Today the Travelling Naturalist group visited Akrotiri starting at Kensington Cliffs where we saw a Griffon Vulture and a male Cyprus Warbler. During the day we found many migrants in the area including Black-winged Stilt, Spur-winged Lapwing, Western Yellow Wagtail, Common Redstart, Ruppell’s and Subalpine Warbler, Little Ringed Plover, Eurasian Bittern, Common Hoopoe (photo). Black-eared Wheatear, Red-throated & Tree Pipit and ‘Steppe’ Buzzard.
Managed to avoid the storms that were around most of the day just inland from Akrotiri and had a relaxing birding day with highlights:
Black-headed Gull c300 (flying between here and Zakaki Marsh)
Mediterranean Gull 1 1st winter
Slender-billed Gull 3
Armenian Gull 20+
Caspian Gull c2
Eurasian Skylark 1 over calling
Kentish Plover 6
Hen Harrier 1 ring tail
Eurasian Sparrowhawk 1f flew over area four or five times putting gulls to flight
Eurasian Wigeon 1m
Reed Bunting 3
Eurasian Penduline TIt 2+ h
Moustached Warbler c5
Bluethroat 3 (one with white on head, one white spot and one red spot)
Water Rail 2
Spanish Sparrow 6
Common Kingfisher 2
Akrotiri Gravel Pits
Western Marsh Harrier 1f
Common Starling 1
Cattle Egret 2
Western Yellow Wagtail 3
Eurasian Penduline Tit 1+h
Common Kingfisher 1
Water Rail 1h
Griffon Vulture 10 flying over cliffs together 14:40 – 14:55
Cyprus Warbler 2 (1 h only)
Long-legged Buzzard 1
Eurasian Magpie 21 in one flock flying together
The weather was completely different today from recent visits to Akrotiri. The sea was calm with only the slightest breeze. Gloria, Stephen and I started at Kensington Cliffs where we watched several Eleonora’s Falcon flying out at sea and roosting on the Cliffs. Two Griffon Vulture briefly rose above the cliffs before flying round the promontory to Tunnel Beach. Several male Sardinian Warbler were singing; we heard some Chukar and watched two European Shag and Yellow-legged Gull down on the sea. We moved on to Phassouri where we found a couple of European Serin in the eucalyptus plantation and tried to locate a singing Eastern Olivaceous Warbler – a feat that was to be repeated several times during the day until we finally saw one – albeit briefly at our last location.
Squacco Heron, Cattle and Little Egret, Purple Heron and Glossy Ibis were all at the Reed Beds where we also found Common Snipe, a single Ruff and several Wood Sandpiper. We stopped to watch a Woodchat Shrike, both a female and a male Red-backed Shrike. Both Eurasian Reed Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and Cetti’s Warbler were calling/singing in the reeds. The water on the area near the old rabbit farm has nearly all gone but we found a couple of Wood Sandpiper, a single Dunlin, three Little Stint, three Kentish Plover, a Common Redshank and a Spur-winged Lapwing. I had received info that a Rose-coloured Starling had been seen in Akrotiri Village early in the morning so we decided to head there and see if we could relocate it. We had no luck with that but were very pleased to see two male Golden Oriole in the trees there.
Heading back to the Akrotiri Gravel Pits we found more shrikes – four Woodchat and a male Red-backed, a male and a female Common Redstart, a couple of Winchat, a rather pale Northern Wheatear and a Common Cuckoo. We ate our lunch near the Reed Beds but the only birds on view were a large number of Common Swift. Driving to Lady’s Mile along the south edge of the Salt Lake we saw several Greater Flamingos in the distance – a pink blob in the heat haze. Our persistence in checking out all the doves we saw also paid off when we finally found a Eurasian Turtle Dove. The sun was against us at Lady’s Mile but there was an interesting selection of waders including Black-winged Stilt, Ruff, Common Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Little Stint. We also found a Black-tailed Godwit and then a breeding plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit (unusual for Cyprus).
At Zakaki Marsh we found a Common Sandpiper and, especially interesting, two Temminck’s Stint. A couple of Glossy Ibis, two female Yellow Wagtail, several Wood Sandpiper, two Spur-winged Lapwing, some Mallard and two Northern Shoveler could be seen from the hide. Finally a single Ferruginous Duck came into view allowing better views that the three in flight that we had seen at Phassouri earlier.
To finish the day we headed inland to Prastio Kellakiou where we saw some completely different birds. Five Red-rumped Swallow were the first to greet us as we got out of the car. We could hear two singing Black-headed Bunting – one each side of the track and we spent some time watching them. Two Cretzschmar’s Bunting flew down to drink from a small puddle as did a male Serin, a male Spanish Sparrow and several Goldfinch. We could hear Eurasian Turtle Dove purring. There were at least two pairs of Masked Shrike and finally we located a couple of singing male Cyprus Warbler. Stephen had a fly-by Eurasian Hoopoe but we couldn’t find it again, although we finally had a brief look at an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler as we left the area.
