After a very wet day yesterday and yet more rain overnight, I was pleased that the today was much better as I did an early February Waterbird Count around Larnaca. There were several Isabelline Wheatear on the coast and a flock of Common Swift, Barn Swallow and Northern House Martin to remind me that spring is on its way. Highlights were 26 Black-necked Grebe, a Ruddy Shelduck, two Little Gull, more than 2500 Greater Flamingo, some smart male Common Pochard, two Bluethroat and at least three Reed Bunting feeding on seed heads in the reeds. An adult Mediterranean Gull at Oroklini Beach was a good end to the day.
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.
Considering that I always say I don’t really like gulls I seem to be spending a lot of time watching them at the moment. Spent a while watching this Little Gull on Lady’s Mile – it appears to be dirty – possibly oiled – but was very active and able to fly well. Also got another photo of one of the three Common Gulls present – this time in the sunshine, as opposed to the rain last weekend – and an adult Armenian Gull making fun of me its seemed.
Spent quite a long time today counting Greater Flamingos. 12,000 plus in the Larnaca area. Hundreds of Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Teal and Common Shelduck; twenty five Black-necked Grebe, three Gadwall, a Ferruginous Duck, eight Eurasian Wigeon and seven Greater White-fronted Geese at Larnaca Sewage Works. A small flock of less than thirty Eurasian Golden Plover at Spiros Pool with two Sandwich Tern offshore. Among the many Common Black-headed Gull it was good to find a Little Gull on Meneou Pool.
A lot of disturbance around the Salt Lake including some idiots walking in the water to get nearer to the Greater Flamingos there. Away from them in a quieter area there was a Temminck’s Stint, a few Little Ringed and Common Ringed Plover, seven Common Snipe and larger numbers of Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Little Stint and Common Redshank.
The White-headed Duck were still at Oroklini when I popped in there before heading home.
For our second day out this spring, I met John and Madeline at Avdimou and we headed for Kensington Cliffs. We stopped to watch a singing male Sardinian Warbler and then scanned the bay. We quickly found several Eleonora’s Falcon on the cliffs and then watched as others flew close to us and around the bay. On some rocks in the bay five Squacco Heron were resting. Both that species and strangely Common House Martin were present at most of the coastal sites we visited during the day. Spotted Flycatcher were also present in good numbers around the Akrotiri Peninsula and we found our first of the day at Phassouri Reed Beds where we also had at least five Squacco Heron, a Cattle Egret, several Little Egret, six Glossy Ibis , a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron, up to sixteen Wood Sandpiper and a single Ruff. Five Eurasian Turtle Dove flew over as did a Western Marsh Harrier. In the reeds were several Eurasian Reed Warbler and also a Woodchat Shrike, while two female Black-headed Wagtail were feeding in the footsteps of one of the grazing cattle.
The Gravel Pits were quieter but we did find a Purple Heron, Kentish Plover, Whinchat and Spotted Flycatcher. In the gardens of Agios Georgios Church we found another Woodchat Shrike and at least five Spotted Flycatcher. Madeline located a yellowish warbler in one of the pines which then started singing. The ID was then obvious – an Icterine Warbler – the star bird of the day and a lifer for John and Madeline. We could see around a hundred Greater Flamingo on the main Salt Lake and spotted a Great Egret feeding at the edge with several Little Egret. A female Montagu’s Harrier flew over the area. We had our lunch in the shade of the trees near Bishop’s Pool watching European Bee-eater and yet another Spotted Flycatcher. As we drove on a male Golden Oriole flew in front of us.
There had been a clear out of waders on Lady’s Mile since I was last there although on the eastern end we found nearly twenty Common Ringed Plover, several Ruff, many Little Stint and some Wood Sandpiper. Another good find was a Little Gull and six Squacco Heron were migrating along the coast. At the Zakaki Marsh hide we watched more Wood Sandpiper and female Black-headed Wagtail. We also found another Squacco Heron together with six Little Egret and a Grey Heron. We then visited the east side of the Salt Lake to get better views of some of the waders we had seen there when watching the Greater Flamingo. The light and heat haze were against us but we did see four Little Tern, several Black-winged Stilt and more Ruff, Common Ringed Plover and Little Stint. In the distance we could see a hazy flock of terns feeding – it was impossible to ID them with any certainty but it is likely they included White-winged and Whiskered.
