30 April 08 - Eagles and Blue-cheeked Bees

Spur-winged Plover, nr Kalloni Saltworks entrance.

Despite fine weather and clear skies, the southerly winds keep bring stuff in. Two Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters today make it four this year (only four records before this year!) following ones at Tsiknias River and Meladia River Ford last week.

Apart from one report the other day, still no sign of Rufous Scrub Robin on any of the usual territories which are being checked daily.

Weather: fine and sunny with scattered high cloud and light southerly winds. Max. temp c.27 C.

Today’s highlights -

Skala Kalloni Pool – BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATER 1 07.30-07.45 am, FERRUGINOUS DUCK 1 (f).

Vatera - BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATER 1 east of town near ‘large hotel’. Large movement of Alpine and Common Swifts in Vatera area during the afternoon.

Kalloni Bandstand – IMPERIAL EAGLE 1 over c. 12 noon (ninth record). Raptor watching from c.09.30 – 10.00 am – Montagu’s Harrier 1 (m), Goshawk 1 (f), Short-toed Eagle 6+, Long-legged Buzzard 4+, Common Buzzard 2, Peregrine 1, Common Sparrowhawk 1.


Kalloni Saltworks entrance (pool and fields opp) - SPUR-WINGED PLOVER 1, Red-footed Falcon 4, Collared Pratincole 14, Red-throated Pipit 4, Short-toed Lark 3, Ruddy Shelduck 3, Black Stork 1.

Platania – LEVANT SPARROWHAWK 1 (m), OLIVE TREE WARBLER 1 still, Bee-eaters lots moving over, many heard and not seen but flocks of 4, 11, 13 and 18 seen’ large movement of Alpine and Common Swifts.

Kalloni Saltpans – CASPIAN TERN 1, PALLID HARRIER 1 first-year, White-winged Black Tern 21, Whiskered Tern 2, Mediterranean Gull 4, Curlew Sandpiper 70+, Grey Plover 24, Squacco Heron 1, Stone-curlew 2, Grey Heron 11, Little Stone 230+, Ruff 80+.

Metochi Lake – BAILLON’S CRAKE 2, Spotted Crake 1, Little Crake 7.

Achladeri – Kruper’s Nuthatch and Long-eared Owls showing well.

Faneromeni area – Marsh Warbler 1, Little Bittern 1, Squacco Heron 1.

Meladia River Ford – Marsh Warbler 1, Collared Flycatcher 2 (m&f), Little Bittern 2, Barred Warbler 1.

Tsiknias River – Eleanora’s Falcon 1, Gull-billed Tern 27+, White-winged Black Tern 2, Whiskered Tern 1, Bar-tailed Godwit 1 (this is a very long-billed female and almost certainly accounts for all recent reports of Black-tailed Godwit), Curlew 1, Great Crested Grebe.

Kalloni Mini Soccer – Scops Owl 1. Bird still in the fifth roadside tree from the mini soccer pitch entrance but can only be seen from along the road or safer(!) from the track opposite the soccer pitch entrance. It is c.7m up the tree and quote difficult to see.

Napi Valley – (just north of Napi 12.15 – 13.15 pm) Red-footed Falcon 1 (m), Goshawk 1 (m).

Vourkou River Mouth – Little Bittern 1.

Skamnioudi Coast Pool – Temminck’s Stint 2.

Thanks to everyone for their records and for those who enter theirs in the Hotel Pasiphae bird log.

29 April 08 - still trickling through

Baillon's Crake, Metochi Lake © Bob Buckler Wingspan Bird Tours

Kalloni Saltpans – SPUR-WINGED PLOVER 1 along east channel c.1 km from road. Red-footed Falcon 5, Gull-billed Tern 2, Red-throated Pipit 3, Short-toied Lark 4.

