LESVOS BIRDING is the essential resource for birders visiting the island. Use the links left and right to search the site inc. info on Lesvos Birding Holidays & Tours and A Birdwatching Guide to Lesvos.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

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.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Shot Booted Eagle dies

I've just heard from the Wildlife Hospital on Lesvos that this Booted Eagle, ahot in October, has since died. More here. They've not told of of any recent incidents, but its already been a bad year for illiegal hunting on the island (see poaching item below).

Friday, 23 November 2007

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.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Terms and Conditions

Lesvos Birding holiday tour booking terms and conditions

1. Reservations
A reservation has been made when you have paid the required tour deposit. Booking requests with deposits 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 booking form and deposit within seven days.

A booking is accepted from the date your booking is confirmed in writing. 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
The deposit for each tour is detailed in the charges section of each tour. Payment of the balance of the tour cost is due not later than eight weeks before departure date. No further reminder will be sent and if payment is not received by the due date. Failure to pay the balance by the required date will be treated as cancellation and a subject to a cancellation fee (the amount not to exceed the total cost of the holiday). You are therefore strongly recommended to take out travel insurance at an early stage to cover you in event of cancellation.

3. Refunds
Deposits are non-refundable but are transferable. Deposits are transferable to another specified tour, or replacement individual do the tour, but are subject to deductions for any expenses incurred. Balance payments are also non-refundable except under conditions 6 & 15, but are transferable in accordance with Transfer of Bookings. Insurance is therefore essential.

4. Transfer of bookings
Tour participants may transfer their booking to another person if they are prevented from proceeding with the tour due to sickness or accidents suffered by them or their close family or for other unavoidable reasons such as jury service. However, if there is a waiting list for the tour their place must first be offered to the people on that waiting list. If there is no waiting list and the participant can find another person to take up their place, any additional costs incurred by Lesvos Birding relating to the transfer have to be paid for by the transferee. Reasonable notice must be given to Lesvos Birding about such a transfer and cannot be made within 56 days of departure.

5. Consumer protection
All deposit 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 tour. In the event of my insolvency all monies will be fully refunded. Details of the trustee account are available on request.

6. Tour cancellation
Lesvos Birding reserves the right to cancel any tour for which there are insufficient reservations not less than eight weeks before the departure date. In the event of my cancellation, all deposits and other payments made to Lesvos Birding will be refunded in full.

7. Cost increases
These may occur unexpectedly. When calculating tour prices in advance, rising costs of airfares, ground transportation and accommodation are factored in. Price changes may also occur because of fluctuating exchange rates. If unexpected cost rises do occur, Lesvos Birding may have to increase the tour cost. If it is necessary to increase the tour cost, you will be notified not less than twelve weeks before the departure date with an explanation of the amount. Should it be necessary to increase the tour cost by more than 10%, participants may withdraw without penalty. Tour cost rises of up to 5% will be absorbed within the original stated price.

8. What the tour price includes
The tour price includes all land travel, accommodation and meals as specified in the itinerary of each individual tour and the services of the tour leader(s) 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.

Please note that the flight prices quoted in the tour details are approximate and Lesvos Birding accepts no responsibility if the actual cost exceeds that quoted when you book your flight. You will be provided with plenty of notice of the release dates of the Airline so that you can arrange your own flights. Under no circumstances whatsoever will a refund be made if the actual cost of the flights are more than that quoted in the tour details.

9. Tour alterations
Changes in the itinerary may occur even though a tour has been carefully planned. 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 tour 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. As a courtesy to participants, any major changes to the itinerary will be advised in the final tour details sent on receipt of the final balance. A change in the order that locations are visited is not deemed to be a major change. Should a major change of itinerary or schedule be forced on us while the tour is in progress by, for example, strikes, weather delay or breakdown, any additional costs are the responsibility of the participants, so travel insurance is therefore essential.

10. Passport, visa and health requirements
All participants 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. In addition, participants must obtain any necessary visas and vaccination certificates required for the tour. Because of changing requirements, and the fact that the tour details are published so far in advance, specific requirements are not always stated. Participants will be advised of visa requirements in sufficient time. As Lesvos Birding leaders are not medically qualified, it is the participant’s absolute responsibility to seek medical advice regarding vaccinations and medication to ensure that they are prepared by the date of 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 the tour including bring with you any medication or medical care you may need during the duration of the tour.

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

11. Tour Information
General and more specific information will be made available to all tour 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. Please note, however, that there is absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that specific bird o other wildlife species listed in any information will be seen. Events such as floods, storms, fires etc. may prevent the tour 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.

12. Accommodation
Accommodation is in a medium-standard hotel with private facilities, unless specified in the tour details. If you are travelling singly, but want to share a room, every effort will be made to find someone of the same sex for you to share with; if this is not possible, however, you will be required to pay the single supplement charge imposed by the hotel. If you have reserved a single room on a tour and one is not available, you may expect a pro-rata refund for that day. On rare occasions the accommodation that has been reserved for the tour may not be available and in the circumstances the leader will endeavour to obtain alternative accommodation of a similar standard although it may be of a lesser standard.

