Krüper’s nuthatches and orchids

This video is called Birds & Wildlife encountered on the Greek Island of Lesvos in April/May 2015.

After the early morning of 10 May, our bus heads to the east of Lesbos island.

We pass the salt pans. In a coastal wetland more to the east, little egrets, grey herons, and ruddy shelducks.

Near a parking lot is a tree which is missing its upper half. It supports an electricity wire. And, most importantly: two Krüper’s nuthatches are nesting in it. This rare songbird lives only in Turkey and Lesbos.

This is a Krüper’s nuthatch video, recorded on Lesbos island.

Every now and then, the birds enter or leave the nest hole. One sits down on a branch to clean its feathers.

A masked shrike on the electricity wire.

A male chaffinch on the forest floor.

Further inland, near Agiasos, a rare orchid grows along the forest road: Comperia comperiana.

Blackbird and subalpine warbler singing.

A male serin sings, while the female serin builds their nest. European serin photos are here. And here.

Another orchid: white helleborine.

About orchids on Lesbos: here.

A cuckoo sound. Soon, we are back in the wetland between Achladeri and the Kalloni salt pans.

Ruddy shelducks. Great and little egrets. Many crabs and fish, brought in by the marine high tide.

Our last visit to the salt pans.

A squacco heron. Little stints.

Greater flamingos.

A lone black-tailed godwit.

Big caterpillars on fennel plants. They are of old world swallowtail butterflies.

This morning, someone has seen small pincertail dragonfly.

Rare British orchid gets police protection from overzealous collectors: here.

The breeding pairs of the Algerian Nuthatch have been censused in the Guerrouch forest (Taza National Park, Jijel, Algeria). A decrease in numbers was assessed when comparing with data collected in the early 1990s. The main reason is the habitat degradation by human activities. First data were obtained by studying a nest located in a Zeen Oak. The clutch size was of 6 eggs. Incubation time was estimated to last 17 days and the nestling period likely to last 21 days. The breeding season stretched from April to early June. No evidence of second clutch: here.

New breeding site of the Algerian Nuthatch discovered in Algeria: here.

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Red-footed falcons and avocets

This is a red-footed falcon video.

After the morning of 9 May on Lesbos, the afternoon.

Like on 5 May, to the salt pans.

Again, avocets and black-winged stilts. An avocet chick.

Pale (juvenile) and pink (adult) greater flamingos.

Flying little egrets and black storks.

A ringed plover.

A male and a female red-footed falcon, sitting together on a telephone pole. The male is cleaning its feathers. At first, it sits to the right of the female; then, to the left.

Two turnstones and ruffs on a dike.

A little tern sitting on a rock.


Little stints, where there were Temminck’s stints last time. A common sandpiper.

At the glossy ibis marsh, a collared pratincole in the grass.

A coot in the water. It is the first one we have seen; this species is rare in Lesbos.

Wood sandpipers.

Whiskered terns.

A squacco heron standing between the common spike-rush.

Curlew sandpipers.

A mallard. Again a first for us on Lesbos, as this species is rare here.

A little ringed plover.

Dark spreadwing damselflies flying around.

A whinchat sitting on a fence.

Grass snake and Orphean warbler

Orphean warbler

After the early morning of 9 May, the later morning on Lesbos. In the Potamia valley, an Orphean warbler on a bush on a hill. Orphean warblers in the Netherlands: here.


A black-headed bunting singing from the top of an olive tree.

Singing greenfinches on a wire.

A southern skimmer dragonfly sitting on the footpath.

A cirl bunting on a wire, together with a turtle dove and a chaffinch.

A masked shrike catches an insect while flying. Then, it goes back to its olive tree branch.

A grass snake swimming near the bridge.

Then, to the reservoir. A long-legged buzzard on a rock, cleaning its feathers, later flying away.

Many dragonflies here. Not just southern skimmers. Also the smaller, red-veined darters.

A wind farm project soon to be approved by authorities in the North Aegean islands of Lesvos, Limnos and Chios in Greece is being questioned and can only be described as ‘self-destructive’ by the Hellenic Ornithological Society and the Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage. See here.

Cinereous buntings and little bitterns of Lesbos

This video is called Birds & Wildlife encountered on the Greek Island of Lesvos, in April/May 2015.

After the early morning of 8 May, we went to the west of Lesbos island.

Conditions are drier there, and vegetation more sparse than in the east.

Near Ypsilou monastery, an Isabelline wheatear.

A male red-footed falcon flying overhead.

A black-eared wheatear, sitting on a rock.

Then, a really rare bird, which lives just in Lesbos and Turkey: a cinereous bunting. See the photo from Lesbos here.

