Saturday, 29 May 2010

Return trip to western Lesvos

The weather forecast (damp and overcast) for this day suggested to us that a return trip to the west side of the island might be a good idea. We had specific places to go so didn't stop at all on the way. Our first stop, Ipsilou Monastery seems to be a magnet for birds on migration and we weren't to be disappointed. Here is the entrance to the monastery.
Women are tolerated but not encouraged at these monasteries, but Jane and I had made sure we were covered up well and we took a few minutes to take a peek inside the church here. This photo below wasn't intentional, but I like the surreal look it lends to the interior of this amazing church!
Switching to flash gave some more detail.
One of the paintings on the wall.
On the way back out to carry on birding, we found this monastery cat in an obviously favourite position! (-:
Here's the eastern european form of Black-eared Wheatear. They're alot more silvery looking than their sandier western cousins.

The last time we were here a couple of days ago, it had been dry and sunny and if not lacking in birds, well, we were hardly tripping over them! Today, the place seemed to be dripping Golden Orioles and Wood Warblers particularly. I didn't get any photos of the more distant Orioles here, but managed some shots of the closer but flighty Wood Warbler.

When I first started birding about 12 years ago, Wood Warbler was one of my favourite birds. They are a summer visitor to Britain, mainly in the western side of the country. They always look clean and fresh to me and when they do their trilling song, their whole body quivers! It is STILL one of my favourites! (-:

Another migrant that we saw many of at Ipsilou was Pied Flycather and the rarer Collared Flycatcher. They are quite similar in appearance. I didn't manage to get any photos, but Jane got these two below of a Pied Flycatcher (thanks Jane).

I was concentrating on birds mainly, but did snap a shot of a very flighty Small Copper before it sped off into the distance!
After leaving Ipsilou Monastery, we drove straight to Sigri to find some bread to go with our lunch.
It's a pretty little town with a small harbour.
After wandering the streets for a while, I found a nice old man who walked me right to the door of the local bakery. I don't think he knew any English, but I'd managed to communicate my need somehow!
If we hadn't been in birding mode, it would have been nice to wander around these streets some more, but we only had so much time and birds come first!
I did take some more photos on the way back to the car though! (-:
This in an old Turkish castle, the Greeks and Turks arn't the best of friends so I don't think this castle is preserved in any particular way.

We visited some of the same places from the previous day out here. Last time we didn't see any Turtle Doves, on this day we had 35+ of them just in one field!
Back to Faneromeni beach and...
.....a new bird for our trip list, a Little Stint.
At Faneromeni ford, we went searching for Rufous Bush Robin, we didn't have any luck with that, but I liked the tiles on this barn roof.
We found this curious thing built right in the middle of nowhere, I'm not sure what it is, maybe an outside oven (it had a round roof inside it)? There were certainly no houses anywhere around that we could see. A mystery.....
A male and female below of what turned out to be one of my favourite birds of this trip to Lesvos.

Back at the ford, I tried digiscoping a distant Squacco Heron with mixed results.
We decided to take a southern route home via what has been described as a 'rough' track in the past. Apparently it had been improved over the last few years. It was still a bit dodgy in places for a non 4 wheel drive car, but the birds and scenery were well worth the risk! In photos below, you'll see the kind of country we were driving through. It was pretty barren but beautiful. We stopped at one place along the track and experienced our 'birding moment of the trip'. In this barren landscape there were occasionally small fig trees dotted about. One of these fig trees had 4 Rollers, 1 Golden Oriole and a Lesser Grey Shrike in it all at the same time! Roller was a bird that we all really wanted to see on this trip and to see 4 all together with the other birds thrown in was just magical stuff!
These photos were digiscoped and the light was in totally the wrong direction, but I'm glad I got some record shots to remind me of this moment in years to come, not that it isn't clearly in my memory right now!
Below are some shots of the scenery we were travelling through, though the camera really doesn't do it justice.
In the photo below, you can just about see a small building on top of that mountain. It is probably another one of those chapels that are dotted all over Lesvos.
Here is the same place zoomed in with my 70-300 lens. How they got the materials up there I don't know. It must be a great place for some peaceful contemplation!

A goat and donkey shelter.
We had one more place that we wanted to stop at Skala Eressou where we'd heard a pair of Penduline Tits were building a nest. When we got there, we found the nest, but unfortunately we'd arrive too late in the day to see the birds (they must've settled down for the night). We did have fun watching these Terapins on the river there though.
And finally for this post, a sunset shot as we got back to Skala Kallonis and some dinner!


Anonymous said...

Another great post Jen.
What with those great looking Red Backed Shrikes and Pied Flycatchers and Turtle Doves two a penny. I bet you didn't know were to look next. Final scene shot is brilliant.

Eve said...

Just fantastic Jenny. I just love ALL the photos. That last one is stunning too. You are really allowing us to come right along with you. Thanks so much!

Mary said...

Both the monastary and the turkish castle look fascinaing...I love stuff like that. So different...for me. All the bird shots are wonderful, but my favorite is probably that black eared wheatear and the pretty little warbler. That last shot is very was the surreal one in the monastary :-)