Second day guiding for Travelling Naturalist group in Cyprus travelling up to Troodos via Kouklia, Archimandrita, Agios Nikolaos and Platres. Highlights were good views of the endemic subspecies Coal Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper and Jay as well as Red Crossbill and low flying Pallid Swift. Also seen were several Cyprus Wheatear, European Serin, Corn Bunting and Laughing Dove at lower levels. Good collection of orchid species also seen as well as this crocus at Troodos.
While doing the waterbird count at Larnaca Sewage Works this morning, I remarked to another birder there that this time last year a Terek Sandpiper had been found at the Sewage Works. An hour later at Oroklini Marsh the first bird I saw from the hide was this Terek Sandpiper! Not annual here this would be the 15th Cyprus record of the species since 2000 if accepted. Sorry for the awful photos but it was just too far for anything decent.
Also seen this morning in the Larnaca area:
Laughing Dove 1
Barn Swallow 3
Larnaca Airport Pools South
Eurasian Thick-knee 4
Grey Heron 4 over flying W
Larnaca Sewage Works
Black Kite 2 flying low heading W 7:35
Greater Flamingo 418 inc 67 juvs
Black-winged Stilt 30
Northern Shoveler 33
Little Stint 29
Common Ringed Plover 6
White-winged Tern 4
Gull-billed Tern 2
Spur-winged Lapwing 7
Marsh Sandpiper 3+
Curlew Sandpiper 1
Black-headed Gull 2
Yellow-legged Gull 30
Common Kingfisher 1
Ferruginous Duck 1
Common Sandpiper 1
Whiskered Tern 1
Kentish Plover 2
Common Teal 9
Larnaca Airport Coast
Common Sandpiper 1
Yellow-legged Gull 24
Kentish Plover 2
Western Marsh Harrier 1f
Larnaca Salt Lake
Spur-winged Lapwing 2
Black-headed Wagtail 1m
Laughing Dove 2
Terek Sandpiper 1
Curlew Sandpiper 4
Spur-winged Lapwing 107
Black-winged Stilt 8
Common Redshank 4
Marsh Sandpiper 4
Little Stint 5
Common Ringed Plover 2
Little Ringed Plover 6
Whiskered Tern 1
Morning around Larnaca doing the monthly waterbird count. Most wintering ducks have gone as have most of the Greater Flamingos. Highlights were a Greater Sandplover at Spiros Pool, a flock of more than 600 Slender-billed Gulls on the Salt Lake and my first Wood Sandpiper of the year.
Kentish Plover 6
Larnaca Airport Pools South
Eurasian Thick-knee 2
Greater Flamingo 178
Black Francolin 1h
Laughing Dove 1 (first time seen here)
Larnaca Sewage Works
Spur-winged Lapwing 6
Black-necked Grebe 13 (see photograph)
Northern Shoveler 247
Common Pochard 3f
Eurasian Wigeon 1m and 1f
Green Sandpiper 2
Common Teal 44
Common Hoopoe 1
Greater Sandplover 1 (later seen on Spiros Pool)
Kentish Plover 2
Little Stint 14
Kentish Plover 1
Larnaca Airport Pools North
Greater Flamingo 100
Larnaca Salt Lake
Greater Flamingo 17
Common Shelduck 2
Slender-billed Gull 657
Kentish Plover 14
Little Stint 56
Common Ringed Plover 28
Eurasian Reed Warbler 5+h
Reed Bunting 1h
Common Snipe 6+
Water Pipit 4
Common Redshank 1h
Spur-winged Lapwing 9
Little Egret 1
Wood Sandpiper 1
Little Ringed Plover 1
Yellow Wagtail 1 first winter/spring
A lovely drive around some eastern locations today in the February sun. Was pleased to find a total of 15 Greater Sandplover on three different beaches. Other highlights:
Common Starling 12
Common Starling c300
Greater Flamingo 9
Northern Lapwing 1
Western Marsh Harrier 1
Common Starling 30+
Greater Sandplover 4 (see photo)
Grey Plover 5 (see photo)
Common Sandpiper 1
Long-legged Buzzard 1
Cyprus Warbler 1m singing and in display flight
Blue Rock Thrush 2m and 1f
Hen Harrier 1 ring tail
Greater Sandplover 3
Kentish Plover 2
Common Kingfisher 1
Greater Sandplover 8
Kentish Plover 8
Common Sandpiper 1
Little Egret 1
Laughing Dove 2
Little Egret 1
Caspian Gull 1 ad and 3 imm
Armenian Gull 2 ad and 4 imm
JUMBO Drainage Channel
Spur-winged Lapwing 6
Common Snipe 1
Laughing Dove 1+
Common Starling c100
Oroklini Marsh (main lake)
Common Pochard 1m
Black-winged Stilt 2
Common Redshank 2
Grey Heron 2
Cattle Egret 55+
Greater Flamingo 49
Visited several sites this morning before the heavens opened and the rain ruined any chance of birding in the afternoon.
