Lesvos trip report, July 12-19 2007

Palpares libelluloides (ant-lion) © Charlie Kitchin

Here is a trip report from Charlie Kitchin (RSPB Nene Washes reserve manager). Here Charlie, Sue and family prove that Lesvos is still a great place to visit in mid-summer to combine birding and family holiday that really works!

Charlie and Sue stayed at the Nautalus apartmants in Anaxos on the north of the island. They said the apartment was fab and the local area great with lots of interesting local walks. Read on . . .

12 July, Thursday
Arrived at Mytilini early pm. Black stork seen in flight over pines as approaching Kalloni Flats seemed like a good omen. Evening walk to suss out route up mountains behind Anaxos. Not as easy as hoped, seen off by one shepherd, but found old stone wall-lined and partly cobbled path just to the south of the town which looked promising with Masked Shrike, etc. Met Mike and his wife, birding teachers from Unst.

13 July, Friday
Walked from 6-11 am up valley and over coll to Lafionas, then back down to Anaxos. Late afternoon walk along road to Ambelia Beach [c.4km] then back via coastal path around headland to Anaxos, this latter walk always produced a good variety of birds.

14 July, Saturday
Walked from 6-9 am south of Anaxos along coastal footpath. Late morning drive to Sigri, where briefly visited fields at Faneromeni north of the town, thought this area was stunning, some of the recently cut fields were alive with birds, wish I’d had more time here. Visited Ipsilou Monastry on the way back, walking up the “down road”, beautiful but missed Cinerous Bunting.

15 July, Sunday
Morning off. Molivos for lunch and then Efthalou beach. Called in at Molivos Reservoir on way home and later returned with scope [after family dropped off at Anaxos] to go through gulls, most of which had unfortunately left. Extraordinary to see such a large reservoir lined with plastic, only about ¼ full.

16 July, Monday
Badly planned but ultimately successful trip to Achladeri and Kalloni; after a late and boozy night, and leaving directions for Krüpers Nuthatch site behind. Met Marlene, a Swedish bird-watcher at saltpans, also intending to visit Achladeri but with even less idea where to look. Followed this by a couple of hours looking at saltpans [where met Mike again], the East River and the Inland Lake near Metochia, west of Kalloni. Back to Anaxos for 1 pm. Afternoon spent exploring north coast, eventually stopping at Gavathas Beach.

17 July, Tuesday
6 am to 1 pm spent at headland north of Petra, the Molivos Reservoir and the valley below it, and finally a walk in the hills south of Lafionas. Some of the pine woodland was quite mature and the gully bottoms had mature deciduous plane and sweet chestnut trees. Afternoon drive to Skala Sikaminias and Kagia Beach. Snorkling around headland here some of the best I’ve ever done, definitely one of the highlights of the holiday.

18 July, Wednesday
8-11 am spent exploring valley south of Anaxos. Walked with family around headland to Ambelia Beach for lunch, spent afternoon there reading and swimming.

19 July, Thursday
Short walk around headland to south. Back for 8.30 to pack and leave. Dolphins offshore at Mytilini rounded off a great week.

Birding time was limited to most mornings and a couple of evenings, otherwise too hot and family commitments. Four days of car hire allowed visits to the birding hotspots of Alchaderi, Kalloni Saltpans, Sigri and Molivos Reservoir. Enormous numbers of some species like blue tit but other species I expected to be common I only saw once or not at all, like black-headed bunting and corn bunting respectively. Disappointing how few birds were singing, I remember hearing only nightingale and wren, and very few fine male warblers or buntings to be seen. There were enormous numbers of juvenile warblers [assumed to be mostly Subalpines], buntings [Cirls] and wheatears [Black-eared]. Very pleased to reach 90 species including 8 lifers: Slender-billed Gull, Rufous Bush Robin, Krüpers and Rock Nuthatches, Rüppells and Orphean Warblers, Sombre Tit and Cretzschmar’s Bunting.


Little Grebe. 8 in Molivos reservoir 15th and 17th. 9 at Inland Lake near Metochia.

Gt Cormorant. 5 at Kalloni salt pans 16th.

Shag. Single seen flying along coast west of Anaxos on 14th, 6-8, presumed to be this species regularly seen on Myrmingi Island off Anaxos.

Ruddy Shelduck. Single at Kalloni Saltpans.

Shelduck. Nine on Kalloni Saltpans.

Mallard. Single female/juvenile flying along coast, west of Anaxos, 14th.

Greater Flamingo. Several hundred on Kalloni Saltpans.

Little Egret Eleven at Kalloni Saltpans, one at Inland Lake, Metochia.

Grey Heron 5-6 at Molivos Reservoir.

Black Stork Single over pines near Despoti, East of Kalloni Gulf on 12th, single over valley west of Vatousa, 16th.

White Stork Single 3km west of Skala Kallonis, 16th.

Short-toed Eagle 1-2 regular over hill west of Lafionas. Single at Sikaminia 17th.

Common Buzzard Pairs west of Anaxos, west of Lafionas, several along Vafios-Sykaminia Road, young calling at Ipsilou Monastry.

Long-legged Buzzard Three probable juveniles seen together over hill east of Kalloni.

Honey-buzzard Single dark phase bird on western outskirts of Anaxos, 14th.

Goshawk Single juv male flying east along coast west of Anaxos, 19th.

Sparrowhawk Singles seen on three occasions in Anaxos-Lafionas area, juv calling from hill above Lafionas.

Hobby Singles seen at Ipsilou Monastry 14th and Lafionas 17th.

Kestrel Singles seen at Andisa 14th and Anaxos 18th.

Moorhen Single juv at Inland Lake, Metochia.

