Found two newly arrived Cyprus Wheatear at Cape Greco today and just a hand full of other migrants – an Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat and plenty of Isabelline Wheatear. Also saw several singing male Cyprus Warbler and a pair chasing, plus three Blue Rock Thrush, a flock of migrating Great Cormorant, Spanish Sparrows collecting nest material , a Eurasian Hoopoe and a male and female Finsch’s Wheatear. Two Greater Sandplover, a Grey Plover and an immature Slender-billed Gull were at Agia Trias.
A break from the rain today and I started at Akhna Dam which now has almost double the amount of water than when I last visited. Plenty of Eurasian Coot and some Grey Heron but more interesting was the female Red-crested Pochard, two Great Crested Grebe and the immature Great White Pelican that has been in the area since mid November 2016. At the coast at Agia Trias I found three Grey Plover, two Greater Sand Plover and three Common Sandpiper (see photo). An immature Slender-billed Gull flew in for a few minutes and then flew off again south (see photo).
A quick look at Cape Greco with only a female Blue Rock Thrush, a female Hen Harrier and Cyprus Warbler of note. Single Little Egret were on Kermia Beach, Makronissos Beach and Dekeleia. Nearly twenty Armenian Gull, a big male Caspian Gull and an adult Mediterranean Gull were on Oroklini Beach and a large flock of Common Starling were flying around before roosting. There were four Temminck’s Stint and six Common Ringed Plover at the JUMBO drainage channel. I finished the day at the Larnaca Sewage Works hide. No sign of the Pallas’ Gull that have been there for a few days but there were seven Greater White-fronted Geese in the fields.
Real winter’s weather for our day and a half out birding. Picking up Richard and Brad from Larnaca Airport midday Saturday we headed for Oroklini Marsh. We spent time in both hides there and were out of the rain at least. On the Paralimni coast at Agia Trias we weren’t so lucky and a biting wind there cut our birding short, while the gathering gloom and storm clouds as we reached Makronissos Beach meant we could have done with a torch to help us find the birds. A chilly, cloudy start on Sunday found us in the hide at Larnaca Sewage Works and although we got quite cold in the wind, the weather improved as we got to the Salt Lake and the sun finally came out. We even managed to eat our picnic lunch outside in the Panagia Stazousa valley and stayed out until the sun set at Agios Sozomenos outside Nicosia.
Birding highlights per location:
Saturday 17th December:
Oroklini Marsh – Cattle Egret, Greater Flamingo, Common Pochard, Western Marsh Harrier, Northern Lapwing, Spur-winged Lapwing
Xylofagou – Long-legged Buzzard perched on road side electricity pole.
Agia Trias – Grey Plover 3, Common Sandpiper 1, Yellow-legged Gull 4, Common Kingfisher 1
Cape Greco – Chukar 10+
Makronissos Beach – Eurasian Skylark c40, Kentish Plover 37
Sunday 18th December:
Larnaca Airport Pools South – Eurasian Stone Curlew 4, Common Starling 1, Black Francolin 5m and 2f, Eurasian Skylark, Common Shelduck 4
Larnaca Sewage Works – Greater White-fronted Goose 6, Ruddy Shelduck 2, Common Shelduck 3, Great White Pelican 1 imm, Eurasian Wigeon 4, Northern Pintail 10m and 2f, Grey Plover 1, Western Marsh Harrier 1,
Larnaca Airport Coast – Eurasian Curlew 2, Western Black Redstart
Pervolia – Corn Bunting 11
Larnaca Salt Lake – Greater Flamingo c600, Common Shelduck c150, Western Marsh Harrier 1, Common Crane 3, Spur-winged Lapwing 4, Common Snipe c15, Green Sandpiper 1, Heuglin’s Gull 2, Caspian Gull, Water Pipit 4, Grey Wagtail, Bluethroat, European Goldfinch 50+
Panagia Stazousa – Hen Harrier 1f, Long-legged Buzzard 1, Common Buzzard 1, Spanish Sparrow, European Serin
Agios Sozomenos – Northern Lapwing, Bluethroat 2, Finsch’s Wheatear 1m and 1f, Blue Rock Thrush 1m
Total species seen: 77
Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, European Shag, Great White Pelican, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Greater White-fronted Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Chukar, Black Francolin, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Common Crane, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Kentish Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Northern Lapwing, Little Stint, Common Snipe, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Common Black-headed Gull, Heuglin’s Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, European Robin, Bluethroat, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Finsch’s Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Corn Bunting
Went to Paralimni Lake and sites around Cape Greco. Not a lot to see but some good views of male and female Finsch’s Wheatear, hunting Hen Harrier, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon, my first Audouin’s Gull for a couple of months and a Greater Sand Plover.
