To reach the Potamia Valley, head west out of Skala Kalloni towards Eresos. After crossing the West River there is a sharp left hand bend in the road. There are two tracks leading off to the right from the road at this point. Take the left hand track, which carries straight on from the main road. This track leads up the valley. The right hand track will take you to Kalloni Inland lake. The directions for Kalloni Inland Lake in "Birdwatching on the Greek Island of Lesvos" we found were fairly easy to follow.
The Potamia Valley was in my opinion one of the most interesting sites on the island in September. For most part the river was dry with the exception of a small area marked on the map as running water and where the large tree stands to the left hand side of the track where a natural spring seeped onto the side of the track and ran along it for several hundred yards. This area was excellent for dragonflies and butterflies as well as for birds coming to drink.
The lower section of the valley mostly consists of fields and olive orchards. The fields were excellent for Wheatears, Shrikes, Chats, Warblers and Pipits. Black-eared, Northern and Pied wheatear were seen in varying numbers. In the first week of the holiday one field had been freshly mown and was excellent for shrikes, including Lesser Grey, Woodchat, Red-backed and a single Masked Shrike which were all seen hunting for prey in the field from the overhead wires and hedges. Tree Pipits were reasonably numerous with a single Red-throated Pipit being seen. Large flocks of Corn Buntings were seen on all visits with the occasional Cirl Bunting. The olive orchards held large numbers of Jay and Middle Spotted Woodpecker along with exceptional numbers of warblers especially during the second week of our visit.
Lower Potamia Valley
On several mornings after collecting Andrew from Kalloni II Pool at about 6-30 we headed for a particular spot in the lower Potamia Valley. This spot was by the small white building by the second crossroads along the main track up the valley. There was a large tree in berry at this point, which by 7-30 each morning was full of birds including Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Olivaceous Warbler, Nightingale, and on two occasions a Rock Thrush. In the area between this bush and the small reservoir along the track off to the left of the main track we saw Redstart, Orphean Warbler, Wryneck, Cuckoo and on one occasion an Olive Tree Warbler. In the olive groves early in the morning Persian Squirrels were not uncommon and one Beech Martin was seen.
On the afore mentioned reservoir were several Little Grebe, at least two Black-necked Grebes, Moorhen and Coot. On two mornings a Great White Egret flew into the reservoir. The olive wood oposite this water revealed a Wood Warbler one morning.
After passing through the lower regions of the valley the road crosses the river which at this point was totally dry and contained several dead sheep. In this area were Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Pied Wheatear and overhead we saw Short-toed Eagles on several occasions. Other raptors seen in the valley were brown and pale phase Steppe Buzzard and Long-legged Buzzard, Hobby, Eleonora's Flacon, Goshawk and soaring above the pine woods over the hills on our second visit was a Levant Sparrowhawk.
Middle Section of the Potamia Valley
Just before the fork in the road where it starts to climb up into the hills we found a stretch of river with running water. In the water were several frogs which appeared to be Marsh Frog although the habitat didn't seem quite right. There were also many Striped-necked Terrapins and a Beech Martin came down to drink one evening. There were good numbers of common birds coming to drink and Chukar could be heard on the hillside competing with the trilling calls of Rock Nuthatch.
We ventured further up the track on a single occasion but didn't see anything different to lower down in the valley, although we did hear a bird calling that sounded like Krupers Nuthatch, which as far as I know have not been recorded in this area.
Upper Potamia Valley
Kalloni Inland Lake was very disappointing as the locals had drained most of it to water the olive groves and nearby crops. However, in the area marked as brambles on the map we saw a very close Thrush Nightingale by the side of the car. This was the point where we ended up on a dead end track in one of the fields. The only other bird of real interest was an Isabelline Shrike perched on some dead twigs in the middle of the dried up lake. Due to it's dry nature and the fact that negotiating the many dead end farm tracks in the area was quite difficult we only paid one visit to the lake. According to Richard Brooks this area is a must to visit in spring but in autumn may not be worthwhile.