By Lefteris Kakalis and Lina Grimpylakou

This weekend we devoted our mornings to birding around the island. On Saturday (2/4), we woke up at 6:00am and went straight to the marshes of the Kalloni Salt Pans. A flock of Glossy Ibises (Plegadis falcinellus) was a surprise, with the birds feeding just in front of us!!!

Glossy Ibisses; Lesvos
02/04/2016 6:45am. Glossy Ibises landing on the Kalloni Pans marshes | Χαλκόκοτες προσγειώνονται στα έλη της Αλυκής Καλλονής.
Glossy Ibisses; Lesvos
02/04/2016 6:52am. Glossy Ibis. Making a pause from feeding | Χαλκόκοτες κάνουν μια παύση από το φαγητό.

Our next stop was at the SW corner of the Kalt Pans where a wader species’ parade took place despite their low numbers. Six species were present: Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola), Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) and Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius), at close distances from our car.

Black-winged Stilt;Lesvos
02/04/2016 7:10am. Black winged Stilt | Καλαμοκανάς
Marsh Sandpiper; Lesvos
02/04/2016 7:15am. Marsh Sandpiper | Βαλτότρυγγας

After the end of the wader’s parade, we made a choice to leave back the Kalloni Pans and drive straight to our bird paradise at Agra’s upland. Our choice was proven absolutely right, since a male Cinereous Bunting (Emberiza cineracea) was singing in front of our eyes at the first hundred meters from Agra village before reaching our location.

Cinereous Bunting; Lesvos
02/04/2016 7:15am. Male Cinereous bunting at his singing post |Σμυρνοτσίχλονο από το σημείο όπου κελαηδά

We stayed for more than four hours there and we observed the majority of the breeding species. We located 5 singing Cinereous Bunting males, 8 breeding pairs of Isabelline’s Wheatear, 3 singing Cretzshmar’s Bunting males, 9 Black-eared Wheatear pairs, 2 Northern Wheatear males, a pair of Sombre Tits, a singing Eastern Orphean Warbler, Woodlarks, Crested Larks, Stonechats, Corn Buntings, Cirl Buntings etc.

Isabelline Wheathear; Lesvos
02/04/2016 9:23 am. Isabelline Wheatear in Agra’s upland paradise | Αμμοπετρόκλης στον πουλοπαράδεισο της Άγρας


Cinereous Bunting; Lesvos
02/04/2016 9:37am. Male Cinereous Bunting in Agra’s upland paradise | Σμυρνοτσίχλονο στον πουλοπαράδεισο της Άγρας.
Wood Lark; Lesvos
02/04/2016 10:49 am. Woodlark in Agra’s upland paradise | Δεντροσταρήθρα στον πουλοπαράδεισο της Άγρας
Corl Bunting; Lesvos
02/04/2016 11:29 am. Cirl Bunting in Agra’s upland paradise | Σιρλοτσίχλονο στον πουλοπαράδεισο της Άγρας.

BUT the highlights of the area came from the Agra’s lowlands where a migrating male Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis), a pair of Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar), an adult Long-Legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus) and a Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) were observed.

Chukar: Lesvos
02/04/2016 12:06 pm. A pair of Chukar Partridge | Ένα ζευγάρι Νησιωτικές Πέρδικες.
Rock Thrush; Lesvos
02/04/2016 12:17 pm. A male Rock Thrush \ Ένας αρσενικό Πυρροκότσυφας.

We finished birding and taking photos at 12:25.

On Sunday (3/4) we woke up at early morning again and went to observe the Kruper’s Nuthatches (Sitta krueperi) in the pine forest. We manage to locate a breeding pair at 7:30am. The pair was busy on its reproductive duties, since the female was incubating and the male feeding her.

Kruper's Nuthatch; Lesvos
03/04/2016 7:35 am. Male Kruper’s Nuthatch | Αρσενικός Πευκοτσοπανάκος (Τουρκοτσοπανάκος) .

We didn’t spend much time to pine forests birds and we drove to Polychnitos area. On the way from Lisbori village to the Polychnitos saltpans we had our second surprise of the weekend, a Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus) on shrublands mixed with olives groves.

Masked Shrike; Lesvos
03/04/2016 8:22 am. Masked Shrike | Παραδαλοκεφαλάς.

In Polychnitos saltpans we came at close contact with a male Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans).

Subalpine Warbler; Lesvos
03/04/2016 8:39 am. A male Subalpine Warbler | Αρσενικός Κοκκινοτσιροβάκος.

Finally we wanted to finish our birding to the Nyfida’s Cretzchmar’s Bunting Kingdom, a place where the species is the “leader” of the bird community during the breeding season.  We had superb views of the species but not the last, since we observe the elusive Ruppell’s Warbler, a pair of Sardinian Warblers, many Stonechats, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks, Black-eared Wheatears, Linnets etc.

Cretzschmar;s Bunting; Lesvos
03/04/2016 9:48 am. A male Cretzschmar’s Bunting | Αρσενικό Φρυγανοτσίχλονο
Corn Bunting; Lesvos
03/04/2016 9:22 am. Corn Bunting | Τσιφτάς.
Ruppell's Warbler; Lesvos
03/04/2016 9:24 am. Male Ruppell’s Warbler | Αρσενικός Αιγαιοτσιροβάκος.
Stonechat; Lesvos
03/04/2016 9:54 am. Stonechats | Μαυρολαίμηδες
Sardinian Warbler; Lesvos
03/04/2016 10:15 am. Male Sardinian Warbler | Αρσενικός Μαυροτσιροβάκος
Black-eared Wheathear; Lesvos
03/04/2016 10:09 am. Male Black-eared Wheatear | Αρσενικό Ασπροκωλίνας

Totally 80 different species were observed (a high number if we consider that we didn’t spend much time at the wetlands) and we managed to get good photographs for the 31 of them doing the most basics: birding from dawn to midday, staying inside the car most of the time (an exeption was the 20 min search for the Kruper’s nuthach), binoculars or the camera lenses were the only things outside the car’s windows in order to avoid disturbance, driving at low speed at the secondary road network of Lesvos countryside, locating the birds mostly by sound, especially in densely vegetated areas.

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