Hen Harrier 1 ring -tail
Black-necked Grebe 2
Greater Sandplover 4 (see photograph)
Eurasian Shag 1
Common Starling 2
Hen Harrier 1 ring-tail
House Sparrow 500+
Spanish Sparrow 20+
Common Buzzard 2
Northern Wheatear 1m
Blue Rock Thrush 1m
House Sparrow 300+
Spanish Sparrow 50+
Eurasian Collared Dove 80+
Laughing Dove 4
Common Kingfisher 1
Audouin’s Gull 1
Common Shelduck 1 flying W
A sunny but cool winter’s day around some of the Paphos birding sites with Martin and Beverley produced a variety of species and showed that most of our regular winter visitors have arrived. Unfortunately for Martin and Beverly a lot of those are common in the UK but even so we picked up several new species for them and they were also pleased to see three female Hen Harriers which are not easy to see in England any longer.
We started at Paphos Sewage Plant where six Spur-winged Lapwing were feeding in a recently mown field along with four Northern Lapwing, plenty of Meadow Pipit, just two Red-throated Pipits and some Eurasian Skylark. Of course we saw many European Stonechat as well as the first of many of the day’s Black Redstart. In the valley behind Agia Varvara village we found a small group of Woodlark and then European Serin. Here we saw the first of our female Hen Harrier as well as a distant Long-legged Buzzard and Eurasian Sparrowhawk. Two Common Snipe were feeding in a small area of water. Also in the area was a very late Willow Warbler as well as several Common Chiffchaff, Sardinian Warbler and Spanish Sparrow.
Our next stop was Anarita Park where our target species was the Finsch’s Wheatear. A male was waiting for us – or so it seemed – as we arrived on one of the usual territories and then proceeded to keep us entertained for almost half an hour as it fed, flying from rocks down to the grass and back again. Another male was seen on a large boulder in the distance. A couple of flocks of Woodlark and Meadow Pipit were flying around. We then drove down to the coast and around the fields at the coast of Mandria. We had reasonable views of two Red-throated Pipits and watched several Eurasian Skylark in the fields. A Black Redstart entertained us while we ate our picnic lunch and several Yellow-legged Gull flew over. We decided to make a short stop near Kouklia Fish Farm where a pair of Slavonian Grebe had been offshore since late last week. Unfortunately we couldn’t find them but we did get great views of five Chukar that we had not managed at other locations.
We took the opportunity to visit Kouklia village where at least five Laughing Dove were found near the archaeological site there and then we moved to our last location of the day – Asprokremmos Dam. We spent some time on the dam wall where we watched another female Hen Harrier fly up stream and a lovely male Blue Rock Thrush feeding on the boulders. Driving up to the mast we found many Corn Bunting as well as more Woodlark, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch and a large flock of Common Linnet. On the water was a large group of Great Cormorant – another winter visitor – as well as some Common Teal and a single Northern Shoveler. Now the sun was setting the temperature started to drop and we called it a day and I drove Martin and Beverley back to their Paphos hotel.
