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.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

About Lesvos

The Greek Agean island of Lesvos lies within spitting distance of the Turkish mainland which wraps itself around the north and east of the island. Ferries to Turkey operate from Mytilini.

It is the third largest Greek island (next to Crete and Evia). The mass tourism which has blighted much of the Mediterranean basin has bypassed Lesvos and it is only in the last ten or so years that tourism has taken off, but it remains at a low level, even at the main resorts (which are miniscule compared to the major Mediterranean resorts).

Lesvos is a beautiful, lush, green island with an amazing variety of scenery - green fields; olive grove covered hillsides; barren, volcanic mountainous areas; rich pine and sweet chestnut woods; beautiful beaches; and is dotted with traditional villages clinging to hillsides. The whole island abounds with birds, flowers and other widlife to rival anywhere in Europe. Its people are warm and welcoming and undoubtedly the friendliest in Greece.

Lesvos is famed for -
olive oil - the finest in the world - produced from over 11 millions olive trees
great Greek food - fresh fish and seafood - what more could you want?!
Sappho - c.630-570 BC - poet
Birdwatching - the feathered sort!
It's Petrified Forest
Hot springs
Lesbians - yes its true, Lesvos is a favourite resort for the gay female in the hotter summer months

Size: 630sq.m (1,630sk.km)
Population: 87,150
Capital: Mytilini

Cash machines (ATMs) in (list not exhaustive) -
Skala Kallonis

Money can also be exchanged in the banks in the larger towns.

Petrol available in (not exhaustive) -
Skala Loutron

Getting to Lesvos

By air
You can fly to Lesvos from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports.

Most holidaymakers will want to visit Lesvos during the main holiday season, in which case First Choice offer either package holidays or charter flight only (from Gatwick and Manchester)deals.

Greek airlines Olympic and Agean fly to Lesvos year round from Athens. Athens can be reached from the UK using Olympic (from Heathrow), British Airways (from Heathrow and Manchester), and easyJet (from Luton and Gatwick).

Prices vary depending on your route (direct charter or two flights via Athens) and time of year, but expect to pay between £170-350 per person for a return flight. 2008 direct charter flights with First Choice vary from £189-299 for the period 17 April - 8 May (as at 19 Jul 07).

See here for spring 2009 flight information.

By sea
For those with the time, or already holidaying in Greece and fancy a few days or more on Lesvos (or another Greek island), there are regular ferries from the Greek mainland to most Greek islands.

Lesvos is served daily by a ferry which leaves Pireaus (Athens) in the evening and arrives in Mytilini early the following morning.

For further info see Lesvos.com.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Lesvos pictures - birds, wildlife and scenery

Toadsnatcher's Lesvos Galley - my own images from many trips

Kit Day's excellent Lesvos gallery (from spring 2008)

Bill Baston's Lesvos galleries - photo galleries from Bill's trips in 2003, 2004 and 2005 (2008 to be added) plus other trips

Bogbumper's Lesvos images - some cracking images which just get the juices flowing!

More Bogbumper images

Ray Wilson's Bird Photography - an excellent Lesvos gallery

Ray Purser's Lesvos bird and wildlife gallery - some brilliant bird and wildlife images

Ray Purser's Lesvos flower gallery

Søren Kristoffersen - photos from Søren's 2008 trip

See also trip reports section.

Lesvos birding trip reports

Those reports with brief details (author and contents) have been submitted to Lesvos Birding. Reports with just dates (no details) are links to other reports on the web.

If you have a trip report on the web please send me the URL and I will link to it (email to: steve at toadsnatcher dot com).

Click on the date for the report.

18 - 24 Sept 2008
Steve Dudley (Lesvos Birding) & Mark Newell spend an autumn week which includes a first record for Lesvos! Some photos.

8 - 15 May 2008
Penny Clarke's energetic and amusing trip report with lots of pics.

1 - 15 May 2008

1 - 15 May 2008
A two-week trip report with photos from the 'tavellingbirder'.

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

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

18 - 30 April 2008
A detailed report with photos from Andrew Cunningham

17 - 24 April 2008
Neil Bew's report for the NW Surrey RSPB Group's week they enjoyed with Lesvos Birding

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

20 - 27 September 2007

21 July - 4 August 2007
Robin Edwards report continues to prove that there is plenty of good birding to be had mid-summer.

15 July - 4 August 2007
David Griffiths and family's second summer on the island again illustrates that good summer birding on Lesvos is there to be had!

