Saturday 27 April – Sunday 5 May 2024
In association with Bird’s Wildlife & Nature
Saturday 27 April – Sunday 5 May 2024
In association with Bird’s Wildlife & Nature
The Greek Island of Lesvos, also known as Lesbos, is renowned for its ancient history, incomparable natural beauty and tradition of hospitality. Bird’s Wildlife & Nature have been visiting this gorgeous island for over twenty years and its undeniable magic captivates everyone that sets foot onto its pristine shores. As all round naturalists we take great pleasure in making your visit complete with sightings of birds, reptiles, mammals, butterflies, dragonflies and flowers. This is one of the best locations in Europe to witness spring bird migration, and you can rest assured that with our many years of experience visiting the island we are among the most experienced and knowledgeable of guides.
This stunning island has become well known by birders from around the world with many making annual visits. Our base in the small fishing village of Skala Kalloni is perfectly located beside some wonderfully bird rich habitats and, within a few minutes drive you can be marvelling at the continual stream of fabulous eastern migrants or enjoying some of the island’s species of colourful flowers. Whether seeking out the island’s special birds such as Krüper’s Nuthatch or Cinereous Bunting, we will take you through picturesque fishing villages alongside beautiful golden beaches, to beautiful monastery’s, reedy lakes, rivers and pine forests.
Join us for the best of European birding!
Yelkouan & Scopoli’s Shearwaters Eurasian & Little Bitterns, Squacco & Purple Herons, Little & Great Egrets, Dalmatian Pelican, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black & White Storks, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Northern Goshawk, Levant Sparrowhawk, Pallid & Montagu’s Harriers, Peregrine, Eurasian Hobby, Red-footed & Eleonora’s Falcons, Lesser Kestrel, Chuker, Little, Spotted & Baillon’s Crakes, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Ruff, Eurasian Curlew, Wood & Marsh Sandpipers, Temminck’s Stint, Great Snipe, Audouin’s Gull, White-winged, Black, Whiskered, Gull-billed and Caspian Terns, European Turtle Dove, Pallid & Alpine Swifts, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Wryneck, Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Crag, Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Greater Short-toed Lark, Citrine & races of Western Yellow Wagtails, Tawny & Red-throated Pipits, Blue & Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Rufous-tailed Bush Robin, Western Black-eared & Isabelline Wheatears, Common Reed, Great Reed, Sedge, Savi’s & River Warblers, Eastern Olivaceous, Olive Tree & Cetti’s Warblers, Eastern Orphean, Eastern Bonelli’s, Icterine & Barred Warblers, Pied, Collared, Semicollared, Red-breasted & Spotted Flycatchers, Penduline Tit, Sombre Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Western Rock & Krüper’s Nuthatches, Woodchat, Lesser Grey & Masked Shrikes, Eurasian Golden Oriole, European Serin, Rock Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Black-headed, Ortolan, Cretzschmar’s & Cinereous Buntings, …
Our arrival day, so please plan your arriving flight into Mytilene (airport code MJT), the capital of Lesvos, Greece. Note that most flights go via Athens, Greece (ATH).
We will make several pick-ups from the airport and transfer you 45 minutes to the small fishing village of Skala Kalloni where our hotel is situated beside a small reed-fringed pond and will be our base for the entire tour. If we have time in the afternoon, we will take a short excursion to see how the spring migration of countless birds is progressing.