Species seen – Chukar, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Common Teal, Little Grebe, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Laughing Dove, Common Coot, Grey Heron, Great Cormorant, Northern Lapwing, Spur-winged Lapwing, Common Snipe, Yellow-legged Gull, Hen Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Woodlark, Eurasian Skylark, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Willow Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, European Robin, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, European Stonechat, Finsch’s Wheatear, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Red-throated Pipit, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, Common Linnet, European Goldfinch, European Serin, Corn Bunting
For their second day out I took Peter and Jean to Paphos Sewage Plant, Timi Beach and Mandria and then inland to Kidasi. We finished the day at Kouklia village and then watching hundreds of Eurasian Jackdaw and Hooded Crow come into roost at Secret Valley where thirty plus Greater Cormorant also flew in and added to the spectacle.
Although we failed to see the Bimaculated Lark at Mandria despite checking through a lot of Eurasian Skylark we did find a lone Calandra Lark there as well as seeing a flyby Audouin’s Gull, a very late male Pallid Harrier and both a male and female Hen Harrier. We also enjoyed a male Finsch’s Wheatear at Kidasi.
Highlights per locations:
Paphos Sewage Plant – Spur-winged Lapwing 4, Eurasian Sparrowhawk 2, Common Buzzard, Red-throated Pipit 2+, Black Redstart
Timi Beach – Common Kingfisher
Mandria – Yellow-legged Gull c200, Audouin’s Gull 1, Hen Harrier 1m and 1f, Pallid Harrier 1m, Eurasian Skylark 100+, Calandra Lark 1, Black Redstart, Spanish Sparrow, White Wagtail
Kidasi – Finsch’s Wheatear 1m
Mamonia – Corn Bunting
Kouklia Village – Laughing Dove 5+
Secret Valley – Chukar, Great Cormorant 35+, Eurasian Jackdaw 300+, Common Kingfisher
Spent an enjoyable day out with Tony and Greta at several of the Paphos birding locations. We started at Paphos Sewage Plant where there were several Spur-winged Lapwing, including a couple of juveniles, feeding in the fields. A male Red-backed Shrike and a European Turtle Dove were sitting on wires and at the same time as a large flock of migrating European Bee-eater starting migrating over the area we also saw a juvenile Montagu’s Harrier, a European Honey Buzzard and a Western Marsh Harrier gaining height and heading out over the sea. In the fields were a couple of Whinchat, a covey of Chukar and a large flock of Western Yellow Wagtail. After watching a flock of Spanish Sparrow we then found a Long-legged Buzzard perched on the top of a pylon which we then saw dive down into the dry river bed nearby – it didn’t fly up while we were there so we guessed it had caught something and was eating it out of sight.
More European Bee-eaters were in the Agia Varvara valley as were juvenile Red-backed Shrike, Willow, Sardinian and Cetti’s Warbler, Whinchat and a Northern Wheatear. The best birds here though were two European Golden Oriole which flew into the same eucalyptus trees under whose shade we were taking a quick coffee break! On to Mandria and down near the coast at Lark Corner we watched some Greater Short-toed Lark, Whinchat, Nothern Wheatear and also a Tawny Pipit feeding. Behind us were three juvenile Collared Pratincole feeding in another field close to the water sprinklers. In another area we found three European Roller, a Lesser Grey Shrike and yet more European Bee-eater passing over.
The area near Anarita Mast behind Asprokremmos Dam was full of European Bee-eater as well and we found several Whinchat, more Yellow Wagtail, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Northern Wheatear, a couple of Tawny Pipit and another Lesser Grey Shrike all perched on the perimeter fence there. As we turned to leave a juvenile Montagu’s Harrier flew into view and we spent some time watching it quartering the area and feeding on at least one lizard that it caught as we watched – probably the day’s highlight. A pair of Cyprus Warbler were not so obliging and although we had very brief views of a male and a female they were disappointing. A Black-eared Wheatear close by was much easier to see.
We finished the day in and inland from Kouklia Village. We had good views of several Laughing Dove that now breed there and found another Northern Wheatear. We then moved inland to see if we would have more luck with the other endemic – the Cyprus Wheatear. Things didn’t look promising even though we visited an area I had seen many a few weeks previously, until finally one flew across the road in front of us – another brief view but at least this time we could see it properly!
