Day 1 (Thursday, 2nd May)
After landing at 2 o'clock, which was more or less on schedule, the switch to Mediterranean time and working meant that we had collected luggage, navigated customs, and collected the car by 3:30. Mytlini, the small capital of the island, was traversed without too much ado, and we travelled about 30kms North, turning off the main road on to the Palios headland, which is just to the East of Mandamados. The first km or so of this road was in quite good condition, and led us into a false sense of security, since it quickly deteriorated into the type of rough track, decorated with scattered potholes, that would be expected for this corner of the globe. Most of the surrounding habitat was low, rough scrub. What came as a surprise were the number of small pools lining the edge of the track throughout. Most of these held very little if any birdlife, but there is every possibility that they will form a focus for drinking visits during the day. One larger pool, between Palios and the track leading off to Mandamados did support a couple of very wary Ruddy Shelduck, and approachable Wood Sandpipers. Although most of the track was bounded by low scrub, and occasional small copses, the end of the headland, past Palios, contained more low bushes, and thick intertwined scrub. There was a sign here for no photography, and in the light of the recent events with the plane spotters in Greece, we beat a hasty retreat. Nevertheless, this was a good spot for warblers, with a few singing, though elusive, Subalpine Warblers, and the first of what were to be many Orphean Warblers. We had expected to see one or two shrikes here, but to see all four, with the first (Lesser Grey) being the least common, was particularly satisfying. Only one Lesser Grey Shrike was seen, but was followed by single Red-backed, 2-3 Woodchat, and a pair of Masked Shrikes. The whole headland is very good for the basic Mediterranean birds, and was a good introduction to Lesvian birding.
We had entered the headland by taking a track to the South of Madamados (near Pedi), and continued our journey by following a right fork West of Palios, directly towards Madamados itself. This track was even rougher than the earlier one, but was bounded by quite a different habitat, with many orchards and the odd olive grove, interspersed with open areas (for grazing?), and seemed to have even more potential for birds. Singing Cetti's Warblers and Nightingales were along the course of the stream, which still retained a small amount of flowing water. Towards the end of the track, and near the main road, 3 Short-toed Eagles were seen hovering in the distance.