13. Insurance
Travel insurance is essential and Lesvos Birding will insist that tour participants arrange suitable cover for all tours. This will ensure that the necessary protection is provided against loss of deposit, and medical costs, which can be enormous, should you fall ill during the tour. 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.

14. Restrictions on participation
Lesvos Birding tours do not normally entail strenuous activity but, if this cannot be avoided, it will be made clear in the tour 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 the tour. If you have any health problems or physical limitations, you are required to advise Lesvos Birding prior to booking.

To cater for the needs of all levels of birdwatcher, Lesvos Birding tours sometimes involve long days in the field including required distances for the schedule. Subject to the itinerary of the tour, however, Lesvos Birding can usually arrange for a half or a full day's rest for those who wish to opt out at any time.

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 send home any person, at their own expense, who will not conduct themselves in an acceptable manner, at my sole discretion.

15. Group size
Single leader groups will be restricted to 7 participants (excluding leaders). Larger groups will be provided with a second leader. Lesvos Birding reserves the right to change leaders without notice. The minimum size of a group is 4 participants, if the number of bookings does not reach this figure within 8 weeks of the commencement of the proposed tour, Lesvos Birding reserves the right to cancel the tour and refund the full amount paid by all participants.

16. Lesvos Birding responsibility
Lesvos 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.

17. Your responsibility
In addition to any medical information pertinent to the tour (see 10), 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 Birding Lesvos prior to a booking being made.

18. Data Protection Act
Your records are maintained on a computer database and are used solely for the purpose of marketing by Wingspan and are not divulged to anyone else. If you wish your records to be amended or deleted please advise me.

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

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.

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 since 2000 and have made nearly 30 trips so far to the island, most 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 as well as anyone. and am currently wiriting a new guide to the island - 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 will learn greatly 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 vegetarians 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 a 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 th 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 days 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 –

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

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

17 - 24 April 2008
Steve Dudley (Lesvosbirding.com/Athene)
Neil Bew provides a participants insight in to a Steve Dudley led trip!

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

26 April - 10 May 2007
Steve & Liz Dudley (Lesvosbirding.com/Athene) & Speyside Wildlife
Detailed trip report with many pictures and species lists

20 - 27 April 2006
Steve Dudley (Lesvosbirding.com/Athene) & Speyside Wildlife
Detailed trip report and species lists

24 Sept - 1 Oct 2005
Steve Dudley (Lesvosbirding.com/Athene) & Speyside Wildlife
Detailed trip report with many pictures and species lists

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

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

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

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

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.

I'm increasingly known as 'Mr Lesvos' after visiting the island annually since 2000 and leading nearly 30 birding trips, spring and autumn, to Lesvos and in recent times running the LESVOSBIRDING.com. I'm also in the process of writing a new guide to the island - A Birdwatching Guide to Lesvos - due in summer 2009.

For more about the man behind the bins, read on . . .

Born in Lancashire I’m one of those loud northern types (but very likable non-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. 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 Lundy. 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 350 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 have been a member of their Optical Innovation Team for the last 17 years and have 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.

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.

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! As well as helping Leica to develop new products, my other freelance work has included being both contributor and consultant for Bird Watching magazine for nearly 20 years, and I’ve am or have been consultant for many other birding-related companies such as Vine House Farm Bird Foods, Newpro UK and Minox. 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.

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 day in somewhere like The Gambia.

I’ve been leading bird and wildlife trips for nearly 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 two and in the process of penning a 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. I’m currently involved in two more, Watching British Butterflies (Dudley, Dudley & Mackay, Subbuteo, due 2009) is the butterfly version of our dragonfly book and A Birdwatching Guide to Lesvos (Arlequin, due summer 2009) will see 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 recently manifested in http://www.lesvosbirding.com/, an online resource for birders visiting the island, and next year there will be the book!

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, Isle of Scilly (at the fantastically named Hell Bay Hotel!). We live in the Huntingdonshire fens south of Peterborough and are in the process of renovating and converting two old farm-workers cottages as our home.

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)
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 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 at steve at toadsnatcher dot com (I'm sure you can work it out!)

A list of selected reptiles and amphibians

A list of some of the commoner reptiles and amphibians (with some persomal notes)

Marsh Frog Pelophylax ridibundus
Tree Frog Hyla arborea
Balkan Wall Lizard Podarcis tauricus
Balkan Green Lizard Lacerta trilineata
Snake-eyed Skink Ablepharus kitaibelii
Glass Lizard Pseudopus apodus
Spur-thighed Tortoise Testudo graeca
Sripe-necked Terrapin Mauremys rivulata
European Pond Terrapin Emys orbicularis

Which field guide?

