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FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT PARTICIPATED IN A WINGSPAN TOUR DURING 2016, THANK YOU FOR YOUR CUSTOM & YOUR COMPANY AND WE WISH YOU HEALTH AND HAPPINESS FOR 2017.

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Jan 15th - 28th. - Sri Lanka. £1750

Feb 12th -27th - Costa Rica - full

Mar 20th - 30th Morocco - 10 nights. - £1190

April 5th - 12th - Andalucia migration tour. - £750 - 2 places

April 16th - 24th - Coto Donana & Extremadura - £950 - 2 places

April 29th - 6th May. - Lesvos - £875

May 8th - 15th - Portugal - full


May 13th - 21st Bulgaria - £850

May 23rd - 30th - Andalucia birds and butterflies - £750

May 31st - June 8th. - Extremadura and Sierra de Gredos - £950

June 12th - 20th - Pyrenees and Picos de Europa - £1050


FLIGHTS NOT INCLUDED IN THESE PRICES



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Red-throated Bee-eater

Red-throated Bee-eater
join us for a fantastic tour of The Gambia this November

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

COTO DONANA AND EXTREMADURA - 9 DAY TOUR - DAY 4 - 30TH APRIL 2014

MATALASCANAS CLIFFS – LAGUNA PRIMERA DE LOS PALOS – MARISMAS DE O’DIEL – LAGUNA DE PORTIL – NIEBLA CASTLE

It was another eventful day with excellent weather throughout, wall to wall sunshine with a nice breeze at the coast and lots of birds to see.

We set off after breakfast at 9am and drove the short distance down to the coast at Matalascanas for a quick sea-watch to start the day off. We had a cool breeze at our backs as we scanned the sea hoping for a passage of anything avian. All we got was a small number of Sandwich Terns and a Whimbrel which fed nervously on the beach, as we returned to the buses some of group saw a Peregrine Falcon and we all noted Pallid Swifts near the car park.
 
The KOS - I can't think why I asked them to stand on this railway line?
 

Our next birding stop was  made just outside Huelva at the Laguna Primera de los Palos, where we watched Whiskered Terns, a selection of wildfowl, a couple of Purple Swamphen and a Squacco Heron.

At the Marismas de O’Diel we noted a couple of Ruddy Turnstones as we crossed the river O’diel,  our first stop was made at the salt pans where we scanned the huge area for waders and gulls. A few Yellow-legged Gulls sat on a bank nearby and with them we found Audouin’s  Gull and a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Common Shelduck also sat not too far away.

A large flock of waders consisted of Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper and a couple of Little Stint, all of these birds were sporting their summer clothes and looked superb. One good find was an Osprey, this bird was eating a large fish and was most probably one of the nesting pair of the O’Diel. These birds have bred there since 2012 on a platform provided for them.
Curlew Sandpiper showing off its summer plum.

The Laguna de Calatillo was very quiet with no sign of the breeding Little Bittern. Our next stop was at the ‘old’ salt pans where we spent a nice time watching more wading birds. We added more Whimbrel to our list,   as well as Common Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Redshank, Grennshank and a few Red Knot looking very red. From our view point out on the marsh we had the first views of Montagu’s Harrier, eventually we all had great views of at least 3 different birds, a male Marsh Harrier was also nice to see.

We continued down the road towards the lighthouse, as we progressed the strip of land that we were travelling on began to narrow, we then had the Atlantic Ocean on our right and the river O’diel on our left. We crossed over a bridge and saw Eurasian Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwits and Greenshank below us.

Then our bird of the day was seen! Another group of birders were ahead of us and they began to wave as we approached indicating for us to join them, we soon realised the reason for their excitement when we saw a ROCK THRUSH sitting on top of a bush, what superb looking bird, we spent 30 minutes watching it and at one stage it flew near to us and sat on top of a fence, its colours were sublime, how lucky we were seeing this.
a record of the ROCK THRUSH
 

Other birds seen in the narrow strip of scrubland included Woodchat Shrike,  Crested Lark, Stonechat and Linnets.