Faneromeni area – PENDULINE TIT 4 (200 m up track from the ford in willows), GREAT SNIPE 1, LEVANT SPARROWHAWK 1 (m), Little Bittern 3, Squacco Heron 2, Purple Heron 1.
Great Snipe, Faneromeni Upper Ford © Bob Buckler Wingspan Bird Tours

Meladia River Ford – SEMI-COLLARED FLYCATCHER 1 (f), OLIVE TREE WARBLER 1, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler 1, Collared Flycatcher 1, Icterine Warbler 6, Barred Warbler 2, Little Bittern 3, Purple Heron 1, Temminck’s Stont 1, Tawny Pipit 1, Golden Oriole 2, Common Redstart 2, Red-footed Falcon 1, 1000+ Yelkouan Shearwater. Very few common migrants – handful of flycatchers, loads of Black-headed Buntings, Bee-eaters.

Ipsilou - SCARLET ROSEFINCH 1 (6th record for island). Very few migrants. Handful of flycatchers and a Wood Warbler.

Metochi Lake – BAILLON’S CRAKE 1, Hobby 1, Purple Heron 1, Little Bittern 3.
Baillon's Crake, Metochi Lake © Bob Buckler Wingspan Bird Tours

Skala Kallonis Pools – CITRINE WAGTAIL 1 (m).

Tsiknias River – CITRINE WAGTAIL 1 (f).

Sigri/Eresos road junction – ROLLER 1.

Sigri Fields – Collared Flycatcher 1 (m), White-winged Black Tern 1 and Whiskered Tern 1 feeding over fields.

Alykes Wetlands – Collared Pratincole 16.

Kalloni Mini Soccer – Scops Owl 1.

Skala Sikaminias – Audouin’s Gull 4.

Petrified Forest Road – Red-footed Falcon 2.

Thanks to everyone for their records and for those who enter theirs in the Hotel Pasiphae bird log.

28 April 08 - calm after the storm

After yesterday's bonanza, a more steady day with lost to see wherever folk went on the island. The west proved worthwhile again with plenty of yesterday’s fall still present plus some new finds.

Weather: largely sunny with some scattered cloud. Light to moderate north-westerly winds. Max. temp c. 23 C.

Ipsilou – still plenty of common migrants such as Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and Wood Warblers. SEMI-COLLARED FLYCATCHER 1, THRUSH NIGHTINGALE 1, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler 1.

Sigri Fields – LEVANT SPARROWHAWK 1 (f), ROLLER 1, Red-footed Falcon 6 (5f, 1m), Bee-eater 8.

Faneromeni Ford – PENDULINE TIT 2 (by track-side pool), GREAT SNIPE 1, Purple Heron 1, Squacco Heron 1, Little Bittern 2, Spotted Redshank 1.

Meladia River Mouth – unconfirmed reports of GREAT SNIPE 4, CITRINE WAGTAIL 3, RUFOUS BUSH CHAT 1, Eatern Bonelli’s Warbler 1, Corncrake 1, Temminck’s Stint 1. Lots of Lesser and Red-backed Shrikes, Black-headed Buntings, etc.

Skala Kallonis Pool – FERRUGINOUS DUCK 1, Mediterranean Gull 3.

Kalloni Saltpans – CITRINE WAGTAIL fem (opp. Saltworks entrance), Gull-billed Tern 4, Whiskered Tern 2, White-winged Black Tern 1, Red-throated Pipit 5 (opp. Saltworks entrance), Black Stork 2, Grey Plover 2 Stone-curlew 1.

Metochi Lake – BAILLON’S CRAKE 2, Little Crake 7, Little Bittern 2 (m&f), Whiskered Tern 11.

Between Mandamados and Napi Valley – GOLDEN EAGLE 1 sub-adult, Mistle Thrush 2.

Tsiknias Ri ver – Savi’s Warbler 1, Red-footed Falcon 1 (fem), Little Bittern 1, Collared Pratincole 3 (same as Alykes Wetlands?), Black-tailed Godwit 1, Sanderling 3, Dunlin 2.

Alykes Wetlands – Collared Pratincole 3, Tawny Pipit 1, Red-throated Pipit 10, Short-toed Lark 8, Montagu's Harrier 1 (m), Spotted Redshank 1, Common Snipe 2, Green Sandpiper.

Polichinitos Saltpans – Whiskered Tern 1, Temmick’s Stint 4, Purple Heron 2, Black Stork 1.