I recommend only two books to use for Lesvos.

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

Quite simply the best field 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!

Reporting your birds records

I encourage everyone to submit their bird records to the Hellenic Ornithological Society. 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 Lesvos breeding records and local rarities, details should be sent to the Lesvos Bird Records Committee. See their website for the species and records they would like submitted to them.

For 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 was founded in 2004 and the HRC has already published three annual reports which are available online -

HRC report for 2005

HRC report for 2006

HRC report for 2007

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 birds@ornithologiki.gr or hellenicbirds@yahoo.gr

Good birding.

Nikos Probonas
HRC Secretary

Go to the HRC website

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Lesvos Birding holidays

Lesvos birding holidays with Steve Dudley/Lesvos Birding

See here for available 2009 dates.

See here for available 2010 dates.

Whats included in your holiday? Click here to find out!

Max group size 7 participants.

2010 prices
Tour cost: £750 per person (excluding flight)
Deposit: £200
Single supplement: £50

Please read Lesvos Birding tour terms and conditions.

Private groups
I offer a variety of services for private groups:
Full tour: you can either book one of the above weeks for your hole group or I will lead your group around Lesvos for the period of your choice. If your group is over 7 participants, one or more of the group organisers can opt to be driver(s) of the second vehicle.
Itinerary: I can help you plan your trip itinerary.

For previous trips see here.

Note: Speyside Wildlife holidays are booked via them and are subject to their own pricing and terms and conditions. Lesvos Birding supplies the services of Steve Dudley as head guide for Speyside Wildlife Lesvos holidays.

Lesvos trip report 21 July - 4 August 2007

by Robin Edwards, Willington, Beds

Robin's pictures here

Accommodation - Villa Vasso, Skala Kallonis

Weather - warm, 31-35 degrees, steady breeze most days, quite windy in highlands.

