Lesvos: September 2000

This report describe our visit to the Greek island of Lesvos (Lesbos) in the first two weeks of September 2000. We stayed at the Vassos Apartments just outside the small village of Skala Kalloni at the north end of Kalloni Bay. The Apartments were small and basic but were very quiet, surrounded by farmland and close to some prime birdwatching areas. Skala Kalloni is a small fishing village with a few small hotels, a couple of beaches and several Tavernas. The best of which, in my opinion, was the Ostria Taverna.

For our visit we hired a car through Holiday Auto’s in England. The price was as cheap if not cheaper than hiring direct on Levos and it was a much better price than any I could find on the Internet (£270 for 13 days). I think a car is almost essential to check out the various habitats on the island, which include the barren mountainous landscape of the west, the pine forests towards the east, the coastline and the two sets of salt pans. The roads on the island are narrow in most places and downright uncomfortable in others. Those marked in red on the map below are the main roads, which in general were in a decent state of repair with the exception of a few roadworks. The roads marked in green are what I would class as minor roads, whilst those marked in black were gravel tracks with numerous pot holes. Unfortunately you cannot reach some of the best birding spots without driving along these roads.

Our trip was not as well planned as the previous year’s visit to Mallorca, but there were a few sites I wanted to visit, including the Potamia Valley, Kalloni II Pool which was 10 minutes walk from our apartment, the area known as Derbyshire, Kalloni Salt Pans and Polichnitos Salt Pans. A few days were also spent birdwatching from the car in the Western Uplands, along the North Coast and in the Central Uplands including Agiasos. All the sites we visited plus many others are well documented in “Birding on the Greek Island of Lesvos” by Richard Brooks, which I would highly recommend purchasing if you are visiting the island. Whilst touring the island we visited a few other sites not highlighted on the map such as Dipi Larsos Reed Beds and Mytilini Town which turned up some interesting species.

Another excellent reference source are the three videos produced by Malcolm Rymer showing the birds and flowers of Lesvos in Springtime.

To sum up the Lesvos experience, the people are extremely friendly, the island is peaceful with very little modernisation and the birdwatching is excellent.