It sits first on a rock; later on a bush, cleaning its feathers and, later, eating.

Cinereous bunting at Petrified Forest in Lesbos

A black-headed bunting on a fence.

Many spotted flycatchers, sitting on leafless branches, flying away to catch insects, then returning.

We hear the golden oriole, both the male and the female; but, as usually, we cannot see them.

A small copper butterfly.

A Balkan wall lizard.

A rock nuthatch on, indeed, a rock.

Near the highest point of the road around the monastery, a Mediterranean praying mantis.

A singing woodlark.

A female chaffinch in a bush.

A woodchat shrike.

Bladder campion flowers.

A rock nuthatch with an insect in its bill and a male blue rockthrush, together on a rock.

A beautiful scarce swallowtail butterfly.

We go further to the west. A dead European legless lizard: roadkill.

We arrive at the petrified forest. Twenty million years ago, a volcanic eruption petrified tree trunks here. Also, fossils of deinotheriums, an early elephant species, have been discovered.

A stellion on a rock.

East of Sigri village, many bee-eaters.

A kestrel. A long-legged buzzard.

A black-headed bunting, singing in a tree.

Ruddy shelducks and yellow-legged gulls in a meadow.

A female red-backed shrike sitting on a farmer’s vehicle.

A woodchat shrike on a telephone wire.

Spreading pellitory growing at a wall.

A lesser grey shrike.

As we go back, a little owl on a roof.

A Cretzschmar’s bunting (see the photo from Lesbos here) on a wall.

A yellow wagtail.

A black-headed bunting. Sombre tits.

Bee-eaters flying and calling.

We arrive at a marsh near the river. A squacco heron. And little bitterns, both male and female. A male little bittern climbing through a shrub near the water.

This is a video of female and male little bitterns in Spain.

Cetti’s warbler warbling.

Many Persian meadow brown butterflies attracted by flowers’ nectar.

On an oleander shrub, a stonechat with an insect in its bill.

Then, another male little bittern? or a black-crowned night heron? It does not have a white breast, like an adult night heron. That makes it an immature night heron.

As a fine final note to a beautiful day, a hoopoe flying across the road.

Isabelline shrike in the Netherlands: here.

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Blue rockthrush and little owl

This video is called Lesvos Birds Spring 2012.

After the early morning of 6 May in Lesbos, Greece, we continued to the north of the island.

In the central mountains, a blue tit and a rock nuthatch.

The nuthatch has company on the rocks. The biggest lizard species of the island, the stellion, is there as well.

This is a stellion video, showing a Rhodos rock lizard as well.

A Cretzschmar’s bunting singing from the top of a bush. Very rarely, this species is a vagrant in the Netherlands.

The first blackbird that we see on Lesbos.

This spot is famous for raptor migration. Today, however, we see just one sparrowhawk and two short-toed eagles.

We go on to the north coast. A turtle dove on the telephone wire. A black-headed bunting singing on a telephone pole.

A black-eared wheatear.

A male linnet.

Rüppel’s warbler. A subalpine warbler singing from a leafless branch in a bush.

A red-backed shrike. A masked shrike .

Eurasian crag martins flying around.

Then, a beautiful male blue rockthrush, sitting on a fence to the right of a black-eared wheatear.

Five juvenile shags swimming in the sea below us.

Two ruddy shelducks flying overhead.

Just as we are about to leave, two short-toed eagles come, flying closely to us.

We arrive near the medieval fortress of Mithymna. A little owl sitting on a fence.

Again, stellion lizards.

Over ten bee-eaters flying around.

Alpine swifts flying near the fortress.

A Balkan marbled white butterfly sitting on a field scabious flower.

A great tit on a fence.

At our next stop, more to the east along the north coast, a red-backed shrike. A painted lady butterfly.

A lesser spotted eagle overhead.

A chaffinch singing.

Next, to the Petra reservoir.

Many yellow-legged gulls. A couple of ruddy shelducks, with ducklings.

A male subalpine warbler singing.

Then, something special: a rare Eleonora’s falcon flies past.

Back to the south. Back to our first stop of the morning.

In a bush, two linnets, and a red-backed shrike sitting on the branch under them.

Near Skala Kallonis: a greenfinch singing. Marsh frog sounds.

Barn swallows driving a jay away from a swimming pool.

Late in the evening: a European mole-cricket crossing the road.

2 incompletely described species of Gryllotalpa (Gryllotalpidae) from China: here.

Here we present the first unequivocal evidence that an individual bird of the Alpine swift (Tachymarptis melba) can stay airborne for migration, foraging and roosting over a period of more than 6 months: here.

