Several Little Grebe families this morning at Athalassa Dam. This one was near the hide and the adult was very busy keeping the three youngsters together and also bringing some food. All three young were able to dive and could be seen clumsily swimming underwater presumably looking for insects etc themselves.
The first guided trip of 2017 was a morning around two of the Nicosia birding spots. Josh and Toni were hoping to see Finsch’s Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush so we headed straight to Agios Sozomenos where we had a good chance of both. Entering the area we had good views of Zitting Cisticola and heard and saw a singing Corn Bunting in the distance. We stopped to scan the area for Finsch’s Wheatear and as we saw a flash of white wheatear rump fly off, a brown bird started singing on the top of a thorny bush. We were pleased to see that it was a Bluethroat which very obligingly sat out in the open for several minutes. A Spectacled Warbler and several Chiffchaffs flitted in and out of the bush at the same time. When the Bluethroat flew off we searched again for the Finsch’s Wheatear but no joy. We moved along the road and a grey-brown bird flew across the rocks – a female Finsch’s Wheatear. We stopped and watched her and then continued around the corner where we came across a male Finsch’s Wheatear. One of our two target species seen and well watched. We returned to the deserted village where two Long-legged Buzzard and a Peregrine Falcon treated us to fly-bys.
In the fields, we found plenty of Meadow Pipit, Zitting Cisticola, Common Stonechat and a large flock of noisy European Serin that sat obligingly in a small tree next to the track. We watched a male Spanish Sparrow feeding while others flitted unseen between the bushes. Large flocks of the resident Western Jackdaw flew over the area. As we had not managed to find the Blue Rock Thrush we decided to spend a little longer re checking the cliffs and rocks. Still no joy with that species although we found the male Finsch’s Wheatear we had missed earlier (minus the Bluethroat this ime) and then, best of all – a pair of adult Bonelli’s Eagle that treated us to an aerial display for at least ten minutes. The highlight of the morning.
Moving on to Athalassa Dam we found most of the expected waterfowl including a Ferruginous Duck and six Tufted Duck (scarce for Cyprus). Here the highlights were three adult and two immature Black-crowned Night Heron and the unseasonal Whiskered Tern that has been in the area for most of the winter. A great morning out with a good list of species for a January morning out away from the coast, and thanks to Josh and Toni for their company.
Total number of species: 45
Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Black-crowned Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, Long-legged Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Whiskered Tern, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, European Robin, Bluethroat, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Finsch’s Wheatear, Song Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Corn Bunting.
Five Barn Swallows, two House Martin and a Common Swift today at Athalassa Park reminded me that spring is on the way. On and around the water were two Great Egret, six Grey Heron, two Black-crowned Night Heron, two Cattle Egret, c40 Great Cormorant, a male Common Pochard, 18+ Ferruginous Duck, 3 Tufted Duck, three Grey Wagtail, a Common Snipe and lots of Little Grebe, Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhen, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Teal and Mallard.
Walked around the lake at Athalassa Park this morning. Birds of interest were:
Great Egret 5 (maybe 6)
Grey Heron 3
Black-crowned Night Heron 5 (4ad)
Cattle Egret 2
Great Cormorant 11
Ferruginous Duck 14+
Tufted Duck 3 (on smaller Sewage Pool)
Grey Wagtail 2+
Water Rail h
Plus lots of Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe
A good selection of ducks at Athalassa Dam this morning although only the Northern Shoveler and Eurasian Teal were obliging enough to be seen from the hide there. A female Tufted Duck, female Common Pochard and two male and a female Ferruginous Duck were present but could only be seen through the gaps in the waterside vegetation now that the water level is so high.
Singing Cyprus Warblers could be heard as I drove from Pyrga to Panagia Stazousa. I counted and saw at least 12 males and two females but heard several others as well.
Arriving back in Cyprus late last night meant I didn’t get out as early as I wanted this morning so confined my birdwatching to Nicosia. Visited Athalassa Dam in the morning and Agios Sozomenos in the afternoon. Highlight at Athalassa was two Ferruginous Duck; with Finsch’s Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, a Peregrine Falcon and flocks of Spanish Sparrow the pick of the afternoon’s birding.
A few hours out around Nicosia today produced four male Finsch’s Wheatear at Agios Sozomenos where there were also many Western Black Redstart and a male Peregrine Falcon. At Athalassa Park there was a juvenile Peregrine Falcon flying around, two Great Egret, two Common Kingfisher, a Grey Wagtail, several Eurasian Teal, and a few Grey Heron and Little Egret.
