Several Little Grebe families this morning at Athalassa Dam. This one was near the hide and the adult was very busy keeping the three youngsters together and also bringing some food. All three young were able to dive and could be seen clumsily swimming underwater presumably looking for insects etc themselves.
Only saw one Finsch’s Wheatear in the area this afternoon and he decided to keep an eye on me from behind a rock! A pair of Long-legged Buzzard were flying around the abandoned village calling and a female Hen Harrier was present. Lots of finches, Common Chiffchaff and Common Stonechat in the area.
A visit to Manglis Lake in the suburbs of Nicosia this morning showed the importance of this and other wetlands to wintering birds here in Cyprus. There were nearly 50 Greater Cormorant, four Grey Heron, a Great Egret, a Little Egret, more than 20 Eurasian Coot, three Moorhen and a Little Grebe all feeding and resting there.
The first guided trip of 2017 was a morning around two of the Nicosia birding spots. Josh and Toni were hoping to see Finsch’s Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush so we headed straight to Agios Sozomenos where we had a good chance of both. Entering the area we had good views of Zitting Cisticola and heard and saw a singing Corn Bunting in the distance. We stopped to scan the area for Finsch’s Wheatear and as we saw a flash of white wheatear rump fly off, a brown bird started singing on the top of a thorny bush. We were pleased to see that it was a Bluethroat which very obligingly sat out in the open for several minutes. A Spectacled Warbler and several Chiffchaffs flitted in and out of the bush at the same time. When the Bluethroat flew off we searched again for the Finsch’s Wheatear but no joy. We moved along the road and a grey-brown bird flew across the rocks – a female Finsch’s Wheatear. We stopped and watched her and then continued around the corner where we came across a male Finsch’s Wheatear. One of our two target species seen and well watched. We returned to the deserted village where two Long-legged Buzzard and a Peregrine Falcon treated us to fly-bys.
In the fields, we found plenty of Meadow Pipit, Zitting Cisticola, Common Stonechat and a large flock of noisy European Serin that sat obligingly in a small tree next to the track. We watched a male Spanish Sparrow feeding while others flitted unseen between the bushes. Large flocks of the resident Western Jackdaw flew over the area. As we had not managed to find the Blue Rock Thrush we decided to spend a little longer re checking the cliffs and rocks. Still no joy with that species although we found the male Finsch’s Wheatear we had missed earlier (minus the Bluethroat this ime) and then, best of all – a pair of adult Bonelli’s Eagle that treated us to an aerial display for at least ten minutes. The highlight of the morning.
Moving on to Athalassa Dam we found most of the expected waterfowl including a Ferruginous Duck and six Tufted Duck (scarce for Cyprus). Here the highlights were three adult and two immature Black-crowned Night Heron and the unseasonal Whiskered Tern that has been in the area for most of the winter. A great morning out with a good list of species for a January morning out away from the coast, and thanks to Josh and Toni for their company.
Total number of species: 45
Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Black-crowned Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, Long-legged Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Whiskered Tern, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, European Robin, Bluethroat, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Finsch’s Wheatear, Song Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Corn Bunting.
One of SEVEN Eurasian Hoopoe seen this morning outside Nicosia. Individuals have been reported overwintering in that area or nearby in the past.
A couple of hours birding close to Nicosia. Lots of the usual winter visitors around: Common Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, European Robin, Chiffchaff, Eurasian Blackcap. The more interesting sightings were:
Agios Sozomenos, Nicosia
Spanish Sparrow 22 + 25
Eurasian Skylark 16
Little Owl 1
Blue Rock Thrush 1f
Spectacled Warbler 7
Western Black Redstart 4
Finsch’s Wheatear 2m and 1f
Hen Harrier 1f
Corn Bunting 18
Red-throated Pipit 2h and 1 seen in breeding plumage (see photos)
Northern Lapwing 70+ flying
Vathi Gonia Water Treatment Plant, Nicosia
Ferruginous Duck 4
Spent a few hours at Athalassa Dam and saw the following:
Great Egret 3
Little Egret 2
Grey Heron 6
Great Cormorant 50+
Eurasian Spoonbill 1 juv
Cattle Egret 1
Black-crowned Night Heron 1 ad
Common Kingfisher 2
Grey Wagtail 2
Ferruginous Duck 2
Western Marsh Harrier 1
Black-winged Stilt 2
Common Snipe 1
Northern Shoveler 8
Eurasian Teal 30+
Little Grebe, Eurasian Coot and Common Moorhen
Common Chaffinch, European Robin, Common Chiffchaff and White Wagtail.
Hooded Crow and Common Woodpigeon
A first winter Whiskered Tern was on my local Nicosia patch this morning.
A quick visit to Athalassa Dam, outside Nicosia this morning – very peaceful and with some good views of some interesting birds.
A quick visit to Agios Sozomenos, outside Nicosia, this morning mainly to see if any wintering Finsch’s Wheatear had arrived. No luck but I did find a late European Roller, two Red-backed Shrike, a Long-legged Buzzard, a Cyprus Wheatear, some Cattle Egret and Red-throated Pipit. There were also plenty of Common Stonechat setting up territories. The photo below is of one of the many juveniles present.