List of species seen –
Chukar, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Laughing Dove, Great Cormorant, European Shag, Spur-winged Lapwing, Collared Pratincole, Yellow-legged Gull, European Honey Buzzard, Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Common Kingfisher, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Barn Swallow, Sand Martin, Willow Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Tawny Pipit, Western Yellow Wagtail, European Goldfinch
Start of the autumn season with a morning’s guiding with Jonathan, looking for Cyprus endemics in particular and anything we could find in general, bearing in mind the time of year and the heat! In the end, we had no luck with the Cyprus Warbler – apart of one possible flying out of and then disappearing into bushes at Petra tou Romiou but found plenty of Cyprus Wheatear – both adults, juveniles and newly fledged and had good views of the Coal Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper – both endemic sub-species.
Starting in the village of Kouklia where we checked out the small Laughing Dove population now doing well there and were surprised to also see a European Turtle Dove in the village. Late or migrating Common Swift were heard overhead. Moving inland from the village towards Oreites we had good views of European Roller and saw the first of many Masked Shrike and Cyprus Wheatear – there were many adults and juveniles around of both species all along our route. Further on towards Archimandrita we had good views of an Olivaceous Warbler in a pine tree and three European Roller flying around making a lot of noise.
We were pleased to find one Cretzschmar’s Bunting feeding by the side of the road as we headed towards Dora and a bit further on a family group of the same species. Red-rumped Swallow and Barn Swallow were overhead and then Jonathan spotted a European Bee-eater in the distance. We could hear them calling but it took us a while to relocate them.
Stopping for a coffee under some pine trees near Tzelefos Bridge we saw and heard several Coal Tit and Jonathan remarked how different they were from the ones he saw at home in the UK. By the stream at the start of the Mylikouri trail were several Short-toed Treecreeper – another of the Cyprus endemic sub-species but we didn’t come across any Jays – especially as there were many people around the area near the bridge where I had expected we should find one. We added Spotted Flycatcher, Northern Wren and Common Chaffinch to the day list. Two birds of prey appeared over a ridge as we left the area but dropped down before we could get our binoculars on them – more than likely Long-legged Buzzard but we weren’t sure enough to add them to the day list and they didn’t reappear.
It was now getting very hot and there were few birds out and about in the Omodos vineyards. We heard more European Bee-eater and saw more Masked Shrike, Cyprus Wheatear, Red-rumped Swallow and Sardinian Warbler.
We finished at Petra tou Romiou for a last look for Cyprus Warbler. We saw a likely candidate flitting around nearby bushes but didn’t have good enough views to confirm ID. We did however see three Eleonora’s Falcon flying around the area which was some compensation. Thanks to Jonathan for an interesting morning out.
Chukar, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Laughing Dove, Common Swift, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Common Kestrel, Eleonora’s Falcon, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Olivaceous Warbler, Northern House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Sardinian Warbler, Short-toed Treecreeper, Northern Wren, Spotted Flycatcher, Cyprus Wheatear, House Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, Common Linnet, European Goldfinch, Cretzschmar’s Bunting
This year a day out in mid-May means finding very few passerine migrants, the need to concentrate on breeding birds and visiting a wetland to increase the variety of species seen. Luckily Robert had a list of realistic target species which made our day easier although we had to work hard to find the Black-headed Wagtail. The other species Robert hoped to see were Cyprus Warbler, Cyprus Wheatear, Black Francolin, Chukar, Little Owl, Spur-winged Lapwing and Masked Shrike.
Starting at Cape Greco, the first bird we saw was a singing male Cyprus Warbler which was a great start. We explored the area and found another two males and two females together with a couple of juveniles. We soon heard the distinctive call of the Cyprus Wheatear and spotted a singing male on a low bush. Several others were later seen as were a couple of European Turtle Dove, a Spectacled Warbler, a male and female Red-backed Shrike as well as a couple of Sand Martin. A couple of Black-headed Buntings were singing near the Sea Caves area where we also found our only Chukar of the day.
We then headed to Akhna Dam where several Spur-winged Lapwing were found as was a male Garganey, a couple of Ruff and Common Sandpiper, some Little Egret, a Grey Heron and a Glossy Ibis. Several Eurasian Reed Warbler were heard singing and a flock of around 30 Common Swift and seven Alpine Swift were flying over the area and coming down to drink – a great sight. We visited both hides at Oroklini and Robert got great views of another of his targets here – this time a male Black Francolin was out in the open calling for quite a while. We also saw more Spur-winged Lapwing here as well as Black-winged Stilt, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Little, Whiskered and White-winged Tern and Garganey. There were several recently hatched young Cattle Egret in the colony and we also spotted a Spur-winged Lapwing chick with one of its parents.