More marshes and areas of exposed mud provided more waders, large groups of Whimbrel were flying around and feeding with more Dunlin, Curlew Sandpipers, Sanderling, Little Stint and we found Kentish Plover and lots more Grey Plover. Good numbers of Little Terns were nice to see and the odd Sandwich Tern fished out over the river. Finally we stopped near the lighthouse where the land mass was now less than 100 meters wide. On a large flat area we watched over 120 Collared Pratincoles feed above us, what a fantastic sight, distant raptor sightings included Montagu’s Harrier, Booted Eagle and a distant Falcon sp. caused panic in the pratincole flock.
 
 By now lunchtime was pending so we drove back towards the visitor’s centre and along the way we stopped to look for a warbler that dashed into a bush, this led to a twenty minutes sortie as we discovered a Dartford Warbler and several Flycatchers, we found three Pied and a couple of Spotted Flycatchers.

For our afternoon birding we first visited the large Laguna at El Portil, it was covered in birds most of which were Common Coot there must have been a couple of thousand of them. We also noted good numbers of both Common and Red crested Pochard as well as Shoveler, Mallard and Gadwall. On the shoreline of the Laguna we saw Little Ringed, Common Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Black-winged Stilts and Common Sandpipers. A nice observation was a European Chameleon found sitting in the broom plants.

LESSER KESTRELS AT NIEBLA
 Lastly we stopped at Niebla Castle to watch the Lesser Kestrels, they were fantastic in the late afternoon sunlight and gave us quite a show as sat drinking coffee and cold drinks adjacent to the castle walls. 

 
 
 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

COTO DONANA AND EXTREMADURA - 9 DAY TOUR - DAY 3 - 29TH APRIL 2014


COREDOR DE VERDE – PILAS DEL REY WOODS - NORTHERN MARSHES – EMBALSE DE DEHESA DE ABAJO – JOSE VALVERDE VISITOR’S CENTRE

Today we ventured into the real Donana taking a network of dry dusty tracks to discover just over 90 species with some excellent sightings of both common and hard to find species.

We left the hotel in the dark at 7am carrying our breakfast with us, it was light by the time we reached the Coredor de Verde and birds were appearing on wires and flitting across the track in front of us. We passed a small White Stork colony in Villamonrique where many birds stood silhouetted against the dawn sky and many Azure Winged Magpies were seen leaving a roost in a nearby pine wood. Bee-eaters, Woodchat Shrikes and the ubiquitous Corn Bunting sat on wires or the tops of bushes.
Bes-eater
 

Our first walk in the open woodland of the Coredor de Verde produced excellent views of the stunning Black-winged Kite, it hunted over the trees before settling down on an open perch, lovely. We also had great views of Melodious Warbler and Sardinian Warbler both of which were singing from the tops of the bushes. Woodchat Shrikes were very numerous as were Serin and Zitting Cisticola.
Sardinian Warbler - with a dodgey bill
 
We ate our picnic breakfast looking over the small Laguna Quema, it was quite empty with just Great Crested Grebes, Common Coot, Purple Heron and  Mallard there. So many Serin were singing and chasing one another around, too many to count. Greenfinches, Goldfinches joined the Serins and Cetti’s Warbler along with numerous Common Nightingales added to the bird song.

Our path led through open fields were Yellow Wagtails sang and Common Quail called from the grasses, Buzzards sat perched in dead trees whilst Black Kites used the pylons, the occasional Marsh Harrier was seen in the distance. We made a quick visit to the square eucalyptus wood called Dehesa de Piles where thousands of Spanish Sparrows breed, they made such a din coated to the lovely chirrup of the Bee-eater, there must have been 100 Bee-eaters in the area.

one of the Red-knobbed Coot - a released bird

Behind us a recently ploughed field stretched away over a gentle rise and on the rise we found 4 Pint-tailed Sandgrouse and a single Stone Curlew, how nice was that?

