Did a couple of Common Bird Monitoring Surveys in the Cape Greco area and then stopped off at Oroklini Marsh on the way home. Several Cyprus Warblers and a singing male Black-headed Bunting on territories at Cape Greco with Long-legged Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and Eleonora’s Falcon fly overs. A Whiskered Tern was on Oroklini Marsh as were several Black-winged Stilt (see photo), plenty of Cattle Egret, a few Ruff and some Spur-winged Lapwing.
A morning out at two very different locations with Mary, Rui and Maria. We visited Panagia Stazousa valley first where we were looking to get good views of the endemic Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear. We were successful with the wheatear at our first stop but although we could hear a Cyprus Warbler male singing his heart out we could not spot where it was. A quick walk down the track led us to another singing male – this time well out in the open at the top of a pine. After that we heard many other singing males throughout the valley which was very pleasing. We heard both calling Common Quail and Black Francolin but had no joy trying to see them. A male Collared Flycatcher flew into a pine and several Olivaceous Warbler were singing.
At our next stop we found a large colony of Spanish Sparrow in a couple of large pines and moved on to watch two Great Spotted Cuckoo flying around calling and then listen to and watch a singing male Cretzschmar’s Bunting.
A complete change of scenery and birds at Oroklini Marsh where we visited both hides. There were good numbers of Cattle Egret, some already on nests, in the recently formed colony there. We also saw several Black-winged Stilt and Spur-winged Lapwing as well as Ruff and a couple of Wood Sandpiper. A Little Tern was resting on one of the shingle islands, two male Red-crested Pochard were seen as was a male Ferruginous Duck and three Garganey. Hopefully all of these will or are already breeding there. A single Glossy Ibis flew over and a few overstaying Northern Shoveler and Eurasian Teal were still around.
A brief taste of birding in Cyprus in a few hours gave us a total of 41 different and varied species.
Number of species seen: 42
Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Ferruginous Duck, Common Kestrel, Chukar, Common Quail (h), Black Francolin, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Little Tern, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Common House Martin, Cyprus Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Collared Flycatcher, Great Tit, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, European Serin (h), European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Cretzschmar’s Bunting
Once again some good birds in Nicosia; this time at Athalassa Dam where highlights were ten Tufted Duck, a Black-necked Grebe and two fishing Whiskered Terns (unusual for January, they are usually passage migrants through Cyprus).
Main birds seen:
Black-crowned Night Heron 2 ad
Cattle Egret 1
Little Egret 2
Grey Heron 3
Great Cormorant 2
Black-necked Grebe 1
Common Pochard 1m
Ferruginous Duck 3
Tufted Duck 10 (inc 4 males)
Grey Wagtail 2
Eurasian Blackbird 2m
Whiskered Tern 2
Northern Shoveler c80
Eurasian Teal c50
Common Chiffchaff 20+
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
Spent a few hours at Athalassa Dam and saw the following:
Great Egret 3
Little Egret 2
Grey Heron 6
Great Cormorant 50+
Eurasian Spoonbill 1 juv
Cattle Egret 1
Black-crowned Night Heron 1 ad
Common Kingfisher 2
Grey Wagtail 2
Ferruginous Duck 2
Western Marsh Harrier 1
Black-winged Stilt 2
Common Snipe 1
Northern Shoveler 8
Eurasian Teal 30+
Little Grebe, Eurasian Coot and Common Moorhen
Common Chaffinch, European Robin, Common Chiffchaff and White Wagtail.
Hooded Crow and Common Woodpigeon
A quick visit to Agios Sozomenos, outside Nicosia, this morning mainly to see if any wintering Finsch’s Wheatear had arrived. No luck but I did find a late European Roller, two Red-backed Shrike, a Long-legged Buzzard, a Cyprus Wheatear, some Cattle Egret and Red-throated Pipit. There were also plenty of Common Stonechat setting up territories. The photo below is of one of the many juveniles present.
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!