We then went inland to Panagia Stazousa to try and find a Masked Shrike and a Little Owl. We found the Little Owl perched outside its nest site but it took a while to find a Masked Shrike until eventually a male flew into view. We also saw more Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear as well as Olivaceous Warbler, a European Roller, a fly-over Eurasian Hobby and two Long-legged Buzzard. We heard Cretzschmar’s Bunting but couldn’t get decent views of them.
Our next stop was on the eastern side of Larnaca Salt Lake where there was still some water and I was hoping may be a suitable location for the feldegg race of the Yellow Wagtail – Black-headed Wagtail. We found some water and the bonus of three Broad-billed Sandpiper (a regular but scarce passage migrant to Cyprus) feeding with Black-winged Stilt, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little Stint, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper and some stunning Curlew Sandpiper. A Squacco Heron was also present and we heard the call of a Yellow Wagtail and saw a couple fly over but were unable to see which race they were. Finally, a male Blue-headed was spotted feeding next to some reeds and then to its right there was a male Black-headed. All of the target species seen we went south of the airport to see what was on the Sewage Pools there. There were several Little Tern and a couple of White-winged Tern as well as two Yellow-legged Gull, some Spur-winged Lapwing and several Ruff. New birds for the day were a single Gull-billed Tern feeding over the water and a Collared Pratincole which we saw head out towards the coast.
We finished our day there pleased with our efforts.
Total species seen 66
Chukar, Black Francolin, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Common Teal, Little Grebe, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Laughing Dove, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Common Moorhen, Common Coot, Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ruff, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Collared Pratincole, Yellow-legged Gull, Little Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Tern, Little Owl, Long-legged Buzzard, European Roller, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Hobby, Red-backed Shrike, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Olivaceous Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Northern House Martin, Barn Swallow, Collared Sand Martin, Cetti’s Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Cyprus Wheatear, House Sparrow, Blue-headed Wagtail, Black-headed Wagtail, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Black-headed Bunting, Cretzschmar’s Bunting
Good to see John and Madeleine again for another day’s birding. We visited a few Paphos locations in the morning before spending the rest of the day around Akrotiri. Eight species of raptor seen including Red-footed Falcon, Lesser Kestrel and Montagu’s Harrier at Anarita early morning and later on a Peregrine Falcon and two Eleonora’s Falcon hunting the waders on Akrotiri Salt Lake where we were surprised to find a female Hen Harrier as well. We saw many different waders including Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper and Temminck’s Stint plus great views of Collared Pratincole and White-winged Tern.
Highlights per location visited:
Agia Varvara – Black Francolin 2, European Turtle Dove, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Lesser Kestrel, Eleonora’s Falcon, Spotted Flycatcher
Agia Varvara village reservoir- Ruff, Temminck’s Stint, Wood Sandpiper, European Roller, Red-rumped Swallow
Anarita Park – Montagu’s Harrier 1m, Long-legged Buzzard, European Bee-eater h, Lesser Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Cyprus Warbler, Corn Bunting
Kouklia village – Laughing Dove
Akrotiri Gravel Pits – Great Spotted Cuckoo 2, European Turtle Dove 4, Little Egret, Kentish Plover, Willow Warbler, European Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher 1f
Phasouri Reed Beds – Ferruginous Duck, Glossy Ibis 6, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Ruff, Olivaceous Warbler, Black-headed Wagtail 1m, European Serin
Akrotiri Salt Lake – Greater Flamingo, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, Black-winged Stilt, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Ruff, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Collared Pratincole, Little Tern, White-winged Tern, Hen Harrier 1f, European Bee eater, Eleonora’s Falcon, Peregrine Falcon
Lady’s Mile – Little Egret, Common Ringed Plover, Ruff, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Little Tern
Zakaki Marsh – European Bee-eater, Squacco Heron
Total species seen – 75
Black Francolin, Ferruginous Duck, Mallard, Little Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Laughing Dove, Common Swift, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, Common Moorhen, Common Coot, Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Little Stint, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Collared Pratincole, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Little Tern, White-winged Tern, Hen Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Olivaceous Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Northern House Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Willow Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Cyprus Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Cyprus Wheatear, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Black-headed Wagtail, European Greenfinch, Common Linnet, European Goldfinch, European Serin, Corn Bunting
Three days out with Mark, Willem, Oscar and Sjors around Akrotiri, Larnaca and Paphos produced a total of 112 different species/forms with a wide variety of types of birds and a few surprises. The only down side was the real lack of passerine migrants which were much decreased from mid-April but we had good visible migration of larger species especially Glossy Ibis and other herons as well as a Black Stork and the unexpected sight of three Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters over our heads at Phasouri.
