A very common winter visitor to Cyprus.
Have waited many years to see one of these and was excited today to see the one found by Spyros Spyrou earlier in the week, thanks to directions from Tony Reeves. Great to get this lifer but the bird had no sense of the occasion insisting on posing tantalisingly close to me – always with a few twigs in front 🙄. Anyhow here are the slightly better ones – you can’t have everything it seems!!!
Spent the last two days in the Limassol area. The highlight was a Masked Shrike already on breeding territory at Prastio Kellakiou and two Bimaculated Lark in with a flock of Greater Short-toed Lark and Meadow Pipit on the coastline of Akrotiri Gravel Pits. Other interesting sightings during the two days:
Saturday 10th March
Water Rail 1h
Little Crake 1m
Penduline Tit 2
Slender-billed Gull 2 ad and 1 imm
Heuglin’s Gull 1
Armenian Gull c30
Caspian Gull 2 imm
Isabelline Wheatear 1
Common Hoopoe 3 (See photo)
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Cyprus Wheatear 1
Akrotiri Salt Lake/Zakaki run off
Little Ringed Plover 20+
Common Ringed Plover 20+
Kentish Plover c100
Little Stint c30
Northern Shoveler c50
Greater Flamingo 800+
Western Marsh Harrier 1 ad male
Common Snipe 12
Black-headed Wagtail 1m
Akrotiri Gravel Pits
Kentish Plover 2
Isabelline Wheatear 1
Northern Wheatear 1m
Ruppell’s Warbler 1m
Greater Short-toed Lark 4
Subalpine Warbler 1f
Eurasian Reed Warbler 4+h
Red-throated Pipit 1h
Alpine Swift 14
Cyprus Warbler 2h
Sunday 11th March
Cyprus Warbler 3 singing males and 1f
Eurasian Reed Warbler 1h
Masked Shrike 1m
Cyprus Warbler 4 singing males
Common Buzzard 1
Great Spotted Cuckoo 1 flew over road
Akrotiri Gravel Pits coast
Bimaculated Lark 2 (Record shot below)
Greater Short-toed Lark 20+
Isabelline Wheatear 2
Black-eared Wheatear 1f
At Lady’s Mile this lunch time for the BirdLife Cyprus New Year’s meal. Quick opportunity to check out the gulls there – mainly Black-headed Gull but also an adult Little Gull (photo) and Slender-billed Gull (photo) as well as a couple of Yellow-legged Gull, only one Caspian Gull, a Mediterranean Gull and several Armenian Gull of varied ages. A Sandwich Tern flew by further out at sea.
A male Western Black Redstart on the ruins at Amathus Archaeological Site, Limassol this afternoon. A common winter visitor.
Both Common Gull and Mediterranean Gull are uncommon winter visitors to Cyprus- the latter more frequent than the former.
The Common Gull below was photographed in the rain on 7th January 2017 in the sea off Lady’s Mile, Limassol and the Mediterranean Gulls on Oroklini Beach on 8th January 2017 in yet more rain.
Highlights from the morning of 6th November around Paphos and a day at Akrotiri 11th November with Peter and Jean:
Paphos Headland – Greater Sand Plover 2, Eurasian Golden Plover 6, Common Sandpiper 2, Spanish Sparrow c20
Paphos Sewage Works – Spur-winged Lapwing 5, Red-throated Pipit h, Western Black Redstart 1, Zitting Cisticola 5
Mandria – Eurasian Shag 2, Chukar 5, Yellow-legged Gull c80 offshore, Eurasian Skylark c100, Red-throated Pipit 4, Yellow Wagtail 5 inc one male thunbergii race
Phassouri Reed-beds – Western Marsh Harrier 1, Common Buzzard 1, Common Snipe 1, Bluethroat 1
Akrotiri Gravel Pits – European Serin 5+, Song Thrush 1
Akrotiri Salt Lake – Grey Heron 210, Greater Flamingo c500, Common Shelduck 15, Peregrine Falcon 1 sitting on salt flats preening, Kentish Plover c10, Water Pipit 1, Spectacled Warbler 1
Lady’s Mile – Little Stint 39, Caspian Gull 3, Armenian Gull c10
Zakaki Marsh – Western Marsh Harrier 2, Water Rail 2, Little Crake 1 juv, Eurasian Penduline Tit 1m & 1f seen well + 2 others heard, Common Starling c200 at dusk
Full list of species seen – 61
Little Grebe, European Shag, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Western Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Chukar, Water Rail, Little Crake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Kentish Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little Stint, Common Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Common Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Gull, Armenian Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, Yellow Wagtail inc Grey-headed Wagtail thunbergii, White Wagtail, European Robin, Bluethroat, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Song Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet
The first of two day’s out with Julia and Pete was spent mainly around the Akrotiri Peninsula but the surprise of the day was found during a spur of the moment visit to Kouklia Soakways.
As we drove into Phassouri Reed Beds Julia noticed two birds at the edge of the field – a male and female Black Francolin. Moving on to the soundtrack of the day – the call of migrating European Bee-eaters – we saw several European Honey Buzzard fly over , a couple of Western Marsh Harrier and a female Red-footed Falcon. A male and a female Golden Oriole flew into a tall tree and we had brief glimpses of them. There were also several Eurasian Turtle Dove flying around together with several Yellow Wagtail. A lone Cattle Egret was present but the only waders we saw were two Common Snipe that flew over the area.
