Lesvos – spring wildlife in the Aegean

Carpets of flowers, olive groves and birding on the beautiful island of Lesvos in the Aegean Sea.

In early May, the tourist season is only just beginning and there is a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere at a time when the flowers and birds are at their best. The countryside is covered in a colourful display of shrubs, perennials and annuals and the birdsong adds a delightful background to quiet walks through olive groves, meadows and woods or along the coast. Our search for the island’s wildlife will take us to some interesting landscapes and historical sites and we will also have an opportunity to sample local tavernas for lunch.

From the pleasant fishing harbour of Skala Kalloni we will explore the lovely island of Lesvos, one of the largest in the Aegean.

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The island is justifiably famous for its birdlife and we have timed this holiday to catch the best of the northwards spring migration and the arrival of many birds that will breed on the island as well as the wonderful carpets of spring flowers.

During the week we will be visiting many parts of the island – visiting the rolling hills, pastures and rocky landscapes of the west and the sweet chestnut and pine woods of the southern mountains. We will explore the rivers, lagoons and reedbeds around Skala Kalloni, and the coastal ‘shrublands’ full of orchids and birdsong.

Excursions will take us to a peaceful monastery set in a beautiful valley and to a partly deserted village with wonderful views of the coast.  Our holiday is ideal for those who wish to explore the island for its natural history and enjoy relaxing walks through the pleasant countryside. We should enjoy pleasant temperatures and quiet walks before the majority of tourists arrive. The trip is an ideal introduction to the flowers and birds of the eastern Mediterranean as well as a chance to see some of the more localised species.

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Wildlife Travel Lesvos 2015

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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Dates

4 – 11 May 2019

Leaders

Philip Precey and Nicole Clough

Price

To be confirmed

Included

Return flights – UK to Lesvos. Local transport as specified in itinerary. Seven nights’ accommodation, breakfast, evening meals, five picnic lunches.

Not included

Two lunches. Drinks and refreshments. Gratuities. Travel insurance.

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

Day 1 Our flights take us to Mytilini from where we transfer to Skala Kalloni (c 1.5 hours).

Day 2 This morning we will visit the Kalloni salt pans, where large numbers of migrating waders and wildfowl, gulls and terns. In the wet fields we will look for Iris orientalis, and other plants.

Day 3 Today we explore the countryside around Skala Kalloni. Walking out from the hotel, we will first check the marshy rivermouth just west of the village where Eastern Olivaceous Warbler sing from the tamarisk bushes before ambling through the lanes and fields where we will familiarise ourselves with the local wild flowers of the pathsides, waterways and marshes.

Day 4 We travel around to the eastern side of the Gulf, where will visit the pine woodlands at Achladeri, home to Krüper’s Nuthatch, a real local speciality for which Lesvos is the only European outpost. From here we travel through the town of Agiassos up onto the slopes of Mount Olympus to visit the beautiful sweet chestnut woods and limestone hillsides looking for many flowers including the endemic Hairy Birthwort Fritillaria theophrasti.

Day 5 This morning we drive across the island to the north coast, where we will spend some time at the Kavaki headland where, amongst the coastal vegetation, Rüppell’s, Eastern Orphean and Eastern Subalpine Warblers hold territory. We will head to the attractive fishing village of Molyvos; our home for the next three nights, where we will have a relaxing lunch in a taverna before some free time to explore the cobbled lanes of this picturesque town.

Day 6 Today we head to the dryer habitats of the west of the island. We will visit the hillsides below the Ipsilou Monastery, famous for another local speciality, Cinereous Bunting, which sings from the rocky slopes and oak trees. We will also visit the Petrified Forest, and the associated, very interesting, geological museum at the coastal village of Sigri.

Day 7 Today we will visit the partly-deserted hillside village of Petri for a walk on the abandoned terraces, which are now good for a wide variety of wild flowers and butterflies. After a taverna lunch, we will visit the monastery at Limonos, where numerous small chapels are found in a beautiful, tranquil valley.

Day 8 After one last hearty breakfast it is time to bid farewell to the Molyvos and make the return journey back to Mytilini and our flights home.

Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities or at the discretion of the leaders

 

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 or minibus.

Lesvos is two hours ahead of the UK.

Direct flights from Manchester (early departure) with Thomas Cook Airlines may also be possible or flights from London Heathrow via Athens with Aegean Airlines – contact us. It is possible to extend your holiday if you wish.

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.