Thursday, 28 May 2015

Lesvos Rarities

Petrified Forest ( Copyright T D Wright )
Last year I didn't worry about rare stuff as it was my first visit and all the common things were exciting enough. Apparently, finding something that's 'rare for there' is a must if you're one of the British birding 'elite'. So, I thought, this year I'll visit the Petrified Forest Park which is quite rare. Only 2 places in the world where one can see it they say, which makes the 2 Euros entrance fee ( about a quid and a half at current rates) excellent value.                                                                
Petrified Forest ( Copyright T D Wright )
It's also possible to see good birds there. It once had White-throated Robin apparently. All I saw was Spotfly. However, heading back up the access road toward the main Sigri-Mytilene road, I stopped to look at a Lesser Kestrel. I then noticed a larger falcon, which I expected to be a Peregrine. I soon realised that it wasn't, as it had warm brown mantle and scaps, contrasting with dark flight feathers. Its underwing-coverts also contrasted with the primaries and secondaries, being noticeably darker. It was very compact-looking too, broad-based wings and proportionally short-winged as well. Then I saw its creamy-brown pale head, and realised I had a genuine Lesvos Rarity- a SAKER Falcon!! I saw it again later at Sigri Sanatorium, where a couple more British birders saw it over the next 2 days. The one I got the name of was Tony Swann, who kindly emailed me a Lesvos rarity report form which I sent to Steve Dudley, so let's hope I filled it in correctly. Together, Tony and I saw a Yellow-legged Gull give an alarm call and take evasive action as the Saker flew across, its slowish wingbeats very unlike the Peregrine I saw the same day from Sigri 'bandstand'. I have to say its pale head also looked enormous, on a par with Gyrfalcon at least. I just wish I'd managed a photograph too; but I felt that it wasn't close enough so didn't try. For i.d. purposes though, even a terrible photo might have been worth submitting. I believe others did realise this and hope there will be a couple of supporting pics. as it's not easy to get things accepted without photos these days. Anyway, at least I know what I saw.                                                                                                                               
Demoiselle Crane ( Copyright T D Wright )
Demoiselle Crane ( Copyright T D Wright )
The other rarity I saw was this Demoiselle Crane, which I believe was found by Killian Mullarney. Not a self-found job this one, but a first for me and a major rarity, twitched by people who've been to Lesvos about a hundred times! It was in an inaccessible area West of the Christou river, so the shots are from some distance away. At least you can see what it is, eh? Happy Birding!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Lesvos Video Attempts 2015: Glossy Ibis & Nightingale

video
video
I thought I'd offer you these two little snippets as I like the sheen and brightness of the Ibis clip; plus, the Nightingale singing right out in the open is another feature of Lesviot birding in April. I do have a longer clip of a Nightingale singing but it would take too long to download. Enjoy!

Lesvos 2015:Black Stork & Gull-Billed Tern

Black Stork ( Copyright T D Wright )
One of the consequences of going to Greece in April is that in May, back in Britain, you hear reports of many of the birds you saw just a few weeks ago. Last year it was Short-toed Eagle and Bee-eaters. Over the Whitsun weekend it was Storks in far-flung corners of England and a Gull-billed Tern on the Exe estuary. Even the proximity of the tern couldn't tempt me off patch, so I went and saw our local Nightjars, Little Owls and Cetti's warblers. On Lesvos, there were loads of storks and marsh terns and I will post pics of the other species later as I work through my store of goodies. For now, here are some samples of one species from each group which I hope you enjoy.                                 
Gull-billed Tern ( Copyright T D Wright )
Black Stork ( Copyright T D Wright )
Black Stork ( Copyright T D Wright )
Gull-billed Tern ( Copyright T D Wright )
Gull-billed Tern ( Copyright T D Wright )
Gull-billed Tern ( Copyright T D Wright )
Gull-billed Tern ( Copyright T D Wright )

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Kalloni Scops Copse

Scops Owl ( Copyright T D Wright )
Last year, I didn't bother with this site as I managed to see them just walking back from dinner in the village. Other people were shining a torch on one then, and even though I wouldn't do that myself, I had my bins with me and thought that as they'd already done it I may as well enjoy seeing one calling. This time around, I only saw them in daylight but there were up to 7 at this very convenient site, right next to the main road plus ample parking. I grabbed a couple of shots then left them in peace.                                                                                                                                                  
Scops Owl ( Copyright T D Wright )
Scops Owl ( Copyright T D Wright )

Orphean Warblers

Eastern Orphean Warbler ( Copyright T D Wright )
This Eastern Orphean was photographed near my hotel, between Petra and Molyvos. Unfortunately, I couldn't get close enough to take better pics. These are the best I managed as all the Orpheans I saw were very mobile and often in inaccessible areas. Last year I didn't even try but I know lots of you want pics of them so I gave it a go...                                                                                          
Eastern Orphean Warbler ( Copyright T D Wright )
Eastern Orphean Warbler ( Copyright T D Wright )
Eastern Orphean Warbler ( Copyright T D Wright )

Lesvos 2015: The Wild West

Woodchat Shrike ( Copyright T D Wright )
Another advantage of staying in Petra is the road to Skalochori which links you up with birders from Kalloni heading West for the upland and migrant goodies out there. My Hotel made breakfast available early (7a.m.) which gave me a headstart on last year's Hotel in Skala Kallonis. The drive is enjoyable as there's not much traffic, beautiful views and lots of roadside birds to stop for like this Woodchat. Even away from the coast, the uplands often have migrants such as my first ever Levant Sparrowhawk. At Ipsilou, there were not many small migrants but there was a Cuckoo, and on the last bend before the bottom car park this Tawny Pipit...
Tawny Pipit ( Copyright T D Wright )



Solar Powered Skalochori ( Copyright T D Wright )
The island seems to be largely solar-powered. These massive banks of panels are on a revolving podium which follows the Sun. But what do they do when the sky looks like this?                                 


