Nature on the islandThe island’s plants, animals and birds More than 1,400 naturally occurring species and subspecies of higher plants have been discovered on Lesvos, and the Bay of Kalloni is one of Greece’s unique wetlands containing more than 130 species of birds. This natural richness is owed in part to the variety of habitats, the quality of rock formations, the millennia of human impact, its abuttal with Asia Minor (Turkey), and its geologically recent separation from the eastern Aegean. Theophrastus (372-287 BC), the father of botany, was born and excelled in Lesvos. Apparently, the island’s flora was of particular interest as far back as antiquity. Noteworthy plants include the yellow rhododendron that grows on the western side of the island (between Anemotia and Parakoila) near a conifer forest, pagona, sea lily, tsikoudia, iris, aplofyllo, alyssum, and numerous species of orchid found on Mt. Olympos. Also, many parts of the island have extensive olive orchards and dense forests of trachea pine, oak, fir, plane trees, beech and chestnut.Many amphibians, reptiles, birds and especially mammals fill the island’s forests, olive groves and mixed wood- and shrub-lands. Unique among these is the galia (squirrel), a beautiful little mammal found only on Lesvos. Also of interest are the island partridge or tsoukar and the black pelican. The Kalloni Bay WetlandA magnet for alternative tourism, the Bay of Kalloni is well-known abroad as a favorite birdwatching destination. The entire marine area encompassed by the bay together with the wetlands around its perimeter comprises an ecosystem that is particularly important for the impressively large variety of bird species that are observed here. Birdwatching now!Unquestionably, the major spot for birdwatching throughout the year is Alyki in Agia Paraskevi, where the Municipality has erected an observation post. The importance of the place is evidenced by large numbers of birdwatchers who regularly gather here. These visitors come to Lesvos, mostly in the spring (from mid April to late May), to observe the summer migration of birds from Africa, where they have spent the winter, to Europe, where they will arrive to reproduce in the spring and summer. SpeciesEvery year, the area is inundated with wild geese, wild ducks, wild swans, herons, kingfishers, glossy ibises, little bitterns, pelicans, gulls, terns, sandpipers, moorhens, northern bald ibises, and even pink flamingos, which are considered the most beautiful and impressive visitors in the wetland. Alternative Tourism ReignsLesvos offers a variety of alternative forms of tourism. From jeep-safaris through the island’s vast olive groves and forests and trekking on a network of trails that enables you to walk from one end of the island to the other, to birdwatching, which attracts scientists and bird lovers from all over the world. You can also choose among horseback riding, fishing, windsurfing at the northern-most beaches, spear-fishing, and just about anything else you can think of. Sailors will love circumnavigating the island, and those looking for escape can discover the ashrams in Molyvos and Eressos. Religious tourism thrives in Lesvos thanks to its many important monasteries. And don’t forget the island’s famous therapeutic spas, which are a steady draw for visitors throughout the year.If you’re a lesbian, Eressos attracts women who love women from all over the planet. Trendy lesbian bars, hotels and shops – all on the altar of Sappho!