At the Embalse (reservoir) de Dehesa de Abajo there hundreds of birds, most of them appeared as dots in the scope as they favoured the far bank as usual. But we did see good numbers of Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Gadwall and a few Shoveler nearby and hundreds of Common Coot and Great Crested Grebes were dotted all over the water. The reeds and tamarisk were alive with the sound of Reed and Great Reed Warblers and Night Herons crouched in the shadows trying to get some sleep despite the din!
 
 

At the far end of the reservoir we stopped for a second look and found our target species the Red-knobbed Coot, we saw three of them, two released birds wearing white collars and one without. A Little Bittern was very showy there and Purple Swamphen came close to us.

After a small interlude during which we grabbed a quick coffee and enjoyed tostada in a local venta, we set off for the Valerie centre hoping to see a good number of new species for our list. We drove the dirt tracks alongside deep ditches and marshes where we saw huge numbers of herons, egrets, Spoonbills and ibis. One small pool held 2 Great Egrets, 9 Purple Herons, 23 Glossy Ibis, 3 Squacco Herons, many Night Herons sat in the bushes and Little Egret and Grey Herons sat on the fringes.

At Casa Bombas the pumping station we saw Common Kestrel, Short-toed Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier and our first Linnets. A couple of dozen White Storks took to an early thermal as they circled above us.

Violet Dropwing

The final 9 kilometres to the Valerde Centre was quite uneventful we couldn’t find a lark, the heat haze was bad and the temperature quite high, but there was a breeze. However one piece of excitement happened when we stopped to watch a second Montagu’s Harrier, a Black Kite was mobbing an eagle higher up and when we scoped the bird it was quickly identified as an Imperial Eagle, the kite looked tiny beside it, what a super find. A small colony of Lesser Kestrels were seen nearby too.
a very obliging Zitting Cisticola
 
 

 Near the centre we stopped to look over a large seasonal pool where we added Black-headed Gull, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns to the list, but generally the number of birds were low. The track that led back to El Rocio was more productive, we drove slowly making many short stops to look at perched birds or raptors in the sky, the innumerable Black Kites were joined by the occasional Booted Eagle and we saw a party Griffon Vultures circling on high. However it was the perched birds that provided the entertainment, we saw dozens of Yellow Wagtails and Corn Buntings and lots of Zitting Cisticola, these were joined on the list by a single Northern Wheatear, a couple of Whinchat, two or three only of Short-toed Lark and a single Lesser Short-toed Lark.

Our visit to the Valverde centre was very enjoyable as we watched the huge colony of breeding egrets, ibis and herons, the noise was unbelievable, we also saw a couple of Little Bittern and many ducks on the water.

On the homeward journey we found a few waders on the marsh, Grennshank, Redshank, Green, Common and Wood Sandpipers were found. A series of pylons provided nice perches for a few Short-toed Eagles and we had great views of a Calendar Lark in the grass near to the track.

Well our journey back to the hotel took about an hour, it had been a long day, but the time was quickly forgotten as we enjoyed a nice cold beer with our dinner sitting our in warm evening air on the terrace.

 

 


 

 

COTO DONANA AND EXTREMADURA - 9 DAY TOUR - DAY 2 - 28TH APRIL 2014


La Rocina – Palacio de Acebron – Acebuche visitor’s centre – Laguna Madra de la Marismas

Our first full day in Coto Donana was spent taking a leisurely stroll through the nature reserves in the Natural Parks surrounding the National Parks. Before we set out we also took an early morning walk to the edge of the Laguna Madra de la Marismas which is just a few meters from our hotel.