For species status see here
For stie information see here

Little Grebe, Evidence of breeding with young birds at Kalloni inland lake. 20+ birds at Kalloni res on 2/8 and single bird on roadside pool at turning to Apothika from road to Agra.
Cormorant, Eight birds at Kalloni res on 2/8, probably the same birds flying across Kalloni bay a fe evenings before.
Shag, Single bird seen in the bay between Petra and Molyvos on 25/7.
Little Bittern, Single adult male bird photographed at Kalloni inland lake and first seen on 23/7 early morning.
Night-heron, Two adult birds seen early mornings at Kalloni inland lake and first seen on 23/7
Little Egret, Several birds seen (max 5 together) at Kalloni Salt Pans. Also single bird at Polichnitos.
Grey Heron, Several birds present daily at Kalloni Salt Pans and Inland Res.
Black Stork, Birds frequently seen around Kalloni area. Max of 13 birds including young birds seen in Derbyshire area on 25/7.
White Stork, Breeding pair with four young at Skala Kallonis. Also bird at nest in Polichnitos.
Greater Flamingo, Estimated 200+ at Kalloni & Polichnitos Salt Pans.
Ruddy Shelduck, Max count of 22 seen on several occasions between Kalloni Salt Pans and Derbyshire pools.
Common Shelduck, Single adult bird seen with Ruddy Shelduck on 21/7 and 28/7.
Short-toed Eagle, Common throughout the island and seen daily. Bird frequenting Kalloni bay area on a number of occasions.
Goshawk, Single adult bird on the ground at Kalloni inland res on 2/8, possibly injured ?
Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Single adult bird seen near Petra res. on 27/7.
Common Buzzard, Total of five birds including family party of three seen near Pelopi on 27/7
Long-legged Buzzard, Bird seen close to Kalloni Salt Pans on 23&24/7 but otherwise not seen elsewhere!!
Lesser Kestrel, Two birds seen at Faneromeni on 23/7
Common Kestrel, Single bird seen at Kalloni Salt Pans on 21/7
Lanner ??, Possible birds seen over Petra on 25/7 and another between Parakila and Agra on 28/7. Neither bird seemed bulky enough to be Peregrine although firm ID not made.
Peregrine, Family group seen well from site near Achladeri on 30/7.
Chukar, Birds heard but not seen from Petrified Forest on 26/7
Moorhen, Young birds at Kalloni Inland Lake
Black-winged Stilt, Family including four young birds at Kalloni Inland Lake. Common at salt pans.
Avocet, 50+ birds at Kalloni Salt Pans
Little Ringed Plover, Birds common at Kalloni Salt Pans and Kalloni Inland Lake. Young birds present.
Kentish Plover, Birds at Kalloni Salt Pans including juveniles.
Little Stint, Max of six birds seen at Kalloni Salt Pans. Birds present throughout.
Temminck’s stint, First bird seen at Kalloni Inland Lake on 28/7, then probably same bird at Kalloni Salt Pans from 29/7.
Curlew Sandpiper, Single first-year bird seen at Kalloni Salt Pans on 21/7
Spotted Redshank, Single bird seen in Derbyshire area on 30/7
Greenshank, Birds seen throughout at Kalloni Salt Pans and Kalloni Inland Lake. Max of six birds seen at Derbyshire on 30/7.
Green Sandpiper, Two birds at Kalloni Inland Lake throughout.
Wood Sandpiper, 10+ birds at Kalloni Salt Pans on 21/7. Numbers then dropped with birds seen at Salt Pans and Kalloni Inland Lake.
Common Sandpiper, Single bird seen at Kalloni Salt Pans on 27/7 and on East River on 1/8
Black-headed Gull, Common around Kalloni bay and East River.
Yellow-legged Gull, Common around Kalloni bay and East River.
Gull-billed Tern, Single adult bird seen fishing in Skala Kallonis Harbour on 3/8
Common Tern, Common around Salt pans and East River including family of four young birds at river mouth.
Little Tern, Common around Kalloin Salt Pans
Rock Dove, Single bird seen from Petrified Forest on 26/7
Collared Dove, Common throughout island.
Turtle Dove, Birds including young seen most days around Kalloni area.
Little Owl, Birds seen at Villa Vasso, Petrified Forest, Derbyshire and Napi Valley
Common Swift, Birds over Kalloni Inland Lake on 23/7
Kingfisher, Single bird seen at Kalloni Inland lake on 1/8 & 2/8
Bee-eater, Groups of birds seen daily including 10+ around East River , Petra Res and Perivolis Monastary.
Hoopoe, Birds seen around Kalloni Inland lake, Napi Valley and other locations although not numerous.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Single bird seen from road-side near Achladeri.
Crested Lark, Abundant !
Crag Martin, Birds seen from road beneath Yipsilou Monastery
(Common/Barn) Swallow, Common around Skala Kallonis
Red-rumped Swallow, 10+ birds frequenting Kalloni Salt Pans
House Martin, Common around Skala Kallonis
Yellow Wagtail, Birds absent until 1/8 when first migrants seen at East River – probable thunbergi
White Wagtail, Single birds seen at Kalloni Salt Pans
Rufous Bush Robin, Obliging pair seen daily in field adjacent to Villa Vasso. Frequent along tracks toEast River and Salt Pans
Common Nightingale, Single burst of song heard near Kalloni Inland Lake on 23/7. No birds seen however.
Stonechat, Single bird seen from roadside between Eressos and Sigri
Isabelline Wheatear, 2-3 birds seen from roadside immediately west of junction of Eressos and Sigri road.
Northern Wheatear, Birds seen along roadside between Eressos and Sigri.
Black-eared Wheatear, Birds of both forms seen throughout the island.
Blue Rock Thrush, Single bird seen from Devil’s Bridge, Parakila.
Blackbird, Common around Skala Kallonis Inland Lake
Cetti’s Warbler, Common around Inland Lake
Reed Warbler, Common around Inland Lake
Great Reed Warbler, Single burst of song and seen well on 21/7 at ford of East River
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Birds seen daily being common in Tamarisk bushes.
Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Birds seen throughout around Petra, Molyvos and Kalloni Inland Lake
Eastern Orphean Warbler, Birds seen at Molyvos, Devil’s Bridge and roadside pool near turn to Apothika.
Ruppell’s Warbler, Family party at layby between Petra and Molyvos with Juvenile photographed . 27/7
Common Whitethroat, Single bird seen from roadside beneath Yipsilou Monastery
Long-tailed Tit, Feeding party including juveniles in pine trees near Achladeri
Sombre Tit, Birds seen at Devil’s Bridge, Kallonia Inland lake, near Ypsilou Monastery and near Pelopi.
Blue Tit, Common and seen most days.
Great Tit, Seen most frequently in the North of the Island.
Kruper’s Nuthatch, With patience, seen well at regular site near Achladeri on 29/7 and 30/7 after earlier visits had been thwarted by army presence. Four birds seen in feeding party on 30/7.
Western Rock Nuthatch, Seen daily. Bird common in most upland locations.
Short-toed Treecreeper, Single bird seen at site near Achladeri on 29/7.
Lesser Grey Shrike, No sightings until adult bird seen opposite Villa Vasso apartments on 2/8.
Woodchat Shrike, Common and seen daily at most locations. Most birds seen being first year birds.
Masked Shrike, Birds seen in Olive groves close to Kalloni Inland Lake and at various sites in Napi Valley.
Jay, Birds common both in the north around Petra and Molyvos and in wooded areas elsewhere.
Hooded Crow, Birds common throughout island.
Raven, Birds seen at Devil’s Bridge, Napi valley near refuge tip close to Madamados and in western highlands.
House Sparrow, Abundant.
Rock Sparrow, Birds heard and seen briefly at junction of Eressos and Sigri road.
Chaffinch, Birds seen at various locations during the fortnight
Greenfinch, Birds seen at various locations during the fortnight including East River
Goldfinch, Birds common throughout island
Linnet, Group of birds drinking at East River ford most days.
Serin, Single first-year bird seen near East River on 22/7
Cirl Bunting, Birds seen at Kapi on 27/7, near Achladeri on 30/7 and Kalloni Inland Res on 2/8.
Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Birds most common around East River and pools early morning and evenings throughout.
Species, Birds Recorded
Black-headed Bunting, 20+ First year birds seen at Faneromeni on 23/7 and single birds seen drinking in evenings at East River. No full-plumaged males seen during the fortnight.
Corn Bunting, Flock of 30+ birds frequenting fields adjacent to track to Kalloni Inland Lake.