Stephen and Gloria had asked to see a wide variety of birds and we certainly had that on an enjoyable day out.
Total number of species seen: 75
European Shag, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Ferruginous Duck, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, ‘ring-tailed’ Harrier, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Eleonora’s Falcon, Chukar, Black Francolin, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little Stint, Temminck’s Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Common Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Eurasian Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Common Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Common House Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Great Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Black-headed Bunting
Picking up Pat from her hotel in Nicosia we headed south east to the abandoned village of Agios Sozomenos. In the fields we heard and saw a few Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Red-throated Pipit. Hundreds of Western Jackdaw were on the cliff face and we were really pleased to find two Cyprus Wheatear still present and a migrating Whinchat in with the many Common Stonechat that were setting up territories. A smart male Western Black Redstart stood out and we also had good views of Zitting Cisticola, Chukar and Spectacled Warbler. The target species for the area was the Finsch’s Wheatear that spends the winter in the area. I wasn’t sure if they had arrived and at first it seemed we were too early but then I heard one singing and we located a very smart male. We were then pleased to locate another further along the road. We were also treated to fly-bys from a Long-legged Buzzard, a Peregrine Falcon and a Western Marsh Harrier.
The sky looked very threatening and we drove through a heavy rain storm to Limassol and Phassouri Reed Beds. As the rain was stopping our timing was just right, and we saw a male and juvenile Red-footed Falcon circling up together with a Eurasian Sparrowhawk. Two European Honey Buzzard were also gaining height as were at least two Western Marsh Harrier. We heard a Common Kingfisher, a Water Rail and several Cetti’s Warbler in the reeds but the best bird there was a Moustached Warbler that we saw moving around at the base of the reeds. Akrotiri Gravel Pits held many Common Stonechat and we also found a flock of Common Linnet, Sardinian and Spectacled Warbler.
There were only a few Little Stint on Lady’s Mile and the water levels had risen at Zakaki Marsh but we still had close up views of a Common Kingfisher and two juvenile Yellow Wagtail. A couple of Little Egret were feeding in the mud and at least fourteen Grey Heron were present. A lone Sand Martin was perched on the electricity wires
We decided to finish the day at Kensington Cliffs and we arrived there at around 4.30pm. Here we were treated to an aerial display by several Eleonora’s Falcon – in fact when we looked in the distance we counted at least forty birds – but five were flying and calling over our heads, catching insects and avoiding Hooded Crows and Yellow-legged Gull. As the sun got lower seven Griffin Vulture came into view and flew over the cliff opposite us to their nearby roost. A spectacular sight to round off a great day.
Fifty seven species
Little Grebe, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, European Honey Buzzard, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Western Marsh Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Chukar, Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Little Stint, Common Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, European Robin, Western Black Redstart, Whinchat, Common Stonechat, Cyprus Wheatear, Finsch’s Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet
Back out guiding after the summer break, we chose Troodos as our destination as temperatures were still in the high thirties. I picked up Paul and Reem from their Nicosia base and we headed into the mountains with our first stops the Livadhi tou Pashia and Kampos tou Livadiou picnic spots.
We found several Spotted Flycatcher family parties, juvenile and moulting adult Cyprus Wheatear, an adult Masked Shrike, a male European Blackbird, an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler family and good numbers of the endemic sub-species Coal Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper and Jay. Around Troodos Square we added Common and Pallid Swift as well as Eurasian Hoopoe and European Serin. We found two adult male Masked Shrike – one of which perched really close to us. Again we found plenty of Coal Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper.
Leaving Troodos to go to Zakaki we detoured and had our lunch at Tzelefos Bridge. There we found a Grey Wagtail and Common Kingfisher in the stream and plenty of Common Chaffinch. At Omodhos we watched several Red-rumped Swallow and continuing southwards we stopped to watch a large raptor gliding over the area near the turn off to Agios Therapon – a Griffon Vulture and a nice surprise for us.
We ended the day out in the hide at Zakaki where we had good views of Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Spur-winged Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Wood and Green Sandpiper, Reed Warbler and Black-headed Wagtail. Reem and Paul also had their first sighting of Collared Pratincole as an adult and a juvenile were roosting next to the many Mallards. Noting how much warmer it was down by the coast we were glad we had spent most of the day in the mountains birdwatching at a leisurely pace.
Total species seen – 43
Little Grebe, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Mallard, Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, Common Moorhen, Collared Pratincole, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little Stint, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, European Roller, Eurasian Hoopoe, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Common House Martin, Black-headed Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Common Kingfisher, Cyprus Wheatear, Eurasian Blackbird, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Jay, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Goldfinch