Night in Skala Kalloni (D)
Based in the perfect location to explore this wonderfully scenic island we can enjoy short drives to a variety of habitats that can attract overwhelming numbers of migrants. If conditions are right, you can witness breath-taking falls of birds and it is not unusual to see hedgerows, fences and fields full of wagtails, warblers, shrikes and buntings. Telegraph wires can hold colourful European Bee-eaters, Turtle Doves and with luck small flocks of Red-footed Falcons. And from the moment you step outside the hotel door you are in bird heaven! The pond beside our hotel can be alive with the noise of Levant Water Frogs and these in turn can be a good food source for Eurasian and Little Bitterns, Squacco and Purple Herons, as well as Little and Great Egret, White Stork and often groups of Glossy Ibis. The surrounding Tamarisk bushes and taller reeds ring to the sound of Reed, Sedge and Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. Flocks of Spanish Sparrows can be present and depending on weather conditions the whole area can be swarming with Sand and House Martins, Barn Swallows, Red-rumped Swallows and the occasional Pallid and Alpine Swifts mixed in with Common Swifts. Terns are less reliable on this pool nowadays but a short visit to the Kalloni Salt Pans can soon make up for that with both Little and Common Terns being present and hawking for insects over the shallow water or nearby fields flocks of beautiful White-winged and Whiskered Terns plus a few Black Terns, Gull-billed Terns and sometimes even the huge Caspian Tern.
The Kalloni Salt Pans and surrounding area are one of the most productive areas for migrant birds on the entire island and just a 5-minute drive from our hotel. The pink haze of Greater Flamingos is an ever-present site and there are regularly 200-300 birds vying to be photographed. These working salt pans are a regular stop off for us on most days as numbers of birds can change almost hourly. Flocks of Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Wood Sandpiper and sometimes up to 5,000 Ruff will keep us busy as we search for smaller numbers of Common Greenshank, Common Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Dunlin, Little and Temminck’s Stints and stunning plum-coloured Curlew Sandpipers. Eurasian Spoonbill, Black and White Storks are often present and in the last few years small numbers of Dalmatian Pelicans drop in to visit.
Occasionally a rarity such as Spur-winged Plover, Terek or Broad-billed Sandpiper turns up while the nearby wet fields can attract flocks of Collared Pratincoles and, every few years, a Black-winged Pratincole among them. These same wet fields hold Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Eurasian Stone-curlew, Common and Ruddy Shelduck and, if you are lucky, maybe a Great Snipe among the small numbers of Common Snipe. Flocks of Red-throated Pipit are usually present with some birds showing their brick-red breeding plumage throats. With these pipits can be found Greater Short-toed Larks and Tawny Pipits and very often big numbers of Yellow Wagtails that include several of the very distinct races such as the smart Black-headed feldegg. Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon and Lesser Grey Shrike can be seen on telegraph wires and sometimes a European Roller while below both Montagu’s and Western Marsh Harriers hunt low over the fields with the occasional Pallid Harrier making an appearance. At the end of April Black-headed Buntings, Common Whitethroat and Rufous-tailed Bush Robins sing from exposed bushes, while overhead European Bee-eaters give their bubbly flight calls and Short-toed Eagles, Common and Long-legged Buzzards can be found. Any area of wet meadows, ditches or small pools including the edge of the Tsiknias river between the salt pans and our hotel are worth searching for Little, Spotted and even Baillon’s Crakes, Great Snipe and Little Bittern. Sometimes Penduline Tit, Savi’s and River Warbler turn up as well as the very attractive Citrine Wagtail.
So that’s all within 5 minutes of our hotel. Moving on a further west the habitat changes to barren rocky hills and it’s here that we can find one of the stars of the island the Cinereous Bunting. Lesvos represents one of the very best places in the world to see this bird. Other species that also breed and inhabit these rocky hills include Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Black-eared, Northern and Isabelline Wheatears, Western Rock Nuthatch, Rock Sparrow and Blue Rock Thrush.
Heading inland from the salt pans, we drive into a beautiful wooded valley full of oaks and olive trees. It is here that we should see our first Masked Shrike, Sombre Tit and Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Pied Flycatcher, Long-legged Buzzard or even a Rufous Bush Robin. As Hoopoes lazily drift by and Golden Orioles fill the valley with their fluty calls, we will look for the shy and difficult Olive Tree Warbler, a bird that is a late arrival and only really possible toward the end of our stay. Moving on to the pine forests on the east, the other star bird of the island is the diminutive but delightful Krüper’s Nuthatch. It is not always easy to see, but we will make a special effort to catch up with this highly localized bird, which here, is on the western edge of its range. In addition to the nuthatch, we can also find Short-toed Treecreeper, Serin, Woodchat Shrike, and some very good flowers including several species of orchid.
