Posted by: digibirder | May 28, 2007

Lesvos holiday

Update: Edited to add some more photos, that I just found in another folder, and also to correct a mis-identified bird – the Yellow Wagtail after the Pratincole was actually a Citrine Wagtail.

Well, we’ve been back from holiday for over a week, but it seems an age ago that we went to Lesvos. This was our second visit to the island, the first being a couple of years ago when we went on an organised birding trip with a friend of mine who started running birding holidays when he left his job at the place we both worked. On that first trip the total number of birds seen was 145, but we only counted 131, as we didn’t really get to see all that others saw.

We thought we might try and beat that total, but the island was very dry, having had only 10 days of rain in the last year, so we struggled at times. And it was VERY hot! Every day. However it was a very enjoyable trip, with myself and Keith joining a friend, John, and an acquaintance of his, Martin, who we met for the first time a few weeks before the trip. Anyway, we managed about the same number of birds, as it turns out. I won’t go into too much detail here, as you can read the full trip report on John’s website, and see all his wonderful photos, but I will post a ‘few’ of the photos I took. I went a bit mad with the camera, taking over 600 shots, but sifted through them and kept about 500. I was a bit disappointed with some of them, so John let me borrow his lens for a few shots (Canon 100-400 IS – I really ‘need’ this lens!). I think John took over 2000, but he took his laptop with him and edited them each night, and compiled the trip report as he went along!

All photos taken using Canon 10D and Sigma lenses (135-400mm, 105mm macro, 18-50mm) except where John’s lens used, as stated. Shown in order they were taken.

Squacco Heron – East River, Skala Kalloni

Little Bittern – East River, Skala Kalloni

Same bird, having flown into a nearby tree

Black-headed Yellow Wagtail (ssp. feldegg)

Black-winged Stilt – Skala Kalloni salt pans

Last time we went, I noticed the rather dark red poppies, but never managed a photo. This time I made sure we stopped to get some shots. A few days later the farmer was ploughing this field. Field near Achladeri.

The side view from our balcony (we were on a corner)

Scops Owl – in eucalyptus tree north of Kalloni

Limonos Monastery – between Kalloni and Filia

View from top of Ypsilou Monastery

Fancy door of a house in Molyvos

Another door in Molyvos

Bee – taken on one of the narrow alleyways leading up to Molyvos Castle

Archaeological site at Molyvos – totally unprotected and open

Molyvos Castle from the town. Reached by a network of narrow, zig-zag cobbled alleyways, leading ever upwards between the houses

Emperor Dragonfly (not quite sure how I managed this one!)

White Stork – East River

Flock of sheep on a farm track near Petra

Western Rock Nuthatch – Napi Valley

Skala Sykaminias harbour – from the taverna where we had a delicious lunch (see group photo on John’s site)

Looking back to the taverna from the other side of the harbour

Keith and Martin inspecting the octopus (no, we didn’t eat them!)

Little Stint – Skala Kalloni salt pans

Black Stork – East River

Keith and I went back to Molyvos on our own one day (we were birded out!). This was the view down to the harbour from the overhanging terrace of a cafe. Keith was a bit nervous of the drop!

Molyvos harbour

House Martins nesting on our balcony

Black-eared Wheatear – Ypsilou Monastery

Persian Squirrel – Ypsilou Monastery

Little Owl – Ypsilou Monastery (with John’s lens). He was sitting there so quietly, with numerous warblers and other birds flitting around the tree in a panic. One of them being the first Icterine Warbler of the trip, which was one of the reasons for our second trip here, as we were told they were around, but we missed them on the first visit

Ypsilou Monastery – we walked up one path and down the other, before the heat really set in for the day!

Collared Pratincole – East River

Citrine Wagtail – East River

Balkan White butterfly and unknown beetles – East River

Rose-coloured Starling – there were about 18 in the same mulberry tree – between East River and salt pans (with John’s lens). These birds sometimes turn up as vagrants in the UK, but mostly they’re not in this bright breeding plumage

Red-rumped Swallow – salt pans (with John’s lens)

European Bee-eater – salt pans (with John’s lens). These are gorgeous birds, with a lovely song. These are far better photos than the ones I took on the last trip here

European Bee-eater – salt pans (with John’s lens)

Ruff – salt pans (with John’s lens)

Little Stint – salt pans (with John’s lens)

Black-headed Wagtail – salt pans (with John’s lens)

Crested Lark – salt pans (with John’s lens)

Crested Lark – salt pans (with John’s lens)

Long-legged Buzzard – side of road near Kalloni

Hummingbird Hawkmoth – in the grounds of our hotel. One of many we saw there during the two weeks

A lizard peeping from one of the bushes in the hotel grounds, while on the search for the Hawkmoth

Female Stonechat – I also took a few photos using John’s camera (Canon 30D) and the 100-400 lens, this and the next photo being two of the best ones, to see if the more up-to-date camera made a difference as well as the lens – I think maybe the lens is the key

Too hot for even the die-hard sunbathers!



  1. good one with the emperor. love the Hummingbird Hawkmoth and the Butterfly.

    Think the shots with John’s are better, bit more detail (get him!!). no shots with the sigma 80-400os for comparison?

  2. Ta. I think the shots with the Canon lens are better – they looked better in the camera, and they have certainly not needed as much sharpening in Photoshop.

    I didn’t have access to the 80-400 – didn’t like to ask a complete stranger if I could borrow his lens! In any case, it was broken, apparently. The zoom was stuck out at the 400mm end. I will try one before deciding what to do.

  3. Those photos from your Lesbos trip are great. I was pleased to see the black-winged stilt, which is the only one of the birds I have seen before.

  4. […] of my bird photos in the past and, like a bad workman, I’ve been blaming my tools. In  my Lesvos post, I mentioned that I had borrowed a friend’s Canon lens while we were there, to see if it gave […]

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