Two days birding with Paula and Jack over from Canada for a couple of weeks. Paula’s wish list had contained several passage migrants which unfortunately the timing of her visit wouldn’t allow for – infact the only spring migrant we saw were Barn Swallow. It was interesting to take out a couple with little experience of European species and therefore did not tire of the many Common Stonechat and Crested Lark we saw which we take for granted here.
We spent Monday in the Limassol area starting at Germasogeia Dam where we were able to see Common and Long-legged Buzzard and a pair of Bonelli’s Eagle. Flocks of Chaffinch, Linnet, Serin, European Goldfinch, Spanish Sparrow and Meadow Pipit were around and several Great Cormorant, Common Coot and Common Teal were on the water. There were plenty of Common Stonechat and Chiffchaff but although we could hear singing Song Thrush and several flew quickly past us, none would stay still in the open for Paula to get good views of them.
It was very windy on the Akrotiri Peninsula and there were not many small birds out in the open. We did find the long-staying young Common Crane which is now acquiring adult plumage and had brief glimpses of a couple of Water Pipit. At least eight Cattle Egret were present together with a single Little Egret. Two flocks of Rock Dove flew over. A couple of Western Marsh Harrier were flying over the area and we disturbed a perched Common Buzzard which flew off in front of the car. On the coast there was a large flock of at least fifty European Greenfinch. On Lady’s Mile we found three roosting Common Ringed Plover and three Kentish Plover as well as a Little Stint. There were four adult Armenian Gull and around twenty juveniles on the sea together with over a hundred Common Black-headed Gull.
We tried out the new hide overlooking Zakaki Marsh but the wind made viewing unpleasant. There were a couple of Teal together with some White Wagtail, a Water Pipit and a Green Sandpiper. I heard a Common Snipe fly off but we were unable to see it. We headed to Kensington Cliffs to finish the day where a single Griffon Vulture rose up from the cliffs to greet us. We spent some time watching it having found a relatively sheltered viewing point. Paula was pleased to get her first view of Common Woodpigeon on the trees there but only I was able to see the European Shag heading east over the bay.
A trip around Paphos was planned for Wednesday and we started with a walk around the Headland. The sea was calm and we had no wind, so we were optimistic of seeing a few more of our target species. A male Western Black Redstart was the first bird we found. There were several Eurasian Skylark flying over the area and we watched a singing Corn Bunting, a male Sardinian Warbler as well as Linnets and Meadow Pipit. I found a Red-throated Pipit but it was disturbed before Paula could see it. We found the Eurasian Golden Plover on the shore as well as the long-staying Dunlin. The four Greater Sand Plover were harder to find but we soon got the ‘scope on them. Each one had slightly different plumage, ranging from winter to almost in full breeding plumage.
At Paphos Sewage Works we were able to see five Spur-winged Lapwing but the star birds there were the large flocks of European Serin, probably two hundred birds in total, which were singing and flying around the area. We were pleased to get a good view of a Cetti’s Warbler which we had heard calling as well as a male Blackcap. The Song Thrush continued to refuse to allow Paula good views however. A Common Buzzard circled over the area and an army helicopter flying over and scaring the birds meant the six Cattle Egret landed in front of us. We spent most of our time at Mandria looking for Red-throated Pipit and were pleased to find a flock of about twenty as we were leaving the area. They came close to the car and we were able to sort out the ID differences between them and the Meadow Pipit. Flocks of Eurasian Skylark were everywhere – even coming close to us as we ate our picnic lunch. Eight Golden Plover were present but despite searching for an early Isabelline Wheatear reported early in the week we were unlucky. A female Hen Harrier flew over giving Paula and Jack the chance to compare it with the Northern Harrier they were more familiar with.
We headed inland and at Anarita Park were pleased to find two male Finsch’s Wheatear and a male Blue Rock Thrush and Paula was also able to get another look at a Chukar. A flock of Woodlark obligingly stopped on a boulder near the track as we drove past and we could compare its characteristics with the Crested and Skylark we had seen earlier. As no Cyprus Wheatear had been reported yet I hoped that we would be able to find an endemic Cyprus Warbler at least for Paula and Jack. We headed to Asprokremmos Dam where we luckily found a very smart male defending his territory. Unluckily only I saw the Little Owl in his cave nearby. On the water there were at least one hundred gull – probably Yellow-legged. We finished our day at Kouklia Soakaways were we saw two Moustached Warbler and heard at least one other.
Although our Monday had not been as productive as we had hoped, Wednesday made up for it and I would like to thank Jack and Paula for their interesting company.
Great Cormorant, European Shag, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle, Common Kestrel, Chukar, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Common Crane, Common Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little Stint, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Common Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Armenian Gull, Rock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Little Owl, Crested Lark, Woodlark, Eurasian Skylark, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, European Robin, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Finsch’s Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Song Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Moustached Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Corn Bunting.