It was still fairly dark at 7am when we got there but we still managed to see a few Night Herons flying from the reed-beds to their day roosts. As the light improved we stood near the visitor's centre to watch the explosion of egrets, Herons and Ibis as they poured out from their night time roost. It was simply stunning at times when hundreds of birds took to the air, we saw Little and Cattle Egrets, Purple, Night and Squacco Herons all in good numbers, but the Glossy Ibis outnumbered them all by far.
 
the view across Laguna Madre de Marismas at dawn
 
After breakfast we drove across to La Rocina, a huge natural park with pine forest, a series of lagunas, some heathland and reed-beds. A number of mew exes were quickly added to our list with Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Eurasian Spoonbill, Red-crested and Common Pochard all showing well. In theme woods we found Long-tailed Tit, Tree Sparrow, Serin and  lots of Common Chaffinches.

A section of reeds and pools produced great views of Night Heron and Purple Swamphen and we s wonderful to area of open of heath held Woodchat Shrike, Stonechat and we got good views of Common Cuckoo, a  male chasing a female.
 
Azure winged Magpie
 
 
 Our route took us a cross an area of heath where we stopped first to admire a Southern Grey Shrike and then a Thekla Lark singing from the top of a bush, whilst watching the lark we saw a male Dartford Warbler flitting about in the scrub below the lark.

From the heath we drove further along the entrance road to a unique piece of deciduous woodland, near the Palacio de Acebron, this huge building, formerly a Royal Hunting Lodge is now a Hunting Museum, hundreds of Spanish visitors were making lots of noise around the area.

female Long-tailed Blue
 it was now around 12 noon so bird activity had greatly reduced in the woodland. The walk through was a nice experience we did see a few species, Short-toed Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker and lots of Chaffinches. One interesting sighting made by two of the group near the car park was of a Wryneck!

Our afternoon was spent at the wonderful Acebuche Centre, some of the group ate lunch near the car park where very close views were had of Azure-winged Magpie and the rest of us ate in the restaurant. Our walk in the hot afternoon produced very little, a few short glimpses of Golden Oriole and later even shorter views of Common Redstart were the highlights. We did watch several Booted Eagles and Black Kites drifting overhead and of course the nesting White Stork and Red-rumped Swallows provided some nice entertainment.
 
part of the group on the boardwalk at Acebuche
 

Finally we drove back to El Rocio after a short stop at the cliffs of Matalascanas, the beach was heaving and sea was devoid of birds, we did a single Sandwich Tern. Our visit to the Laguna of El Rocio was very nice, the light was superb and hundreds of birds were strewn all over it. We added a Northern Pintail to the list but we did enjoy the lovely colourful spectacle of water, sedges, reeds and grass with the contrasting White Village of El Rocio in the background.
 
Squacco Heron at Laguna Madre de Marisma
 

After a lovely dinner on the terrace, we made an effort to see Red-necked Nightjar at La Rocina. The evening was perfect, very still with a wonderful sunset. However we had only up to 10pm because the gates are closed at that time. By 10pm it wasn’t quite dark enough, we did hear 2 or 3 nightjars but none we on the wing by the time we had to leave.

 

COTO DONANA AND EXTREMADURA - 8 DAY TOUR - DAY 1 - 27TH APRIL 2014

MALAGA AIRPORT - LAGUNA DULCE - LAGUNA FUENTE DE LA PIEDRA  - EL ROCIO AND LAGUNA MADRA DE LA MARISMA


Malaga Airport – Laguna Dulce – Laguna Fuente de Piedra – El Rocio (Laguna Madra de la Marisma)

Today I collected a party of 12 birders from Malaga Airport, they were from Cheshire and all members of Knutsford Ornithological Society, it was the 40th anniversary of the club, quite an achievement I must say.

Paul, my Birdingpal from Gaucin was with me, he was to drive the second bus. The group all turned on time and we set off for Coto Donana by 12 noon.

Our first birding stop was at Laguna Dulce near Campillos, we had seen Griffon Vulture, Spotless Starling, Barn Swallow and a couple of Alpine Swifts along the way. At the Laguna we saw a few thousand birds sitting or feeding on or above the water. The vast majority of birds were Common Coot but we also saw, Black-necked, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall, Common and Red-crested Pochard, Purple Swamphen and the star bird, White Headed Duck.

