A week on the Greek island of Lesvos to enjoy a wealth of spring Mediterranean flowers and wildlife – especially birds, butterflies, dragonflies and reptiles.
Join us for a leisurely exploration of the beautiful island of Lesvos for its wealth of birds during spring migration and its many other wildlife and geological treasures! We will be taking a deliberately laid back approach and we won’t just be ticking birds off a list, instead we will be taking the time to observe them fully, along with helping guests identify and learn something about them!
The third-largest Greek Island, Lesvos (known as Mytilene in Greece) is diverse and geologically very interesting. Close to the Turkish coastline, it shares many species with the mainland. Aside from having its own impressive list of breeding bird species Lesvos is also located on the main bird migration route north from Africa and with many wetlands it is a magnet for birdlife and a must place to visit in spring!
Some of the local breeding birds we’ll look out for during our stay include rarer species such as Sitta krueperi Kruper’s Nuthatch and Emberiza cineracea Cinereous Bunting. Breeding birds more common but no less desirable include Sitta neumayer Rock Nuthatch, Falco naumanni Lesser Kestrel, Buteo rufinus Long-legged Buzzard, Merops apiaster Bee-eater and Lanius nubicus Masked Shrike. There is of course the added excitement of new arrivals appearing almost any time and anywhere as birds from a long list of recorded species pass through on migration north to their breeding grounds. Some may only pause briefly whilst others may stay on for a few days when food is abundant.
We’ll be staying at Hotel Malemi, which has been catering for bird watching and natural history orientated guests for many years. That and the fact that it is ideally located at the heart of the island and within walking distance of the Kalloni wetlands, makes it the perfect place! The wetlands are rightly famous as the best area for birds on the island and we’ll be visiting them several times during our stay. The marshes at Gulf of Kalloni offer a magnificent show of birds, along with plenty of wild flowers, dragonflies and butterflies to enjoy too.
Surprisingly, for a dry Mediterranean island, Lesvos has a large list of dragonflies, due largely to the coastal wetland habitats. Some special dragonflies on the wing in April include Epallage fatima, Odalisque, Lestes macrostigma, Eastern Spectre, along with the common Trithemis annulata Violet Dropwing and many species of Orthetrum.
Lesvos also boasts one of the largest butterfly lists of the Greek islands. We should catch up with some lovely species that are on the wing in April, such as Aporia crataegi Black-veined White, Lampides boeticus Long-tailed Blue, Callophrys rubi Green Hairstreak, Iphiclides podalirius Scarce Swallowtail, Zerynthia cerisy Eastern Festoon & Gonepteryx cleopatra Cleopatra. We may be lucky enough to find the magnificent Archon apollinus False Apollo, an early spring jewel, which could still be on the wing depending on how the season develops.
During our holiday we will also venture further afield to visit several parts of the island to explore some different habitats for the bird life, interesting plants and orchids, other wildlife, geology and culture. This includes the petrified Forest in the west of the island, which is the largest in the world and the museum there has a superb exhibit of fossils.
Throughout the week we will also spend time looking at the wonderful Ophrys of which there are plenty on the island. We will look at not only their beauty but delineating the differences between the closely related species. The south of the island and the ancient olive groves offer a different habitat with many orchids, drifts of anemones in all colours and other plants. The Olympos range offers yet a different experience with many orchids, tulips, anemones and other botanical treats!