12 - 26 July 2007
Another mid-summer report from British birder Mike Pennington.

12 - 19 July 2007
Charlie Kitchin (Cambs)
Brief report and bird list. Charlie illustrates that July can still be rewarding for those combining birding and family summer hols.

10 - 17 May 2007

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

24 Aug - 1 Sept 2006
David Griffiths and family summer holiday - a rare report for summer months from the island

4 - 18 May 2006

27 April - 4 May 2006

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

17 - 27 April 2006

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

9 - 22 September 2005

12 - 19 June 2005
An excellent report, with photos, from Swedish birder Steve Cherrug at a little visited time of year.

19 May - 2 June 2005

12 - 25 May 2005

5 - 12 May 2005

28 April - 5 May 2005

27 April - 9 May 2005

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

14 - 21 April 2005

27 May - 3 June 2004

7 - 21 May 2004

6 - 20 May 2004

29 April - 6 May 2004

23 - 30 April 2004

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

14 - 21 April 2004

7 - 14 April 2004

28 August - 10 September 2003

1 - 15 May 2003

1 - 8 May 2003

1 - 8 May 2003

27 April - 6 May 2003

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

24 April - 1 May 2003

16 - 23 April 2003

6 - 13 January 2003

17 - 24 May 2002

2 - 9 May 2002

29 April - 13 May 2002

26 April - 2 May 2002

25 April - 2 May 2002

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

3 - 17 May 2001

3 - 10 May 2001

22 April - 4 May 2001

12 - 19 April 2001

September 2000

19 August - 4 September 2000

4 - 11 May 2000

6 - 13 May 1999

24 August - 4 September 1997

18 - 25 May 1995

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Where to eat

Here are some our own favourites. Click on the town links to see Matt Barrett's (Lesvos.com) favourites.

The harbour area of the town boasts a plethora of tavernas, but here are some recommendations.

Dionysos - right on the harbour front this taverna offers a large and varied menu to suit all. Excellent service and value. They simply have too many good dishes to start listing! You won't go hungry that's for sure!

Sea Horse - on the sea front out of the main town square with a good menu, good food, good service.

Ambrosia used to be our favourite but since they lost their cook at the end of last season I haven't heard too many good things about it this year.

The harbour area is crammed with tavernas, some good, some bad, some outstanding! Unfortunately our favourite, Onar's, disappeared in 2008. Sea Horse is also good - especially ice creams!

In the town centre, try the taverna (sorry, forgot its name!), just through the arch on the left as you come up from hill. It has great food and a great balcony and view!

When at Molivos harbour make sure you check out the little gallery which faces the harbour – it’s great for Greek and Mediterranean art and crafts as well as souvenirs and nick-knacks.

As with many real tourist traps good tavernas can be hard to come by in places like Vatera, but the Akrotiri is an excellent fish taverna situated on the headland of Agios Fokas to the west of the town. The Vatera Beach Hotel, on the seafront heading towards Agios Fokas, is also excellent.

The Golden Key sits overlooking the fort and the offshore islands. Its got a fantastic balcony area and some of the best shrimps on the island. Otherwise, Australia, one of a group of tavernas overlooking the harbour front, is also very good.

The taverna Vafios on the western edge of the town has fantastic views, an excellent menu and good service.

Near Mytilini airport
Taverna Liminaki is just a few km towards Mytilini from the airport on the beach side of the road. It does great fresh fish - a real welcome and tonic after that flight or a great way to say goodbye!

Skala Eresou
There are loads of beach tavernas and bars here. Look for the ones patronised by the Greeks! Bar Agua (second in from the west end) is exellent for drinks and snacks and offers free Wi-Fi internet whilst you're sipping and snacking!

If you're away from the main areas, don't be afraid to eat in any of the town tavernas. We frequently end up in little tavernas occupied by old men sipping Greek coffee and stuffing themselves silly with local dishes! Vatousa, Skala Vasilikon, Skalochori, etc - they all have tavernas primarlily for local custom, but don't be afraid. Many will have an Engligh version of their menu, if not, then you'll just have to brush up on your Greek! It can be great fun and you'll be surprised at just how good and simple eating at the 'local's' tavernas can be.

Where to stay

View of Molivos when approached from Petra

Skala Kallonis is centrally placed (right in the centre of the island at the northern end of the Gulf of Kalloni) for exploring the whole of the island of Lesvos with ease and is the first choice for many visiting birders. Many main birding sites are on the doorstep - Skala Kallonis Pools (when wet), Tsiknias (East) and Christou (West) rivers, Kalloni Saltpans, etc, as well as very good road links to the rest of the island.

