Neil Hughes – “Spring migration on the Isle of Lesvos”

Neil Hughes – “Spring migration on the Isle of Lesvos”
by Andrew Bryant, 21 Apr 2015. 

Neil is a Powell River-based forester during regular business hours, and a keen birder and globe-trotter at all other times.  In 2010 he travelled to the Greek island of Lesvos (or Lesbos) to experience spring migration there.

And what an experience it was!  After the difficulty of getting there (a volcanic eruption had grounded air travel around the globe), Neil was treated to a magical mixture of quiet off-season resort restaurants, pastoral  landscapes, and olive groves.  And, of course, birds!

Lesvos is Greek in name, but Asian-minor in terms of biogeography.  Situated closer to Turkey than mainland Greece, the island is also the epicentre of several major bird migration flyways.   Thus it is similar to Canada’s Point Pelee, but it also unusual in that the avifauna of Europe and Asia meet here, so it presents a rare opportunity for European birders to see many Asian species that rarely show up further west.

For anyone interested in learning more about birding on the Isle of Lesvos, there’s a really nice website with annual reports, bird checklists and more located here.

Finally, Neil only touched on some of the conservation issues facing migratory birds in Greece, particularly regarding the illegal trapping of birds with mist nets or limesticks.   You can learn more about the severity of the issue from the Hellenic Ornithological Society or BirdLife Cyprus.