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The green and fertile island of Lesboslies in the Aegean Sea just a fewkilometres from the coast of Turkey.Third largest of the Greek islands, it has arugged mountainous interior which travellerscan access by means of narrow twistingroads passing through villages where thetraditional way of life is virtually unchanged.A magnificent coastline has thus far largelyescaped the ravages of mass tourism,although the island has always beenpopular with Greek holidaymakers andartists. A major source of revenue is theproduction of high quality olive oil and oneof the most conspicuous aspects of theisland vegetation is the abundance of OliveTrees which seem to adorn every hillsideand valley. Fishing is still an importantindustry but, as with other fisheries inEurope, catches have been much reducedin recent years. Another local industry is thedistilling of Ouzo and the product can besampled at the numerous tavernas whichare such a feature of Greek island life. Withso many natural attributes Lesbos is aperfect holiday destination; however, forbirdwatchers there is further incentive, forthe island is not only perfectly situated as astopover for migrant birds heading northfrom Africa, but also boasts an impressivelist of breeding species. There are fewbetter places in Europe to observe the ebband flow of spring migration and certainlynone more pleasant.We are based for seven nights at a smallfamily-run hotel in the village of SkalaKallonis at the head of a large shallow inletfrom the sea. The village is renowned forits Sardine fishery and there are a numberof excellent restaurants along thewaterside to sample this local speciality.The sheltered waters of the bay anduncrowded beaches provide diversions foranyone wishing to relax in the Aegean sunbut Skala Kallonis is also close to some ofthe best birdwatching sites on Lesbos anda perfect base for our activities. A variety of pools, marshes and saltpansin the vicinity of Skala Kallonis providesome of the biggest concentrations ofbirds on the island and will warrant dailyinspection to witness the ever changingpopulations of passage migrants, inparticular herons, waders and marsh terns.Venturing further afield we will arrange ourprogramme to ensure a leisurelyexploration of the prime birding areaselsewhere on the island. A full day will bespent in each of the main regions, allowingplenty of time to thoroughly investigate therange of habitats and to enjoy unhurriedlunches at convenient tavernas. In thecourse of our travels we will be seeingrural corners of the island where donkeysreplace motor vehicles and herds of goatsbrowse in pastoral scenes, which seem aworld away from the windsurfing andparagliding activities of the tourist resorts.The local Krüper's Nuthatch and CinereousBunting are two of the rarer breeding birdsthat we will be hoping to find, but manyother delights await us including Long-legged Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Bee-eater,Lesser Grey and Masked Shrikes, RockNuthatch, Rüppell's and Olive-TreeWarblers to name but a few. Whethercrossing rock-strewn hillsides where Black-eared Wheatears and Cretzschmar'sBuntings abound, or watching wadersprobing alongside egrets and herons on amuddy pool, we are never far from birdson Lesbos, and in late April and early Mayeach morning brings a fresh selection ofnew arrivals. Some, like Black-wingedStilts, Collared Pratincoles and Red-footedFalcons, may linger for days where there isa good supply of food; others, driven bythe compulsion to move north to breedinggrounds, only settle for a few momentsbefore continuing their journey. Suchwanderers can turn up almost anywhereand enhance the sense of anticipation atevery birdwatching stop. The regularmigrants form a long and impressive listbut added to this are vagrants, many ofCentral Asian origin, which have occurredin recent years including Lanner Falcon,Spur-winged Plover, Great Snipe, CitrineWagtail and White-throated Robin. Birdwatching in Lesbos during the springmigration season is an unforgettableexperience, but there will be many othermemories to take away as a reminder ofour stay on the island. Hot sunny daysending with the chorus of cicadas andcrickets, fireflies flashing in the darkness,lizards scuttling from underfoot, and aprofusion of wild flowers and butterfliesincluding among the latter the impressiveScarce Swallowtail. Add to this headymixture the warm hospitality of our islandhosts and you have all the components ofa superlative holiday.Lesbos An 8-day birdwatching holiday to the beautiful Greek island regardedas one of the best places in Europe to observe spring migrants.Saturday 20th April - Saturday 27th April Cost: £1,395Saturday 27th April - Saturday 4th May Cost: £1,395Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Mytilini; transfer toSkala Kallonis.Day 2/7Daily programme ofbirdwatching excursionsfrom Skala Kallonis.Day 8 Fly London.AccommodationA pleasant family-run tourist hotelat Skala Kallonis, all rooms withprivate facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. Gentle birding walks.FocusBirds. LeadersReg Thorpe and Mike Hodgson.Single room supplement £150.Web quick search: GRC0592Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryTURKEYGREECEPOTAMIAVALLEYPARAKILAAGIASSOSDERBYSHIRESKALA KALLONISPETRAMOLYVOSEFTALOUSKALA POLICHNITOSSKALAERESSOSSIGRIMYTILINIKALLONIS BAYLESBOSSkala KallonisMasked Shrike

