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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 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

Madeira is a truly lovely island.Blessed with a near perfect climateit offers an enticing combination ofsunlight, warmth and a wealth of wildlife,and all only a few hours from the UK. Part ofMacaronesia, which also includes the CapeVerde Islands, the Azores and Canaries,Madeira rises from the Atlantic Ocean over300 miles from the African coast. Inland itsvolcanic landscape rises to over 1,500metres, while beneath the sea its slopesplummet sharply to form deep canyons. Itsseparation from other landmasses, pleasantoceanic subtropical climate and underwatertopography make Madeira a special placefor wildlife both on and offshore. Inland,you'll be falling over flowers such as Bird-of-paradise and hibiscus amongst a headyblend of colourful blooms that attract awealth of butterflies and other insect-life.Such specialities as Madeiran Mahoganyand the island's indigenous and rareLaurissilva forest are of further interest tothe botanist. Out at sea, many special birdscan be seen between late spring andautumn, among them such rarities asZino's, Fea's and Bulwer's Petrel. However,on this tour we focus primarily on one of theless well known aspects of thearchipelago's rich wildlife, its cetaceans.Madeira is relatively undiscovered as awhale and dolphin-watching destination, yeta good variety of cetaceans are present inthese waters at all times of the year, withabout 20 species having been recorded sofar. Bottlenose Dolphins are regularly seen,with a resident group of about 25 animalspresent, and these numbers are oftensupplemented by visits to these waters ofthe larger, transient oceanic BottlenoseDolphins which can be seen inshore aroundMadeira. Short-finned Pilot Whales are alsoencountered frequently on boat trips outfrom the marina at Funchal and we are verylikely to see these two species. There arelarger cetaceans here too, and from Maythrough to December Bryde's Whalesappear to feed around Madeira onmigration. We'll be hoping to see this warm-water species, single animals of which, oroccasionally a mother and calf, are mosttypically seen in Madeiran waters. Commonand Risso's Dolphins are among the smallercetaceans that we will be looking out for, aswell as some warm-temperate andsubtropical species such as the highlyacrobatic and attractive Atlantic SpottedDolphin. In September Striped Dolphins,False Killer Whales and the deep water-loving Rough-toothed Dolphins are present,but unlikely to be seen.Throughout this holiday we will be based ina comfortable 4-star hotel in Funchal, fromwhich we will join a team of marinebiologists each day for dedicated whale-watching trips aboard our privatelychartered vessel, Ventura do Mar. Eachdedicated whale and dolphin-watchingsortie will typically last between three andfive hours, and we'll be assisted in ourefforts through radio contact with keen-eyed'vigias' (look-outs) on land. Among thecetaceans we may encounter as we headout to sea from Funchal are pods of Short-finned Pilot Whale - a stocky, medium-sized and highly social cetacean which livesin closely-knit family groups and is oftenseen resting, or 'logging', at the surfaceduring the day. If we are able to get close toa group we may lower a hydrophone intothe water to try and listen to their vocalinteractions, which are somewhatreminiscent of a squeaky door! Other, deep-diving species such as Sperm Whales andsome of the elusive beaked whales,including Blainville's, are recorded eachyear around Madeira, but we'd have to bevery fortunate indeed to see one of thesespecies during a short visit. There is also achance of encountering Bryde's Whale, andMadeira represents the best place to seethese essentially tropical whales in Europe.Our local guides have been conductingresearch into the social and feedingbehaviour of Bryde's Whales, so we can relyon their expertise to spot these little-knownand elegant roqual whales if they arepresent.Although most of our time will be spent outat sea in search of whales and dolphins,there will be some opportunities toexperience a variety of Madeira's seabirds,including an optional dusk excursion to seebreeding Zino's Petrels, as well as some ofits other special birds and wildlife inland. Inaddition, we will enjoy the relaxedatmosphere and balmy evenings aroundFunchal, with strolls around the old town,soaking in the scents of abundant flowersand perhaps mulling over our day'sadventures at sea with a glass of theisland's famous Madeira wine. In fact, it'sreally rather easy to fall for Madeira'smanifold on and offshore charms!RIBEIRO FRIOFUNCHALMADEIRAPAUL DA SERRA94Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Funchal.Day 2 Morning and afternoonwhale and dolphin-watching at sea.Day 3Morning land-basedexcursion; eveningcetacean-watching.Day 4Full day's whale anddolphin-watching at sea.Day 5Fly London.AccommodationA charming 4-star hotel within aneasy walk of Funchal's marina; allrooms have private facilities.FoodAll breakfasts, plus lunch on Day 4,are included in the price. Dinners inFunchal are not included; allow£60.GradingA. Easy walks only.FocusWhales and dolphins; plus somebirdwatching and other naturalhistory.LeaderCatherine Strong, plus localnaturalist guides.Single room supplement£95.ExtensionsWe strongly recommend spendingextra nights in Funchal. Optionsavailable on request.Web quick search: PRT06Whales & Dolphins of Madeira A 5-day holiday in search of dolphins, Bryde's Whales and other cetaceans from the beautiful island of Madeira.Saturday 1st June - Wednesday 5th June Cost: £995Tuesday 10th September - Saturday 14th September Cost: £995Bryde's WhaleStriped DolphinsAtlantic Spotted Dolphins