Evidence that winter visitors have been arriving at our wetlands the last few weeks with large numbers of Northern Shoveler (see photo), Greater Flamingo and Common Teal at the Salt Lake and Sewage Works. Also two each of Greater White-fronted Goose and Black-necked Grebe as well as four Common Pochard, a Eurasian Wigeon and two Northern Pintail. A small flock of Eurasian Golden Plover is already present as are good numbers of Eurasian Skylark and Meadow Pipit.
Photos of a few of the birds at Paphos Headland early this afternoon. Birds of note included:
Greater Sandplover 3 hunkered down
Eurasian Golden Plover 58
Common Sandpiper 2
Ruddy Turnstone 2
Eurasian Skylark 12
Best bird was an immature Bonelli’s Eagle (see photo) being mobbed by a Common Kestrel but also saw three Finsch’s Wheatear, a female Blue Rock Thrush and a singing male Spectacled Warbler. There were many Eurasian Skylark, Red-throated and Meadow Pipit in the fields as well as a large flock of more than 80 Northern Lapwing (see photo).
A few birds of interest at Agios Sozomenos earlier today:
Cattle Egret 17
Red-thoated Pipit c45
Eurasian Skylark c35
Corn Bunting 12
Finsch’s Wheatear 2f and 1m
Hen Harrier 1 ring-tail
Black Redstart 1m
Spanish Sparrow 55+
Some good birds and some warmer weather today at Larnaca. The flocks of Greylag and Greater White-fronted Goose and Ruddy Shelduck were on the Sewage Works pools as was a first winter Great Black-headed (Pallas) Gull. Three Eurasian Curlew and thirty Eurasian Golden Plover were on Spiros Pool with twenty Eurasian Wigeon. In the fields at Pervolia there were large flocks of Eurasian Skylark and also seven more Eurasian Golden Plover. I stopped on the road from Kiti to Petounta, at an area where I have found Calandra Lark in the past, and soon heard and saw three in display flight over the area.
More Eurasian Skylark at Petounta where there was also a Grey Plover and three Kentish Plover. Returning to the Salt Lake there didn’t seem to be as many Greater Flamingo as in mid January but still plenty of Common Shelduck, Common Black-headed Gull and small waders. A roosting flock of larger gulls was mainly Caspian Gull but there were also a few Armenian and Yellow-legged Gulls as well as two Heuglin’s.
At the Kamares area I found a Green Sandpiper, two Common Snipe (see photo), two Water Pipit, two Cattle Egret, seven Spur-winged Lapwing, a Grey Wagtail, many Common Chiffchaff, two Moustached Warblers and a Bluethroat. As I was leaving a larger bird on the grassy area caught my eye and I was very pleased to find my first Great Spotted Cuckoo of the year.
A good day around the Larnaca area doing the December waterbird count. Although one of the Sewage Pools is still empty the other one had some good birds including six Greater White-fronted Goose, a Ruddy Shelduck, an immature Great White Pelican, two Common Shelduck, five Black-necked Grebe, nine Eurasian Wigeon, four Common Pochard and two Northern Pintail. Twelve Eurasian Golden Plover were on Spiros Pool and six Eurasian Curlew were in the nearby fields which also had many Eurasian Skylark and Meadow Pipit feeding in them.
Nearly 700 Greater Flamingo were on the main Salt Lake as were around 140 Common Shelduck. An unexpected find were three Common Crane – maybe the same birds that were at Akrotiri Salt Lake recently (see record photo). Flocks of Kentish Plover, Dunlin and Little Stint were feeding on the edges of the water. Towards the north east corner there were more than 20 Common Snipe and a single Temminck’s Stint. Water and Meadow Pipit were around and were put up by hunting Western Marsh and Hen Harrier and two Common Buzzard. In the reeds I found three Moustached Warbler and two Bluethroat, a Water Rail and a Jack Snipe, as well as many Common Chiffchaff, two Grey Wagtail and a first winter Yellow Wagtail.
