As well as the Demoiselle Cranes at Akrotiri on 16th March I also found several Great Spotted Cuckoo (photo), a Common Hoopoe, Water Pipit, Baltic and Slender-billed Gull, some Little Ringed Plover (photo) and a Purple Heron.
A wet Waterbird count around Larnaca today with counting done in between the rain. Highlights were two Little Gull (rising to three in the afternoon) (see photo), two Greater Sandplover, two Great Spotted Cuckoo (see photo), a Marsh Sandpiper, my first Lesser Whitethroat and Red-rumped Swallow of the year, Eurasian Curlew, Baltic Gull, Black-winged Stilt, Water Pipit and singing Eurasian Reed Warbler.
Plenty of the usual wintering ducks around – Northern Shoveler, Common Teal for example. Interesting birds seen during the count included: Greater White-fronted Goose (see photo), Black-necked Grebe, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Redshank (see photo), young Baltic Gull and Slender-billed Gull, adult Citrine Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Water Pipit, Bluethroat (see photo), Common Snipe, Northern Lapwing, Spur-winged Lapwing, Water Rail, Reed Bunting and a feeding male Penduline Tit (see photo).
Spent the last few days in north west corner of island – joining BirdLife Cyprus’ members weekend there which included a boat trip to Cape Arnaouti from Latchi Harbour.
My birding highlights included Baltic Gull, Gull-billed Tern, flocks of Purple & Grey Heron and Glossy Ibis, several Red-backed and Masked Shrike, a migrating European Sparrowhawk, flocks of European Bee-eater (see photo), an Ortolan Bunting, several autumn plumage Cyprus Wheatear (see photo), Red-rumped Swallow, Alpine Swift, a juvenile Pallid Harrier, Whinchat and a Common Hoopoe.
Managed to avoid most of the rain showers today and even had a good walk around Achna Dam – trying to find (and failing) the Pied Kingfisher that has been seen there on a couple of occasions over the last ten days. But despite that, at the three locations I visited I managed to see some good birds including Black-necked Grebe, Squacco Heron, Great Egret, Glossy Ibis, ‘Baltic’ Gull, Purple Heron, Marsh Sandpiper, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Black-winged Stilt, Temminck’s Stint, Garganey, Olivaceous Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Cyprus Wheatear and Warbler, Tawny Pipit, Black-eared Wheatear and Woodchat Shrike.
Numbers of ducks decreasing but still good numbers of Northern Shoveler and Common Teal as well as 24+ Black-necked Grebe, a pair of Gadwall, some Eurasian Wigeon and Common Pochard. More than 1000 Greater Flamingo in the area, although no sign today of a melanistic one seen yesterday, as well as nearly 1000 Common Shelduck on the main Salt Lake. A couple of hundred Slender-billed Gull were on the Salt Lake as well as some Caspian and Armenian Gull and plenty of Black-headed. But the best was an adult Pallas’s Gull in full breeding plumage in the north-east corner together with a Baltic Gull, two Heuglin’s Gull and a Mediterranean Gull. Waders included at least 16 Common Snipe, five Ruff, a few Eurasian Stone Curlew and hundreds of Dunlin and Little Stint.
The only spring migrants I saw were some Barn Swallows, an Isabelline Wheatear (see photo) and a Common Hoopoe. I then went along the coast towards Agios Theodoros where the Great Grey Shrike (probable aucheri intergrade) was still present and I managed to get a view of one of two Short-toed Snake Eagle that have also been in that area for a few days.
After visiting Akrotiri I spent the afternoon sea watching in Polis Chrysochou Bay. The photo is of two Whimbrel seen migrating W offshore. Other sightings included:
Polis Chrysochou Bay 12:00 – 19-:00
Common Ringed Plover 4 heading W along coast
Garganey three groups c300 in total
Purple Heron in off sea in two groups of 74 in total then seen heading inland 19:00
Audouin’s Gull 1 heading W
Glossy Ibis 52 in off from N and then inland
Eurasian Honey Buzzard 2 in off sea 14:40 and then lost to view
Whimbrel 2 heading W with another wader probably Ruff
Baltic Gull 1 heading W
Masked Shrike 1m
Two days out with Ashley who was in Cyprus with the single purpose of seeing the Cyprus Warbler, Cyprus Wheatear and Black Francolin and then some general birding.
