black stork, Caspian terrapin, corn bunting, crested lark, giant fennel, greater flamingo, Gulf of Kalloni, James Lowen, Lesvos, Matthiola tricuspidata, Medusa vetchling, Mytilene, Philip Precey, poppy, Skala Kalloni, White stork, Wildlife Travel
I’ve been back a few days from my latest holiday, have been a little busy since, but my photos are now sorted and I can set about presenting them for such as may be interested.
Lesvos is the regional capital of a string of Greek islands which line the Asia Minor/Turkey coast. The island is 4.7 times the size of the Isle of Wight, with less than a sixth of its population. To the north it is 7.5 miles/12km from Turkey, and to the east it is not much more. It is the island to which so many Syrian refugees made their way in the 2015 crisis. The island’s tourist trade, its second highest source of income, took a great hit from that influx and from Covid, and is now trying to build it up again. (Its greatest source of income is olives – it’s said to have 11 million olive trees!)
Our flight from Stansted, Essex, being at 7.30 am on the Thursday, I had no alternative but to spend the preceding night there. In order to leave my car at home, I had no alternative but to catch the daily bus to central London from Glastonbury at 7.10 am on the Wednesday, which at least gave me plenty of time to get to Stansted. Which was as well, since, owing to an accident (another’s) before it got to us, it was 50 minutes late. This meant that two other passengers, already cutting it very fine, with flights respectively from Luton and Heathrow in the early afternoon, may or may not have caught them. Almost certainly not.
Arriving at Hammersmith at 12.00, I was pleased to have an easy tube journey round to Liverpool Street station, and to meet my friend Mary there for lunch. The Stansted Express got me to the airport, and within minutes I was at the hotel I had booked, (the service at which left to be desired – interesting that I have not been asked for a review…)
It was great to discover that of the 13 people on the trip, six of us had all been on the same company, Wildlife Travel‘s, trip to Morocco, in March 2020, days before the UK’s first lockdown (and written up in seven blog posts starting here). Our leaders, Philip Precey (one of the directors of the company) and James Lowen, were the same as well.
We landed at Mytilene airport, a couple of miles to the south of the capital, around 1.15 local time (two hours ahead of UK time). After an interminable wait to get through passport control – I wished I had been wearing my tee-shirt, ‘Don’t blame me, I voted Remain’ – we were met by Maria and our driver, whose name, shamefully, I never did get in the entire week, and at around 4 o’clock we arrived at our first hotel.
Those two pictures were actually taken on our last morning, but the following are the obligatory pictures taken immediately on arrival of the views from the front and back balconies of my first floor room.
Half an hour to settle in and we were whisked out for our first walk, basically a road walk around a lake-that-no-longer-was. This involved starting at the end of the road at the Gulf of Kalloni. But first a backward look revealed that there was a black stork flying over our hotel.
What is the difference between a gulf and a bay? There are several answers to be found on the web, some saying there is really no difference, but I like this one, from the Ocean Conservancy. “A bay is a broad, recessed coastal inlet where the land curves inward. There is a coastline on three sides of a bay. A gulf is a more defined and deeper inlet with the entrance more enclosed than a bay.”
Panels like this were to be found nearly everywhere we went during the week.
I should point out that I was the least informed about wildlife of everyone on this trip, and could only admire the identification and fieldwork skills of the others. My ignorance did not spoil my enjoyment! I tried to note the name of everything of which I took a photo, and I now also refer to the labels attached to the raft of photos sent us a day or so ago by Philip. Any corrections and additions noted in the comments below will be transferred to captions and attributed.
It was impossible not to take dozens of photos of wildflowers every day. They were spectacular.
Far away, a white stork was seen.
This was fun.
If there was one flower which dominated, the memory at least, it was the poppy, in different varieties.
The fifteen of us did not stick together all the time, as some lingered to look at things and others didn’t. Andrew and I found ourselves walking ahead at one point, deep in conversation, as we almost completed the loop, and came across greater flamingos, a long way off, in silhouette, and in full sun.
We thought the others must have found something very interesting, as they were taking such a while to catch us up. … Hang on, we realised, we didn’t see a patch like this on our way out, we have missed the turning back to our hotel. In total we must have walked a good kilometre too far as we hurried back, to enable Andrew’s wife, Jane, to have access to their room, since Andrew had the key!