Lesvos – easy spring birding in the Aegean
A week of easy birding during the spring migration on the beautiful island of Lesvos in the Aegean Sea.
From the pleasant fishing harbour of Skala Kalloni we will explore the lovely island of Lesvos, one of the largest in the Aegean. The island is now famous for its birdlife and we have timed this holiday to catch the best of the spring migration and the arrival of many birds that will breed on the island. We should enjoy pleasant temperatures and quiet walks before the majority of tourists arrive. The trip is an ideal introduction to birds and birdsong for those who want some easy birding at an ideal time of year.
Our hotel is within walking distance of the Kalloni wetlands which contain the prime birding spots on the island, often with large numbers of waders, herons and terns. Birds that can be found in the marshes and salt pans here include Glossy Ibis, Black and White Stork, Greater Flamingo, Purple and Squacco Heron, Great White Egret, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Kentish Klover, Stone Curlew, and Whiskered, Gull-billed and White-winged terns.
Lesvos is still an undiscovered island for many, despite being the third largest in Greece and close to the Turkish mainland. It is relatively undeveloped and retains its rural culture, interspersed with a few attractive towns and villages. Our search for birds and other wildlife will take us to some interesting landscapes and historical sites and we will also have an opportunity to sample local tavernas for lunch. There is also plenty of other wildlife to see and we won’t be ignoring the several orchids and other spring flowers in bloom and we should see many dragonflies, butterflies, frogs and lizards and also spur-thighed tortoise and Balkan terrapin. The whole island is now a Geopark due to its unique geology and we will visit the petrified forest area whilst exploring for birds.
Lesvos is still an undiscovered island for many, despite being the third largest in Greece and close to the Turkish mainland. It is relatively undeveloped and retains its rural culture, interspersed with a few attractive towns and villages. Our search for birds and other wildlife will take us to some interesting landscapes and historical sites and we will also have an opportunity to sample local tavernas for lunch.
There is also plenty of other wildlife to see and we won’t be ignoring the several orchids and other spring flowers in bloom and we should see many dragonflies, butterflies, frogs and lizards and also spur-thighed tortoise and Balkan terrapin. The whole island is now a Geopark due to its unique geology and we will visit the petrified forest area whilst exploring for birds.
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Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
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Return flights from London Heathrow to Lesvos. Local transport on excursions as specified in the itinerary. Seven nights’ accommodation including breakfast and evening meals, five picnic lunches.
Refreshments. Two lunches. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing. Gratuities. Travel insurance.
The demand by visitors such as ourselves, for areas managed for natural history and as a resource for real ecotourism is vitally important for preserving the biodiversity of the island.
Day 1 – We fly to Mytilini, the main town on Lesvos, from where we transfer to Skala Kalloni (approx 1.5 hours), stopping en route for some birdwatching and to stretch our legs.
Day 2 – We spend the day exploring the marshes and river to the east of Skala Kalloni, looking for herons and waders in the small pools and also for any migrant songbirds that have stopped off to feed in the channels and grassland.
Day 3 – We drive to the Kalloni salt pans and then walk around the channels and marshes towards the Alykes wetlands, before heading inland to Metochi Lake and checking out the Potamia River.
Day 4 – Excursion to the west of the island to look for birds of the dryer habitats, including the area of the Petrified Forest site and the hills around Ipsilou Monastery.
Day 5 – We drive north to coastal headlands (Kavaki) to look for Ruppell’s and Subalpine Warblers and also visit the hillside village of Petri for a walk on the terraces, which are good for butterflies and flowers as well as birds. We will have our lunch in a local taverna, with a stop at a ‘watchpoint’ to look for raptors.
Day 6 – Excursion to the south of the island near Agiassos on the slopes of Mount Olympus to explore the olive terraces and chestnut woods. On the return we will stop at Achladeri woods to look for Kruper’s Nuthatch.
Day 7 – We revisit the local marshes and visit other local sites depending on the locations of the birds. Time for a beachside drink and a final evening walk.
Day 8 – A relaxing morning before heading home.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
The Malemi Hotel is well situated in the ’birding capital’ of Skala Kalloni. A family run hotel, it has been catering for bird watching groups for many years after being the first to highlight the wonderful birdlife to be found locally. The hotel is surrounded by gardens and is only a few seconds walk from a small, quiet beach. All rooms are en suite.
Evening meals will be at the hotel and we will have picnic lunches on most days. On others, lunch can be taken at local tavernas (not included).
We will travel by small coach.
The group flights are with with Aegean Airlines, from London Heathrow, via Athens.
26 April depart London Heathrow 12.15, arrive Athens 17.50
26 April depart Athens 21.00, arrive Mytilini 21.50
3 May depart Mytilini 13.10, arrive Athens 14.05
3 May depart Athens 19.10, arrive London Heathrow 21.10
Unfortunately there are no other flight options until later in the summer.
Lesvos is two hours ahead of UK time.
If you hold a British passport, you do not currently need a visa to travel to Lesvos. If you do not have a UK passport, please check with your local consulate.
At this time of year the weather is usually sunny but not too hot. There may be some cooler weather and some rain.
On the first day we will be walking for much of the day, but on relatively flat ground. On other days, most walks are much shorter and none of the walking is strenuous. On some mornings we will start early but the pace will generally be relaxed with time to enjoy the surroundings and take photos as well as look at the birds. All excursions are optional.