Wednesday 29th March
We started on Wednesday morning in the Panagia Stazousa valley where we soon heard the strange buzzing of a male Cyprus Wheatear on territory and got some great views of it while at the same time two Cyprus Warbler were singing and competing for territory nearby. We had excellent views of them as well and were two thirds of the way through our target before our first hour was over. In the end we saw at least four singing male Cyprus Wheatear and at least twelve male and a female Cyprus Warbler in the area. Very satisfying to see so many of the warblers. A singing Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler in the same area was an added bonus. We also saw four Great Spotted Cuckoo -two of whom were seem copulating while the male fed the female a caterpillar taken from the nest of a processionary moth caterpillar. We watched him trying to extract another one but the female had lost interest by the time he was successful. A Long-legged Buzzard flew over, a Eurasian Scops Owl called and we found five Cretzschmar’s Bunting. Two Eurasian Hoopoe flew into a pine while we were watching a group of European Serin in the same tree.
Driving through the fields beneath the village of Kivisilli we stopped to admire another Eurasian Hoopoe and eight Lesser Kestrel hunting over the fields and dropping down to catch insects. A small group of Greater Short-toed Lark were in a ploughed field. We heard several Black Francolin calling at Petounta Point but only saw one briefly in flight. We had better views of another Long-legged Buzzard and several Northern and Isabelline Wheatear as well as a Common Redstart. But driving towards Pervolia we had more luck and finally had a singing male Black Francolin out in the open and not too far away so that our views were ruined by heat haze. In the fields near Pervolia village we had close up views of five Calandra Lark, around 60 Yellow Wagtail, 20 Red-throated Pipit and 50+ Greater Short-toed Lark.
After a picnic lunch by the seaside we moved to the hide overlooking Larnaca Sewage Works. There were not many waterfowl left there now although there were two Ruddy Shelduck which were a lovely surprise. Lesser Whitethroat were in the bushes in front of the hide – they were present at all the locations we visited over the two days. A Purple Heron flew over but didn’t stop while another Great Spotted Cuckoo rested briefly in front of the hide. Spur-winged Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Common Ringed Plover, Common and Green Sandpiper fed around the water’s edge. Before leaving the area we found more Black-winged Stilt, a lone Greater Flamingo and 13 Slender-billed Gull on Meneou Pool.
A quick stop to scan the main Salt Lake gave us a few more Greater Flamingo, two breeding plumage Black-necked Grebe and more Slender-billed Gull. In the north east corner our best birds were a female Little Crake and a Spotted Crake as well as Marsh Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Common Snipe, Ruff, Spur-winged Lapwing, Wood and Green Sandpiper, Bluethroat, Water Pipit, Yellow Wagtail and Eurasian Reed Warbler. We finished the day there with targets met and a total of 80 species seen.
Thursday 30th March
Our first stop today was Oroklini Marsh where we found a Glossy Ibis and a Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Black-winged Stilt and Spur-winged Lapwing, three winter plumage Black-necked Grebe, a Ferruginous Duck, two male and a female Red-crested Pochard, Garganey, plenty of Cattle Egret and two Little Egret and an overflying male Pallid Harrier and a hunting female Western Marsh Harrier. Several Eurasian Reed Warbler and a single Sedge Warbler were singing. We found another Pallid Harrier, this time a sub-adult male, sitting on Paralimni Lake and another male flew over. Also there were two Eurasian Golden Plover, many Ruff, many wheatear – mainly Northern but also Isabelline, Eastern Black-eared and Cyprus, a couple of Little Ringed Plover and a Common Greenshank.
We ate our lunch at the picnic site at Cape Greco after a short walk that had us thinking there was nothing around having just heard a Common Nightingale and seen a couple of Lesser Whitethroat and Eurasian Blackcap. Then a male Pallid Harrier flew by as did five Alpine Swift. We had good views of a dark-throated and pale throated Eastern Black-eared Wheatear and two male Cyprus Warbler at a distance. A drive around the rest of the area was then more productive and we saw two Water Pipit, 12 Greater Short-toed Lark, several Cyprus Wheatear including a pair with the female collecting nest material, a showy Eurasian Wryneck sitting on a rock in the sun, five Tawny Pipit, a male Masked Shrike in the same bush as three male Subalpine Warbler and a male Ruppell’s Warbler. A quick visit to the Larnaca area produced our final birds which were another male Masked Shrike and 18 Baltic Gull migrating off shore.