Lesbos island and politics

This video from the USA of 5 May 2010 says about itself:

“Demonstrations against austerity measures in Greece claimed their first fatalities on Wednesday with three people reported to have died inside a bank building set ablaze by protesters.” That’s the framing that you’ll be hearing all week as U.S. media cover the first deaths in the conflict between striking Greek workers and a government seeking to impose stiff new taxes and cuts to stave off economic collapse.

But when it comes to who claimed what in terms of fatalities, it’s worth remembering what lies in the background of this picture. To begin, the international financial community sees opportunity in Greece’s demise and has placed its bets there, which drives up the cost of borrowing if you’re Greek. Just as here, Wall Street bets against state and local bonds have raised the cost of running city services. Like in the U.S., since 1981 Greek wages have been essentially flat, a fundamental problem no one’s been solving. Cutting state jobs won’t help and already around 20 percent of Greeks live in poverty. Over half a million households pay more than half their income on debt. Even prior to today’s insolvency, surveys have shown that a “third world” was being created inside Greece. Now, cue the angry protests. Now consider what claimed their first fatalities Wednesday. . . demonstrations by the strapped? Or decades of decision making that wrote off inequality, poverty and debt as just collateral damage. Oh, and Portugal’s just been downgraded by Moody’s. And oh yes, The European commission’s forecasting that the UK budget deficit this year will hit 12% of GDP – the highest in the European Union, even worse than Greece. So when we say long hot European summer, we mean it!

As I have written before, our airplane took off to Greece on 4 May.

First, it landed at Samos island.

Then, it continued to Turkey. Then, by bus and by ferry boat, we arrived in Mytilene harbour on Lesbos island.

Lesbos island in Greece has about 90,000 inhabitants, of whom about 30,000 live in the capital Mytilene.

The island is well-known for, among other points, olive oil production, ancient poetess Sappho, and the many birds there.

There are also labour movement and other political sides to Lesbos.

As the ferry-boat from Turkey arrived, Greek TV reporters were at the landing, asking travelers their views on the strike in Lesbos and all over Greece. One lady passenger replied: “The strike means for me personally that I arrive now in Lesbos, eight hours later than planned. However, the strikers have the right to strike.”

We went on a bus to Skala Kallonis village. It has just a few hundred inhabitants. Yet, posters were still hanging around, announcing the village’s own May Day demonstration.

According to Wikipedia, the small town north of Skala Kallonis, Kalloni, has 1,732 people. Still, it has its own party building of the KKE, the Greek communist party. Nationally, in numbers of votes, this is the third party after the governing social democrats of PASOK and the conservative New Democrats (the government until they lost the last elections).

Yet, during the eight days that I was in Lesbos, visually, the KKE was by far the most conspicuous political tendency. Its name was sprayed on rocks and walls near roads and on village buildings, along with hammer and sickle symbols and sometimes also the initials KNE (the Greek communist youth organization).

Other political tendencies, as far as I saw, had zero, or just one sign of being alive on Lesbos. One poster of PASOK (the ruling party in the national government, and in Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos). One graffiti by Syriza (a federation of Eurocommunist, Trotskyist, etc. groups). One A with a circle around it, an anarchist symbol. And one neo nazi Celtic cross.

Turkey’s west coast

As I reported earlier, on 4 May our plane landed in Izmir, the biggest city of the west coast of Turkey.

At 11:55, we went by bus to the north.

A magpie.

Lots of apartment houses in Turkey have lots of satellite TV dishes. Many immigrants from Turkey in western Europe have satellite dishes as well. Xenophobes hate that, claiming that the immigrants have those dishes because they supposedly hate west European society and its media (never mind that those xenophobes usually hate their own country’s TV as well, for being supposedly “Leftist”). The xenophobes claim these satellite dishes are also a sign of supposed “Islamic fundamentalism” (rubbish, as most really ultra orthodox Muslims, like ultra orthodox Christians, see TV as “satanic”). The satellite dishes in Turkey prove, for the umpteenth time, the foolishness of xenophobia.

On many roofs are solar energy devices as well, especially in Menemen city and Aliaga.

In Bergama, house martins drink from a swimming pool. A Cetti’s warbler warbles close to a stream. Also frog sounds.

Both house sparrows and Spanish sparrows. Collared doves.

Two barn swallows sitting on a rope.

The bus arrives in the small harbour town Dikili. Hooded crows. Yellow-legged gulls.

This is a yellow-legged gull video from Spain.

At 18:40, the ferry to Lesbos island in Greece departs.