Limosa has been running birdwatching tours to Lesbos longer than any other specialist bird tour company. Indeed, we first sampled the magic of migration on Lesbos as long ago as spring 1995 - and have operated more than 40 tours there since that wonderful start 25 years ago!
A beautiful and unspoilt island stretched out beneath the warm Mediterranean sun, Lesbos is a place where old farming traditions still hold sway - and it shows in the wealth of glorious wildflowers that are a backdrop throughout our tour, with carpets of blood-red poppies beneath ancient groves of gnarled olives, thyme-scented hillsides alive with the hum of bees and stands of orchids amidst cool forests of pine. Such an idyllic setting would be reason enough to travel to this lovely Aegean island - but a spring visit to Lesbos brings migrant birds in abundance and variety, too!
Late April through early May is the time for birdwatchers to visit Lesbos. For it’s only then that the special birds arrive on the island. A regular halt for classic Mediterranean species such as European Roller, European Bee-eater and Red-rumped Swallow, Lesbos also entices birds of a more easterly character - including Baillon’s and Little Crakes, Collared Flycatcher, Masked Shrike, Pallid Harrier and flocks of Red-footed Falcons. While 'falls' of migrants can never be predicted and numbers can vary widely year on year, the prospect of not knowing what the next day will bring is all part of the fun!
Expansive saltpans not far from our hotel are home to sweeping flocks of Greater Flamingos and dancing White-winged Terns. Shorebirds teem along channels, wetland and streambeds and in late April can include a number of very smart species, such as Great Snipe, Marsh Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Spur-winged Lapwing and Broad-billed Sandpiper.
Lesbos is also home to some of the most sought-after but localised breeding birds in all Europe. Krüper’s and Western Rock Nuthatches are resident, and summer visitors to the island include Rüppell’s, Subalpine, Olive-tree and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, plus a trio of great buntings - Cretzschmar’s, Black-headed and Cinereous.
Over the years, we have also come across our fair share of rarities on the island, too - from Steppe Eagle and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater to White-throated Robin and Thrush Nightingale.
We are based throughout at the same friendly, family-run hotel we've been returning to for years - conveniently located at the island’s heart, with good home cooking, service with a smile and where nothing is too much trouble. This is a tour with all-round appeal - from the antics of playful Persian Squirrels right down to our mix of leisurely picnics and taverna lunches.
Whatever the excitements of the day - be it an excursion into the forests on Mount Olympus in search of Krüper’s Nuthatch and various orchids; finding ourselves caught up amidst an exciting fall of migrants; or pausing to enjoy the exquisite Eastern Festoon butterflies on the way up to the 12th-century monastery at Ipsilou - as the evening chorus of Nightingales, crickets and tree frogs takes over from the incessant daytime hum of cicadas, we can sit back on the hotel terrace and savour the true 'magic of Lesbos'.
Limosa can justly claim to know Lesbos and its special birds as well as anyone. This April 2019 tour will be guide Mike Crewe's 10th tour to Lesbos and Limosa's 42nd visit there... Join the experts for an unbeatable, small group birdwatching holiday as spring returns to the eastern Mediterranean - and revel in the very best of Aegean birding!