Wednesday 26th April
This was spent around the various sites of the Akrotiri peninsula. We started at the hide overlooking Zakaki Marsh where we saw Ferruginous Duck through the reeds but had better views of a Baillons Crake in front of the hide where it competed for our attention with a Water Rail and a male and female Little Bittern. There were plenty of Eurasian Reed Warbler as well as a couple of Squacco Heron, Little Egret and Glossy Ibis. A singing Black Francolin came into the open and was well seen. Two Pallid Swift flew over the area and a Wood Sandpiper fed in the mud. Moving to Lady’s Mile a good selection of migrating waders included many Ruff, Black-winged Stilt and Little Stint, a lone Temminck’s Stint, a couple of Marsh and Wood Sandpiper and Dunlin and some Curlew Sandpiper. Several pairs of Kentish Plover were present as was a greyish Little Egret. Closer to the Salt Lake itself at the Zakaki runoff we saw a Black Stork thermalling up to the north as well as a distant White-winged Tern and Collared Pratincole. A group of more than sixty Gull-billed Tern were on the shore with some Slender-billed Gull and at least six Little Tern. A few Yellow Wagtail including thunbergi and feldegg race males were in the vegetation and we also found a female Black-eared Wheatear.
There were still a couple of hundred Greater Flamingo on the Salt Lake. A quick visit to Bishops Pool was notable for better views of Ferruginous Duck than at Zakaki as well as a good number of migrating Sand Martin over the water and some late Common Teal. An Eleonora’s Falcon flew over close to Sylvana’s as did a couple of European Turtle Dove and we also found two European Roller on the wires there. There was little of note around Agios Georgios Church so we drove across the Gravel Pits to Phasouri Reed beds finding a Grey Plover and a Whinchat on the way. At the reed-beds we saw another pair of Little Bittern, a single Cattle Egret, a Common Snipe, five Ferruginous Duck, three Glossy Ibis (with another 12 seen migrating over the area, another Wood Sandpiper, more Ruff and plenty of Eurasian Reed Warblers. As we were leaving three Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters flew over us – their call slightly different from their European counterparts. They were heading back towards the Gravel Pits area and we decided to go back there in the hope of re finding them.
We didn’t find them again but the decision to go back to there was a good one as we then saw two Greater Spotted Cuckoo, a Common Cuckoo, a European Roller, and a female Red-footed Falcon. Where had they been earlier? We finished the day at Kensington Cliffs where although Griffon Vulture let us down we had a wonderful aerial display from at least six Eleonora’s Falcon and many Alpine Swift.
Thursday 27th April
We headed for the Larnaca area today and started at the fields just outside Kivisili village. There were at least twenty Red-footed Falcon feeding and resting there as well as around eight kestrels that we could ID as Lesser as well as several Common as well. In the distance a female ring-tailed Harrier was quartering the fields – from the brief views of the underwing I managed it was most likely a female Pallid. We had just brief views of a Greater Spotted Cuckoo and Little Owl and found two recently fledged Corn Bunting. More than thirty Greater Short-toed Lark were feeding at Petounta Point and we saw our first group of migrating Glossy Ibis of the day (a total of at least 250 birds seen during the day), three migrating Purple Heron and two groups of Little Egret. The wooded area near Kiti Dam wall was quieter than it had been when I had visited on Monday – another reminder of the fact that migrant warbler passage seems to be largely over. But we did have two Spur-winged Lapwing, a male Golden Oriole and a single Great Spotted Cuckoo.