Total = 94 + 2 heard only + 1 possible (Lanner)

Other species claimed by other birders during same period:Black-necked Grebe x2 at Kalloni Inland res
Slender-billed Gull at Polichnitos Salt pans
Mediterranean Gulls at East River mouth and Polichnitos Salt pans
Whiskered Terns x 4 at East River mouth on 21/7
Ortolan Bunting – I scrutinized birds I saw but all noted as first-year Cretzschmar’s Buntings
Alpine Swift
Stone-curlews at Kalloni Salt Pans on 21/7
Cinereous Bunting at Petrified Forest at 6pm on 20/7 – seen by two Danish Birders.

Birds looked for but not seen:
Bonelli’s Eagle around Mt Leptimnos
Olive Tree Warbler near Skalochori and Napi Valley
Cinereous Bunting at numerous sites around Sigri, Eressos, Mesotopos, Agra and Devil’s Bridge with road-side stops between.
Spanish Sparrow ?? Are they present during the summer months ?

Lesvos site guide

This is what Lesvos is all about. Great views of great birds. This Purple Heron was photographed at the season pool at Skala Kallonis (outside the Pasiphae and Kalloni II hotels). When wet, this pool is one of the best sites on the island, and you can get oustanding views of many of the migrants lurking within

Click on highlighted place names for link to Google World Map.


The Gulf of Kalloni as seen form the top of Mt Lepetimnos (Jan 09). The Gulf dominates the centre of the island and is a huge funnel for migrants moving up form the south in spring. Wetland birds concentrate at the Kalloni Ssaltpans right at the centre of the Gulf's northern shore. You can just make the salptans left of centre. Down the east coast (left as we look at the photo above) lie Achladeri and the Polichnitos Salptans and down the right (west) coast Parakila and Makara. © Vasilis El. Vogiatzis / Hotel Pasiphae

1) Skala Kallonis
This coastal area lies on the northern shore of the Gulf of Kalloni. The Skala Kallonis Pool, when wet, is a great starting and ending point for those staying at the resort.

You can view a White Stork nest on a rooftop (at Ariana) by looking east from the Hotel Pasiphae entrance.

2) River Christou (west of Skala Kallonis)
Walking distance for those staying at Skala Kallonis, this river and marsh is good for waders, storks and herons. A viewing screen and sun shade were erected here in 2008.

3) Lower Tsiknias Valley (east of Skala Kallonis)
Tsiknias River - south of the Kalloni-Mytilini road bridge looking north

Also walking distance from Skala Kallonis. The lower section of this river, with its south-facing mouth, is a great migrant trap. Waterbirds include marsh terns, waders, crakes, herons, storks, ibis etc. The scrubby banks can be full of warblers and Spanish Sparrows, and the adjoining fields and field boundaries great places to look for chats, shrikes, buntings and raptors. Bee-eaters breed along the river.

4) Upper Tsiknias Valley (west of Kalloni)
This area lies north of the Kalloni-Mytilini main road, and as you get further away form the river mouth, the frenetic pace of migration slows. The areas either side of the bridge are were good for waders and herons, and further upstream, contintue to search for warblers and wagtails.

5) Potamia Valley, river mouth and reservoir
This is another north-south valley west of Kalloni and Skala Kallonis. Great for passage migrants. In spring, the area around the the Kalloni-Parakila road bridge is good for waders and herons. Upstream, the area around the weir and to the south is good for migrant passerines and Olive-tree Warbler can occur in this area from May. The man-made reservoir is always worth checking. It usually holds Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe in winter, and during the summer always attracts many species to drink. Rare finds such as Spur-winged Plover have occured here.

6) Metochi Lake
This lake is actually a widening of the Christou River north of the Christou River road bridge and west of Kalloni (marked on most maps). It is one of the top sitesin spring and is fantastic for crakes (all three species), Night-heron, Purple Heron, Little Bittern, marsh terns, warblers, hirundines. The channel which runs up the west side of the lake is always worth checking, especially the north end by the little bridge. The surrounding area is also worth searching and often holds shrikes and chats (especially in autumn). There is a circular route around the lake (see local maps). The lake rarely ever dries out completely and even in late summer and autumn can still hold waders and the odd Kingfisher, as well as attracting many species down to drink.

