Lesvos hosts major ornithology conference

3rd International Eurasian Ornithology Congress

University of Aegean, Mytilini, Lesvos, 8-11 April 2010

Organised and run by the Mytilini college of the University of the Aegean, the conference will include a two-day scientific programme and a full day excursion.

For further information see the IECC website.

Lesvos features high in HRC 2008 rarities report

Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Polichnitos Saltpans, 20 Sept 08. © Steve Dudley
This first record for Lesvos and only the fourth record for Greece was found by Terry Robinson and was present for just one day.

The Hellenic Rarities Committee has just published the Greek rarities report for 2008.

Among the many records in the report are plenty of accepted records from Lesvos from 2008 and previous years. These include at seven (!) new species for the island such as the above Pectoral Sandpiper, plus Steppe Eagle, Dotterel, Knot, Little Swift, Bluethroat and Southern Steppe Shrike.

Satellite tracked Eleonora's Falcons update

Eleonora's Falcon, Katapetros Valley, May 2009 © Steve Dudley

In October, four Eleonora's Falcons were fitted with satellite trackers and released for their southern migration to east Africa. One of the four birds reach Madagascar around the 8 November with a second bird known to be crossing the straights between Mozambique and Madagascar on 11 Nov. on 11 Nov the other two birds were still way to the north around the Sudan - Central African Republic border.

You can see their progress online here.

A late Wryneck at Poli Pans

Wryneck, Polichnitos Saltpans, 18 Nov 09 © Terry Robinson

Wryneck is an elusive species on the island and this bird is only the third confirmed record this year (Skala Kallonis Apr 09, Meladia Sept 09). This is certainly the latest record for the island. They do occasionally turn up in open areas away from trees such as this bird at Poli Pans.

It is a sedentary resident species in some areas along the North African coast and on Corsica (which lies further north than Lesvos).

Eastern Stonechat

Eastern Stonechat, nr Vatera, 15 November 2009 © Terry Robinson

Terry Robinson found this Eastern Stonechat near Vatera on 15 November. It is very pale with clean, pale (the belly appears almost white), broad pale fringes visible on the outer tail feathers and an plain, unstreaked rump.

If accepted by the Hellenic Rarities Committee as an Eastern/Siberian Stonechat it will be the first record for the island. The Birds of Greece (Handrinos & Akriotis, 1997) lists only one 'Eastern Stonechat' for Greece from Keri Lagoon, Zakynthus in November 1986 (date fits with this record) and there is a second record from Strogyli, Arta (HRC 08 - due Dec 09). Terry's will therefore be a third for Greece if accepted.

Eastern Stonechat, nr Vatera, 15 November 2009 © Terry Robinson

Slender-billed Gulls - record count!

Slender-billed Gulls, Polichnitos Saltpans 8 Nov 09 © Terry Robinson

Terry Robinson has emailed to let me know he had a flock of 25 Slender-billed Gulls at Polichnitos Saltpans on 7 November. His previous highest count is only seven, and I've never heard of a double-figure flock being reported before, so I make this an island record count! 17 stayed on until the 8 Nov (see photo above).

Satellite tracking Greek Eleonora's Falcons

Eleonora's Falcon, Katapetros Valley, May 2009 © Steve Dudley

Over 12,000 pairs (85% of the world's population) of Eleonora's Falcon breed in Greece. They breed along the long rocky coastline including around the Aegean Sea. Its never been confirmed, but judging by the presence of birds around from late spring, through the summer and autumn, several pairs probably breed on Lesvos.

In October, four Eleonora's Falcons were fitted with satellite trackers and released for their southern migration to east Africa. You can track them online here.

Common Cranes

Terry Robinson had 3 Common Cranes over Polichnitos Saltppans yesterday (04/11) morning. He said it had been heavy rain and thunder all night, the birds came low over him at c.9.50, so they cant have come from too far. This is only the 7th record since 1990 and the first record since 2003.