Birds swarmed over the water, Common Swifts were joined by hundreds of House Martins, Yellow-legged Gulls, Whiskered Terns and a few Collared Pratincoles. Birds seen along the shoreline and in the reeds were; Common Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Goldfinches and a couple of Marsh Harriers quartered the distant reeds.

Next we visited Laguna Fuente de Piedra, our route took us high over the western shore and a mirador provided fantastic views of the throngs of Greater Flamingos breeding on the Laguna. It was a magnificent sight, I am told that 10,000 pairs breed there, it certainly looked like it.

At the visitors centre we walked around the boardwalk and the approach road to view some shallow seasonal pools, they were full of birds. Mostly they were Dunlin, Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper all looking fabulous in their summer plumage. They were joined by Common Saner, lots of Ruff, Redshank, Pied Avocet and many Black-winged Stilts. We had sera views of Gull-billed Tern and Iberian Yellow Wagtails. Time soon ran out and we had to leave this lovely place to continue our journey.
Black-winged Stilt, Whiskered Terns and curlew Sandpipers at Laguna Fuente de Piedra
 

We stopped for a late lunch on the motorway to Seville and further along the road we encountered our first Black Kites, Common Buzzards and White Storks. After passing through Seville unhindered we arrived on the edge of Coto Donana. From the bus we saw Corn Bunting, Turtle Dove, Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe and lots more Black Kites.

Our final birding was done at the Laguna which sits on the edge of El Rocio which was to be our home for the next 4 nights. The light was superb and the water was covered in Common Coots, Greater Flamingos, Eurasian Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret and a few species of Ducks. Very few waders were present, we saw Redshank, Grennshank, Ruff and Common Sandpiper.
the view from my hotel room of the Laguna Madre de Marisma

From the Laguna we drove round into town to check into our hotel and get ready for dinner, it had been Avery long day for most of us and an early night was the order of the day.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

LESVOS - STOP PRESS

ONE FINAL BIRD WAS ADDED TO OUR LIST ON THE WAY TO THE AIRPORT AND IT WAS A VERY SPECIAL BIRD INDEED.

A FIRST FOR LESVOS WAS FOUND AT 8AM AT THE KALLONI SALT PANS AND LUCKILY FOR US WE HAD TO PASS THE SITE ON THE WAY TO THE AIRPORT.

SO AT 10:15AM WE ADDED SIBERIAN STONECHAT (Saxicola torquatus maurus) TO OUR LIST AND TO MY PERSONAL LESVOS LIST, WHAT A GREAT WAY TO END THE TOUR. WE HAD ALL PACKED OUR SCOPES AND CAMERAS SO NO PICTURES WERE TAKEN.


goodbye to Lesvos from most of the group - Terry is missing
 

IMAGES OF LESVOS TAKEN BY DAWN BUCKLER













Friday, April 25, 2014

LESVOS - 7-DAY TOUR - DAY 8 - 26TH APRIL 2014

TSIKNIAS RIVER

Our final day!!!  Boo, Hoo.

We could go only out for an hour this morning before breakfast so we went to the nearby Tsiknias River. We started at the river mouth and worked our way up to the ford.

It was an amazing sunrise and the air was full of bird song, what a lovely way to finish our birding holiday.


The Tsiknias river mouth at 6:30am this morning
At the river mouth we saw all the usual suspects; Slender-billed Gull, Grey Plover, Common Tern, Little-ringed Plover and a Eurasian Curlew was new.

Black Headed Bunting
 As we made our up the river we saw lots of warblers and a few waders; Reed, Great Reed, Cetti's and Olivaceous Warblers, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint (fly overs - 12) and a Common Snipe which was new for the list.
Cetti's Warbler
 In shrubs and hedges we saw Common Whitethroat, Common Nightingale, Black-headed Bunting and lots of Corn Buntings, Crested Larks and finches.