We then headed inland to our final location at Kellakiou. On the way a Collared Flycatcher was seen from the side of the road. At Kellakiou we found a couple of Cyprus Wheatear and a single Cyprus Warbler. Eastern Olivaceous Warbler were singing and European Bee-eater migrating over the area. Eurasian Turtle Dove, European Serin, Common Chaffinch, Spanish Sparrow and juvenile European Goldfinch were coming down to drink at a small pool of water. Four Red-rumped Swallow were also flying down to drink there. At least three male Black-headed Bunting were singing and we were able to get close views of two of them as well as of at least seven Cretzschmar’s Bunting. A lone Masked Shrike was seen flying across the valley. This great experience, both listening and watching both migrant and resident breeders setting up territories ended our day out.
Total species seen – 68
Little Grebe, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo, Mallard, Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Common Kestrel, Eleonora’s Falcon, Black Francolin, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Common Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Little Gull, Common Black-headed Gull, Tern spp, Little Tern, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Eurasian Turtle Dove, Eurasian Scops Owl (h), Common Swift, European Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Common House Martin, Black-headed Wagtail, Whinchat, Cyprus Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Collared Flycatcher, Great Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Woodchat Shrike, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Goldfinch, European Greenfinch, Common Linnet, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Black-headed Bunting.
Seventeen White-winged Tern and six Whiskered Tern were feeding over Larnaca Sewage Pools this evening as was a Little Gull. There was a good selection of wader on Spiros Pool – many of them in breeding plumage which we don’t often get the chance to see. There were single Red-necked Phalarope and Broad-billed Sandpiper, three Black-winged Godwit, several Curlew Sandpiper, five Dunlin, many Ruff and Little Stint, some Common Ringed Plover and Wood Sandpiper.
Two Collared Pratincole were on the Desalination Plant fields where more Wood Sandpiper and Ruff were feeding. It was good to see a small group of European Bee-eater and there was also a Whinchat and a Woodchat Shrike.
No sign of the Broad-billed Sandpiper, that had been present last night, on Spiros Pool this morning but still plenty of interest as there were nearly twenty Curlew Sandpiper, a Red-necked Phalarope, four Black-tailed Godwit, two Little Tern, a Little Gull, more than a hundred Little Stint and a Ruff in near breeding plumage among the twenty or so of that species.
A couple of Whinchat and a late Northern Wheatear were also seen, ten Glossy Ibis passed over and then along the airport coast I watched 41 Collared Pratincole flying over the sea and then move inland. A Whiskered Tern was on the Sewage Pools.
Picking Bob up in Limassol for a day’s birding in Larnaca we decided to check out Lady’s Mile and Zakaki Marsh before heading east. We found a Squacco Heron on the marsh together with at least six Little Egret, three Ferruginous Duck and a male Garganey. We could hear several Eurasian Reed Warbler singing in the reeds while at least two Sedge Warbler could be seen. On Lady’s Mile we found a selection of waders including Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper and Little Stint.
On arrival at Oroklini we were pleased to receive a fly pass from a very pale Long-legged Buzzard. There were many Black-winged Stilt here as well, plus several Spur-winged Lapwing, a Common Snipe, some Little Stint, nearly fifty Ruff and a Wood Sandpiper. A male and female Northern Pintail were also present. The water was very deep on the main lake where we found a lone Greater Flamingo and some late Eurasian Teal and Northern Shoveler. A European Coot already had several quite large young.
The water level was also very high on the main Larnaca Salt Lake but in the north east corner we found nearly three hundred Greater Flamingo, at least eighteen Purple Heron, two Cattle Egret, around thirty Black-winged Stilt and three Spur-winged Lapwing. A flash of yellow moving between the mud and the reeds caught our eye and we were really pleased to find a male Citrine Wagtail. A Water Pipit and Woodchat Shrike were also seen and a Western Marsh Harrier quartered the area.
