April 7th - 14th, 2020
Price: £ 1695 inc. flights, ex flights £ 1345
Leaders: Bob Gibbons and Eric Lamont
Lesvos (or Lesbos) is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt of all the Greek islands, especially in spring, with masses of early flowers, a marvellous range of birds including many migrants, and the scenery at its best, before the majority of visitors have arrived.
Lesvos is one of the largest yet least spoilt of the Greek islands. It lies in the eastern Aegean sea, just a few miles from Turkey, and its natural history owes a good deal to the closeness of the Asian land-mass. It is a rugged mountainous island, with peaks in both the north and south rising to almost 1000 metres, and with many wild unspoilt areas.
We fly from Heathrow to Athens, transferring to a short flight to Lesvos. Here, we are based at the attractive coastal town of Mithymna (Molyvos) in the north of the island for the whole week. At this time of year, it is pleasantly quiet, apart from the Scops owls and Nightingales at night and the Alpine Swifts during the day. The hotel grounds and nearby coastal habitats have resident Persian Squirrels, False Apollos and other attractive species just on the doorstep. From here, we can reach most parts of the island easily. Apart from local walks, we will visit the beautiful woods, grassy clearings and old olive groves of mount Olympus, the superb wetlands and coastal habitats around the gulf of Kalloni, the central pine woods, the rugged volcanic hills of the west, and various other sites of interest, all rich in flowers. We’ll also visit Europe’s best fossil forest, and an extraordinary ancient monastery or two.
Lesvos is particularly good for birds, which are often unusually easy to see. In spring, there is a wonderful mixture of resident birds, large numbers of passage migrants, and the first of the summer visitors. We can reasonably expect to see such specialities as Krüper’s nuthatch, Masked shrike and Cinereous bunting, as well as more widespread species such as harriers, Black-winged stilts, Blue rock thrushes, Mediterranean shearwaters, Long-legged buzzard, Orphean warbler and many waders, terns and other birds. Lesvos is also the only place in Europe where you are likely to see Persian squirrels, and there are good populations of the striking ‘Rhodes dragon’, an agama lizard. Early butterflies, such as the pretty Eastern festoon and the False Apollo should be on the wing.
Although Lesvos does not have quite the range of flowers of Crete, its unspoilt nature means that the displays can be quite breathtaking, and most species occur in vast quantities. There are carpets of irises, Peacock and Crown anemones, poppies, Crown daisies and campions in many habitats, and the photographic opportunities are outstanding. Orchids include drifts of the pretty Few-flowered orchids in the woods, Yellow bee, Lax-flowered, Violet Limodore, Mirror, tongue orchids, Horseshoe orchid, the endemic Ophrys lesbisand many others. Other flowers of interest include a green-flowered fritillary, the attractive snowdrop Galanthus elwesii, dragon arums, and many more. There are wild tulips, too, though they will probably not be in flower.
NB It’s a beautiful, quiet and relaxing place to start the spring. Although it’s a popular arrival place for (human) migrants from Turkey, they are not normally in evidence where we’re staying or visiting.
The tour price includes return flights from Heathrow to Lesvos via Athens, transport throughout, accommodation with private facilities on a half-board basis, services of leaders throughout, plus pre-tour information and post-tour species lists.Tour Code: NHT/20/01. Price: £1695, (Single room suppt
£ 195); Deposit:£ 400.