“The isle is full of noises. Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.” *
Birdsong was a keynote of this lovely week bird watching on Lesvos beginning with a nightingale singing nearby on our first orientation walk. April is a perfect time for bird watchers to visit this beautiful island because it is the time of the spring migration and thousands of birds are in evidence, some in passage from Africa to Eastern Europe whilst others come to stay.
Our enthusiastic and expert leader, Barry, had provided us with bird lists and knew exactly where to take us in order to find the best sites for viewing. Each day we set out for a different part of the island with certain birds on the list to be seen. Usually there would be a lovely walk and the target birds would be found. Sometimes Barry would ask our driver to stop at a particular point because a certain bird would be found there. We would get out of the bus and sure enough, the birds would appear almost as though they were waiting for us.
This was really quite amazing. There was plenty of opportunity for quiet, detailed watching, for instance, when visiting Kalloni salt pans and wherever we went Barry exchanged information with other bird watching groups and plans would be changed if an interesting bird had arrived.
Not all the time was spent bird watching. We visited unspoilt towns such as Aghios Paraskevi and Molivos; fascinating locations such as Ipsolou Monastery isolated high in the mountains; and the Petrified Forest where my brain reeled with the huge timescales involved; and of course, there was always a Taverna just when you needed one.
Hotel Malemi, where we stayed is a comfortable family-run hotel where they understand bird watching. How many hotels will leave the door unlocked with coffee and breakfast accessible for bird watchers creeping out at dawn?
Key memories for me are the following:
Watching black-winged and whiskered terns skimming over water at Kalloni Salt Pans; going out to Metochi Lake at dawn to watch hundreds of swallows skimming over the water in the sunlight whilst Little Bittern and Little Crake crept through the rushes; and watching a black-winged stilt fold up her long legs like an angle poise lamp to brood her eggs.
This is a lovely holiday for anyone who enjoys walking and bird watching. Many thanks to Ramblers Worldwide Holidays Leader Barry Trevis
*The Tempest 3.2.148-156