Greenshank Two at Molivos Reservoir 15th and four at Kalloni Saltpans.

Redshank 40+ at Kalloni Saltpans.

Green Sandpiper Several at Kalloni Saltpans and Inland Lake, Metochia.

Wood Sandpiper Two at Molivos Res. 15th, several at Kalloni Saltpans and Inland Lake, Metochia.

Common Sandpiper Five on Ambellia beach 14th, several at Kalloni Saltpans and Inland Lake, Metochia.

Temminck’s Stint Singles at Molivos Res. 15th and East River.

Black-winged Stilt Common on Kalloni Saltpans.

Avocet 6-700 on Kalloni Saltpans, single on Molivos Res. on 15th and 17th.

Little Ringed Plover Several at Kalloni Saltpans and Molivos Res.

Kentish Plover Several at Kalloni Saltpans.

Yellow-legged Gull Abundant around coast with 300+ at Molivos Res. on 15th.

Mediterranean Gull Single adult with full black hood near East River Mouth.

Black-headed Gull Common at Kalloni Saltpans, two at Molivos Res. 15th.

Slender-billed Gull Single adult at Molivos Res. 17th, loafing with Yellow-billed Gulls. Managed to get some record photos.

White-winged Tern Single at Kalloni Saltpans.

Common Tern Two off headland north of Petra, 17th.

Little Tern Small, c.10 at Kalloni Saltpans, feeding downy young on island.

Rock Dove Several birds glimpsed along coast east of Gavathas.

Wood Pigeon Single seen over pine woods west of Lafionas, 13th.

Turtle Dove Common throughout.

Collared Dove Common throughout.

Little Owl Singles west of Anaxos and valley below Molivos Res.

Alpine Swift Parties of up to 10 regularly seen in Anaxos-Petra-Lafionas area.

Common Swift 1-3 regular in Anaxos-Petra-Lafionas area.

European Bee-eater Fairly common in Faneromeni, Kalloni area and valley below Molivos Res, few recorded elsewhere.

Hoopoe Singles seen on two occasions.

Middle-spotted Woodpecker Surprisingly common in all but most barren habitat.

Crested Lark Common, especially at Faneromeni.

Swallow Abundant

Red-rumped swallow Common in Anaxos as elsewhere.

House Martin Common.

White Wagtail Three at Molivos Res., single on Anaxos Beach.

Yellow Wagtail One male of black-headed race and two female/juvs at Inland Lake, Metochia.

Tawny Pipit Two, probably this species seen at distance on Molivos Res. 17th.

Wren Several in stream-side woodland in hills above Anaxos and Lafionas.

Rufous Bush Robin Single seen in recently cut field, Faneromeni, 14th.

Crag Martin Group of about six associated with crag in valley south of Anaxos.

Nightingale Single in garden/moist scrub Anaxos 14th.

Stonechat Several on coastal hillside west of Anaxos, two near Ypsilou Monastry.

Northern Wheatear Single in grazed olive grove east of Anaxos.

Black-eared Wheatear Abundant with juveniles everywhere.

Isabelline Wheatear Single at Faneromeni, 14th.

Blue Rock Thrush Singles seen on cliffs north of Petra and west of Anaxos.

Blackbird Abundant, dozens seen feeding on fruiting tree near Lafionas, 17th.

Cetti’s Warbler Single heard in valley below Molivos Res., two out in open at Inland Lake, Metochia.

Reed Warbler One heard in reed on Ambelia Bay.

Olivaceous Warbler Several singles recorded, feeding young in valley below Molivos Res.

Orphean Warbler Single males seen at Faneromeni, 14th and Anaxos 18th.

Rüppell’s Warbler Single fine male on headland north of Petra.

Subalpine Warbler Single fine male on headland east of Ambelia, otherwise abundant numbers of young/females.

Spotted Flycatcher Single in deciduous woodland above Lafionas, 17th.

Sombre Tit Around Anaxos single on headland to west and several in olive groves to south. Two in olives north of Skalochori.

Great Tit Common.

Blue Tit Abundant.

Krüpers Nuthatch Single seen in pine woods 2 km west of Achladeri.

Rock Nuthatch Common on rocky hillsides, even within less dense olive groves.

Short-toed Treecreeper Single in pine woods 2 km west of Achladeri.

Woodchat Shrike Common in open area, with large numbers of young about.

Masked Shrike Fairly common in olive groves around Anaxos.

Jay Common.

Jackdaw c.30 on hill east of Anaxos, c.100 east over Anaxos to roost, 18th.

Hooded Crow Abundant, 200 in pre-roost gathering at Molivos Res. 15th.

Raven Up to five frequenting hills above Lafionas.

House Sparrow Abundant

Chaffinch Common.

Serin Single male and probably others in cypress trees at Achladeri, 16th.

Greenfinch Small group behind Anaxos Beach.

Goldfinch Abundant.

Linnet At Ipsilou Monastry and several in a large flock of fiches and buntings on nearby hillside.

Cirl Bunting Abundant juveniles, couple of nice males seen.

Cretzschmar’s Bunting Couple on headland west of Anaxos, abundant at Faneromeni.

Black-headed Bunting Single male seen in valley below Molivos Res.


Hedgehog Numerous dead on road.

Red Fox Single cub near Anaxos, 2 cubs in building below Molivos Reservoir.

Dolphin sp. At least three, though to be bottle-nose off Mytilini.

Persian Squirrel Several seen in woods and olive groves near Lafionas and Anaxos.

Agama One at Lafionas

Stripe-necked Terrapin Abundant where fresh water remained.

Eel surprised to find an 18” individual dead in pond south of Anaxos.

Palpares libelluloides (ant-lion)