7) Kalloni Saltpans
This is a large area east of Kalloni and the Tsiknias River. It lies at the north of the Gulf of Kalloni and is a major draw for many wetland and open country migrant species. The pans themselves attract all wetland species - waders, gulls, terns, herons, storks, wildfowl and the rare species such as pelicans. The surrounding open fields and seasonal pools (Alykes Wetlands) attract grassland and open country species including many raptors (inc. Montagu's and Pallid Harrier, Red-footed Falcons), Collared Pratincole, Stone-curlew, Quail, etc. The season pools near the works entrance can be fantastic for migrant waders and marsh terns.

Season pools by the saltpans attracts many waders, herons and marsh terns on passage

Two hides have now been erected overlooking the saltpans. One in the north-east corner off the main Kalloni to Mytilini road, the other along the Saltpans access road just west of the Saltworks entrance.

The adjacent Alykes Wetlands (sheep fields) are also excellent for grassland species such as Short-toed Lark, Red-throated and Tawny Pipits. The seasonal pools here also attractmany waders and herons.

8) Other Kalloni area sites

a. Madaros (dead goat pit track)
This area lies to the west of the upper Tsiknias River and is a good area for Rufous Bush Robin from early May.

b. Kalloni Raptor Watchpoint (the Kalloni bandstand)
Situated north of Kalloni on the road to Petra. Look for the 'bandstand' structure on one of the higher hairpins. A great raptor watch point in spring and also good for passerine migrants such as Ortolan Bunting and Ruppell's Warbler.

c. Kalloni mini soccer pitch (Scops Copse)
The 'Scops Copse' lies just north of Kalloni just past the turn to Sigri. The trees here usually holds roosting Scops Owl and have had breeding Long-eared Owl.

9) Napi Valley
The Napi Valley runs north through the centre of the island, from the Kalloni saltpans right up to Mandamdos in the north of the island. It is a major migrant passage route, and one of the main cross-island routes for raptors and other large migrating birds.

Look for the White Stork nest on a chimney on southern outskirts (west side of road) of Agia Paraskevi.

White Stork nest at Agia Paraskevi

a. Napi
Just south of the village of Napi is a track on the east side of the road. This is a good area to search for breeding Goshawk, Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Sombre Tit and Middle Spotted Woodpecker. Also good views to look for migrating raptors.

b. Koriani
North of Napi, this area overlooks a large hill on the east side of the valley and is an excellent view point for migrating raptors.

c. Platania
At the top of the valley, there is a track which runs due south (not far from the west track to the masts). This is a long track across the top of the Napi Valley and a great vantage point in spring to look for raptors which come straight at you and over your head. The walk down a few kilometers, to a cattle grid, is very good for Olive Tree Warbler. The cattle grid area, and just north of it down the slope, is the best area ot search.

10) Mesa Wetlands
This area lies between Kalloni Saltpans and Achladeri. The large rocky outcrop coined the rather stupid name of 'Derbyshire' among birders. The rock holds Rock Nuthatch and occasionally Blue Rock Thrush. In winter and spring the large seasonal pool here is very good for herons, egrets, storks, waders and Ruddy Shelduck.

11) Achladeri Forest
'The' Krüper's Nuthatch site on the island is the woodland area south of the main coastal road before the buildings and army camp of Achladeri. Park by the white-washed building and walk through the wood. Short-toed Treecreeper, Masked Shrike, Woodlark and Black-eared Wheatear all breed here. The large wooded hill rising above the car park can be good for raptors.


12) Achladeri to Skala Polichnitou (inc Alikoudi Pool)
Just after Achladeri camp, turn right and on to the coast track. Stop to check fields, streams etc. Look for Olive-tree Warbler and Middle Spotted Woodpecker in the olive grove areas. The Alikoudi Pool lies just north of the village of Skamnioudi north of the saltpans. It is marked on maps. Access from inland track to the south of the pool, a track leads to the east end of the pool. the coast tracl should only be tackled with care and a 4x4 id really needed.

13) Polichnitos Saltpans
Sutuated on the east side of the Gulf of Kalloni, for some reason these saltpans come in to their own in autumn. Much smaller and much easier to view than the Kalloni Saltpans, you can search the whole area on foot around the perimeter. Great for waders, herons, egrets, storks, gulls, terns. The surrounding area (in particular the ridge to the east) is excellent for migrant raptors.

14) Skala Polichnitou to Vatera
Stop at river bridges and ridges. In spring and autumn good for raptors and larger migrant birds passing over.

There is a White Stork nest on a chimney in Polichinitos.

15) Vatera area inc. Agios Fokas
This area lies south-east of the mouth of the Gulf of Kalloni. The main areas to search are the Almiropotamos River bridge to the west of the resort and the track down to the headland of Agios Fokas. Avoid using optics and cameras around the army base just north of the headland. A great area for passage migrants, including raptors. Expect shearwaters off the headland, as well as spotting birds such as raptors, herons and waders coming in off the open sea. Sardinian Warbler (a difficult species to see on Lesvos) occurs in small mumbers on this peninsular.

