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BIRD WATCHING | Birding on Lesvos island
Lesbos (or Lesvos), was originally joined to the coast of Asia Minor, but was
detached by powerful geological disturbances, which gave it its current intriguing
likened by the poet Elytis to the leaf of a plane tree ( of which, incidentally, several
mature specimens up to 500 years old or more, adorn some of the village squares, in Agra,
Plomari and Messotopos, for example).
It is 70 kms long by 45 kms wide, with an area of 1630 sq.
kms. It has 2 large
bays, Kalloni's and Gera's, both with narrow entrances. Though there are no permanent
large rivers with a steady flow of water, there are abundant springs, and water-courses in
winter and spring at least.
Moreover, some of the river mouths and pools are semi-tidal and never dry out, even in autumn. Indeed, strong winds in the right direction at
this time of year can whip up the sea and send it some way up the river mouths. Such areas
include Kalloni East and West Rivers, Skala Eressos River, and the inter-tidal rivers and
pools at the area known as "Derbyshire".
Moreover, the island's 2 sets of salt pans, certainly those at Skala
wet. Although the main Kalloni Salt Pans have
been known to dry up, there is always some water in the surrounding channels.
The main marshes and flatlands, then, occur around Kalloni, Skala Eressos and
Sigri; and the hilliest areas are in the west around Eressos, to the north
around Mithymna (Molivos), and to the east around Agiassos; and the nearby Mt. Olympus, peaking at 3500
ft, is the highest point on the island after Mount Lepetimnos, actually one meter
These uplands are usually cloaked mainly in pines and holme oak, with olives on the lower
reaches, and, around Agiassos, some stands of deciduous woodland, including sweet
Around the coast, especially, there are large areas of low-lying scrub and
grassland, often with a profusion of wild flowers in the spring. Further inland, the
dried-up river beds ( for example just up from Skala Eressos ) offer similar
"arid" scrub with its own special birds - like Rufus Bushchat.
The basic geography of Lesbos, together with its size and location so close to the
Turkish coast, mark it out as an area of varied habitats, with some good wetlands, likely
to prove extremely attractive to spring and autumn migrants; wet enough to keep a fair
variety of wintering wildfowl, waders etc.; yet also playing host to a good mix of
breeding birds - some of them, like Cinereous Bunting and Kruper's Nuthatch, quite
Before moving on, just a word or two of advice at this stage - to make access
easier, and to minimize disturbance to the birds, a car is recommended. Birds generally
feel far less threatened, and in consequence are far more approachable than if viewed on
foot or by bicycle.
WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS IN LESBOS - A BIRDER'S
- Kalloni two pool
Spring: Garganey, Black-winged Stilt, Little and Temminck's
Stint, Curlew and Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover, Gray and Black-headed
Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Glossy Ibis, Whiskered, White-winged, Short-toed Lark and
Olivaceous Warbler. Mute Swans, and even the occasional Whooper, have occurred here in a
- Kalloni west River
Spring: White and Black Stork,
Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Great White and Little Egret, Gray Heron, Terns, Gulls, Wood
and Curlew Sandpiper, Greenshank, Curlew and Gray Plover, nesting Stone Curlew, Kentish
and little Ringed Plover. In the scrubby areas, Corn and Black-headed Bunting, Wagtails
and Wheatears are likely, with possible Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe in the bay.
Autumn: White and Black Stork, Gray Heron, Gray Plover,
Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Yellow and White Wagtail, Black-necked Grebe, Stone Curlew,
Kingfisher, and possible rarer waders like Broad-billed Sandpiper.
- Potamia River
Spring: Black and White Stork, Little Grebe, Squacco, Night
and Gray Heron, Little Bittern, Little Crake, Bee-eater, Stone Curlew, Cetti's Warbler,
- Parakila marsh
Spring: Little Grebe, Black-White Stilt, Little Ringed and
Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Avocet, Little Egret, Gray, Purple. Night
and Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Shoveler (early spring only), Olivaceous Warbler,
hirundines and swifts, Wheatear and possible Masked Shrike.
- South of Parakila
Spring: Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Eleonora's,
Rock Nuthatch, Black-eared Wheatear, Red-rumped Swallow, Cretzschmar's and Cinereous
- Potamia valley and Kalloni inland lake
Spring: Little Bittern, Night, Purple and Squacco Heron,
Marsh Harrier, Little and Spotted Crake, Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Alpine Swift,
Hirundines, Cetti's and Olivaceous Warbler, Nightingale, Whiskered and White-winged Black
Autumn: White, Yellow and Gray Wagtail, Cetti's Warbler,
Whitethroat, Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Cirl Bunting, Wryneck, Greenshank, Ruff, Little
Stint, Kingfisher, Red-rumped Swallow, Alpine Swift, Sand and Crag Martin.
- Kalloni east River
This section is probably the best area to view singing Olivaceous
and Great Reed Warblers soon after they arrive from mid to late April; again before the
vegetation becomes too rampant. Short-toed Larks, buntings and the odd Hoopoe are also
likely along here; and this is usually the first site one encounters returning
Black-headed Bunting in late April...Possible birds likely anywhere along the East River
are almost too numerous to mention.
- Kalloni Salt Pans
- Derbyshire and surrounding area
- Skala Polichnitos Salt Pans
- Above Agiassos
- Petra to Mythimna (Molivos) and beyond
- Dipi Larssos Reedbed and surrounds
- West of the island - Eressos and approaches
- Eressos to Sigri
- Sigri to Faneromeni Beach
- Return from Sigri to Eressos via Coast
- Lesvos island Travel Portal | By I.E.Mavridis@EURObitWEBs