In that one hour, we found 40 species which is a true testament to how good Lesvos really is at this time of the year and instills in me a great desire and a birding passion to want to return next year for my 16th successive year!! 


 


LESVOS - 7-DAY TOUR - DAY 7 - 25TH APRIL 2014

ACHLADERI PINE WOODS - METOCHI LAKE - POTOMIA VALLEY.- LIMONAS MONASTERY -  KALLONI SALT PANS - ALYKES WETLANDS

We stayed fairly local today trying to see species absent from our list and to get better views of others,  it was another lovely day but a huge thunderstorm developed in the late afternoon.

Our first excursion was made before breakfast, we set off at 6:30am and headed straight to the pines at Achladeri to try to get better views of the Kruper's Nuthatch, most of the group missed it the first time around. We staked out the nest site and within minutes a bird appeared, it was the male carrying food, he came back and forth several times during our stay and many great pictures were taken by some the 'photographers' in the group, not by me though!

a female Little Crake at Metochi Lake
 

After breakfast we visited the river mouth of the Tsiknias river to view the sand bar. We found 5 Grey Plover which were new for the list, an Oystercatcher and 2 Slender-billed Gulls as well as Sandwich, Little and Common Terns. We then drove to Metochi Lake for the second time hoping for more species of crakes, we had great views of 5 different Little Crakes and we saw a Little Bittern in flight but nothing new. An Olivaceous Warbler sat up nicely for us just before we left.


Little Grebe also at Metochi Lake
We took the tracks across the olive groves and headed for Potomia valley near the river Christou, making several small stops along the way to view perched birds or raptors. We had nice views of Masked Shrike, Black Headed Bunting, Whinchat, more Olivaceous Warblers and lots of common species. The valley was very quiet and all we saw was Cirl Bunting, Raven, Long-legged Buzzard and lots of Great Tits.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

We ate our lunch in the car park at the Limonas Monastery because an active nest of the Middle Spotted Woodpecker was situated in the base of a telegraph pole right in the car park. We didn't have to wait long before a bird appeared and over the next hour we all had excellent views of the adult birds, they were obviously feeding young.


Yellow Wagtail (Feldegg) seen on the same fence as the Citrine Wagtail that was seen yesterday

The rest of the afternoon was spent at the Kalloni Salt Pans, the Alykes Wetlands and we finished off with a short second visit to the river mouth of the Tsiknias River.

We added Black-tailed Godwit to our waders list as two were feeding on the first pan, then in a side channel we found our second Spur-winged Lapwing (Plover), this one was much closer much to the delight of the photographers, there was no-one else around so we couldn't pass on the news of our find.
Black-winged Stilt - male

We walked across the Alykes meadows for the last time as a huge thunderstorm was developing in the distant hills. Lots of waders were still feeding in the pools we saw over twenty Little Stints, a Temminck's Stint, Little-ringed, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, many Wood Sandpipers and a few Ruff.

Temminck's Stint

We saw a couple of White-winged Terns, they flew high over the pans, they looked fantastic with sun shining on them and very dark blue clouds behind them, it was magical. As we left the area we stopped to view a raptor in the sky which was a Marsh Harrier then two smaller Harriers flew over a ridge, one of them came much closer and we could see that it was a sub-adult male Montagu's Harrier.
Spur-winged Lapwing (Plover)


From the pans we made our last visit of the day to the Tsiknias River to see if anything had turned up on the sand-bar. We came with nothing mew but had great views of Slender-billed Gulls. We finished on that note and set off back to the hotel in good to pack and get ready for dinner.




 

 

 

 

 
 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

LESVOS - 7-DAY TOUR - DAY 6 - 24TH APRIL 2014

SKALA ERESOS - SIGRI FIELDS, FORD AND BEACH - KALLONI SALT PANS AND ALYKES WETLANDS

This was our second day out west, we took the scenic route and made many stops along the way, the weather was over cast at first bur cleared into a beautiful day with a nice breeze.