16) Ambeliko Valley (Kata Stavros to Ambeliko)
A little known valley east of Vatera running north along the western side of Mount Olympus range. Good for overhead migrants including raptors. Olive Tree and Sardinian Warblers occurs in several places.

17) Agiasos to Plomari (east of Mount Olympus)
The area just north of the Agaissos Sanitorium is good for Krüper's Nuthatch. A little further along at the top of the ridge, very good for Eastern Bonelli's Warbler (breed here - hear them singing but can be difficult to see), Serin, and commoner woodland species rare elsewhere on the island such as Robin, Mistle Thrush, Wren, etc. The valley south to Plomori, especially around Megalochori, is also good inc. Eastern Bonelli's Warbler.

Mixed woodland above Agiasos

18) Around Gera Gulf (inc Dipi Larssos)
Good for typical reedbed and wetland migrants.


19) The Mytilini peninsular
The area around the island's capital is a little watched area but a good area, particularly south of the airport, for migrants and breeding Sardinian Warbler. Cape Lena south of the airport is good for looking for Scopoli's Shearwater.

At the south of the peninsular is Haramida Marsh. This is a difficult site to work in spring when its sometimes impossible to view the pools surrounded by tall reeds. In autumn the site is dry but still attracts many migrants and Sardinian Warbler occurs here year-round.

20) Mytilini to Mandamados
North of the capital. Another little watched area. Not especially noted for migrants, but one of the few areas on the island for breeding Sardinian Warbler and Ruddy Shelduck around Palios.

Look for the White Stork nest on a chimney on the northern outskirts of Mandamados.


21) Anaxos area
This north coastal area of the island is little watched and can be good for migrants and passage raptors.

22) Petra and Molivos
North of Kalloni on the north coast. The main area on the island for Rüppell's Warbler. Search the scrubby areas north of Petra at Kavaki, just north of the 'disco' building which looks like something out of Thunderbirds! The layby just above this building is the best place to search. The layby looks down over the Bay of Kavaki and Cape Kavaki (headland) and up across the road to the hillside (Rachona Hill). Both excellent for Rüppell's. Also excellent for migrants.

Kavaki, the Rüppell's Warbler site north of Petra looking across to Cape Kavaki and across to Turkey

The reservoir at Perasma is again in use and attracts many waterbirds. Black-nekced Grebe can often be seen here in autumn and winter, Ruddy Shelduck bred here in 2009 and the whole area is good for migrants. River Warbler has been recorded here on several occasions.

23) Molivos to Skala Sikaminias
Molivos can be a good raptor view point in spring and autumn. Have lunch here at one of the many excellent harbourside tavernas!

Follow the road east through Efthalou (check the sea for shearwaters and dolphins) and then follow the coastal track east to Skala Sikaminias. The valleys aong this coast can be excellent for migrants. Raptors can be good and it is one the best areas to see Audouin's Gull (inc. around the harbour village of Skala Sikaminias). Can also be very good for butterflies including Cleopatera.

North-facing, steep sided, scrub- and tree-lined little valleys are great for migrants in spring and autumn

The beautiful little harbour village of Skala Sikaminias

The olive-groved hillsides west of Sikaminias looking north towards Turkey (just visible in distance)

24) Petra to Kila – inland via Stipsa and Pelopi below Mount Lepetimnos.
An excellent area in spring and autumn to look for migrant raptors.

25) Mount Lepetimnos area
Try the track to the summit between Sikamina and Kilo up to Vigla. Exellent area to search for migrants and raptors.


26) Skala Kallonis to Eressos
The drive west through the south-west of the island on the Kalloni to Eresos Road.

a. Parakila Marsh
West of Skala Kallonis the marsh lies just before (northeast) of the village of Parakila along the coastal road. This is an increasingly poor area and now little watched. Still worth checking if you have time as you pass though. The hide erected here in 2008 was accidentally burnt down in early 2009 (not arson as the rumours had it!).

b. Aghia Ioannis (Devil’s Bridge)
From the road looking north up the gulley towards the chapel gulley. You can walk up to the chapel to view

An excellent gulley about 1km west of Parakila. Holds breeding Cinereous Bunting, Rock Nuthatch, Black-eared Wheatear and Sombre Tit. Also good for migrants.
From the road looking south towards Krakala harbour

c. Makara
14 km south-west of Parakila, Makara forms the the western headland at the mouth of the Gulf of Kalloni. A great coastal migrant area, particularly in spring when the river ford by the beach is wet, and the small pools also attracts migrants. The valley just before you reach the coastal area is worth looking through from the track for shrikes and other migrants. The offshore island of Garbias holds a colony of Lesser Kestrels plus pucka Rock Doves!

d. Agra and Mesotopos
The 'two towers' above Agra is an excellent stop, and like the valley sides and ravines west towards Mesotopos, holds breeding Rock Sparrow and Cinereous and Cretzschmar's Buntings, and the area can be good for raptors incl. Eleanora's Falcon.

e. Chrousou (south of Mesotopos)
Ignoring Tavari, take the track west just north of the village west to Chrousou. Great for migrants, including autumn when the valley bottom is highly irrigated and therefore lush and green.