Petra – Ruppell’s Warbler 4 showing well, Orphean Warbler.

North Coast Track – Audouin’s Gull 4, Scopoli’s (Cory’s) Shearwater 5+, Yelkouan Shearwater 20+.

Skala Kallonis – Eleanora’s Falcon 1 over Hotel Pasiphae.

Thanks to everyone who passed on info or entered their records in the Hotel Pasiphae bird log.

27 April 08 - Migrants galore!

At last! Passerine migrants have been like hen's teeth this last week. yesterday provided some promise, and those who went west today were well rewarded for their efforts with the biggest spring fall I have ever witnessed on the island.

Weather: overcast with occasional sunny periods (overcast in the mountains all day). Moderate north-westerly wind. Max. temp c.20 C.

Tsiknias River - BONELLI'S EAGLE one north at c.6pm, Eleanora's Falcon 1, Whiskered Tern 2, Little Bittern 1, Night-heron 4, Savi's Warbler 1, Roller 3, Mediterranean Gull 3, Turnstone 2, Temminck's Stint 2.

Ipsilou - a huge fall of migrants included hundreds of Blackaps (500+) and Lesser Whitethroats and numerous Wood Warblers and Golden Orioles, and absolutely hoochin with warblers, flycatchers etc. Main highlights - SEMI-COLLARED FLYCATCHER 1, Collared Flycatcher 4 (3m, 1f), Red-breasted Flycatcher 4 (ad m, 1st yr m 2, f), Eastern Bonelli's Warbler 2, Barred Warbler 4 (3m, 1f), Icterine Warbler 1, Great Spotted Cuckoo 1, Thrush Nightingale 2.

Faneromeni - GREAT SNIPE 1, LAVENT SPARROWHAWK 1, Nightjar 1.

Sigri Fields - PALLID HARRIER 1 (f), Red-footed Falcon 15+, Lesser Kestrel 15+, Eleanora's Falcon 1.

Metochi Lake - BAILLON'S CRAKE 2, ROLLER 2, Little Crake 2, Whiskered Tern 11, Bee-eater 20.

Kalloni Saltpans - CITRINE WAGTAIL 1 (f), White-winged Black Tern 100+, Whiskered Tern 5, Marsh Sandpiper 3+.

Aghias Ioannis - ROLLER 1.

Parakila - ROLLER 1.

Petra - ROLLER 3.

Petra Reservoir - Ortolan Bunting 1.

Meladia River Ford - again, hoochin with migrants. Red-backed Shrike 40+, Lesser Grey Shrike 10+, Black-headed Bunting 40+, Little Bittern 2 (m&f), Collared Flycatcher 1, Thrush Nightingale 1, Great Reed Warbler 3, Barred Warbler 1, Red-throated Pipit 1, Redstart 1, Hen Harrier 1 (r/t), flava wagtail 100+, Marsh Warbler 1, Bee-eater 2. Petra Reservoir - Roller 3, Great Reed Warbler 5, Ortolan Bunting 6.

Alykes Wetlands - Collared Pratincoles 7, Short-eared Owl 1.

Kalloni Mini Soccer Pitch - Scops Owl 1.

Also Rollers at Aghia Ioannis and nr Parakila.

26 April 08 - where eagles dare

A major improvement today, with four migrant eagle species, other raptors and a large increase in migrant passerines.

Weather: overcast all day with occasional sunny period. Moderate northerly wind. Max. temp 20 C.

Today's main highlights -

Petra - STEPPE EAGLE (sub-adult, 6th island record) low to the south at 09.25 followed within a minute by a BLACK KITE. Black-headed Bunting 2, good Ruppell's Warbler activity.

North coast track (Eftalou to Skala Sikaminias) - GOLDEN EAGLE (adult) north at 13.55 mobbed by Long-legged Buzzard. Audouin's Gull 1.

Parakoila Marsh - LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE 1 over in morning. Little Crake 1.

Platania - BOOTED EAGLE 1 over in morning. Olive Tree Warbler showing on and off, Golden Oriole 15+.


