You will most likely see Kalloni Salt Pans for the first time on your journey from the airport to Skala Kalloni. These are large salt pans on the eastern side of Kalloni Town. They can be reached by heading out of Kalloni on the main Mytilini road or along the rough tracks from Skala Kalloni via East River. A tarmac road runs along the western and southern edge of the salt pans, which leaves the main Mytilini road just before a BP petrol station on the right. This tarmac road runs out at the left turn to the entrance of the workings, which are private. The road then becomes a sandy track passing over a cattle grid and heading towards the back of the pans and the scrubby beach. A right turn just after the cattle grid takes you towards the wooden jetty.|
At the eastern end of the pans is a rough track which runs a good distance alongside the salt pan channel which, virtually circumnavigates the entire area. This track can easily be seen from the main Mytilini road and is best walked in the early morning, leaving your car by the side of the main road. The western and southern tracks are better in the evening due to the direction of the sun. Many of the pools and marshy areas mentioned in Richard Brooks book were dried up during our visit but the pans themselves were excellent for birds. The dried up areas surrounding the pans also revealed some interesting species.
The following map has been numbered in red to indicate the various habitats around the Salt Pans. Below the map is a description of these areas with some of the birds seen in September.
The fields surrounding the pans were mostly dry and stoney and some were edged with bramble along the track to East River. Birds seen in these areas were Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Whinchat, Crested Lark, Pipits, Wagtails, Kestrel and Bee-eater on the wires overhead. In the tamarisks along the western side of the pans were Willow Warbler and Cetti's Warbler. In the bramble hedges were numerous Shrikes and Corn Bunting and one observer saw a Sedge Warbler here.
2. Salt Pan Channel
The salt pan channel contained water for most of it's length except for the section bordering the southern edge of the pans, which consisted of dried up mud. Grey Heron and Little Egret were common in the channel. The corner close to the works buildings was good for small waders such as Wood Sandpiper, Little and Temminck's Stint and small Plovers. Kingfishers were seen fishing the channel at various points and a single Black-necked Grebe fished the channel along the western edge of the pans.
3. Dried Marsh and Scrubland|
This area contained similar birds to the fields plus good numbers of Red-Backed Shrike, the occasional Lesser Grey Shrike and on one evening visit two Montagu's Harriers quartering the area close to the bay.
4. Eastern Fields
These fields appeared to be slightly better cultivated than the other fields in the area and were edged with olive bushes. Again many of the commoner species were evident including Wheatears, Whinchat and an abundance of Willow Warblers. A Little Owl was found sitting on a tree stump along the fence line of one field and towards the far end of the track where it turns to the left several Pipits including two Tawny Pipits were seen feeding. Large numbers of migrating hirundines and swifts passed over this area one morning including Red-rumped Swallow and one Pallid Swift.
5. Scrubby Beach
This area was viewed distantly from the concrete headland on an evening visit. A large flock of several hundred Greater Flamingo's were seen wading out into the bay and a single White Stork rested on the beach.
6. Stoney Scrub|
This area was bordered by the salt pan channel and the main Mytilini road and was best viewed from the latter. Apart from the usual Wagtails and Chats, a well concealed group of five Stone Curlew were spotted from the road. Good views of Flamingo's could also be obtained from this section of the road and a flock of 16 Ruddy Shelduck were seen on one occasion.
7. Salt Pans
The salt pans were best viewed from the east in the morning and from the west and south in the evening due to the position of the sun. Huge numbers of Greater Flamingo were seen in the centre of the pans with larger waders such as Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Spoonbill. These birds favouring the northern pans. Smaller waders such as Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank and Redshank could be seen on the muddy areas bordering many of the pans. It was in such an area that we saw Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpiper on two separate visits. From the track Bordering the eastern edge of the pans a Shoveler and five Teal were seen during a morning visit. Little Egret, Grey Heron and Great White Egret were often seen along the banks between the pans along with solitary Black and White Storks.
This area is well worth several visits as it in easy driving or cycling distance from Skala Kalloni. A telescope is a real requirement here for viewing the center of the pans as the tracks in these areas are private.