The green and fertile island of Lesboslies in the Aegean Sea just a fewkilometres from the coast of Turkey.Third largest of the Greek islands, it has arugged mountainous interior whichtravellers can access by means of narrowtwisting roads passing through villageswhere the traditional way of life is virtuallyunchanged. A magnificent coastline hasthus far largely escaped the ravages ofmass tourism, although the island hasalways been popular with Greekholidaymakers and artists. A major sourceof revenue is the production of high qualityolive oil and one of the most conspicuousaspects of the island vegetation is theabundance of Olive Trees which seem toadorn every hillside and valley. Fishing isstill an important industry but, as with otherfisheries in Europe, catches have beenmuch reduced in recent years. Anotherlocal industry is the distilling of Ouzo andthe product can be sampled at thenumerous tavernas which are such afeature of Greek island life. With so many natural attributes, Lesbos is aperfect Naturetrek destination, and ourspring visits have been popular for manyyears. Now, however, we offer the chance toenjoy this wonderful island and its birds inautumn. We'll explore its wetlands andmigration hotspots to experience the autumn migration, as summer visitors toEurope and Central Asia departsouthwards. As well as searching for thesepassage migrants we will also seek out theresident species, plus any late-stayingsummer visitors or early winter visitors. Aparticular focus of this trip, however, will bewatching for migrant birds of prey as theyhead south after leaving Turkey. We'll be based for seven nights at a smallfamily-run hotel in the village of SkalaKallonis at the head of a large shallow inletfrom the sea. The village is renowned for itsSardine fishery and there are a number ofexcellent restaurants along the waterside tosample this local speciality. The shelteredwaters of the bay and uncrowded beachesprovide diversions for anyone wishing torelax in the Aegean sun, but Skala Kallonisis also close to some of the bestbirdwatching sites on Lesbos and a perfectbase for our activities. Nearby pools, rivervalleys and saltpans provide some of thebest birding on the island and will warrantfrequent inspection for incoming migrants,in particular herons, wildfowl and waders. Further afield we will enjoy leisurely daytrips to a range of prime birding areaselsewhere on the island. In particular we willconcentrate on water bodies, amongstthem the Pithariou Reservoir near Eresosand the Polichnitos Saltpans. We will alsoexplore the fields and olive groves along thenorth and west coasts - the Korakasheadland, Faneromeni and Meladia Valleybeing amongst the most likely sites forautumn migrants, especially birds of prey.There will be time to enjoy unhurriedlunches at convenient tavernas or favourite picnic spots, and also to enjoy the ruralcorners of the island where donkeys maystill replace motor vehicles and herds ofgoats browse in pastoral scenes.The local Krüper's Nuthatch is one of therarer resident birds that we will be hoping tofind, but many other delights should awaitus, perhaps including Long-leggedBuzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Eleonora's Falcon,Rock Nuthatch and Sombre Tit to name buta few. Whether amongst rocky hills andvalleys that are home to Chukar Partridges,Blue Rock Thrushes and Rock Sparrows, orwatching waders probing alongside egretsand herons on a muddy pool or saltpan,there should always be something ofinterest to see and enjoy. Autumn migrationwill be in full swing and unusual migrantsand vagrants can turn up almost anywhereand enhance the sense of anticipation atevery birdwatching stop - PectoralSandpiper, Spur-winged Plover, CitrineWagtail and Steppe Grey Shrike being justsome of the unusual species to have beenrecorded in recent years. Birdwatching on Lesbos during the autumnmigration season will be fascinating, butthere will be many other memories to takeaway as a reminder of our stay on theisland. Warm sunny days ending with thechorus of cicadas and crickets, firefliesflashing in the darkness, lizards scuttlingfrom underfoot, and a landscape that unlikemany other tourist destinations in this partof the world remains unspoilt. Add to thisheady mixture the warm hospitality of ourisland hosts and you have all thecomponents of a delightful autumn holiday.Lesbos in AutumnAn 8-day birdwatching holiday to the beautiful island of Lesbos to enjoy some latesummer sunshine, fine birds and charming Greek tavernas. Saturday 29th September - Saturday 6th October 2012 Cost: £1,295Saturday 28th September - Saturday 5th October 2013 Cost: £1,395Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Mytilini; transferSkala Kallonis.Day 2/7Daily birdwatchingexcursions from SkalaKallonis.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationA pleasant family-run tourist hotelat Skala Kallonis, all rooms withprivate facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingGrade A. Gentle birding walks.FocusBirds.LeaderReg Thorpe.Single room supplement£150.Web quick search: GRC0993Molyvos, LesbosBlack StorkSubalpine WarblerKrüper'sNuthatchTURKEYGREECEPOTAMIAVALLEYPARAKILAAGIASSOSDERBYSHIRESKALA KALLONISPETRAMOLYVOSEFTALOUSKALA POLICHNITOSSKALAERESSOSSIGRIMYTILINIKALLONIS BAYLESBOS