As we continue on towards the wild rocky north coast, we will make a few stops to look for breeding and Eastern Orphean and Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, plus Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Peregrine, Northern Goshawk, Crag Martin, Western Rock Nuthatch, Chukar, Alpine Swift, and along the coastline the rare Audouin’s Gull, and flocks of Yelkouan Shearwaters with even the possibility of the larger Scopoli’s Shearwater. With views of the Turkish coast in the distance this area sees many migrants leaving the island and can be a great place to find Ortolan Bunting, Hobby or something a little more unusual such as Thrush Nightingale, Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, Great-spotted Cuckoo or the rare White-throated Robin.
The west coast itself especially around Sigri is a very fertile area that can be exceptionally good for migrants with incredible numbers present on a good day. If conditions are right, it is possible to see hundreds of shrikes or buntings and careful searching can reveal Wryneck, Little Owl, Great Snipe, Levant Sparrowhawk, Collared Pratincole, Great Reed Warbler and Lesser Grey Shrike while flocks of Red-footed Falcons and Lesser Kestrels hunt over the fields. Ipsilou Monastery, set on top of a small hill we can enjoy superb views of the west coast, is one of our favourite picnic stops. If weather conditions are right this location receives amazing falls of migrant birds. We once saw a flock of 27 Levant Sparrowhawks very low over our heads and it often gets Western Honey Buzzard and Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle and Eleanora’s Falcon. The surrounding trees and bushes can hold Collared, Spotted, and occasionally Semi-collared or Red-breasted Flycatchers, Golden Oriole, Lesser Whitethroat, Eastern Bonelli’s, Wood, Icterine, Barred and other warblers. Hoopoe, Chukar, Rock Sparrow and Sombre Tit can also be found, and this is also a good spot for butterflies with Southern Festoon and Common Swallowtail nearly always present.
With many other areas all within a short drive we have ample opportunities to take it easy and soak up the nature and sunshine.
All nights Kalloni Bay Hotel. (B,L,D)
Depending on your international departing flight time we may be able to check some of the nearby birding hotspots to see if anything different has turned up. After this we will depart to Mytilene airport – code (MJT) for your international flight home. (B)
This is a standard birding tour with regular birding walks. We usually break the day into 2 parts with pre-breakfast excursion, followed by a full day out with a picnic or taverna lunch. The weather can be unsettled at this time of year, expect everything from bright and sunny weather to some cooler weather with the chance of the odd shower so prepare for all eventualities.
This tour will be booked on a first come first come first serve basis with confirmed places held on receipt of a deposit. Once we receive your deposit and completed Booking Form, we will send you a receipt of money paid and also your balance due date. Please note that once the tour has been confirmed with sufficient numbers to run, then your deposit becomes non-refundable as at this point both us and our local agents will have started administrative work and payments forwarded for local agent services.
Once the tour is confirmed to go ahead, we will send you information about booking your flights. Please do not book flights until you receive this information from us.
All details concerning what to bring, airport transfers, health, wildlife checklists etc will be sent out once the tour is confirmed and we have received your final balance.
We stay in one hotel throughout this tour and we have breakfasts and dinners here. The food is normally buffet style and offers both Greek and Western options. All rooms are en-suite. There is a nice swimming pool if it gets too hot midday or you want to take some time out.
We strongly recommend that you take out adequate travel insurance to protect you against any unforeseen event including travel delay, injury or illness prior to or during the tour. Note to check if your insurance covers you against expenses incurred due to contracting Covid-19 either before or during the tour.
Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals from dinner on April 27th to Breakfast on the 05th May, picnic and taverna lunches, ground transport throughout, all park entrance fees, water and guiding services of leaders.
International airfare to and from Lesvos, Greece; insurance; alcoholic drinks, tips; and items of a personal nature
Click on the booking form above to reserve your place on this tour. You will be re-directed to the birdswildlife.com website.