Northern Aegean Lesvos
Northern Aegean Lesvos (also called Mytilini)
This island in the northeast Aegean sits less than 10 km (6.2 miles) from the Asia Minor coast (present-day Turkey) from which many Greek refugees settled on the island after the 'exchange of populations' in 1923, and much of its nature is common to that of Asia Minor and Asia, too. It is the third largest Greek island, and a fascinating one, with two large inland gulfs indenting it, and a wide range of habitats, many of them quite unspoiled. Mountains in both north and south reach 1000 meters (3,280 feet); its rock is primarily volcanic. Some 11 million olives trees are said to grow on Lesvos, from which about one quarter of all of Greece's olive oil is produced, and there is very rich wildlife amid the olive groves here.
This is the larger of the two gulfs, the smaller being Geras Gulf, with wetlands in the northern part near the village of Skala Kalloni ('skala' meaning port or landing-place).
Here there are large unspoilt areas that constitute major bird sites, including the freshwater Kalloni Pool (winter up till early July, depending on how the weather has been), with many migratory and wintering birds;the mouth of a small river nearby has huge saltmarshes and mudflats, with many breeding birds and many species in spring (greater flamingos, avocets, great white egrets), and with some birds of prey.
East of the village yet another river, often referred to as the Kalloni East River, empties into the gulf, and is perhaps the best place to watch birds on the entire island, with spring again the best season, with large numbers of migrating birds coming through, some of them to nest, with a large number of birds of prey.
The mouths of the Vouvaris and Mylopotamos Rivers (also along the northern part of the gulf) have good westland. Other areas for birds on the island are saltpans to the east of the main road between Kalloni and the city of Mytilini, and east of these are more saltmarshes, all of this area rich in birds.
Skala Polykhnitos - Lesvos
More wetlands rich in birdlife are found in this area near the mouth of the gulf, which is very undeveloped and unspoiled, including low dunes, beach, saltpans, saltmarsh, and pool. Spring is a good time both for flowers and a wide variety of birds, including some birds of prey, and the area is also a good breeding site. The autumn passage period often sees a good variety of birds too; winter sees plenty of waterfowl, waders, birds or prey, and other birds. There are also many good habitats in the area of the Vatera beach resort, best visited in April or May, before the crowds come.
Mt. Olympus - Lesvos
This conical mountain is a fairly low mountain, at 968 meters (3175 feet) with fine displays of flowers on its lower slopes amid old olive groves.
On the higher slopes are pine and chestnut forest which is also both good bird and flower habitat. Persian squirrels are found in these woods, unique in all of Europe; there are also some special orchids.
Lichens, mosses, and liverworts are found in the higher woods and ridges; in lower areas near the south coast near Plomari are some valleys which are not heavily grazed and where one can find the yellow azalea in its only native site in Greece, a plant rare in Europe in general.
Dipi Larssos reedbed - Lesvos
There are few reedbeds in the eastern Aegean islands, this one, located west of the village of Keramia, is the only one of any size on Lesvos. It is found at the mouth of a small river where it empties into the Gulf of Geras, south of the main road between Mytilini and Kalloni. There are also some open water pools, scrub, woods, olive gorves, the river banks, etc. Breeding,migratory and wintering birds of many kinds, including birds of prey are found here. There may also be otters.
Mt. Lepetimnos mountains - Lesvos
These come just up to the north coast of Lesvos, and reach just a meter higher than Olymbos. Bonelli's eagles breed here on the bare rocky areas of this unforested mountain, as well as the short-toe eagle, peregrine, and long-legged buzzard, along with many other birds.
There are many flowers, butterflies and insects in the area as well; reptiles and tortoises are also plentiful here, and some lizards that are found mostly in North Africa and Asia are found here. The area is very appealing, with the picturesque fishing village of Skala Sikaminia., and is a good area to watch birds. Good bird habitat is also found near Molivos (Mithimnia its official name), with scops owls, peregrines, and many other birds.
Although there are some olive groves and scattered oaks in the more fertile parts of this area (west of Molivos and Kalloni Gulf) this area is dominated by very stony, hilly, rugged terrain, which is also quite unspoiled. Some birds breed in the olive and oak areas, with a long list of birds in the rockier places among them one of the rarest birds in Europe, the cinereous bunting.
The low dunes at Skala Eressos is rich in botanical species, including some interesting poppies; there are other flowers on a limestone area on the north coast (though it is being quarried and thus diminished). Wildlife is most plentiful in areas with some trees, and includes Persian squirrel and beech martens, hares and hedgehogs, tortoises, snakes and lizards; there are some wetlands on the wild coast between Skala Eressos and Sigri with terrapins,amphibians, squacco herons and little bittern in spring. The Petrified Forest of western Lesvos is a well-known site, visited by many tourists. An nearby unfenced area of forest can be viewed along the rough Sigri-Eressos road. The area around Eressos is a small oasis with some nice farmland, a surprising greenbelt after driving through the stony, dry hills coming from the east.