Napi Valley - RUFOUS-TAILED ROCK THRUSH 1 just north of Napi, Red-footed Falcon fem.

Tsiknias River - ROLLER 1, CITRINE WAGTAIL Wagtail 1, Little Crake 1, Temminck's Stint 1.

Petra Reservoir - Marsh Warbler 1, Great Spotted Cuckoo 2.

Maladia River Ford - Red-breasted Flycatcher 1, Roller 1, Lesser Grey Shrike 3 (plus Red-backed, Masked and Woodchat), Barred Warbler 4, Ortolan Bunting 5+, Savi's Warbler 1, Thrush Nightingale 1, Red-footed Falcon 1, Montagu's Harrier 1, Wood Warbler.

Aghias Ioannis - Ortolan Bunting 5+, Sardinian Warbler 1, Cinereous Bunting.

Kalloni Saltpans - Broad-billed Sandpiper 13, Dunlin 2, Marsh Sandpiper 1, Temminck's Stint.

Alykes Wetlands - Collared Praticoles 17, Red-throated Pipits 4, Short-toed Lark 5.

Metochi Lake - Little Crake 2.

Christou River - Whimbrel 1.

Kalloni Soccer Pitch (Scops Copse) - Scops Owl 2 (easiest bird still the roadside tree marked with plastic chocholate choice bottle).

Achladeri - both Kruper's Nuthatch and Long-eared Owl showing well.

More Rollers reported from elsewhere (but no details) on the island, plus many more Red-backed Shrikes, Golden Orioles and commoner migrants such as flava wagtails and warblers. Still very few flycatchers.

25 April - Cattle Egret and more Rollers

Cattle Egret between Kalloni Saltpans and Tsiknias River © Steve Dudley

Weather: cloudy with sunny periods with strong north-westerly wind. Max. temp 23 C.

Nr Tsiknias River Mouth - CATTLE EGRET, only the seventh in recent years, was the above summer plumaged adult found this evening.

Platania - BOOTED EAGLE 1, LANNER 1, OLIVE TREE WARBLER 1 still showing on and off.

Tsiknias River - ROLLER 1, Slender-billed Gull 2, Little Bittern 1.

Alykodi Pool - GREAT SNIPE 1.

Metochi Lake - Little Crake 4, Spotted Crake 1, Purple Heron 1, Bee-eater 20+.

Kalloni Saltpans - Gull-billed Tern, Spotted Crake 1 (on pool opp. Saltworksentrance), Sanderling 3, Curlew Sandpiper 30+, Marsh Sandpiper 1, Spotted Redshank 1, Ruff 60+, Red-throated Pipit 5 (around pool opp. saltworks entrance).

Polichnitos Saltpans - Little Stint 60+, Temminck's Stint 1, Curlew Sandpiper 12, Black Stork 1.

Achladeri - Kruper's Nuthatch very active around nest stump, Roller 1, Lesser Grey Shrike 1.

Skala Vasilikon - Bee-eater 22.

Alykes Wetlands - Tawny Pipit 1, Short-toed Lark 2.

Mesa - Garganey 3, Shoveler 7.

A number of Black Storks reported moving north throughout the day.

Great Snipe at Alykoudi Pool © Mark Powell

24 April 08 - Rollers, Olive Trees and wee bonny warblers

Weather: sunny with thin cloud, light north-westerly winds. Max temp. 23 C.

More signs of movement today with Rollers, Olive Tree and Eastern Bonelli's Warblers.

Platania - OLIVE TREE WARBLER (male on territory since 22nd), ROLLER 1, Red-footed Falcon 1, Golden Oriole 10+, Hoopoe 6+.

Messa - ROLLER 3 west of the road junction.

Achladeri - Kruper's Nuthatch (female now incubating), Long-eared Owl (female with 3 chicks at nest).

Kalloni Saltpans - White-winged Black Terns 36, Red-footed Falcon 10+, Eleanora's Falcon 1, Lesser Kestrel 2, Collared Pratincole 1, Spotted Redshank 1.

Skala Kallonis Pool - Squacco Heron 6, Garganey 1.

River Christou - Temminck's Stint 1, Little Stint 4, Stone-curlew 1, Ruff 1.

