Lesvos – Jewel of the Aegean

Lesvos – Jewel of the Aegean

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The island of Lesvos has long since gained a reputation as one of the must visit birding destinations in Europe. The combination of ease of access, superb birding and the sunny, warm climate add up to ensure you experience a holiday to remember. The island is only seventy kilometres long and forty five kilometres wide and lies just ten kilometres from Turkey in the Eastern Aegean Sea. Its geographical location and rich variety of habitats make it an important stopping place for migrants from both east and west. Our base for our Lesvos Spring migration tour will be the village of Kalloni, on the southern coast- an area ideally situated for exploring the whole island and which also offers birds right on our doorstep.


We do not set a fixed itinerary, but carefully watch weather conditions to decide where will best be visited on a daily basis. We do however expect to visit all the sites in the main itinerary and possibly a few that are not mentioned. Kruper’s Nuthatch, Ruppell’s Warbler, Western Rock Nuthatch, Rufous Bush Chat, Cinereous Bunting and Sombre Tit are among the breeding birds, while each day brings waves of Spring migrants on their way north into Turkey. This means a distinctly Eastern Mediterranean feel to the birding – Icterine Warbler, White-winged Black Tern, Masked Shrike, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and Levant Sparrowhawk among some of the expected species. Your guide will be Neil Glenn assisted by Nick Parsons if numbers dictate and you can expect 150 plus species. The island is also a superb place for butterflies and flowers, and walking is easy with up to three miles per day over flat terrain. 

Fly London or Manchester/Mytilene, possibly via Athens. Following arrival at our hotel, we are able to explore locally. The pool or saltpans near the hotel should produce species such as Black-winged Stilt, Garganey, Cetti’s Warbler, Spanish Sparrow, Nightingale and both White-winged and Black Terns. Shorebirds may include Little and Temminck’s Stints, Curlew Sandpiper and Kentish Plover.
Our days here will indeed be bird rich. The number of species is too long to list here, so we have picked what we think are the most tempting highlights. The area around Skala Kalloni provides us with salt pans, olive groves and agricultural land. The East Kalloni River is an excellent area that is well worth visiting more than once. Species we can expect to encounter include Squacco and Purple Herons, Glossy Ibis, White and Black Storks, Little Crake, European Bee-Eater, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Olivaceous and Great Reed Warblers and Black-headed Bunting. We have previously also encountered Bonelli’s Eagle and Lanner in this area on more than one occasion. We search for Masked Shrike, Sombre Tit and the elusive, but very vocal Olive-tree Warbler. Passage birds could include European Roller, Red-footed Falcon, Citrine Wagtail and Lesser Grey Shrike.
At Parakila, we scan for raptors including Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Marsh and Montagu’s Harrier. We also hope to see Western Rock Nuthatch, Red-rumped Swallow and Black-eared Wheatear in this area. At Sigri, on the west coast, we search for Rufous Bush Robin, Lesser Kestrel, Cretzchmars Bunting and Rock Sparrow. Lesvos also holds two species that breed nowhere else in Europe outside Turkey – Cinereous Bunting and Kruper’s Nuthatch and we will visit the best sites for both of these species. Isabelline Wheatear and Chukar are also regularly noted in this area. The latter can be difficult to see and a combination of luck and patience may be required.
The gorgeous ford at Feromenini is a known migrant trap and we search here for a variety of species that may include Golden Oriole, Little Bittern and Middle Spotted Woodpecker. In the north of the island, Subalpine and Ruppell’s Warblers inhabit the coastal scrub and the elegant Eleonora’s Falcon can be found on the cliffs. We stop at the gorgeous seaside town of Skala Sykeminia, where we found Audouin’s Gull during a coffee break on a recent tour. When you add to this the chance of eastern migrants, our stay on this beautiful island should be memorable. Our previous tours have also produced rare migrants such as Steppe Eagle, Caspian and Spur-winged Plovers, Collared Flycatcher, White-throated Robin, Levant Sparrowhawk, Great Snipe and Terek Sandpiper.
We have time for local birding before our early afternoon flight home.
Seven nights en suite accommodation, meals from dinner on day one to breakfast on final day, return flights  Manchester/Mytilene, specified luggage allowance, transport, airport transfers, services of leaders and reserve entrance fees.
Transport to/from Manchester airport and any overnight stay that might be involved, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.

“I enjoyed everything about the holiday”

D. T, West Sussex

“It was a great trip.”

L.C, Wiltshire

“I am still enjoying my holiday a month later. The personal touch of a small company makes your holidays special – can’t wait until next time.”

L. T, Reading

“It was so close to perfect and a totally brilliant trip. I can’t imagine any way you could have improved it. The sense of teamwork is superb – roll on the next trip.”

F. G, Surrey

“I particularly enjoyed the small group and relaxed friendly atmosphere. Just what a birding tour should be – superb!”

R. W, Devon

“Thanks for a superb trip. Never have I known a trip to have so many people, in fact all of them, that gelled and got on so well!”

M & E. C. Glamorgan

“Thoroughly enjoyed Lesvos, the birding with Ashley was terrific and Adrian’s contribution was a bonus ”

H.P & C.T, Glamorgan


“Well we all got back safely from Lesbos. Trip was brilliant and the birds fantastic.  I had 15 new species!” 

R.H, Leicester


” We really enjoyed the tour and being with like minded people. it was on the whole an excellent experience and as ever Ashley was excellent and right up to date with the news of species available”

J & K.H, Merseyside


” I just wanted to express my thanks for an entirely enjoyable and successful week on Lesvos. I saw a greater range of species than I had hoped for despite the conditions being too good for mass migration.  Ashley’s boundless knowledge and enthusiasm, exhaustive research and his almost supernatural bird finding skills enabled everyone to enjoy great views of all the birds to see and in particular I will never know how he detected the presence of an Olive-tree Warbler in an old orchard. He was determined to find the bird and in the end we all enjoyed fine views of it. Quite astonishing. Adrian deserves thanks and praise for enlightening us with all his expertise and enthusiasm for lepidoptera and odonata and its a pity that with so many birds to see, I failed to give these the attention they deserved. So to sum up, great company, good accommodation and in the main good food. Once more thank you for a marvellous holiday”

A.F, Southampton


“Brilliant – a fantastic holiday! We enjoyed the whole experience and Steve made sure we had a lot of fun as well as being very knowledgeable and an all round nice guy. H & H  R Hampshire.

” Steve was excellent company and found us all of the top birds and more! The hotel was very good and the food was of a high standard. I really enjoyed the small group size that allowed everyone to see everything”

C.S, Oxon


” I was delighted to be able to explore the plants, butterflies, dragonflies and reptiles among the primary objective of birding. The small group emphasis is one of the main reasons for choosing Oriole Birding as well as knowing that the guides will be first class, which indeed Steve was. The accommodation was much better than everyone expected and the food in particular was excellent with a great choice” 

M.S, Cambridge

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