Ipsilou ( Copyright T D Wright )

Approaching Storm ( Copyright T D Wright )
The lightning was amazing and the thunder very loud. It's an experience to be in the mountains when this happens. However, when you realise you're carrying a 'lightning conductor' (scope + tripod ) the only sensible thing to do is get back into your Mobile Faraday Cage and drive on into Sigri. The rain and hailstones lashed the car but I made it to my Taverna for a cuppa and cheese toastie. Once the rain stopped the wind dropped and the Sun came back. More birding!                            
Mont Ipsilou area ( Copyright T D Wright )

Long-legged Buzzard ( Copyright T D Wright )


Long-legged Buzzard ( Copyright T D Wright )

Forking Tracks ( Copyright T D Wright )
 I parked my car here and walked up both tracks. The left one takes you to Faneromeni upper ford. The right one takes you up to a nice area for shrikes...                                                                  
Masked Shrike ( Copyright T D Wright )

Masked Shrike ( Copyright T D Wright )
Masked Shrike ( Copyright T D Wright )
And Stonechats...                                                      
Stonechat ( Copyright T D Wright )
Stonechat ( Copyright T D Wright )
I think their Stonechats are a little bit darker than ours on the upperparts. Otherwise quite similar.        
Stonechat ( Copyright T D Wright )
More Wild West pics to come later.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Yellow-legged Gull?

Yellow-legged Gull ( Copyright T D Wright )
Phil Abbott picked out this gull on Thursday. It looked quite good for Yellow-legged ( Western Med. version) 3rd Summer. It was quite small however and I was wary of the hybrid trap so waited for Phil to communicate with County Recorder/ Gull fanatics before posting these. It did have a heavy bill with a large red spot, although the red didn't extend onto the upper mandible. For a sub-adult, this must be passable then. Some of my shots give a good view of the wing pattern(s) so I hope they're of interest.                                                                                     
Yellow-legged Gull ( Copyright T D Wright )
Yellow-legged Gull ( Copyright T D Wright )
Yellow-legged Gull ( Copyright T D Wright )
Yellow-legged Gull ( Copyright T D Wright )
Yellow-legged Gull ( Copyright T D Wright )
Yellow-legged Gull ( Copyright T D Wright )
Yellow-legged Gull ( Copyright T D Wright )
We also heard ( but didn't see ) a Cuckoo in the Boshill Cross area. As Shaw Taylor used to say, "Keep 'em peeled", folks.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Cragmarts Etc

Alpine Swift ( Copyright T D Wright )
Here are some Crag Martin pics as promised. Sadly, I didn't get a classic image of the tail spread to show its spots, so these were the best I managed. Last year, I didn't get any so this is improvement!
Crag Martin ( Copyright T D Wright )
Crag Martin ( Copyright T D Wright )
Crag Martin ( Copyright T D Wright )
Crag Martin ( Copyright T D Wright )
video
I think I'm getting a bit better with flight shots. But what about video? My Nikon D7100 has this facility, so I tried that out this year. I hope you can get the audio with it as this Cinereous gives a quick burst of song, one of the sounds we go to Lesvos to hear. Happy Birding!                                                                                       

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Temminck's Stint(s)

Temminck's Stint(s) ( Copyright T D Wright )
How convenient! I had these Temminck's photos to post from my Lesvos trip anyway. Now, they're locally topical too. Why? Well, last night at 7pm I thought I'd give Tower Hide a go. As the tide came in a handful of waders flew past including Whimbrel, Dunlin and another largish wader I didn't get good enough views of. So, round to Island Hide I thought. The unidentified wader wasn't there, even though the Whimbrel and Dunlin were. How annoying. Even so, I started scanning around and saw something tiny on the edge of an island. Scope needed! As soon as I got it in the scope it looked exactly like the near breeding-plumage Temminck's which you can see in these pics. A quick set of texts went out, including one to Tim White as I hoped his long lens might get a picture of it as it was too far away for me. Plus I wanted him to see it of course (arf-arf!). First to arrive was Phil, even though I'd texted Ian Mclean first. Apparently IM was in the bath! Oh No! Fortunately, it was all alright as Ian saw it and Tim got a 'record shot' of it. It was, by now, gone 9pm so people were struggling to see the bird in the dark. I hope it stays, but they can often be unco-operative here. Still, for me, it's another very pleasing find. As far as I know, the last one here was in 2007, although there may have been one in 2011 as I don't have the records for that year.If that's the case, then we average 25% of a Temminck's per annum. Anyway, Spring's not done with us yet...                                                                                                                  
Temminck's Stint(s) ( Copyright T D Wright )
Temminck's Stint(s) ( Copyright T D Wright )
Temminck's Stint(s) ( Copyright T D Wright )