Two great days out with Ashley with a wide variety of species.
Total species and forms seen – 101
Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Western Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Chukar, Black Francolin, Common Quail, Spotted Crake, Little Crake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little Stint, Ruff, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Slender-billed Gull, Baltic Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Eurasian Scops Owl, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck, Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Common House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail (flava), Black-headed Wagtail (feldegg), superciliaris intergrade, White Wagtail, Common Nightingale h, Bluethroat, Common Redstart, Common Stonechat, Isabelline Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Song Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sedge Warbler h, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Ruppell’s Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Eurasian Blackcap, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Corn Bunting
A chance to see some migrating birds off the north west coast of the island and to join the BirdLife Cyprus annual boat trip from Latchi to Cape Arnaouti. Highlight of that for local birders was a Eurasian Oystercatcher seen flying E along the rocky shore – never common here it has been five years since I last saw one in Cyprus, although at least one has been seen on this coast so far this autumn. Also seen over the two days were Purple and Grey Heron, Baltic Gull, Little and Cattle Egret, Garganey, White-winged Tern, Common Redshank, Peregrine Falcon, Western Marsh Harrier, a ring-tailed Harrier – probably a juvenile Pallid, Yellow Wagtail, Little Ringed Plover, Eurasian Shag and migrating Common Black-headed Gull. Plus several flying fish!
A couple of hours around the Sewage Works area with Ruddy Shelduck, Pied Avocet, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Caspian Gull, Baltic and Heuglin’s Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Ferruginous Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Gadwall, Common Shelduck, Sandwich Tern, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Eurasian Curlew and Barn Swallow.
Plus the sight of a Western Marsh Harrier trying hard to put the flock of Eurasian Coot to flight so it could catch one – it had no joy while I was watching it, gave up and flew away. But I had the feeling it would go back and keep trying until it was successful.
Did the waterbird count at Larnaca and late in the afternoon visited Oroklini. The Red-breasted Goose is still at the Sewage Works together with five Greater White-fronted Geese. A Pied Avocet was the best wader and the Red Knot is still present. A young Peregrine Falcon flew in and snatched up a Coot only to be forced to drop it by an adult Peregrine that came swooping in. Both Peregrines flew off calling and briefly grappling. The Coot was left there although it was gone when I revisited in the afternoon.
The Ruddy Shelduck is still at Oroklini and there were three Temminck’s Stint and six Common Snipe feeding as well as a Bluethroat and Water Pipit.
Full list of sightings:
Larnaca Sewage Works
Greater Flamingo 56 (only one adult)
Pied Avocet 1
Common Shelduck 1
Black-winged Stilt 8
Little Stint c50
Common Redshank 6
Common Ringed Plover 1
Baltic Gull 1 juv
Armenian Gull 11
Marsh Sandpiper 1
Greater White-fronted Goose 5
Red-breasted Goose 1
Black-necked Grebe 1
Northern Pintail 6
Red Knot 1
Peregrine Falcon 2
Larnaca Desalination Plant Fields
Eurasian Skylark 100+
Calandra Lark 5
Eurasian Golden Plover 4
Common Starling 11
Larnaca Salt Lake
Greater Flamingo 6
Eurasian Teal 13
Little Ringed Plover 5
Common Ringed Plover 25
Spur-winged Lapwing 2
Common Redshank 30
Kentish Plover c140
Little Stint 30+
Western Marsh Harrier 1
Water Pipit 2
Spur-winged Lapwing 35
Ruddy Shelduck 1
Cattle Egret 60
Common Snipe 6
Little Stint 2
Temminck’s Stint 3
Common Ringed Plover 5
Little Ringed Plover 2
Water Pipit 1
Water Rail h
Eurasian Penduline Tit h
Northern Pintail 2
Common Starling 40
Corn Bunting 8
Sandwich Tern 2
Common Black-headed Gull c150