Three days out with Peter who I had previously taken out this time last year. Although once again he was too late for Cyprus Wheatear we had some great birds and a good time with one of the highlights being a Peregrine Falcon roosting on Akrotiri Salt Lake for the second year running, photo friendly Eurasian Penduline Tits and Jack Snipe, an unexpected Cyprus Warbler at Phinikas, five Finsch’s Wheatear including a female for a change and good views of Eurasian Stone Curlew, Hen Harrier and Eurasian Griffon Vulture to name just three – oh and hundreds of Common Stonechat!
Highlights per location visited:
Tuesday 1st November- Morning around Paphos
Paphos Sewage Works – Cattle Egret 2, Eurasian Sparrowhawk 1, Spur-winged Lapwing 8, Red-throated Pipit 4+, Yellow Wagtail 1 juv, Common Starling 1
Mandria – Eurasian Skylark, Red-throated Pipit c14, Water Pipit 2
Agia Varvara – Eurasian Sparrowhawk 1, Chukar 6, Northern Wheatear 1m, Chiffchaff 3, Willow Warbler 2, Red-backed Shrike 1 juv, Spanish Sparrow 4, European Serin c10, Corn Bunting 1
Monday 7th November – Day around Akrotiri Peninsula
Phasouri Reed-beds – Western Marsh Harrier 2, Eurasian Skylark h, Eurasian Penduline Tit 2, European Robin 6+
Akrotiri Gravel Pits – Western Marsh Harrier 1, Woodlark 2
Lady’s Mile – Western Marsh Harrier 1, Common Ringed Plover 2, Kentish Plover 100+, Little Stint c20, Dunlin c30, Armenian Gull 2 ad and 2 juv, Slender-billed Gull 4, Corn Bunting 4
Akrotiri Salt Lake – Grey Heron c60, Greater Flamingo c90, Peregrine Falcon 1 juv, Common Snipe 1, Water Pipit 2
Zakaki Marsh – Little Egret 2, Great Egret 1, Eurasian Teal 3, Water Rail 2+, Jack Snipe 1, Bluethroat 1, Song Thrush 1, Moustached Warbler 1, Common Starling 14, Common Reed Bunting 1
Kensington Cliffs – Eurasian Griffon Vulture 3
Friday 11th November – Day around Paphos
Mandria – European Shag 1, Hen Harrier 1 ringtail, Long-legged Buzzard 1, Eurasian Stone Curlew 25, European Golden Plover 1 flew over, Eurasian Skylark 40+, Meadow Pipit c60, Red-throated Pipit 20+, Western Black Redstart 1
Nata Ford – Eurasian Sparrowhawk 1, Bonelli’s Eagle 1 ad, Chukar 8, Song Thrush 4+, Eurasian Blackbird 1m, European Serin 6+, Corn Bunting 1
Phinikas (Asprokremmos Dam) – Great Cormorant 3, Eurasian Teal c90, Eurasian Sparrowhawk 1, Whiskered Tern 1, Little Owl 1, Common Kingfisher 1, Meadow Pipit 50+, Water Pipit 1, Western Black Redstart 4, Finsch’s Wheatear 3m, Blue Rock Thrush 1m, Cyprus Warbler 1m, European Serin 4, Common Linnet 3
Anarita Park – Long-legged Buzzard 1, Little Owl 1, Finsch’s Wheatear 1m and 1f, Spanish Sparrow 50+, Corn Bunting 3
Full species list – 80 species
Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, European Shag, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Chukar, Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Common Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little Stint, Dunlin, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Common Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Armenian Gull, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Little Owl, Common Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Woodlark, Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, European Robin, Bluethroat, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Finsch’s Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Song Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Moustached Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Common Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.
Peter and Pat were staying in Nicosia so we spent the morning at two sites nearby the capital with a view to seeing Cyprus Warbler and, if we were really lucky, a late Cyprus Wheatear. Our luck didn’t extend as far as the Cyprus Wheatear – they all seem to have left now – but we saw a good variety of species in the late autumn sun.
Starting at Agios Sozomenos the first bird we saw was a male Hen Harrier flying towards the car! We stopped and watched it quartering the alfalfa fields putting up several Meadow Pipits as it did so. Two Cattle Egret were unmoved and remained feeding near the water sprinkler. We moved on and stopped to watch a late migrating juvenile Red-backed Shrike. As we got out of the car a female Hen Harrier flew up. Great to see both sexes of this winter visitor. A few Eurasian Skylark were seen in the distance at the edge of a field and they were put to flight by one of several Common Kestrel. At least one Common Stonechat seemed to be perched on every bush or stem we passed and we gave up counting quite early on. Plenty of Western Jackdaw and Hooded Crow as well.
