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Autumn Diary 2022

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Prior to the pandemic I always tried to witness bird migration in one of the foreign hot spots in either spring or autumn. The highlights have included Eilat, Israel in March some thirty odd years ago which offered the best raptor migration that I have ever seen; sadly, before I had taken up serious photography. Subsequently I have confined my migration watches to Europe which have included the Greek mainland, several islands, Cyprus, Malta, Bulgaria and several of the Spanish Balearic islands.

We were booked to go to the Greek Island of Lesvos in May 2020 with some close friends, but we all know why that did not happen. We had been to Lesvos in May 2019, where we saw over 140 different birds during a fairly relaxed holiday and this autumn we managed to book a stay at our favourite hotel; The Malemi Hotel in Skala Kalloni.

Little Stint

Like most of Europe, Lesvos had experienced an exceptionally hot summer and this weather continued during our stay in the first half of September. Wader migration had probably passed its peak, but we still managed to see over 20 different waders including close views of diminutive Little Stints and distant views of the rarely seen Marsh Sandpiper.

Greater Flamingos
The Kalloni salt pans are always worth visiting if only for the hundreds of Greater Flamingos that adorn its mirror like surface and on our frequent visits, as well as the aforementioned waders, up to 10 Dalmation Pelicans were also in residence.

Dalmation Pelicans

Yellow Wagtail

Passerine migration was also in evidence with flocks of over 50 Yellow Wagtails of many different races feeding in recently

mowed fields of lucerne along with Whinchats, Tawny Pipits, Woodchat and Red-backed Shrikes.

Red-backed Shrike on lucerne

Woodchat Shrike (juvenile)

Marsh Harrier

Raptor migration was only just commencing during our second week, but although the number of birds was not as great as later in the month the variety was impressive by any standard.

Montague's Harrier
There are not many places in western Europe where ten or more different birds of prey can be observed in an hour or so. Highlights for me were Marsh and Montague's Harriers, Short-toed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzards and the super lean and graceful Eleonora's Falcon.

Short-toed Eagle

Southern Skimmer

Lesvos is not only a great location for birds, but also for plants - particularly orchids in the spring, reptiles and spectacular dragonflies including the Southern Skimmer, Red-veined Darter and Violet Dropwing.

Red-veined Darter

Violet Dropwing

Back home in Lincolnshire, in late September and early October a few south bound passerine migrants were still in evidence; 30 Swallows and a few House Martins feeding over the river Witham on October 4th and some late Arctic Terns in The Wash on the same day.

Fallow Deer

The Fallow Deer, of which there are hundreds in our local woods were still quiet. I learnt that the rut does not usually commence until after a hard frost. In mid-October as I write it is still unseasonably mild so will they rut at all?


Meanwhile insects are still very active. The sunny side of sheltered hedgerows are always worth checking. I noted several Red Admiral butterflies as well as a Comma, some Speckled Woods and both of the "Cabbage" Whites.

Wasps are also still active but at their more dangerous dozy stage and at least 4 different dragonflies patrol the sunlit hedgerows.

In the woods Chiffchaffs were calling but perhaps they will over-winter with us?

Ian Misselbrook

October 2022

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