Quick visit to Agios Sozomenos outside Nicosia this morning. Very quiet apart from some Red-throated Pipits, a Cyprus Wheatear and a group of five Whinchat (one photographed below) and a male European Stonechat together on the edge of a field. The European Stonechat was my first of the winter – soon they will be so common everywhere until late March.
A very common winter visitor to Cyprus.
I spent Wednesday morning and all day Friday taking Katrin and Volker around several of the main Paphos birding locations. On Wednesday morning we concentrated on finding the two endemics – Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear. To maximise our chances we spent a couple of hours at Mavrokolymbos Dam. Luckily we found two Cyprus Wheatear that have still not headed south for the winter. We heard a couple of Cyprus Warbler too in an area where I have found them in the past. They were not as obliging as the wheatears – we can say that we definitely saw them but only briefly as they flitted between bushes, usually diving quickly out of sight again. A Long-legged Buzzard perched on a low rock also kept us entertained until finally the local Hooded Crows forced it to leave the area. Two Eurasian Hobby flew briefly into view and we heard many newly arrived European Robin, saw some Spanish Sparrow, found many Sardinian Warbler, a female Black Redstart and a late migrant Spotted Flycatcher. The only water bird in the area was a Grey Heron.
We checked the road to Akoursos for Cyprus Warbler as well and again we were made to struggle for good views. A male played very hard to get and while a female was also around. Driving towards Kathikas we found a good number of Corn Bunting and a Lesser Whitethroat. A surprise near Pegeia was a female Merlin that flew in front of the car.
On Friday the aim was to have a general bird watch and see what was around. We started at Paphos Headland where we were pleased to find three Greater Sandplover in their usual location on the beach despite being warned by a local birder that they weren’t present. We also found a Common Sandpiper and four Ruddy Turnstone which late migrant Whinchat and Northern Wheatear were also present together with some of the numerous European Stonechat and Crested Lark that we would see during the day. At Paphos Sewage Plant we also found our target species quite quickly – Spur-winged Lapwing – although behind the fences today and not feeding in the fields as we had hoped. We spent some time watching a mixed flock of Meadow and Red-throated Pipit in an unploughed field together with a good number of White Wagtail and a few Western Yellow Wagtail. Six Eurasian Skylark flew over – all these species highlighting the fact that winter visitors are well and truly here.
We then visited Anarita Park where we failed to find our target species – a Finsch’s Wheatear. One had been reported back on territory in mid week but we had no joy today even after trying several areas where they usually winter. We did find some compensation in a very smart male Blue Rock Thrush. We also found Chukar, a Little Owl, four Northern Wheatear, two Whinchat and a Cyprus Wheatear. Moving down to the coast we drove around the fields at Mandria and were pleased to finally see a raptor – a ringtail Hen Harrier that flew over the western part of the area being chased by Hooded Crows. Here we also found two juvenile Red-backed Shrike.
Over looking Asprokremmos Dam from near Anarita Mast we were treated to a fly over from an Eleonora’s Falcon and then a young Osprey fishing in the Dam itself. Also trying to feed over the water was an immature Whiskered Tern. An odd bird for this location but a new one for our trip list was a Northern Lapwing. Several Great Cormorant and Grey Heron were also on the water.
We finished our day checking the Ha Potami valley and then headed back into Paphos after seeing a good variety of species during what is a relatively quiet period bird-wise.
Species list- Chukar, Mallard, Little Grebe, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dover, Common Coot, Grey Heron, Great Cormorant, Greater Sandplover, Northern Lapwing, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Whiskered Tern, Little Owl, Osprey, Hen Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Hobby, Eleonora’s Falcon, Merlin, Red-backed Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Eurasian Skylark, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Willow Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Cyprus Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, European Robin, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Red-throated Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Western Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Common Chaffinch, European Goldfinch, Corn Bunting
Some early morning birding around Larnaca this weekend. Autumn migration definitely winding down and winter visitors just starting to show.
Some of the more interesting sightings were:
Larnaca Desalination Fields
Northern Wheatear 1
Yellow Wagtail 9
Red-backed Shrike 1 juv
Black Francolin 2
Larnaca Sewage Works
Northern Pintail 6
Greater Flamingo 17
Spur-winged Lapwing c30
Ferruginous Duck 7
Great Cormorant 1
Collared Pratincole 5
Whiskered Tern 1
Eurasian Golden Plover 1
Black-winged Stilt 2
Black-necked Grebe 1
Dunlin, Little Stint, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, Little Grebe, Mallard
Eurasian Thick-knee 19
European Bee-eater 3
Red-backed Shrike 2 juv
Dunlin 1 on beach
Red-rumped Swallow 4
European Bee-eater 26
Sand Martin 1
Cattle Egret 7
Whiskered Tern 1 imm perched on watering equipment
Greater Short-toed Lark 3
Yellow Wagtail 5
Common Buzzard 1 flew SW
Cyprus Wheatear 6
European Stonechat 1m
Northern Wheatear 1
Cyprus Warbler 1 singing male plus one other
Kamares area of Salt Lake
Laughing Dove 1
Common Kingfisher 2
Common Snipe 1
Spur-winged Lapwing 4
Little Egret 4
A few hours out around Paphos with Robert and Jean started at Paphos Sewage Plant where our first birds were a pair of Grey Wagtail and then a lovely male Black Francolin who stood at the road side in front of us feeding for several minutes. Many Spur-winged Lapwing were feeding in the fields – it seems they had a successful breeding season at this location. We also found a Northern Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat and several Willow Warbler – a few late migrants still around.
In the valley behind Agia Varvara we were treated to a flyby from two Long-legged Buzzard and came across a European Stonechat – one of the first of the autumn, soon they will be everywhere. More Willow Warbler and Whinchat were present as was a juvenile Red-backed Shrike. We found a small area of water and a Common Kingfisher was seen there.
We spent some time in the fields at Mandria where a small group of Red-footed Falcon were feeding and flying around. Suddenly they all took off and we watched them circling up as they gained height and soon were lost to sight and we assumed they migrated south. We then realised that a ring-tail harrier was being chased around the same fields by several Hooded Crows. Eventually we were able to get good views of the underparts and identified it as a female Montagu’s Harrier. There were a good number of both Yellow and White Wagtails in the fields as well as yet more Whinchat and Northern Wheatear.
We finished our time out around Asprokremmos Dam. We heard a Cyprus Warbler and had brief views of a female in flight but were disappointed not to see the male at all. An Eleonora’s Falcon was seen flying above us and another new bird for the day was a Tawny Pipit. A quiet morning at the end of migration but Robert and Jean had several lifers with the Long-legged Buzzard and Red-footed Falcons a special treat.