Common Kingfisher 1
Headed east today and managed to avoid the rain and get the two birds I had hoped for – a Great Crested Grebe at Akhna Dam (a scarce winter visitor to Cyprus, and missing from my Cyprus 2016 list) and the Steppe Grey Shrike at Cape Greco.
Great Crested Grebe 1
Northern Lapwing 4
Common Redshank 5
Common Ringed Plover 4
Little Stint 3
Common Snipe 1
Little Bittern 1 juv
Common Starling c80
Water Pipit 8+
Hen Harrier 1f
Cattle Egret 1
Grey Heron 2
Eurasian Wigeon 2
Cape Greco Sea Caves area
Finsch’s Wheatear 1f
Steppe Grey Shrike 1
Blue Rock Thrush 1f
Little Egret 1
Grey Plover 1
Greater Sand Plover 1
Common Sandpiper 1
Common Kingfisher 1
Went over to the east of the island again today to try my luck with the Asian Buff-bellied Pipit found at Akhna on Saturday. This is the 5th record of the species in Cyprus. Was lucky enough to find it, take a record photo before it flew off and see some other good birds.
Asian Buff-bellied Pipit 1
Water Pipit 20+
Meadow Pipit 40+
Eurasian Wigeon 1m and 1f
Common Shelduck 1 imm
Peregrine Falcon 1
Grey Plover 1
Common Ringed Plover 4
Great Cormorant 3
Common Chaffinch 6
Eurasian Blackbird 1
Song Thrush 10+
Common Linnet 3
European Serin 2+
Finsch’s Wheatear 2m and 1f
Blue Rock Thrush 3m and 1f
Western Black Redstart 11
Great Cormorant 20 heading SW
Greater Flamingo c60
Water Rail 1
Spotted Crake 1
Cattle Egret c100
Song Thrush 1
Common Starling 16
Northern Lapwing 3
As the temperature slowly creeps up on a daily basis and the water on the coastal sites begins to evaporate, I decided to split the day out with Lynne and Kevin between the Akrotiri sites and two inland areas close to Limassol. We started the day at Germasogeia Dam where we headed for the Finikaria end of the dam, stopping on the way to watch a Cyprus Wheatear and a flock of Spanish Sparrow. At Finikaria we spotted two Little Owls in a carob tree and then stopped to enjoy a calling Black Francolin by the trackside. We then watched a singing male Sardinian Warbler which was chased off its singing perch by a male Cyprus Warbler which then took over. All around us we could hear Zitting Cisticola and calling Cetti’s Warbler. A Cetti’s called from a fig tree near to where we were standing and for once we were able to watch this elusive species. Near the water we heard Eurasian Reed Warbler and saw two Water Pipit in their pinkish summer plumage. A Squacco Heron was feeding on the water’s edge. We heard calling Great Spotted Cuckoo and were pleased when the pair finally flew close to us.
We then headed to the coast and spent a while in the hide at Zakaki. We checked the reed edges for crakes but no joy so we watched a large flock of hirundine coming down to drink there. They were mainly Common House Martin but they were joined by a few Red-rumped Swallow and Sand Martin as well as the usual Barn Swallow. Six Cattle Egret and six Little Egret were resting there and a lone Ferruginous Duck was present.
Lady’s Mile was even quieter than the day before. We saw Lesser Whitethroat and a lone Northern Wheatear while the Spotted Redshank was still on the water together with five Greater Flamingo, some Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Dunlin and Kentish Plover. At the entrance to Bishop’s Pool we found a male and a female Eurasian Pied Flycatcher in the acacias. Around the Gravel Pits we found more Northern Wheatear and two female Eastern Black-eared Wheatear as well as a female Blue Rock Thrush. Four Greater Short-toed Lark flew over as did six migrating Grey Heron. Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat and Eurasian Blackcap were feeding in the tamarisks and we saw a couple of Whinchat and heard two singing Common Nightingale.