Ipsilou - Eastern Bonelli's Warbler 2 singing, Isabelline Wheatear 8+, Cinereous Bunting 5, Pied Flycatcher 1, Rock Sparrow 4.

Lardia Valley - Eastern Bonelli's Warbler 1 singing.

Sigri/Faneromeni - Lesser Kestrel 7+, Bee-eater 8+.

Between Filia & Skalochori - Eastern Bonelli's Warbler 1 singing.

Black-headed Buntings around, more Whinchat and yellow wagtails. Raptors still thin in the air.

23 April 08 - another Blue-cheeked Bee-eater!

Little Bittern by Tsiknias River Ford

Weather: sunney with thin cloud and light southerly breeze. Max temp. 23 C.

More signs of things improving with Black-headed Buntings reported widely from around the Kalloni area, more Whinchat, etc.

Please check previous days for late additions.

Today's highlights -

Meladia River Ford - BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATER 1.

Sigri - CITRINE WAGTAIL 1 (fem).

Kalloni Saltpans - Slender-billed Gull 3, Collared Praticole 14, Black Tern 1, Marsh Sandpiper 2, Spotted Redshank 2, Curlew Sandpiper 5+, Greenshank 12, Ruff 390+, Curlew 2, Black Stork 3, Ruddy Shelduck 6, GreaterFlamingo 223, Great White Egret 1.

Alykes Wetlands (Saltpan Sheepfields) - Red-throated Pipit 3, Short-toed Lark 12, Common Snipe 1.

Metochi Lake - Little Crake 2, Black Stork 1, Bee-eater 2, Short-toed Eagle 2, Long-legged Buzzard 2.

Tsiknias River - Little Bittern 1, Black-headed Bunting 5+, Mediterranean Gull 19, Ortolan Bunting 1, Temmick's Stint 2, Marsh Sandpiper 1, Masked Shrike 1, Long-legged Buzzard 1 (hunting all day from same telegraph pole as same week last year), Stone-curlew 3.

North Coast - Eleanora's Falcon 2, Audouin's Gull 3.
Christou River - Red-throated Pipit 1, Great White Egret 1.

22 April 08 - Getting better!

Weather: thin cloud with occasional sunny periods and very strong south to south-easterly wind in gave way to overcast, cooler and little wind from around mid-afternoon. Max. 20 C.

A distinct improvement on the migrant front today, but still no great numbers of migrant passerines. More Short-toed Eagles, Long-legged and Common Buzzards around today.

Today's highlights:

Sigri Fields - 1st sum male PALLID HARRIER, Lesser Kestrels 15+, Spotted Flycatcher 1.

Ipsilou - in extremely strong wind, MERLIN 1 (c. 7th record for island), Eleanora's Falcon 1, Wood Warbler 1, Pied Flycatcher 1.

Faneromeni area - lots of Alpine Swifts over, Pied Flycatcher 1, Spotted Flycatcher 2.

Maladia River Ford - Ortolan Bunting 1, Icterine Warbler 1, Pallid Swift 1, Wood Warbler 1, fem Sardinian Warbler, Great Reed Warbler 1, Long-legged Buzzard 2, Short-toed Eagle 3.

Skala Eresou river ford - Squacco Heron.

Makara - Chukar, lots of Alpine Swifts over, Black-headed Bunting 1, Northern Wheatear 3, flava Yellow Wagtail 11, thunbergi Yellow Wagtail 4, Chiffchaff 1.

Kalloni Saltpans season pool opposite entrance - Marsh Sandpiper 1, Spotted Redshank 2.

Kalloni Mini Soccer Pitch (Scops Copse) - Scops Owl 3. Directions forone bird: when in the copse, the fifth roadside eucalyptus tree from the entrance by the soccer pitch (tree marked by a chocolate choice plastic drink bottle at its base). The bird is by the trunk on the soccer pitch side c.10 up, and best looked for from the other entrance side of the tree.

Napi Valley - Ortolan Bunting 5.

21 April 08 - Still very slow

Today was another scorcher, with clear skies, max. 29 C and very light breeze from the south to south-west.