On the Gravel Pits we stopped near the church to watch a kettle of around fifty European Honey Buzzard on the thermalling up and disappearing into the clouds. We also had a Tree Pipit fly over calling and on one of the pools we found several Dunlin, Kentish Plover and a Common Sandpiper. We saw a couple of Whinchat and a Northern Wheatear as well as several juvenile Red-backed Shrike. We also had a single Lesser Grey Shrike on the road past Bishop’s Pool.
Lady’s Mile had Kentish Plover, a single Common Ringed Plover, several Dunlin and plenty of Little Stint. A Western Marsh Harrier flew over and then a juvenile Montagu’s Harrier. We were able to get great views of two Great Reed Warbler and several juvenile Yellow Wagtail (feldegg) from the hide at Zakaki Marsh due to the recent clearing work done by a BirdLife Cyprus volunteer. A hunting Western Marsh Harrier put a Northern Pintail, Garganey, Mallard, two Little Egret and a Grey Heron to flight.
After lunch we went to Kensington Cliffs where we were treated to a great flying display by around twenty Eleonora’s Falcon who were joined by seven Eurasian Griffon Vulture soaring over the cliffs and a single Long-legged Buzzard. We finally left as the Griffon Vultures headed inland and then back again behind the cliffs and out of sight.
We decided to pop into Kouklia Soakaways on the way back to Paphos on the off chance of a Bonelli’s Eagle. No luck with that but we had two, maybe three, Long-legged Buzzard, another Western Marsh Harrier and a Peregrine Falcon. Again there were many European Bee-eater and we thought at first we were looking at another one on the wires over the road as we were leaving. Suddenly it dawned that we had a Cyprus rarity in front of us – a White-throated Kingfisher – recorded less than annually. Unfortunately before we were able to even get a quick photo for the record it flew off into the nearby orchard. We had no luck relocating it but the views we had were unmistakable. A quick visit to Asprokremmos Dam added Spotted Flycatcher and Black-crowned Night Heron to the day’s list which contained some quality birds.
Species seen – 58
Little Grebe, European Shag, Black-crowned Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, European Honey Buzzard, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Black Francolin, Common Moorhen, Common Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Eurasian Turtle Dove, White-throated Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Sand Martin, Common House Martin, Tree Pipit, Black-headed Wagtail, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet
A drive-around birdwatch of the Limassol area today with the star being a European Honey Buzzard sitting, carefully extracting and then eating wasp grubs from a piece of wasp nest he held in his talons. Even my non-birding companion got out of the car to watch that!
Other birds seen included:
Phassouri Reed Beds – Glossy Ibis 1 juv, Eurasian Turtle Dove 1, Red-backed Shrike 1f, Ferruginous Duck 1, Lesser Grey Shrike 1, Yellow Wagtail 3 juvs, Eurasian Reed Warbler
Akrotiri Gravel Pits – European Honey Buzzard 1, Red-backed Shrike 1f, Black-winged Stilt, Yellow Wagtail 12
Akrotiri Salt Lake – Greater Flamingo c1000
Lady’s Mile – Common Greenshank 2, Marsh Sandpiper 1, Curlew Sandpiper 1, Glossy Ibis 5, Little Egret 1, Kentish Plover c200, Little Stint c20, Dunlin 1
Kensington Cliffs – Eleonora’s Falcon 5
Our first stop was at Kensington Cliffs as Stuart and Frances were keen to see as many raptors as possible. We found at least five Eleonora’s Falcon sitting on cliffside ledges as we first scanned the area but then two dark morph birds flew in front of us shortly followed by several light morph individuals. We were treated to their aerial display during our time there with several Alpine Swift also flying around. Checking the rocks at the bottom of the western cliff face we found six Eurasian Shags. A single Baltic Gull was a surprise find in the bay and then we were pleased to see two Griffon Vulture fly up from behind the cliffs, circle over Episkopi Garrison and then head inland.
Pleased with our start we moved to Akrotiri where we visited Phassouri Reed Beds, Akrotiri Gravel Pits, Lady’s Mile and Zakaki Marsh. Far fewer migrants were around than when I had visited the area at the weekend –especially waders – but we still managed to get good views of European Bee-eater, Temminck’s Stint, Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike, Ferruginous Duck, Armenian Gull, Spur-winged Lapwing and Kentish Plover.
We then headed inland and ate our lunch in a valley behind Omodos. There we watched at least four singing Black-headed Bunting, two singing Cretzschmar’s Bunting, at least one Long-legged Buzzard, several Cyprus Wheatear, a Corn Bunting, two Red-rumped Swallow and several European Serin. On the way back to Larnaca we visited the Panagia Stazousa valley where we added Chukar, Eurasian Turtle Dove, European Roller, Eurasian Hoopoe and (Stuart and Frances’ bird of the day), a Little Owl to our day’s list of species.
A good variety of birds even considering that migrating species at Akrotiri were much reduced now as we move to the end of May.
Species seen – 54
European Shag, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Mallard, Ferruginous Duck, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Eleonora’s Falcon, Chukar, Black Francolin (h), Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Kentish Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Temminck’s Stint, Baltic Gull (Lesser Black-backed Gull), Armenian Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Eurasian Turtle Dove, Little Owl, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Eurasian Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Common House Martin, Cyprus Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Black-headed Bunting, Corn Bunting
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
Spent the afternoon birding around Akrotiri. The best bird was seen last at 18.10 when an Osprey flew over Lady’s Mile and headed north. Other birds seen included Squacco Heron, Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, Spotted Redshank, Black-winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Woodchat Shrike, Red-backed Shrike and Yellow Wagtail.