Our chosen route took us along the northern edge of the Gulf of Kalloni passing through Paraloika where we made two stops, the first to look over a series of pools and the second at the chapel just outside the village on the west side. The pools held nothing of note except one Mallard, don't laugh, A Mallard is a good find in April here, ha! At the chapel we enjoyed good views of Black-eared Wheatear, Cretzschmar's Bunting and Cirl Bunting but  not much else.

Further along the road we stopped near Agra where we found a nice selection of species, we had great close views of Cretzschmar's Bunting and we also saw Masked Shrike, Sombre Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Whinchat and Blue rock Thrush.

Cretzschmar's Bunting

Our next stop was an impromptu one as a bird of prey was seen perched on power lines from the back of the bus, we turned the bus and went back for it and discovered a superb Eleanora's Falcon, what a beauty, you don't get to see them perched very often this was a real treat.

Eleanora's Falcon

 

Our next planned stop was at Skala Eresos where walked along the river looking for warblers and hoping for a sighting of a Penduline Tit. We had good views of Great Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Common Nightingale and brief views of Sedges Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler and Reed Warbler. The river was overgrown with reeds and shrubs so it was difficult to see anything, no chance of a crake or a rail.

Before dropping down into Sigri we made a few stops to look for Chukar without success but we did see Bee-eaters, Long-legged Buzzard, Raven, Cinereous Bunting and lots of Black-eared Wheatears, I have never seen so many.

Finally we arrived at Sigri where it was sunny but a little windy, we stopped first at the Lower ford at Faneromena but all we saw was a Common Moorhen and a Black Headed Bunting, so we drove around to the beach and sat in warm sunshine eating our picnic lunch by a river outlet. During lunch we watched Common Sandpiper, Little Stint, Grennshank, Little Ringed Plover and a Ruddy Shelduck flew over. In the hedgerow behind us we saw Spotted Flycatcher and Whinchat.

Just as we were leaving the beach area we found a Lesser Grey Shrike sitting beside a Woodchat Shrike, what a nicehoto that would have made if we could have been quicker.

A walk from the upper ford at Faneromena produced over 40 Flycatcher, mostly Spotted but also many Pied, we also saw common Whitethroat and Common Redstart, at the ford we saw Night Heron and a Little Bittern.

As we got back to the bus we saw over 20 European Bee-eaters on the wires, what a lovely sight that was.


one of the 20+ Bee-eaters at Sigri


Well that concluded our day's birding so we made the long trek back to Kalloni, we arrived quite early so we decided to have a short break then spend an hour or so at the salt pans to finish off the day.

At 5pm we arrived at the pans and drove straight round to the Alykes wetlands hoping to see Collared Pratincole. During our walk we had great views of Red-throated Pipit, Short-toed Larks and many Yellow Wagtails. Then very distantly we found a single Collared Pratincole sitting in the grass, as we approached we found a second one. They both flew off into the salt pans so we watched a good number of waders in the pools of water. Another Temminck's Stint was found as well as Little Stint, Kentish and Ringed Plover and lots of Wood Sandpipers.




I can't stop taking pictures of this obliging species, Red-throated Pipit

a couple of Little Terns bathing in one of the pools
We decided to walk to the edge of the field to look through the fence at the pans hoping to find the pratincoles again, then suddenly a wagtail landed on the fence, it was a Citrine Wagtail, looking absolutely fantastic in the afternoon sun, so yellow, it was a male.

male Citrine Wagtail

 
Gazing through the fence onto the pans we found Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Tern and a lot of the usual species seen there. It was approach 6pm so we had to shoot off to get ready for dinner, it was a fitting ending to another great day on Lesvos.

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

LESVOS - 7-DAY TOUR - DAY 5 - 23RD APRIL 2014

ALYKES WETLANDS - MESA WETLANDS - ACHLADERI PINE WOODS - POLINICHOS SALT PANS - VATERA - AGHIOS FOKAS - ACHLADERI - KALLONI SALT PANS - ALYKES WETLANDS.