Terry also reports the arrival of wintering Sardinian Warblers and Reed Buntings around the Poli Pans, plus plenty of waders and herons still, plus a couple of Black Storks.

More pelicans!

As in the UK, November opened with strong winds and rain. This morning Terry Robinson found nine White Pelicans (some above) on the Polichnitos Saltpans. But very little else around!

Imperial Eagle

Imperial Eagle, Achladeri, 20 Oct 09 © John & Anne Humphreys

This bird seen by John and Anne over the Krüper's Nuthatch site being mobbed by two Common Buzzards.

Ottoman Viper

Ottoman Viper, Anaxos, 21 Oct 09 © John & Anne Humphreys

This young viper (c.35cm in length - adults usually up to 90cm but records up to 1.5m) was found by semi-resident birders John and Anne in their Anaxos garden. Few birders get to enjoy this scarce snake - the most venomous species on the island (and Europe!) so care should be taken if you do encounter one.

And this critter was also found in their garden last month.

Dhal's Whip Snake, Anaxos, 13 Sept 09 © John & Anne Humphreys

Lesvos book artwork for sale

All of Dave Nurney's black-and-white illustrations from A Birdwatching Guide to Lesvos are available to buy. All items are unframed and will cost £30 inc. P&P. Scroll down to see all artwork (or look in the book). Items will be indicated as sold if/when they sell.

If you would like to purchase any of the artwork please email me to reserve the item and I will notify you of payment, etc.

Short-toed Eagle

Scops Owl

Red-throated Pipit

Pygmy Cormorant

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Masked Shrike

Marsh Sandpiper

Long-legged Buzzard

Krüper's Nuthatch (from title page)

Cetti's Warbler

Black Redstart

Little Crake

Krüper's Nuthatch

Cretzschmar's Bunting

Collared Flycatcher

Black-headed Bunting

2009 Lesvos Bird Report

As previously announced, I will compile a report for 2009 of the more interesting records.

If you have any records (see below) or photographs, please contact me. If you have a detailed trip report please feel free to send me a copy by email or a link to your online report.

I will produce an online version of the report here on Lesvos Birding as well as a PDF for those who want to receive a copy to file.

I am interested in the following species in particular -

All records, particularly breeding records, unless otherwise stated

Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
Scopoli’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea diomedea
Black Stork Ciconia nigra
Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus
European Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes
Eleonora’s Falcon Falco eleonorae
Audouin’s Gull Ichthyaetus audouinii
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo
Long-eared Owl Asio otus
Tawny Owl Strix aluco
Scops Owl Otus scops
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Eurasian Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus
Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus orientalis
Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum
Fan-tailed Warbler Cisticola juncidis
Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria
Rüppell’s Warbler Sylvia rueppelli
Krüper’s Nuthatch Sitta krueperi (records outside the central pine forest area (Achladeri area) where the species is common e.g. please send records forest areas north and west of Kalloni, Agiasos, etc.)
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Rufous Bush Robin Cercotrichas galactotes
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
Cinereous Bunting Emberiza cineracea (records away from known breeding sites)
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes


In addition to all HRC species (see
here - which can be submitted either via LBRC or direct to HRC), I am interested in all records of the following species (for status and notes on indvidual species see here):

Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus
Gadwall Anas strepera
Common Pochard Aythya ferina
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Smew Mergellus albellus
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena
Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Pelicans Pelecanus sp (details of all flocks)
Red Kite Milvus milvus
White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca
Merlin Falco columbarius
In addition, please send in details of any groups/flocks of raptors (e.g. large flocks of social falcons, multiple eagles, movements of Honey-buzzards, etc)
Great Snipe Gallinago media
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus
Common Gull Larus canus
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus
Stock Dove Columba oenas
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Rook Corvus frugilegus
Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus
Eurasian Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus
Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica (records of birds resembling H. r. savignii or H. r. transitive).
Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon
River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis
Fan-tailed Warbler Cisticola juncidis
Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus
Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis
Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata
Black-bellied Dipper Cinclus cinclus aquaticus
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
All records of the following races (or birds resembling these races):
Yellow-headed Wagtail
M. f. lutea
Syke’s Yellow Wagtail
M. f. beema
‘Romanian’ Yellow Wagtail
M. f. ‘dombrowski’ (flava-feldegg intergrade)
‘Russian’ Yellow Wagtail
M. f. ‘superciliaris’ (thunbergi variant)
‘British’ Yellow Wagtail
M. f. flavissima (no Lesvos records)
Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola
Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella

Thanks for you support.

September 2009 - sightings summary

A summary of sightings for September. Observers are given for more significant sightings. Unless otherwise stated, records from Polichnitos Saltpans are from resident Terry Robinson.

If you have any records from September (or any other time in 2009) please send them to me (link on left) for inclusion on the website and the 2009 annual report currently in prep. Thanks.


A covey of 18+ birds in Meladia Valley on 23 September (Steve Dudley et al).

Ruddy Shelduck

Max. 10 Mesa Wetland 21 September (Colin Gittins).


1 Polichnitos Saltpans 5 September.


1 Polichnitos Saltpans 13-20 September.


1-2 Polichnitos Saltpans 13-20 September.


Up to 7 Polichnitos Saltpans 9-13 September.

Red-necked Grebe

1 off Skala Kallonis 11-24 September at least (Roger Lawrence et al). Only the sixth record for the island.

Red-necked Grebe, Skala Kallonis, September 2009 © Steve Dudley.

Scopoli’s Shearwaters

Small numbers (no double figure count) seen around the island throughout.

Yelkouan Shearwaters

Small numbers seen around the island throughout.

Greater Flamingo

Up to 800 Kalloni Saltpans.

Black Stork

Recorded at both Kalloni (max. 8) and Polichnitos (max. 21) saltpans throughout. Also 13 Christou River 30 Sept (Colin Gittins).

Glossy Ibis

1 Polichnitos Saltpans 10 September (Terry Robinson).

Little Bittern

1 Metochi Lake 12-24 Sept at least (MO).


2 imm over Skala Kallonis 18 September (Colin Gittins).

Squacco Heron

3 Polichnitos Saltpans 11 September (Terry Robinson). 1 Metochi Lake 23 Sept.

Grey Heron

Recorded at both Kalloni (max. 9) and Polichnitos (max. 56) saltpans throughout. Also recorded at Metochi Lake, Mesa, Vouvaris River Mouth.

Purple Heron

One Metochi Lake 19 September (Steve Dudley et al).

Great White Egret

Recorded at both Kalloni (max. 5) and Polichnitos (max. 8) saltpans throughout.

Little Egret

Recorded at both Kalloni (max. 11) and Polichnitos (max. 40) saltpans throughout.

White Pelican

1 Kallonis Saltpans 21-22 September (Mike Snelling et al).

2 Polichnitos Saltpans, one 21-24 September and a second bird 30 September into October (both Terry Robinson et al).

White Pelican, Kalloni Saltpans, 22 September 2009 © Steve Dudley.

White Pelican, Polichnitos Saltpans, 30 September 2009 © Terry Robinson. The second bird of the month to be found at the site.


1 Christou River 30 September (Colin Gittins).


Birds seen on several days. Max. count 17south over Skala Kallonis 13 September (Stuart & Claire Darbyshire).

Short-toed Eagle

Birds seen across the island throughout the month. No distinct passage noted.

Marsh Harrier

Birds seen most days. Max. counts 55+ south over Skala Kallonis 13 September and 10+ nr Sikaminias 20 September (both Stuart & Claire Darbyshire).

Pallid Harrier

An adult male nr Sikaminias 20 September (Stuart & Claire Darbyshire).

Montagu’s Harrier

Singles recorded on many days. No noted passage.

Long-legged Buzzard

1-2 Kalloni area throughout.