There was sign of some movement, but migrant passerines in particular are few and far between - no leaf warblers, no flycatchers, and only a few Whinchat, 'yellow' wagtails and Bee-eaters. More Masked Shrikes and Orphean Warblers now on territory and more Hoopoes in evidence.

We heard belatedly about a Spur-winged Plover east of the Tsiknias River mouth, but no sign this morning.

Today's highlights -

Kalloni Saltpans - imm male PALLID HARRIER, Spotted Crake (pool opposite Saltpans entrance - since 15th), White Stork, 14 Night-heron, 2 Spotted Redshank, 39 Greenshank, fem Mantagu's Harrier, male Shoveler, Black Storks, Great White Egret, Ruddy Shelduck, Mallard (male).

Tsiknias River - Black-headed Bunting (first confirmed sighting), Squacco Heron, Bee-eater (small numbers), Lesser Kestrel, Stone-curlew.

Saltpan Sheepfields - Tawny Pipit, 19 Red-throated Pipit, Short-toed Lark, Stone-curlew, Ruddy Shelduck.

Platania - 6+ Golden Oriole, Goshawk, Long-legged Buzzard.

Skala Kallonis Pool - Squacce Heron 4, Little Bittern 1.

20 April 08 - No migrants!

Weather: very sunny and hot (max. 27 C) with moderate to strong southerly and south-westerly wind.

We checked the area where the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater was seen last night from 06.30h, but nothing.

After breakfast we went west and found both Ipsilou and the Meladia Ford areas devoid of all passerine migrants. Even the sheltered northern side of Ipsilou held not a single warbler or flycatcher. We di get great Cinereous Bunting and Rock Sparrow action, and great views of Isabelline Wheatear between the Eresos/Sigri road junction and the Ipsilou.

We drove the cattle track from Eresos to Sigri. The Meladia Ford was also migrant free. The stop was saved only by finding an active Sombre Tit nest at the fig orchard.

After a great lunch at Taverna Australia in Sigri, we headed back to Eresos to Pithariou Reservoir - another wasted effort with absolutely nothing of note.

We decided to cut our losses and head back to the Kalloni area. Along the Tsiknias River we stumbled across 13 Bee-eaters. The river itself held little more than a few Wood Sands and LRP and one Green Sand, and no sign of yesterday's Citrine Wagtail. At the Saltpans we found a lone Marsh Sandpiper in the moat. The pools by the saltpans entrance were pretty much bird-free, but we fared better in the Sheepfields - 1 Collared Pratincole, 1 Temminck's Stint, ring-tail Montagu's Harrier, 21 Short-toed Lark, 12 Red-throated Pipit.

With the weather turning so settled and hot so early, the outlook for the seasonal pools and some of the smaller rivers is not good. The surface water on the Sheepfields and elsewhere near the Saltpans is already quite low. We need some cloud cover to slow down evaporation and we need some birds!

19 April 08 - Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

Weather: thick, black clouds over the higher areas gave way to a sunny, hot day by late morning.
The big news today was the fifth Lesvos record of BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATER found at dusk between Skala Kallonis and the Tsiknias River at dusk by Sunbird group led by Ian Lewington and Killian Mullarney.

I started with my Athene/Hotel Pasiphae group at Metochi Lake, but things very slow with only a single Little Crake and flu-over Ruddy Shelduck (2) and Black Stork.

We decided to grill the 'Scops Copse' north of Kalloni by the mini soccer pitch. We weren't alone, but it took an inquisitive local to find us a Scops Owl! He said he didn't know it was there and it was luck. Yes, lucky for us, cos this bird so well hidden, and the tree it is in makes it nine trees I've seen birds using in this copse over the years.

Scops Owl at the Kalloni Mini Soccer Pitch

We then spent an hour at the Kalloni Bandstand waiting for the clouds to lift from the hills. It wasn't a wasted hour with several Short-toed Eagles (inc a displaying pair), Lesser Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Goshawk and several flocks of migrating Spanish Sparrows plus plenty of more expected stuff like Orphean Warbler, buntings, Rock Nuthatch, etc.