A quick detour via a post box in Kiti village produced a pair of Laughing Dove obviously breeding nearby. They are spreading throughout Larnaca. Around Larnaca Sewage Works and its pools we found another European Turtle Dove, a Common Cuckoo, a family party of Spectacled Warbler, a Great Reed Warbler, several Blackcap and Spotted Flycatcher, a male Black-eared Wheatear and a Whinchat. More visible migration – this time Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis and large flocks of Spanish Sparrow. On the pools themselves we had two White-winged Tern and two Collared Pratincole flying around in front of the hide as well as several Spur-winged Lapwing, some Black-winged Stilt, Ruff and Little Stint and a single Baltic Gull.
We found at least three Calandra Lark on the fields outside Pervolia as well as a male Northern Wheatear, a couple of Yellow Wagtail, plenty of Zitting Cisitcola and two male Black Francolin disputing their territories. Two Common Cuckoo were on wires near Meneou Pool – one of them a ‘rufous’ female. Our last stop was for a look at the waders on the Airport Pools (North) where the highlight was three Red-necked Phalarope.
Friday 28th April
A completely different day for our last day out which after a brief check of the fields at Mandria was concentrating in the Akamas. At Mandria we watched a group of swifts, including several Alpine come in off the sea and also found some Yellow Wagtail, a few fly over Red-throated Pipit and a single Tawny Pipit. We then heading to the valley behind Arodes village where our main target was the Black-headed Bunting. In the end, we found three singing males but also had good views of several Cyprus Wheatear, a singing male Cyprus Warbler, a fly over Eleonora’s Falcon and at least three male and two female Golden Oriole wwith at least four European Roller were in the area. There were plenty of Spotted Flycatcher, two Great Spotted Cuckoo and Red-rumped Swallow around as well.
Driving on through Pittokopos to Androlikou we found two more singing male Black-headed Bunting, Chukar, a male Lesser Kestrel and two Red-throated Pipit obligingly sitting on telegraph wires. Androlikou village had at least four European Roller and a couple of Cyprus Wheatear. A Common Hoopoe was singing from the top of a carob tree and as usual for the day there were several Spotted Flycatcher and singing Olivaceous Warbler.
A walk around the caravan site at the Baths of Aphrodite gave us another pair of Eurasian Golden Oriole, several Blackcap and a stunning male Red-backed Shrike. We also heard a Scops Owl but it wasn’t roosting anywhere visible. Two more were heard towards the Smygies picnic site and although Mark saw a small owl fly off again we couldn’t locate one for a proper view. We added Masked Shrike, European Serin and Cretzschmar’s Bunting to our list and saw two more European Roller. There were many migrating swifts and swallows including Alpine Swift, Red-rumped Swallow and Northern House Martin. A walk around some fields and carob groves produced another male Red-backed Shrike, a Tree Pipit, Whinchat and a male black and white Flycatcher which was probably a Pied. We heard some European Bee-eater fly over but couldn’t locate them against a sunny sky.
Thanks to Mark, Willem, Sjors and Oscar for three good days birding and some great birds.
Total species/forms seen – 112
Chukar, Black Francolin, Ferruginous Duck, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Common Teal, Little Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Rock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Laughing Dove, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Common Swift, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, Western Water Rail, Baillons Crake, Common Moorhen, Common Coot, Black Stork, Glossy Ibis, Common Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Purple Heron, Little Egret, European Shag, Black-winged Stilt, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Little Stint, Common Snipe, Red-necked Phalarope, Common Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Collared Pratincole, Slender-billed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Baltic Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Little Tern, Gull-billed Tern, White-winged Tern, Little Owl, Scops Owl, Western Marsh Harrier, Ring-tailed Harrier probably female Pallid, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Hoopoe, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Olivaceous Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Northern House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Sand Martin, Cetti’s Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Cyprus Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Tawny Pipit, Western Yellow Wagtail inc thunbergi, flava and feldegg races, White Wagtail, European Greenfinch, Common Linnet, European Goldfinch, European Goldfinch, Black-headed Bunting, Corn Bunting, Cretzschmar’s Bunting