Decided to limit my birding to the Nicosia area today. Started at Manglis Lake in Lakatameia where the single Gadwall is still present after several weeks keeping company with some Common Coot, a Grey Heron, a Little Egret and a Common Kingfisher. As I walked round I disturbed a Green Sandpiper that was feeding at the edge and flew off noisily. Several Spanish Sparrow were in the water side trees and a couple of Song Thrush flew over.
At Agios Sozomenos I was pleased to find four male Finsch’s Wheatear were still around – each of them in the same place as on previous visits. There was also a male Blue Rock Thrush. On the Water Treatment Pool at Vathi Gonia there was a Common Sandpiper as well as six Northern Shoveler. A couple of male Spectacled Warbler were singing in the sunshine.
The usual suspects were at Athalassa Park – many Woodpigeon and Hooded Crow were flying around and on the water there were two Great Egret, five Grey Heron, twelve Little Egret, a couple of Cattle Egret and a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron. Over sixty Great Cormorant were present as were some Northern Shoveler and Common Teal.
First birds of the year were a European Robin and Blackcap both singing in the garden. Headed for Athalassa this morning where as well as the expected heron species, ducks etc there were a couple of Black-winged Stilt (not a bird you’d expect to be on your day list for January 1st), a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron and at least three Black Francolin. The numbers of Common Teal and Northern Shoveler have increased slightly but strangely I saw no Mallards. There were over sixty Great Cormorant and flocks totalling at least 100 Common Woodpigeon flew over.
A visit to Agios Sozomenos in the afternoon produced two male Finsch’s Wheatear, two Blue Rock Thrush and a male and a female Hen Harrier. A flock of at least sixty Northern Lapwing were flying over the fields and as well as two male Sardinian Warbler I also saw two male and a female Cyprus Warbler.
Athalassa Park – Little Grebe 5, Great Cormorant 63, Black-crowned Night Heron 1 juvenile, Cattle Egret 1, Little Egret 9, Great Egret 2, Grey Heron 8, Common Teal c10, Northern Shoveler 8+, Common Kestrel 1, Moorhen 20+, Coot c50, Black-winged Stilt 2, Common Woodpigeon 100+, Crested Lark 1, Woodlark 3, Grey Wagtail 1, White Wagtail 5, European Robin 3, Common Stonechat 1, Blackbird 3, Cetti’s Warbler 4+, Sardinian Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 6, Great Tit 5, Magpie 4, Hooded Crow c50, Western Jackdaw 3, House Sparrow 4, Chaffinch 8+
Agios Sozomenos – Cattle Egret 1, Hen Harrier 1m and 1f, Northern Lapwing 60, Meadow Pipit c20, European Robin 2, Western Black Redstart 2, Common Stonechat 8+, Finsch’s Wheatear 2m, Blue Rock Thrush 2, Song Thrush 1, Spectacled Warbler 1, Sardinian Warbler 2m, Cyprus Warbler 2m and 1f, Chiffchaff 2, Magpie 3, Chaffinch 2, Corn Bunting 3
Again confined to Nicosia for birding but a good collection of birds found. Four male Finsch’s Wheatear, a Woodlark, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Redstart and a Little Owl at Agios Sozomenos as well as several Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch,Spectacled Warbler and lots of Jackdaw. Two Great White Egret at Athalassa as well as nearly fifty Great Cormorant, a couple of Kingfisher, Grey Heron and Little Egret, four Northern Shoveler, some Teal and a Grey Wagtail. The three Black-winged Stilt are still there.
With not a lot of spare time to get our birding at the moment I decided to allow myself a few hours around Nicosia this morning. I first went to Agios Sozomenos and on heading straight to the cliffs behind the church I found a male Finsch’s Wheatear who came close to the edge overlooking the track which meant I could watch him well for quite a while. There was another male about 500m away along the road which for a few seconds actually flew down on the road before flying up onto the cliffs. Also in the area were at least 200 Western Jackdaw, a male Blue Rick Thrush, a couple of Black Redstart, a Little Owl and a Long-legged Buzzard.
At Athalassa Dam I found a Jack Snipe crouched low at the edge of one of the stands of reeds. There were around forty Great Cormorant, five each of Grey Heron and Little Egret, some Common Teal and at least two Grey Wagtail. I had assumed that lone Black-winged Stilt I had seen there on previous visits would have left so was surprised to find three this visit. A Common Kingfisher was flying around the area – in fact I think there were two. In the trees there were plenty of Chiffchaff, Robins, Chaffinch and a male Blackbird and a Song Thrush.