In many respects Lesvos is a typical Mediterranean island, dry, rocky and scrub-covered with endless olive groves in lower areas. However, there are rocky hillsides, densely vegetated gullies and the 950m Mt Olympus (Oros Olimbos), west of the island’s only major town, Mitilini. This pine-clad mountain, and the area around the village of Agiassos in particular, is the only site in the Region outside Turkey for Kruper’s Nuthatch. Also breeding here are Short-toed Treecreeper, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Sombre Tit and Subalpine and Orphean Warblers.
In the west of the island, around the village of Eressos there are rocky volcanic slopes, perfect habitat for Western Rock Nuthatch and the best site for Cinereous Bunting. There are also Lanner and Long-legged Buzzard, Chukar and Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Isabelline Wheatear and Rufous Bush Robin also breed in this area and in the 1990s White-throated Robin was found to be breeding, hundreds of km west of its known range.
Kallonis Bay is a large sea inlet on the south-west coast of the island with salt-pans, two excellent river mouths and marshes. It is this area that attracts many exciting waders, waterfowl and others. Herons can include Grey and Purple, Night and Squacco, both bitterns and Little and Great White Egrets. On the salt-pans Greater Flamingo is regular in winter and Pygmy Cormorant is usually present in winter. Flamingoes are often seen on passage, as well as storks, Spoonbill and Glossy Ibis, especially in spring and also Ferruginous Duck. Breeders include Stone Curlew, Avocet, Collared Pratincole and Little Tern. In the nearby river mouths there are waders, crakes and smaller herons and in the east of the bay is an area known to British birders as “Derbyshire” there is a pool that regularly attracts many waders and is a regular haunt of Ruddy Shelduck. Rufous Bush Robin breeds close by. Rare or former breeders in this area include Booted and Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcon and Eagle Owl.
In winter Great Bittern, Hen Harrier and occasionally Greater Spotted Eagle can be seen. The north coast from Mithimna to Eftalou has breeding Eleonora’s Falcon and Yelkouan Shearwater on the cliffs and Olive-tree Warbler, Sombre Tit, Middle Spotted Woodpecker and Masked Shrike in the olive groves. Ipsilou Monastery should be on the itinerary of any birding visitor to Lesvos for Long-legged Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel and Chukar, Rock Thrush and Rock Sparrow.