A Little Owl watched us as we searched the cliffs for a Finsch’s Wheatear – a localised winter visitor to Cyprus. This area usually has several individuals but we had no luck at our first stop. We did see a Western Black Redstart, a couple of Common Chaffinch and of course some Common Stonechats. We heard a European Robin staking its territory. We had a quick look in the Sewage Pool at Vathi Gonia and added Little Grebe, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Eurasian Coot and two Green Sandpiper to the morning’s list. A Peregrine Falcon flew over but disappeared quickly over the top of the ridge.
Driving back to recheck the cliffs we quickly spotted a male Finsch’s Wheatear flitting across the road from left to right. Usually they will move away from the road if you stop but this one didn’t and we spent some time watching him quite close to the car. Returning to the abandoned village we were entertained by two Spectacled Warbler flying near us as we drank a welcome cup of coffee. We checked the fields again as we left the area and found a group of Spanish Sparrow and a Zitting Cisticola.
We then spent an hour in the Panagia Stazousa valley. We heard many European Robin setting up territories as well as seeing a female Eurasian Blackcap and hearing several singing males. Several Common Chaffinch, many Western Jackdaw, flocks of European Goldfinch, a few Meadow Pipit and again lots of Common Stonechat were around. A single European Serin flew over and we saw three Corn Bunting and another flock of Spanish Sparrow – but although we had heard a couple of Cyprus Warbler contact and alarm calls it looked as if we were to be denied a decent view of one. A female popped into view from a fig tree but she didn’t hang around for long. But as we were heading back along the valley towards Nicosia I spotted some movement to our left and there sitting and even singing for us on the top of a bush was a male Cyprus Warbler. We watched him for several minutes before he flew off. A great end to the morning – although not to be upstaged another male and female flew briefly into the road side vegetation as we drove past.
A good morning out and proof that it’s not always necessary to head the island’s birding ‘hot-spots’ to see a good variety of species.
Full species list
Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Hen Harrier, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Eurasian Coot, Green Sandpiper, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Little Owl, Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, European Robin, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Finsch’s Wheatear, Zitting Cisticola, Spectacled Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crown, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Corn Bunting
Due to the continued drought this was probably the quickest October Waterbird Count I have ever done, although where there was some water there were birds. Did not see the Greater White-fronted Geese or Black-necked Grebes seen on the Sewage Pools on Saturday.
Update: the five Greater White-fronted Geese were present at 17.00pm
After much searching finally found a female Finsch’s Wheatear at Agios Sozomenos this morning. More evidence of winter visitors than on Thursday though in general
Finsch’s Wheatear 1f
Little Owl 1
Red-backed Shrike 1 juv
Eurasian Blackcap 1m
Long-legged Buzzard 1
Meadow Pipit 8
Eurasian Skylark h
European Robin 2h
Common Chaffinch 2h
Green Sandpiper 2 on irrigation pool
Cyprus Wheatear 1
Common Stonechat 30+
Eurasian Stone Curlew 1
The star bird on the Larnaca Sewage Pools this morning was a female/juvenile type White-headed Duck. A rare winter visitor, its a couple of years since one has been seen although that site is often favoured when one does appear. Also present were eight Greater White-fronted Geese, at least four Gadwall, several Eurasian Wigeon, a male Common Pochard, two Black-necked Grebe and the long staying lone Common Shelduck.
Around 150 Greater Flamingo were on Meneou Pool where a Western Marsh Harrier was on the mud with the remains of something it caught earlier. A Eurasian Curlew was on the coast near the airport and in the fields there were a couple of hundred Eurasian Skylark, some Meadow Pipit and Corn Bunting and at least one Red-throated Pipit.
But the morning got better when I got a tip off from a local birder of a juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake on Larnaca Sea front. It was still there when I arrived. Only six previous records of this bird in Cyprus. Great morning in Larnaca!