27) Pithariou Reservoir (near Eresos)

The largest freshwater body on the island. Just 1km along the Eresos to Mesotopos road (from Eresos), turn north at the river bridge (on the east side) and follow the river track to the dam. Holds water all year round and therefore good for birds at all times, but particularly good in summer and autumn when there are few areas of standing freshwater on the island.

28) Skala Eresou (south of Eresos)
The river bridge/old ford area is good in spring and autumn (when it is still often wet). Herons, waders, warblers and wagtails. Check the sea for shearwaters here - both species occur. The beach to the west of the river mouth can be worth exploring and can be good for arriving Stone-curlew and Quail.

29) Meladia Valley (between Sigri and Eresos)
This is a great, 16km cross-country track through open country. Allow 30 mins for a straight drive from either end to the Meladia River Ford (takes much longer with regular stops).

In Eresos their is a White Stork nest on a back yard telegraph pole in the centre of the town.

a. Eresos to Meladia River Ford
Open country good for Cretzschmar’s and Cinereous Buntings, Rock Nuthatch and Chukar.

b. Meladia River Ford area
In spring the river ford is a major migrant trap. It sits inland of the coast with pols either side of the track. Anything can turn up here and in the surrounding area. Rufous Bush Robin breeds in the surrounding scrub. The fig grove just north of the ford is excellent for warblers, flycatchers and shrikes.

c. Meladia River Ford to Sigri
Open country good for Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Rock Nuthatch, Chukar, raptors including Lesser Kestrel and Eleanora's Falcon.

30) Kalloni to the Lardia Valley (Grand Canyon)
Look out for overhead raptors on your drive across to the west of the island on the Kalloni to Sigri road. The open, barren area just out of Dafia is good for Stonechat and Rock Nuthatch.

31) The Lardia Valley (west of Vatousa)
This deep gorge-like valley between Vatousa and Andissa is good for migrants and raptors. Crag Martin and Rock Sparrow breed, and Eastern Bonelli's Warbler held territory here in 2008 and again in 2009.

32) Vigla (The Junction)
This is the area just west of the Eresos/Sigri road juntion (look for triangle of roads on maps), heading towards Ipsilou and Sigri. It is a great area for Isabelline Wheatear, Cinereous Bunting and Rock Sparrow, and can also be very good for migrants including raptors.

33) Ipsilou Monastery
Ipsilou lies c.11km east of Sigri - you can't miss it! One of the top migrant areas on the island in both spring and autumn. The trees on the mount slopes can be dripping with warblers and flycatchers during good falls, and the top of the mount is a great place to watch passing swifts (including Alpine and Pallid) and raptors which are often at eye level or even below! Breeding brids include Rock Sparrow, Cinereous Bunting, Isabelline Wheatear, Sombre Tit. Can be a good area for Chukar.

Park at the bottom before the road up to the monastery and walk! Take your lunch and water with you and don't thnk of returning in under two hours unless it is deathly quiet! This site can easily occupy 4+ hours to a whole day on a good fall day. Exceptional falls can occur, such as that on 27 Apr 08 when the whole place was covered in birds!

View north-west from top of Ipsilou

34) Ipsilou to Sigri
This area can be outstanding for falcons. Lesser Kestrel and Eleanora's Flacon are believed to breed on the offshore islands off Sigri, and flocks often patrol the hillsides on this side of the island. During spring passage these flocks can also hold Red-footed Falcon and Hobby.
The view down to Sigri approaching from Ipsilou

35) Sigri Fields
The fields just north of Sigri are a great migrant passerine area and another area for hunting falcons and harriers.

36) Faneromeni
Faneromeni is the area through which the Tapas River flows west to the sea north of Sigri (beyond Sigri Fields).

a. Faneromeni Fields
The fields either side of the Tapas River are great for migrant passerines and another area for hunting falcons and harriers.

The fields above the river ford are worth checking

b. Faneromeni river mouth
In spring, when wet, always worth checking for waders and migrant passerines.

c. Faneromeni upper river ford area
A favourite lunch spot for many, this river ford is a magnet for migrant passerines including rare flycatchers.

Faneromeni upper ford - here the river has been canalised in recent years, and although the bankside scrub and vegetation soon regenerated, the edges of the river lots its nooks and crannies. It is still an outstanding place for terrestrial and riparian migrants.

Faneromeni lower ford lies about 1/2km inland of the river mouth and is equally good as the upper ford for migrants inc. Night-heron and Little Bittern.