Lorraine had been to Cyprus birding before but in the spring so I was a bit concerned that a late autumn trip might disappoint as definitely we would not see the variety that she had seen before. We headed straight to Akrotiri Salt Lake with a view to seeing as many of the birds in the north and northwest shores as we could before the heat haze made it impossible. We scanned the area with the scope from the New Inn parking space and had good views of over 2000 Greater Flamingo, several Eurasian Spoonbill, Great and Little Egret, at least 200 Grey Heron and three White Stork. We had been told there were Black Stork present but we couldn’t find them. There was a large group of Slender-billed Gull as well as several Black-winged Stilt and many Mallard, Teal and Coot. Lorraine however was especially pleased to see six Corn Bunting on the wires above our vantage point as well as the first of the many Common Stonechat of the day. A flock of Spanish Sparrow was feeding on the seeds of the grasses nearby.
We moved to the area next to Sylvana’s restaurant for another scan of the Salt Lake. We found no new species there but on the wires in front of us sat two Red-footed Falcon and a lone European Bee-eater. They kept us entertained for a while as did the nine Chukar below us. As it was getting warmer we headed the shaded area at the start of Phassouri Reed Beds and focused on the sky around the aerial farm hoping for a few migrating raptors. We got our wish – several Honey Buzzard very kindly flew right over us, others to our left together with two Black Kite, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, a male and three female Marsh Harrier. Several Cetti’s Warbler were in the vegetation and two Black Francolin were watched in a nearby field. Near the water we found several Zitting Cisticola, yet more Stonechat, a few White Wagtail and a Yellow Wagtail. Along the coast near the Fish Farm there was a lone Isabelline Wheatear.
Moving across the Gravel Pits area we found at least 15 Stonechat, another lone Bee-eater and a juvenile Red-backed Shrike. We then headed for Bishop’s Pool. I was hoping maybe this time we would be lucky and find the elusive White-throated Kingfisher but my record on that species so far had not been good. As we drove in, three Common Crane were circling the area and then headed off towards the Salt Lake. Again there was a notable passage of raptors to occupy us. Another 15 Honey Buzzard – one of which landed in a tree there and tried to rest until mobbed by Hooded Crow and forced to continue. Four Black Kite passed over, there were another two Sparrowhawk and around 10 Red-footed Falcon. Most of these were soaring above us but one Red-footed Falcon flew around the Pool as did two Eleonora’s Falcon. The usual Mallard, Teal, Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe on the water were joined by four Shoveler. We heard a Water Rail but couldn’t locate it and several Grey Wagtail were present.
Then suddenly a great flash of blue came up from the back of the lake calling loudly. There was no mistaking that we had just seen the White-throated Kingfisher that has been at the site since early September. This Cyprus vagrant was a lifer for both of us so we then spent some time trying to relocate it. We heard it calling again but it was back in hiding. Pleased with our efforts we walked back to the car as several Barn Swallow flew into the area.
A Sardinian Warbler kept us entertained as we ate lunch in the shade near the Salt Lake and we then headed to Lady’s Mile. We found many Kentish Plover, a Sanderling, three Common Ringed Plover, eight Dunlin and around twenty Little Stint. We finished our day out at Zakaki Marsh where the thick reeds meant that the only bird we got good views of was a Common Kingfisher – but we weren’t complaining!