1 Petrified Forest 15 September.

1 Pithariou Reservoir 23 September.

Booted Eagle

1 south down Napi Valley 19 September (Steve Dudley et al).

Lesser Kestrel

1 Polichnitos Saltpans 20-24 September.

Up to 3 Kalloni Saltpans area 20-24 September.

2 Sigri/Meladia Valley area 15-22 September.

Red-footed Falcon

Birds seen around Kalloni Saltpans on 11 September (3) and 21-24 September (max. 7).

1 Polichnitos Saltpans 16 September.

Eleonora’s Falcon

Birds regularly seen across the west and north of the island throughout the month.

Black-winged Stilt

Max. count 34 Polichnitos Saltpans 7 September.


3 Christou River 30 (Sept) was the only report (Colin Gittins).


Max. count 149 Polichnitos Saltpans 8 September.


1 Potamia Reservoir 20 September (Stuart & Claire Darbyshire).

Little Ringed Plover

Polichnitos Saltpans max. 9 on 25 September. Also recorded at Kalloni Saltpans and Tsiknias River.

Ringed Plover

1-3 Polichnitos Saltpans throughout the month.

Kentish Plover

Polichnitos Saltpans max. 68 on 2 September. Also recorded at Kalloni Saltpans.

Common Snipe

2 Metochi Lake & Christou River 18-30 September.


Up to 4 Kalloni Saltpans and Tsiknias River Mouth 18-23 September.

1 Polichnitos Saltpans 18 September.

Spotted Redshank

1 Kalloni Saltpans 23 September (Stuart & Claire Darbyshire).

6 Polichnitos Saltpans 26 September (Colin Gittins).

Common Redshank

Polichnitos Saltpans max. 139 on 25 September. Also recorded at Kalloni Saltpans.

Marsh Sandpiper

1-2 Polichnitos Saltpans 5-20 September.

2 Kalloni Saltpans 19-22 September (Stuart & Claire Darbyshire et al).

4 Polichnitos Saltpans 26 September (Colin Gittins).

Common Greenshank

Polichnitos Saltpans max. 23 on 19 September. Also recorded at Kalloni Saltpans (max. 8).

Green Sandpiper

2 Metochi Lake & Christou River 18-30 September (MO).

Wood Sandpiper

1-4 Polichnitos Saltpans throughout the month.

Common Sandpiper

1-3 Polichnitos Saltpans throughout the month.

Little Stint

Polichnitos Saltpans max. 113 on 14 September. Kalloni Saltpans max. 37 11 September.

Temminck's Stint

4 Polichnitos Saltpans 26 September (Colin Gittins).

Curlew Sandpiper

Polichnitos Saltpans max. 9 on 2 September. Also recorded at Kalloni Saltpans.


1-7 Polichnitos Saltpans throughout the month.

Broad-billed Sandpiper

1 Kalloni Saltpans 1 September (Philip Walsh)

1 Polichnitos Saltpans 14 September (Terry Robinson).


Polichnitos Saltpans max. 9 on 18 September. Also recorded at Kalloni Saltpans.

Slender-billed Gull

1-5 Polichnitos Saltpans throughout the month.

1 Kalloni Saltpans 23 September (Stuart & Claire Darbyshire).

Little Gull

Adult Polichnitos Saltpans 22-24 September (Terry Robinson et al).

Mediterranean Gull

Polichnitos Saltpans max. 44 on 6 September. Also recorded at Skala Vasilikon.

Common Gull

1 Polichnitos Saltpans 12 September (Roger Lawrence et al) is only around the sixth record for the island. An adult also report at the Tsiknias River Mouth on 22 September.

Caspian Tern

2 Polichnitos Saltpans 11 September (John & Anne Humphreys).

Caspian Terns, Polichnitos Saltpans, September 2009 © John & Anne Humphreys

Sandwich Tern

Polichnitos Saltpans max. 13 on 8 September. Also recorded at Tsiknias River Mouth.