We headed north to the Ruppell's Warbler site near Petra where we found 3-4 Ruppell's Warblers singing and chasing one another around the scrubby slopes. Plenty of local breeders and masses of small flocks (totalling several hundred) of Spanish Sparrows moving through.

The north coast track to Skala Sikaminias was very, very quiet apart from a flock of eight fly-over Bee-eaters and plenty of Turtle Doves.
Singing male Subalpine Warbler, north coast track

With time pressing we heading south to the Kalloni Saltpans and headed for the works entrance area. The seasonal pool opposite the entrance is not that high (no where near as much water here than as in 2005). The pools was disappointing with no unusual waders or terns. A ring-tail Montagu's Harrier was quartering the fields, a Quail was calling and up to five Red-throated Pipits fed in the shorter grassyareas.

One the Saltpans held some waders including a Sanderling, 3 Curlew Sands, Little Stints and a couple of Stone-curlew.

The only other bird of noted reported to me today is a Citrine Wagtail at the ford on River Tsiknias.

18 April 08 - A real red heron day

Part of the incredible 32 Night-herons (top birds) and 53 Purple Herons seen together over Kalloni Saltpans this evening

Having arriced yesterday, our first day in the field was first rate!

Morning overcast and warm, afternoon mixed sunshine and cloud with rising temps, max. c.22 C.

We arrived last night and were keen to get out this morning! Good numbers of swifts and hirundines moving through, reasonable numbers of acros, some Whinchat, a few shrikes, plus . . .

Skala Kallonis Pool
The water levels were lower than I expected and there was actually very little here - no waders, no wagtails, few warblers. Wed did see 1 Purple Heron, 4 Squacco Heron, male Garganey and a male Red-footed Falcon.

Metochi Lake
Water level here was high and good numbers of warblers including Great Reed Warbler. Woodchat Shrike, 1 Night-heron, 2 Little Crake, 2 Short-toed Eagle, 2 Ruddy Shelduck, 1 Grasshopper Warbler (reeling).

Back at the Hotel Pasiphae we had a Black Stork fly over and a flock of 35 (!) Night-herons to the north. Now that was more like it!

Great Kruper's Nuthatch action with at least three feeding birds. Birds very vocal but no indication of nest site. Short-toed Treecreeper, Masked Shrike, Short-toed Eagle, Black Stork, loads of Common and Alpine Swifts.

Drive to Polichnitos Saltpans
Masked Shrike, 3 Red-backed Shrike, Woodchat, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Black Stork.

Polichnitos Saltpans
Green Sandpiper, Northern Wheatear.

5 Bee-eater

Near Kato Stavros
1 Golden Oriole, 2 Orphean Warbler, 3+ Sardinian Warbler, Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard.

6 Ruddy Shelduck, Great White Egret.

Kalloni Saltpans
We'd already had a great day, but arriving at the Saltpans at 6.30 pm, the next hour was fantastic! The first pan by the main road was holding 143 Black-winged Stilt and 337 Avocet. Thanks to Eleni's reports from the last week I knew instantly these numbers were way up - more good signs of movement. We picked out the usual Ruff, Little Stint, Greenshank and a lone Stone-curlew.

We then had a flock of 32 Night-herons come over and start circling to gain height. Within a few minutes, 53 (!) Purple Herons came out of a nearby field. They too started circling, and within about ten minutes we had both the Purple Rons and Night-herons circling together. What they were up to, who knows. They spent the next 30 mins circling around looking what to do! We continued to watch the pans and picked up 23 Gull-billed Terns and 6 Whiskered Terns. Looking back up to the heron flock, they had now been joined by two Curlew and 4 Whimbrel! We ended up leaving this flock flapping around high up wondering what they were going to do for the night.

In all a fanatastic day! Day totals of 68 Nigh-herons, 55 Purple Herons and 8 Black Storks. Water levels in some places do seem lower than I had expected, but still plenty of surface water, but temperatures beginning to climb steadily.