Hotel Pasiphae Used by several birding tour groups and many individual birders as a base for their birding holiday on Lesvos. An exellent hotel used to catering for birders. Great bar with pool terrace. Used by several UK bird/wildlife holiday tour companies.

Lesvosbirding.com's Steve Dudley uses the Hotel Pasiphae for all his trips (groups and private holidays).

A town with two names! The Medieval name of Molyvos is still preferred to the comtemporary name of Mythimna.

Molyvos is situated in the very north of the island and is just over an hours drive from Mytilini (and most of the island!).

Molyvos is Lesvos's tourist capital and shows other places how to do it! It is truly spectacular and even at the busiest time of year, it can still be a realxed place to be.

The town is set on a hill rising up from its picturesque harbour to its Medieval castle, sitting atop the town like a crown. From the castle you can spectacular views of the island across as far as Ipsilou in the west, as well as across the sea to neighbouring Turkey.

Molyvos is a great place to base yourself. The north coast track along to Skala Sikaminias is great for migrants and breeding birds, and most of hte main birding areas are within an hour's drive.

VATERA (see map)
Situated on the south coast, Vatera has the longest beach on the island. This is a real package holiday hotspot and during peak season can be absolutely bustling.

During the spring birding season however, the place is deserted and makes a good base with its own local areas to explore but is a bit of a drive to the other main birding hotspots. But don't let this put you off staying here, exploring a much neglected area and shun the birding crowds around the Kalloni main area. Very few of them will bother you!

SIGRI (see map)
Sigri lies at the extreme western end of the island.

Few birders stay at Sigri presumably because its simply too far from anywhere, including a 2-hour drive to and from the airport at Mytilini.

Sigri is though one of the best birding areas on the island and boasts some of the best migrant areas which can easily take up most, if not all, of your holiday! You will other birders here as no matter where lese they may be staying, everyone will go to Sigri at least once during their stay - its that good!

Other places (see map)
Other towns where birders are increasingly staying include Skala Eressou (in the south-west), Anaxos (north) and Petra (north). Plomari in the south is a bit out on a limb from the main sites, and Mytilini is simply not suitable for most wildlife-interested folk, and again away from the main birding sites.

Organised birdwatching/wildlife holidays on Lesvos

The best way to see Lesvos is on a guided holiday with an experienced bird and wildlife guide.

Holidays with Steve Dudley/Lesvosbirding.com
If your interested in joining me on Lesvos, email me to register your interest. I've visted the island annually since 2000 and have led over 20 bird trips on the island. Find reports, photos and lists of species seen from many of my presvious trips here.

Max group size 7 participants. B&B at Hotel Pasiphae in Skala Kallonis. Lunches - all at tavernas across the island. Evening dinner at a Skala Kallonu taverna.

What does your holiday with Steve Dudley entail? Click here to find out!

2009 weeks
17-24 September 2009 (Speyside Wildlife holiday run by Steve Dudley/Lesvos Birding) - spaces available - further info and prices

2010 weeks
15 - 22 April - full guided week
22 - 29 April - full guided week
29 April - 6 May - full guided week.
10 - 17 September - full guided week.
Further info and prices here.

I'm also available for private groups, spring and autumn, if you need someone to arrange your itinerary and guide/drive you around the island.

For previous trips see reports.

Wingspan Bird Tours
Bob Buckler is one of the guides returning to Lesvos annually and specialises in small, friendly groups looking at all things natural! Bob has visited the island annually since 1999.


Here are just a few of what my previous customers have had to say about their Lesvos holiday with me:

I seriously doubt that any other birder knows this island as well as Steve and if you really want to know more about this beautiful place and its birds, I strongly suggest you visit Steve’s website - Neil (Surrey)

Enthusiastic and expert. Steve's affection for Lesvos a real bonus - Richard (London)

Oustanding, faultless and cannot praise highly enough. Steve is 5* - John (London)

Knowledgeable, enthusiastic, thoughtful, great fun, involved and concerned for everyone - Margaret (Kent)

Steve is very good with clients and is probably the best naturalist I have ever met . . . Steve is an excellent driver and one that talks too! - David (Essex)

Steve has excellent birding skills and is very knowledgeable about Lesvos - Jenny (Bucks)

Birding skills superb - Richard (Hants)