Saturday, 15 May 2010

Kalloni Salt Pans

One of the best birding spots on the island are the Kalloni Salt pans which were just a few miles from our hotel at Skala Kallonis. These salt pans still have water at this time of year and are a magnet to all sort of birds as a stopping off point on migration.
It was worth stopping in here several times during our stay in Lesvos. There was always the chance of something new passing through.
A massive pile of salt in the distance!

One of the tracks running through the salt pans.

I don't know what these yellow flowers were, but they were wild, not cultivated and made a beautiful foreground to the hills beyond.
Lots of photo opportunities for me and my friends here!

Here are some I took at the salt pans on our first full day on Lesvos.
Common Tern about to plunge.

These Spanish Sparrows nest in large colonies (the sound was deafening!). The bold black streaking is distinctive.
A flock of Little Egrets passing through.
Greater Flamingos, a life bird for me. These were always pretty distant unfortunately and this photo is heavily cropped.
Glossy Ibis, the only time we get to see these in Britain is as a vagrant if one or two overshoot occasionally. Here they seemed to be everywhere on the salt pans.
It was great to get some quite close views of these amazing birds.
This Black Stork was riding on a thermal over the salt pans. You can get a sense of it's size when seen with the Yellow-legged Gull in this photo.
Barns Swallows arn't rare birds, but I had fun trying to get some photos of some dipping down for a drink.

Eventually they took a break for a good preen!
One of the best things about the Kalloni salt pans was the opportunity to watch various 'marsh' terns up close. This is a White-winged Black Tern. Again, these are usually only vagrants to Britain.
There'll be more from the salt pans in later posts, but for now, lunch beckoned! One of the good things about our hotel rooms was the inclusion of a good sized fridge. This meant that we could buy food and drink and store it in the fridge for whenever we needed it. We also had a balcony with pretty good views, so on our first day, we had our lunch there. From left to right, Geoff, David, Jane and me (thanks for the loan of the photo David).

After lunch we drove along the dead goat pit track. I know this doesn't sound very inviting, but in fact we didn't see any dead goats and it was lovely and peaceful! I'm not sure why it got such a nasty name.
I don't know which type of lizard this is, but he was posing very nicely in the sunshine.

This is another bird that is only seen in Britain as a vagrant. I think the Ruddy Shelduck is particularly striking when in flight with that bold black and white wing with the rusty coloured body. This was the best photo I could get, they were remarkably skittish.
A migrating Whinchat, a summer visitor to Britain, I wonder if this one will end up on our shores?
By far the most common Gull on the island is the Yellow-legged Gull (halfway between Lesser black backed and an Herring Gull). I like this photo because it shows three different ages together.
Our last stop of the day was at the Kalloni football pitch where we had been told a Scops Owl was roosting. With the great instructions we received, it wasn't long before we located it snuggled up against this trunk oblivious to our clicking cameras!


Eve said...

You really know how to put out an amazing post Jenny. Your photos are all brilliant! This is really so great to be able to go with you to Lesvos! I'm so glad I found you!

The Early Birder said...

Smashing birding location with blue skies. Thanks for the memories Jen. Glossy Ibis used to roost in the reeds around the main pool by the hotels in SK...has it dried up? I'm sure that's the same tree that I saw Scops many, many years ago. Lovely post. FAB.

TonyC said...

Ah, the Dead Goat Pit Road. what lovely places we birders get to!!
If you go right to the end, there is a pit that was used to dump dead goats (and sheep and cattle etc) in. It is a hot spot for Black Kites and the like. when I was there the stench was nauseating!!

Rural Rambler said...

Jen very cool with all the birds. I love the field of yellow and it is fun to see you and your friends having lunch in the sunshine! I think this is going to be a very fine and fun series-Lesvos!

Chris said...

Wow Jenny, you visited a splendid birding area!! Wow so many good pictures that i cannot even say which one I do prefer... Maybe the plunging tern, but the glossy ibis are so nice too!! You sure enjoyed this trip ;-)

John said...

Not sure I can put into words here on just how good these posts and photos are Jenny..Stunning.

What a trip, never been before, now I feel I have.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Another great set of images Jen. The flying Tern especially. Is there Gin in that pineapple???

Mary said...

wow...what a paradise and what a great bunch of photos! I imagine the sounds of cameras clicking was deafening :-)(Probably not, if you turn the sound off) Nice to see the group photo of all of you. I love that diving tern shot. They are all wonderful, so I won't comment on each one.