The other side of the airport close to the sea we found more Greater Flamingo and Black-winged Stilt as well as four Common Greenshank. Near to the coast a Gull-billed Tern was flying along the shore as were several migrating Barn Swallow. We found another Woodchat Shrike and plenty of Northern and Isabelline Wheatear on a ploughed field together with a small flock of Yellow Wagtail – both flava and feldegg races. As we were leaving the area we caught site of a Little Gull on the Airport Pool South and we spent some time watching it flying over the water – almost tern like.
We had had enough of the wind so headed inland to Kiti Dam. The trees there were quite quiet although we did manage to find at least three Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler and a Blackcap. A Little Egret also flew out of the trees much to our surprise and two Eurasian Hoopoe were feeding on the track as we drove up. Our final stop was Kivisilli fields where we were pleased to find at least three Lesser Kestrel (and a couple of Common) as well as the usual Isabelline and Northern Wheatear plus eight Tawny Pipit.
On our return to Limassol in failing light we made for the Zakaki Marsh hide again where we were treated to great views of one of the male Little Crake currently there. We may not have seen great numbers of birds but we had seen some quality species.
Number of different birds seen – 65
Little Grebe, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Ferruginous Duck, Western Marsh Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Black Francolin h, Little Crake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little Stint, Ruff, Common Snipe, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Little Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Common House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Water Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail (flava), Black-headed Wagtail (feldegg), Citrine Wagtail, White Wagtail, Isabelline Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sedge Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Eurasian Blackcap, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, European Goldfinch, Corn Bunting
Mixture of migrants and winter visitors around Larnaca today
Meneou Pool – Black-winged Stilt 6
Larnaca Airport Pools South – Black-winged Stilt 13, Slender-billed Gull 49, Greater Flamingo 776, Black-headed Gull 215, Common Shelduck 42, Little Gull 1, Armenian Gull 2+, Caspian Gull 2
Larnaca Sewage Works – Green Sandpiper 2, Northern Shoveler 21, Eurasian Teal 111, Spur-winged Lapwing 6, Ferruginous Duck 2, Ruppell’s Warbler 1f, Great Cormorant c180 flying E at 17.15pm
Spiros Pool and Beach area – Wryneck 2, Temminck’s Stint 1, Little Stint 3
Larnaca Airport Pools North – Greater Flamingo 39
Larnaca Salt Lake – Greater Flamingo 2770, Slender-billed Gull 159, Little Ringed Plover 3, Northern Shoveler 313, Common Shelduck 44, Eurasian Wigeon 1m and 1f, Northern Pintail 1m and 1f, Black-necked Grebe 11, Eurasian Reed Warbler 6+heard singing, Eurasian Teal 38, Green Sandpiper 1, Black-winged Stilt 2, Spur-winged Lapwing 2, Common Redshank 21, Common Snipe 1, Ruff 3, Little Stint 54, Dunlin 4, Common Ringed Plover 1, Kentish Plover 11
Kiti Dam – Masked Shrike 1, Eurasian Coot 31, Northern Shoveler 3, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler 1
Petounta Point – Eurasian Hoopoe 4, Isabelline Wheatear 2, Corncrake 1 (flew from side of track into cereal crop), Red-throated Pipit 3, Kentish Plover 2
Started at Kermia Beach this morning where I found a Little Egret, two adult Audouin’s Gull, a Grey Plover, a Kentish Plover and a Greater Sand Plover. Around Cape Greco there were four Isabelline Wheatear, four Blue Rock Thrush, including a singing male, and a female Finsch’s Wheatear – which I was especially pleased to find as it had eluded me on other visits this winter. At Agia Trias there was a Common Sandpiper, a Common Kingfisher and two more Grey Plover but no sign of the Red-breasted Merganser that were there last week.
On Oroklini Beach in the late afternoon there were around twenty Armenian Gull, hundreds of Common Black-headed Gull, a single Mediteranean Gull and five Sandwich Tern. I had been hoping to find a Little Gull there so I was pleased to see that there was one on Oroklini Marsh along with many Cattle Egret, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, Cattle Egret, Barn Swallow and a few Greater Flamingo.