We then headed inland again to Prastio Kellakiou. There we finished our day out surrounded by calling Cretzschmar’s Bunting, courting Masked Shrike, singing Cyprus Warbler, Cyprus Wheatear and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and some fly-by Red-rumped Swallow. There were several European Serin, European Chaffinch and Spanish Sparrow around and we watched an adult Great Tit feeding a couple of young fledglings in a fig tree. I was surprised to hear a couple of calling Coal Tit but our final bird of the day – a calling Eurasian Scops Owl was more expected but very welcome.
Total species – 69
Little Grebe, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Ferruginous Duck, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Chukar, Black Francolin, Water Rail (h), Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Dunlin, Spotted Redshank, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Eurasian Scops Owl, Little Owl, Common Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Common House Martin, Tree Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Common Nightingale, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sedge Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Eurasian Blackcap, Eurasian Pied Flycatcher, Great Tit, Coal 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
The fourth and final trip out with Ann and Peter this spring was back in Paphos for a four hour catch up with what was around. No Cyprus firsts today but we did have a good selection of migrants at Anarita Park although Mandria and Agia Varvara were quieter.
Two Lesser Kestrel greeted us as we entered the area and then we saw a female Woodchat Shrike and the first of five males. A couple of Tawny Pipit were feeding on one of the slopes and small groups of Tree Pipit were flying around. As we drove around the area we found two more Lesser Kestrel, a Little Owl, an Ortolan Bunting, several male and female Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, a couple of Northern and Isabelline Wheatear, a Great Spotted Cuckoo, two Whinchat and a male Blue Rock Thrush. We heard a male Eastern Subalpine Warbler singing from deep inside a bush but it did not emerge into the open. We did see a couple of Lesser and Common Whitethroat though as well as many of the resident Sardinian Warbler. We also heard a male Cyprus Warbler singing and found several Cyprus Wheatear setting up territory. Three Alpine Swift flew over as well as several Red-rumped Swallow.
It was quieter down at both Agia Varvara and Mandria although we did see a Common Quail come in off the sea and fly down into a barley field and find a Yellow Wagtail intergrade – superciliaris.
Total species -46
Common Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Black Francolin, Common Quail, Common Moorhen, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Little Owl, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Common House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail – superciliaris, White Wagtail, Whinchat, Isabelline Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear 3m and 2f, Blue Rock Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Eastern Subalpine Warbler 1h, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Eurasian Blackcap, Woodchat Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, European Serin h, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Ortolan Bunting, Corn Bunting
Visited a few sites around Paphos today. Main sightings were:
Ruppell’s Warbler 1m
Blue Rock Thrush 1m
Isabelline Wheatear 3
Northern Wheatear 4
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear 1m dark throated
Two days out with Martin and Rosemary to several of the Paphos hotspots gave us several lifers for Martin, despite the strong winds and lack of numbers of migrants around at the moment which limited the species we could have seen. However we were pleased with our species list in the end, although we felt we had worked hard to get some of the birds!