A mixed bag of fortune today with some great sightings and some disappointment, but that's birding for you, but what was consistent was the weather, is was lovely all day.

A pre-breakfast sortie was made at 6:30am to the large pasture fields behind the Kalloni Salt Pans, we were looking for Collared Pratincole but none were present, however we did see plenty of other species. The highlight was a pair of Temminck's Stints which fed in a shallow pool with Little Stint, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Ruff and Wood Sandpiper. We also had good views of Red-throated Pipit, Short-toed Lark and Yellow Wagtail. From the beach area we could a great distance over the Gulf of Kalloni, it was like a mill pond, we added Great Crested Grebe, Common Tern and some distant Black Terns.
he sand bar with Black Storks, Cormorants, Grey Heron and Little Egrets
After breakfast we set off for the south of the island with many short stops along the way, our first stop was a beach area near Mesa where we had seen the Black Terns earlier, we wanted a closer look. But all the terns had gone, however, on a small sand bar we found 5 Black Storks, 2 Great White Egrets, 5 Little Egrets, a Grey Heron and 3 Great Cormorants. A Zitting Cisticola was doing its stuff over our heads as we got back into the bus.
one of the 5 Black Storks

Next we stopped at the marsh at Mesa where we stood on an old bridge to view the reed beds and pools. A section of birds were present including a lovely Purple Heron and a pair of Ruddy Shelduck. We took a short walk along a track where a scrub covered hillside ran up to our left, there we saw Black-eared Wheatear and Turtle Dove. From this new vantage point we could see more of the marsh and added Wood Sandpiper, Common Moorhen, Great Egret, another Purple Heron and two Marsh Harriers, a Glossy Ibis dropped in as we walked back, a Water Rail called and a Squacco Heron sat on the track eating a huge grub. We found two species of orchids, Holy Orchid and Tongue Orchid along the track.

Holy Orchid

The pine woods at Achladeri have been the best' ace to see Kruper's Nuthatch for many a year and this was our next target species. However the Nuthatch had other intentions and failed to show for all of us after extensive searching, Nevertheless we did see Cirl Bunting, Short-toed Tree-creeper, Serin and lots of Chaffinches.

We ate our picnic lunch along the beach on the south side of the Gulf of Kalloni, the water was flat-calm and lunch was nice. We watched Yellow Wagtails in a grassy field with a Red-throated Pipit, a couple of the grow wandered off and found a Sedge Warbler.

We drove to the Polinichos Salt Pans where a fair number of birds were present, we saw lots of Ruff, Avocet and Greater Flamingos and our first Eurasian Curlew, a couple of Gull-billed Terns flew over us just before we left.
Yellow Wagtails at lunchtime

Finally we arrived at Vatera and the Aghios Fokas peninsular, a couple stops produced the target bird the Sardinian Warbler and out at sea we scanned the area for shearwaters. A few Yelkouan Shearwaters flew passed but it was very disappointing, we also added European Shag to our list.

On the return journey we stopped off at the pine woods for another crack at the Nuthatch without success, one of the group saw a Middle Spotted Woodpecker.

As we returned to the Kalloni area we intended to visit the salt pans and along the main road we stopped where a small crowd of borders were looking into some small pools of water on a waste land.
Its a good job we stopped because a Spur-winged Plover was sitting there, wow this was a great species for our list, what a stunning looking bird. We also found a couple of Stone Curlew there.

only a record shot of the Spur-winged Plover

Moving into the pans we stopped to view a large group of waders which grew as size as more birds dropped in. We added Curlew Sandpiper and a Dunlin to our list and counted over 50 Little Stints..

Our final destination of the day was where we started early this morning, in the pastures called Alykes Wetlands, we had heard of the presence of a flock of Collared Pratincole but alas they had gone by the time we got there.

So we had had a very busy day with lots of highs and lows but still very enjoyable nonetheless.