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THERE’S a myth among British birdwatchers that the ONLY place worth staying on Lesvos is Skala Kalloni.

It’s a misconception probably shared by birders from other European countries who flock to the island for each spring and autumn migration.

Only those in the know seem to choose  Molivos –  or Mithimna to give it its historic name – as their base.

Well, in my humble opinion as an avid birdwatcher, it’s about time someone banished this myth about Mithimna.

When it comes to finding a perfect place to combine birdwatching with walking in spectacular, hilly scenery, having a massive choice of eating places and history around every corner, then Molivos is the place to be

Is there any nicer place in the whole world to round off a day’s birding than with a meal on Molivos harbour side, watchingdolphins and diving terns in the fading light?

Skala Kalloni with its salt pans is only a 40 minutes drive away.

All around Molivos are superb places to seek out the birds – some of them rather rare – from dense olive groves to the magnificent coastal strip between Eftalou and Skala Sikamnia. 

Even among the narrow streets and alleyways of the old town, there are birds to be seen and heard. You just have to look and listen.

Swallows nest under almost every  canopy and overhang of buildings.  Most years, for instance, they successfully rear young on top of an ornamental coach lantern under the canopy of  The Captain’s Table restaurant on the harbour.

As darkness falls, the monotonous  call of the Scops owl can be heard around the town squares and among the eucalyptus trees alongside the school.

The sound is reminiscent of the slow “peeps” of the Greenwich time signal.

Molivos is a place where it is usual to spot the unusual.

Floodlights which illuminate the castle are a magnet to moths and other flying insects. So birds such as nightjars and little owls are quick to take advantage of the ready meals.

Last year, barn owls, little owls and kestrels all nested within a few yards of each other in stone crevices  near the castle’s main entrance.

Keep an eye on the sea, too. Some years, thousands of

Mediterranean shearwaters can be seen in the huge bay between the harbour and the Kavaki headland. At times there are so many it looks like a giant oil slick.

The headland itself, near the “disco on stilts”, is known as one of the best places in Europe to see the very rare Ruppell’s Warbler.

Inland, the reservoir off the Vafios road is a good place to see Eleanora’s falcons hunting for dragon flies. Many other birds can also be “ticked” here.

In our 16 years of holidays in Molivos – sometimes twice a year – my wife Sheila and I always  see at least 120 species.

Really keen birdwatchers can expect many more than that.

FRANK WOOD, press officer for the Bolton area of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in North West England.


  Sue Stoney wrote @

What an interesting article. I am planning a holiday in Molyvos for the first time and as an avid bird watcher am now looking forward to seeking out your feathered friends.
Maybe Frank Wood should publish a “Guide to Bird Watching in Molyvos” leaflet for newcomers like myself.
Love the photos as well!

  Karen wrote @

I agree, because I had a lovely couple called Angie and Richard staying in my holiday house ‘The Pyrgeli’ in Molivos last May and they were birdwatchers.
They wrote a review on the rental-site later, and one of their remarks was about birdwatching, I quote: ‘
Also yesterday I was at the Earth-collection shop in the harbour of Molivos, were I work a couple of days a week and one lady came in to try on some clothes, whilst her husband was waiting outside. At one stage he came in quite excited and said that he’d just seen a kingfisher.
I don’t know much about birds myself, but just know that I cannot let my chickens roam around too far from the holiday house, because it is full of bird of pray and some really big ones as well.

  Frank Wood wrote @

A kingfisher, like the one Karen’s guests saw, is a reasonably common sight around the harbour from about the end of July to early October.
But it is worth a double check because it may not be the common kingfisher found in Britain and Europe.
One September, we heard a commotion on the harbour and saw two kingfishers in full battle. But one was bigger than the other and we realised the larger bird was a white throated kingfisher. A real rarity for Lesvos, though sometimes spotted in southern Turkey.
After the brief encounter, the smaller bird seemed to win the day and the larger bird disappeared from the harbour.

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