The third day out with Ann and Peter didn’t develop as planned as we decided to twitch a Cyprus first. We started at Oroklini Marsh where we found Purple Heron, Cattle Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Ferruginous Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Greater Flamingo, Spur-winged Lapwing and Black Francolin as well as the more common wintering ducks Eurasian Teal and Northern Shoveler and resident Mallard, Little Grebe, Common Moorhen and Eurasian Coot. We moved on to the drainage channel at the nearby JUMBO toyshop where our targets of Temminck’s Stint and male Citrine Wagtail were soon found. A Common and Green Sandpiper and a couple of Spur-winged Lapwing were also there.
The plan for the day had then been to head for Larnaca Salt Lake and other Larnaca birding sites but having been told that a Cyprus first – a Brown-necked Raven – had been found earlier in the morning at Cape Greco, Ann asked that we changed our plans and headed there. And we were certainly glad we did. On arrival we only just got out of the car when a male Pallid Harrier flew past us straight in off the sea. We turned around and into view then flew the Brown-necked Raven as if on cue. We watched it land on nearby rocks but were too excited to get our cameras to focus on it. We later rued the loss of a great photo opportunity. Several other birders including the raven’s finders, Keith and Raija Howard, then turned up and we spent some time discussing the bird and looking at Raija’s photos. A flock of migrating Northern Pintail flew E along the coast then turning and heading N over our heads. The first of many Northern and Isabelline Wheatear were around us.
After that the day couldn’t really go wrong and we found Ruppell’s Warbler, a female Pallid Harrier and male Western Marsh Harrier, Spectacled Warbler,Tawny Pipit, Greater Short-toed Lark, Cyprus Wheatear and Cyprus Warbler, Common Nightingale and Red-rumped Swallow. As the afternoon drew on we relocated the Brown-necked Raven near the restored rubbish dump and then finished the day with good views of a female Desert Wheatear. Probably we would have had a greater number of species if we had kept with our previous plan but getting a lifer made that irrelevant we decided!
Total species seen – 64
Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Ferruginous Duck, Western Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Common Kestrel, Chukar, Black Francolin, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Temminck’s Stint, Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Common Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Swift, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Common House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Citrine Wagtail, White Wagtail, Common Nightingale, Isabelline Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Song Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Ruppell’s Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Eurasian Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Brown-necked Raven, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.
The three fem/juv White-headed Duck were still at Oroklini at dusk this evening. I also noticed a couple of Northern Pintail, over forty Northern Lapwing, at least fifty Spur-winged Lapwing, four Common Ringed Plover, an Armenian Gull as well as the usual Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Coot, Little Grebe, Common Moorhen and more than 200 Cattle Egret coming into roost. On the nearby beach gull numbers were lower than I would expect in December. Three Armenian Gull were in the water with around 150 Common Black-headed Gull.
Some of the birds seen in a few hours birding this morning were:
Agia Napa Sewage Works – Lesser Grey Shrike 2m, Red-backed Shrike 1f, Eastern Orphean Warbler 2, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler c10, Common Sandpiper 2, Cyprus Warbler 1f, Spectacled Warbler 4+, Spur-winged Lapwing 1
Cape Greco – Red-backed Shrike 2f, Eurasian Hoopoe 2, Cyprus Wheatear 1
Agia Napa Football Fields – Cattle Egret c60, Lesser Grey Shrike 1
Oroklini Marsh – Little Stint 20, Spotted Redshank 2, Marsh Sandpiper 1, Little Tern 2 juv, Ruff 5, Wood Sandpiper 4, Grey Heron 1, Yellow Wagtail 5 flew over, Black-winged Stilt c20, Spur-winged Lapwing c25
Well I knew it had been hot in Cyprus while I had been away but I had hoped that at 7am it would be bearable. It wasn’t really but there were a few interesting species around. At least 18 Pallid Swift were over Agia Napa Sewage Works where almost every bush seemed to have several Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in it. I also saw eight Eastern Orphean Warbler but I am sure there were more unseen. A lone Cyprus Wheatear was also there as were several Spectacled Warbler.
A male Lesser Grey Shrike was at the Agia Napa Football Fields together with a Woodchat Shrike. Nearly 50 Cattle Egret were feeding on the watered pitches together with a couple of Black Francolin.
At Oroklini Marsh there were at least 22 Spur-winged Lapwing – several of them juvenile – and 25 Black-winged Stilt (again with several juvenile). At least twenty Little Stint were feeding in what is left of the water with some Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff and a single Marsh Sandpiper.