Whiskered Tern

1 Polichnitos Saltpans 20-21 September (Steve Dudley, Terry Robinson et al).

Black Tern

1 Polichnitos Saltpans 3-6 September (Terry Robinson).

Alpine Swift

Small numbers seen throughout the month. 80+ south over Skala Kallonis on 13 September (Stuart & Claire Darbyshire) and 80+ south over Tsiknias River Mouth on 18 September (Steve Dudley et al).


1 Apothika 18 September (Colin Gittins) is a rare autumn record.

Common Kingfisher

1-2 seen at many sites throughout the month inc. Kalloni Saltpans, Polichnitos Saltpans, Tsiknias River, Vouvaris River, Vergias River, Metochi Lake.

White-throated Kingfisher

One reportedly seen on rocks below Sigri Castle on 11 September. Awaiting further details. This would be the first record for the island if accepted (one record from 2007 also under consideration by HRC).


1-3 seen at many sites throughout the month.


1 Meladia Valley fig grove 21 September (Steve Dudley).

Red-backed Shrike

Low numbers across the island throughout.

Lesser Grey Shrike

Seen at Polichnitos Saltpans (max. 7), Kalloni Saltpans area (max. 3) and Tsiknias River (max. 3). Odd birds reported from other sites across the island.

‘Large’ Grey Shrike

One bird reported from the Christou River on 18 September was either a Great Grey Shrike (fewer than 10 records, but these all pre-date formal recording on the island and I suspect some/many were Steppe Grey Shrike) or Steppe Grey Shrike (only one previous record). Awaiting further details.

Woodchat Shrike

1-2 Polichnitos Saltpans early mont; 1 nr Skamnioudi and 1 Metochi Lake 20 September.

Masked Shrike

None reported.

Golden Oriole

1 Parakila 21 September (Colin Gittins).

Red-rumped Swallow

Small numbers reported from across the island.

Crag Martin

30+ Lardia Valley 15 September (Stuart & Claire Darbyshire). Also reported from Potamia Valley and Metochi Lake.

Willow Warblers

Good numbers across the island inc. 55+ feeding in a cut field nr Skamnioudi on 20 September.


Small numbers across the island.

Common Whitethroat

Small numbers reported across the island. Max. 8+ Meladia Valley 23 September.

Lesser Whitethroat

Reported in reasonable numbers from sites in the centre and west of the island. Max. 15+ Meladia Valley 22 September.


Small numbers at central and western sites.

Sardinian Warbler

Singles Christou River 18 September, Metochi Lake 23 September and Achladeri (Kofinas) 26 September (all Colin Gittins).

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

1 Meladia Valley 22-23 September.

Common Redstart

Max. 6+ Achladeri Forest (Kofinas) 21 September (Colin Gittins).


Small numbers seen across the island.

Northern Wheatear

Good numbers seen across the island.

Isabelline Wheatear

Singles Tsiknias River 18 September and Meladia Valley 23 September.

Black-eared Wheatear

Good numbers seen across the island.

Spotted Flycatcher

Small numbers seen across the island.

White Wagtail

Small numbers seen across the island.

Yellow Wagtail

Small numbers seen across the island.

Tree Pipit

Rported from many localities. Max. of 50+ Tsiknias River 28 September (Colin Gittins).

Red-throated Pipit

1-2 Tsiknias River 28-29 September (Colin Gittins).

Tawny Pipit

3-4 Polichnitos Saltpans and surrounding fields 20-21 September. 1-2 Tsiaknias River 21-28 September.

House Sparrow

A roost numbering thousands near the inland river bridge in Potamia Valley 18-30 September (Pat & Judy Hayes).

Spanish Sparrow

3 reported from Tsiknias River 28 September (Colin Gittins).

Rock Sparrow

2 Ipsilou Monastery 25 Sept (Colin Gittins) were the only ones reports.

Black-headed Bunting

A handful reported during the third week.