11-17 April 08 - bird news

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, 14 April 2008, near the River Tsiknias © Bill Baston/http://www.billbaston.com/

We arrived on the island yesterday and Shena & John Maskell were already at our hotel and birding here since the 11th. Here are some of there highlights.

17 April
2 Masked Shrike - Sigri to Eressos track

16 April
1 Whiskered Tern, Ruff, 8 Marsh Sandpiper, 4 Red-throated Pipit - Kalloni Saltpans
Kruper's Nuthatch, Scops Owl calling - Achladeri

15 April
39 Purple Herons - Skala Kallonis Pool
2 Ruppell's Warbler - nr Petra

14 April
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - nr mouth of Tsiknias River (photo above)
Little Crake, Turtle Dove - Parakila Marsh
Cinereous Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Orphean Warbler - Agios Ioannis
2 Lesser Kestrel, 1 Long-legged Buzzard - Apothika to Makara

13 April
1 Green Sandpiper - River Christou
Purple Heron, Crag Martin, Long-legged Buzzard - Potamia

12 April
3 Squacco Heron , 2 Glossy Ibis - Skala Kallonis Pool
Hoopoe, Collared Fly - Upper River Tsiknias
9 Garganey, 30 Ruddy Shelduck, 130 Avocet, 16 Black-winged Stilt - Kalloni Saltpans

11 April
Little Bittern - Tsiknias River

News from the island

The weather is cloudy, warm and humid. Water levels remain high, much higher than last year, and Eleni Galinou says she expects good surface water to remain for the next couple of weeks. Check the weather using the link on the right.

More hides!
A hide is currently being erected on the west side of Christou River (the west river – turn down the track on west side of the road bridge), a shade has been erected over part of the old road bridge here also. At Parakila Marsh there is a new hide being finished (take the track nearest the village). Eleni also says there are new wildlife information boards being erected in several places too.

Above - the new sun shade at the old road bridge over Christou River

The new screen being erected at the western side of Christou River. This will prove popular and looks over a rather neglected area

But what of the birds I hear you cry!

Here is a run down of birds seen by Eleni on 4 April –

Kalloni saltpans – 25 Greenshank, 4 Marsh Sandpiper, 3 Black Stork, 15 Black-winged stilts, 10 Avocets (around nesting islands), 2 Stone-curlew, 3 Great White Egret, 26 Little Egret, 1 (fem) Marsh Harrier.

Between Mesotopos and Agra – 5 male Cinereous Buntings, 2 Short-toed Eagles, 1 Long-legged Buzzard, a male Lesser Kestrel and a probable Eleonora's Falcon.

Skala Eresou (from the new bridge by the old river ford) – a male Citrine Wagtail (early), yellow wagtails including Black-headed and Squacco Heron.

Mute Swan at Parakila Marsh. A few winter around the island with the odd bird lingering in to spring

Photos © Eleni Galinou

Kalloni Saltpans and surrounds

News from Lesvos birder Eleni Galinou is that the rain keeps falling and surface water levels continue to improve. The rivers are flowing and seasonal pools such as those above, opposite the entrance to Kalloni Saltpans, are holding plenty of water which should, barring an early heatwave, stay into May. Its whetting my lips for when I get out their on the 17th!.

Here is the second hide to be erected overlooking the Kalloni Saltpans. As you can see by the salt mound in the left of the image, this is near the saltpans entrance looking north. The Google Earth image below shows you the position of both hides.

Eleni has also heard that there might be a hide being erected at Parakila Marsh. Question is, why? This latter site has been in decline over the years and very few birders now bother to watch it. Perhaps a hide might encourage more to stop and perhaps more might be seen. We'll see.

Here's something that UK birders aren't familiar with. A flock of migrating Grey Herons! This flock of 28 birds went straight over the saltpans to the north on 5 April along with a flock of 12 Glossy Ibis. So things certainly on the move.

Eleni also reported the following from the Kalloni Saltpans on 5 April - 10 Ruddy shelduck, 7 Black-tailed Godwit , 5-6 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, 4 Little Ringed Plover, 13 Kentish Plover, 6 Black-winged Stilt, 8 Little Egret, 3 Great White Egret and 210 Avocet.

Photos © Eleni Galinou