Highlights from locations visited:
Saturday 19th March:
Baths of Aphrodite: Long-legged Buzzard, Cyprus Wheatear, European Serin, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Yellow-legged Gull
Neo Chorio/Smygies: Chukar, Red-rumped Swallow, Cyprus Wheatear, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Corn Bunting
Droushia: Long-legged Buzzard, Blue Rock Thrush
Arodes: Little Owl, Cyprus Wheatear 4+, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear 1m pale throated, Finsch’s Wheatear 1m
Mioliou: Eurasian Hoopoe
Evretou Dam: Common Quail 3h, Black Francolin 2, Little Ringed Plover 2, Great Spotted Cuckoo 2, Black-headed Wagtail 2, Isabelline Wheatear 1
Monday 21st March:
Minthis Hills: Chukar, Woodlark, Cyprus Wheatear, Tree Pipit, Cyprus Warbler 1 singing male, Ruppell’s Warbler 1m and 1f, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Cretzschmar’s Bunting 4 singing males, Corn Bunting
Agia Varvara: Green Sandpiper 4, Red-rumped Swallow 30+, Cretzschmar’s Bunting 10+
Anarita Park: Long-legged Buzzard, Common Quail, Little Owl, Red-rumped Swallow, Tree Pipit, Common Redstart 1m, Isabelline Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear 6+, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear 2m dark throated, Finsch’s Wheatear 1f, Blue Rock Thrush 1m, Eastern Orphean Warbler 2, Spanish Sparrow c100
Asprokremmos Dam area: Long-legged Buzzard, Western Marsh Harrier, Chukar, Red-rumped Swallow 30+, Tree Pipit, Cyprus Wheatear, Spectacled Warbler
Mandria: Black Francolin, Western Black Redstart, Black-headed Wagtail c300
The weather rather dampened our expectations for our day out but in the end we managed some good species although not large numbers. Picking up Richard and Ethelyn from Coral Bay we headed first to Mavrokolympos Dam hoping to find a late Finsch’s Wheatear. We had no luck with that species but a couple of male Cyprus Wheatear were fighting over territory and at least two male Cyprus Warbler were singing. The heavens opened as we left and drove to Agia Varvara. Luckily it had stopped when we arrived there. We found a bedraggled Cretzschmar’s Bunting perched in a tamarisk and a Red-rumped Swallow on the wires looking the worse for wear. The orchards were full of European Serin, Common Chaffinch and European Goldfinch and we could hear European Blackcap singing in the olive groves. Two Great Spotted Cuckoo were calling and we watched as they were chased by a couple of Hooded Crow. I spotted a Peregrine Falcon but it speeded out of sight before Richard could find it. We had seen a male Western Marsh Harrier as we turned off the motorway and I hoped that we could maybe see other large raptors but the weather was definitely not helping.
We spent some time watching a mixed flock of finches and Spanish Sparrow on the road into Asprokremmos Dam where we also found a Chukar. Otherwise it was quiet there so we moved to the Paphos Sewage Plant where we found five Cattle Egret and a pair of noisy Spur-winged Lapwing. A small flock of around fifty Black-headed Wagtail were emerging from an alfalfa field to drink and bathe in a puddle and were joined by a couple of Meadow Pipit and a single Water Pipit. At Mandria we found the vagrant Namaqua Dove that has been present in the area for a couple of weeks before driving down to the coast. The strong wind meant that we ate our lunch in the car but we did find a couple of Isabelline and Northern Wheatear to watch as we did so.
As we headed inland to Anarita Park it began to rain hard again and as we waited in the car for it to stop I even contemplated calling it a day. But we could see the clouds clearing from the west so we were patient and were well rewarded with several species coming out to dry in the late afternoon sun. These included a male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, a male Finsch’s Wheatear and an Isabelline Wheatear shaking themselves dry, at least twelve Cretzschmar’s Bunting, a male Blue Rock Thrush, a female Cyprus Wheatear, three Red-rumped Swallow, two Lesser Whitethroat, a Woodlark and a calling Common Quail. A great end to a wet and windy day.
Total species seen 54
Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Western Marsh Harrier, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Chukar, Black Francolin, Common Quail, Spur-winged Lapwing, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Namaqua Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Crested Lark, Woodlark, Eurasian Skylark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Black-headed Wagtail (feldegg), White Wagtail, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Isabelline Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, Finsch’s Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Song Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 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, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Corn Bunting
Good numbers of Rueppell’s Warbler at Cape Greco this afternoon – mainly males but a few females as well as well as a few Eastern Subalpine Warbler and an Eastern Orphean Warbler. Birds seen included:
Eastern Orphean Warbler 1
Rueppell’s Warbler 10+m and 3f
Eastern Subalpine Warbler 3m and 1f
Isabelline Wheatear 14
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Eastern race of Stonechat – prob Siberian 1m
Blue Rock Thrush 2
Northern Wheatear 4m
Cyprus Warbler 1m setting up territory
Song Thrush 7
Red-rumped Swallow 1
Eurasian Hoopoe 1
Cyprus Wheatear 2m
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear 1m dark throated
Masked Shrike 1
Cretzschmar’s Bunting 2+