The LOG in Lesbos
Lesbos is the second largest Greek Island and is situated within 8 miles of the Turkish coast. Approximately 40 x 25 miles in area, Lesbos has a wide variety of habitats, from wetlands and rugged mountainous areas to fertile plains and olive groves. All this combines to ensure that Lesbos is ideal for a spring birding holiday.
Seventeen members met up at Warrington coach station for the journey down to Heathrow, onward to Athens, and then finally the short half-hour flight to the island of Lesbos. All went according to plan, until we reached Athens where we were delayed for three hours for no known reason. Finally we reached Mytilini, the capital of the island, where Richard Brooks who had organised the flight and accommodation met us. We were taken by coach to our base, the Hotel Malemi in Skala Kalloni. This proved to be a small, friendly, family-run hotel, with good food, but variable plumbing!
17.04.98 Kalloni Pool
Our first job after unpacking, or before for some people, was to walk down to the sea, about 400 yards away, and take our first look at the Kalloni Pool. This is a small, marshy water-filled area surrounded by tamarisk scrub and proved to be an excellent way to start and end the day. We soon became familiar with its inhabitants with several Squacco Heron, Garganey, Black-Winged Stilt and the inevitable Wood Sandpiper throughout our stay. That first afternoon provided a bonus in the form of a Ferruginous Duck on the Pool, and a Kingfisher on the debris of twigs on the seashore. These were to be our only sightings of these two species this holiday. Down in Skala Kalloni village, which proved to be nearly shut at this very early stage of the season, we found a taverna for our first drink of the fortnight, before slowly wandering back to the hotel past the pool again, with the sound of Corn Bunting, Greenfinch and the omnipresent Olivaceous Warbler filling the air, along with the chattering of the Spanish Sarrow colony in the village and the hotel.
18.04.98 West River, Inland Lake, Potamia River and the Salt Pans
Our first day with transport, 4 Opel Corsas, bright and gleaming (but not for long!). After filling up with petrol, Colin led the way to the West River. This provided our first views of Kentish and Little Ringed Plover, along with a distant sighting of a female Marsh Harrier. We only stopped briefly here, before heading off on the bumpy track, which led to the Inland Lake. However, a slight delay by the back-marker, led to them becoming slightly mislaid before we managed to retrace our steps and meet up again at the 'Lake'. However, it did mean we managed to see a Persian Squirrel and the first Woodchat Shrike before the others. At the Lake, only small, but surrounded by a network of wet ditches, we were greeted with the sight of a flock of 10 Bee-eaters that remained with us as we ate our picnic lunch. The sound of singing Nightingale was ever present, which coupled with the sight of the Bee-eaters low over the lake provided a memorable backdrop to our lunch. Two Short-toed Eagles could be seen distantly above the mountains whilst as we drove away from the Lake, a Purple Heron lazily flew over. From the lake, we had a brief stop near the entrance to the Potamia Valley where we had good views of Middle-Spotted Woodpecker. Our next stop was at the Potamia River, where we parked the cars and walked up the inland riverside track. The river was barely running, but we managed to see Common Sandpiper and numerous hirundines flying low over the riverbed. These included quite a few Red-rumped Swallows. On the field side, Coln (who else?) located a Masked Shrike. Whilst we were all looking at this bird, we also managed to