Friday, 21 May 2010

Achladeri Forest and beyond

Nearly halfway through the week already! Time just goes too quickly sometimes! Our pre-breakfast birding on this day was at Metouchi Lake just 15 minutes drive from the hotel. This is a great place to see Herons and Crakes. On this particular morning we saw Reed, Sedge and Great Reed Warblers, Little Crake, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron and two male Golden Orioles. In the early morning light, the grasses had a wonderful golden glow.
Another wild flower I don't know the name of, but pretty! There'll be more from Metouchi Lake later in the week including some bird photos.
Today, we were heading south around the bay of Kalloni to Achladeri Forest. We had a target species in mind and this is one of the best places to look for it.
It was shaping up to be quite a warm day so being in the shade of these pine trees was lovely!
And here is the target bird, A Kruper's Nuthatch. It prefers nesting in Pine forests on Lesvos and neighbouring Turkey. This bird had a nest hole just above him in this photo. We didn't want to get any closer and cause disturbance.
I was surprised to see and hear this Cirl Bunting in a Pine forest. Back in Britain, we generally only see them in scrubby hedgerows along the south coast of Devon.
Whenever I've planned a birding trip abroad in the past,I always had certain birds that I really want to see badly! For this trip to Lesvos, my most want to see bird was Masked Shrike. While we were watching the Kruper's Nuthatch, Jane suddenly said to me 'Jenny, look up'! There at the top of the tree we were standing under was a beautiful Masked Shrike singing it's heart out! This picture below is taken with my Nikon with my 70-300ml lens on. Nice but a bit far away!
I was absolutely desperate to try and get a good photo of this bird, so I thought I'd try a spot of digiscoping and hope for the best. So I set up my Leica scope and slapped my Canon G10 point and shoot up against the lens and snapped away. Below is the uncropped outcome with the inevitable vignetting.
This one below is also digiscoped and then the vignetting cropped out! I'm really REALLY pleased I tried this out and used the technique again later in the trip on other birds, not so successfully! (-: Certain birds just 'do it' for me and this is definitely one of them!
Having left the success and excitement of Achladeri Forest, we made our way further round the bay of Kalloni heading, eventually for the Polychnitou Salt Pans. On the way as usual, we made various stops. This beautiful field of Poppies caused a break in the driving.
I decided to get down low and play with my f stops a bit! (-:
Our journey took us along a track following the Kalloni bay which proved to be a perfect place to stop for some lunch.
Our usual lunch seemed to be bread roll, cheese, crisps and fruit juice (no gin Roy!) (-:
A view of our road towards the Salt Pans, I don't think there is a high/low tide drop here!
Before we set off, we couldn't resist a spot of beach-combing. There were some lovely shells along the beach, some of which came home with me.

Another stop at a river ford gave us nice views of a Temminck's Stint (another vagrant to Britain).
Here's a slightly better image of a male Red-backed Shrike. I think Shrikes are one of my favourite bird families!
All over the island, we would find these roadside shrines (probably where a road death has occurred). They varied from very simple to quite elaborate. I wish I'd taken photos of more of them. Maybe next time!
We had to stop the car for these close Common Sandpipers posing by the side of the beach.

This hot Hooded Crow caused a stop too. It's just as well we were all of us into taking photographs! Hooded Crow is the most common corvid on Lesvos, but it proved to be quite tricky to get a good photo as they were pretty skittish.
Just a lovely meadow full of wild flowers...
One of the many Olive groves that we passed along the way. This one was pretty well tended, almost too well as there wasn't much under the trees to attract birds.
After a long and winding track, we eventually got to the Polychnitou Salt Pans which were quite disappointing birdwise in the end. That's not to say we didn't have fun with the cameras here. Here's Jane in photography mode.
A Black Stork in the middle of one of the barren salt pans.
With a lack of close birds, I turned to the flowers there. Some pretty sea lavender I think it is?
I wanted to capture this bright red poppy against the cool silver foliage, but it didn't work as well as I'd hoped. Can't win 'em all.
We decided to go back via a quicker inland route as we wanted to spend some time birding at the Kalloni Salt Pans before dinner. Some of the hillside towns were very picturesque and demanded a stop for photos.
I love the lush green against the grey/greeen of the hills at this river on the way back.
We stopped here for some birding and found some Squacco Herons.
This was definitely my favourite Heron and not just because it was a 'life bird'. Their soft golden plumage is lovely and then when they fly, the white in the wings is a show stopper!
Back at the Kalloni Salt Pans, we weren't disappointed here with the birds! Avocets are always lovely to see, specially in flight when their black and white patterning really shows up.

A pair of Black-winged Stilts.
Not a bird, but the only Damselfly I managed to photograph during the trip. I don't know which one this is, any thoughts anyone?Glossy Ibis, fun to photograph as usual. You can see his meal in this photo!
I didn't get any decent shots of Red-footed Falcons, so thanks to Jane for this photo. This is a female. I have a 'record' shot of a male for another post.
The day was almost done and this sunset view from the Salt Pans finished it off beautifully.
Our drive back to the hotel took us through the East River ford, a great place for birds, more from there in a later post.
Finally back at the hotel and this pair of House Martins where having a polite conversation about the ins and outs of housebuilding! (-:
It was a great days birding, probably the best of the trip so far.


Steve Borichevsky said...

What a great day to be out and about.

Anonymous said...

Another great set of photos Jen.
Stilts, Squaccos and Shrikes, I mean talk about spoilt.{:)
The sea lavender is amazing and you know I love the two of the poppies, Oh! and the Beach Bum.!! {:)

The word verification was "VIRAGGR"
Words fail me. {:)

Rural Rambler said...

That field of poppy! Gorgeous :) All the birds Jen and your beach walk. Glad you found some shells. Well, I have totally enjoyed this trip to Lesvos so far! It is a beautiful place. We have a couple of Phoebes that I am sure took lessons from those two Martins!

The Early Birder said...

Another fabulous day on Lesvos Jenny. As for the poppies, well who could fail to ignore them. FAB.

cindyzlogic said...

What a wonderful trip! Great post and photos! I really like your digiscoped pics!

Eve said...

The Shrike the poppies everything Jenny! This has got to be one of my favorites of your series. This trip was SO well worth the anguish! Your photography is stunning....What can I say! Wonderful!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well done!.......................................................

Mary said... found so many neat birds and other stuff! I love how you did the digiscope photo. I would like to get a scope for some of the far things that I'm always trying to shoot. The flowers and the shrine are both beautiful and interesting. My eye and camera would have overtaxed my brain on a trip like this! All of the birds are so interesting and I've always wanted to see swallows building a nest...glad you included that.

Quiet Paths said...

Each photo is a gift! I would so love to visit there. I'm going back to look some more. Thank you, Jenny. Love the photos of the buildings and flowers.

TonyC said...

Another great day Jen - you are bringing back so many memories. Achladeri was one of my favourite places - I'm sure I saw thw same Nuthatch in the same tree with the same shrike!!