkish Gecko Hemidactylus turcicus
Starred Agama Laudakia stellio
Snake-eyed Lizard Ophisops elegans
Balkan Green Lizard Lacerta trilineata
European Glass Lizard Pseudopus apodus
Snake-eyed Skink Ablepharus kitaibelii
Worm Snake Typhlops vermicularis
Sand Boa Eryx jaculus
Eastern Montpielier Snake Malpolon insignitus
Large Whip Snake Dolichophis caspius
Dahl’s Whip Snake Platyceps najadum
Coin-marked Snake Hemorrhois nummifer
Dwarf Snake Eirenis modestus
Leopard Snake Zamenis situla
Grass Snake Natrix natrix
Dice Snake Natrix tessellata
European Cat Snake Telescopus fallax
Ottoman Viper Montivipera xanthina

Needs confirmation
Kotschy’s Gecko Mediodactylus kotschyi

Recommended website - herpetofaunaof.greece.

With thanks to Ilias Strachinis

Books for Lesvos


You'll need only three birding books for your trip to Lesvos.

Collins Bird Guide
by Lars Svensson, Peter Grant, Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterstrom. HarperCollins.
ISBN 0 00 219728 6. Order here.

Quite simply the best field guide there is.

The Macmillan Birder's Guide to European and Middle Eastern Birds
by Alan Harris, Hadoram Shirai and David Christie. Macmillan.
ISBN 0 333 58940 8.
Sadly now out of print, but if you can find a copy, then buy it!

You will also need a copy of my book!
A Birdwatching Guide to Lesvos
by Steve Dudley.
More details see here.
ISBN 978 1905268 061. £19.99. Order here.


Collins Butterfly Guide. Tom Tolman & Richard Lewington. ISBN 0 00 219992 0. Order here.

Pocket Guide to Insects of Britain & Western Europe. Michael Chinery. ISBN 0 00 219137 7. Order here.

Dragonflies of Britain & Europe. Klaas-Douwe Dijkstra & Richard Lewington. ISBN 0 9531399 4 8. Order here.