A very hot and humid early morning check around the Larnaca area saw a few interesting species including this Eurasian Stone Curlew and Dunlin (see photos). Also of note were a juvenile Collared Pratincole, two Isabelline Wheatear, an adult and two juv Ruddy Turnstone, at least 13 Curlew Sandpiper, a couple of Red-backed Shrikes, migrating Red-rumped Swallow and Northern House Martin, a juvenile Audouin’s Gull and the first Northern Shoveler of the autumn on the Sewage Works pools.
Some of the more interesting sightings included: an Osprey migrating west early, a group of 20+ Collared Pratincole, nine Ruddy Turnstone feeding together – which is a high count for Cyprus, six Gull-billed Tern, two Whimbrel, more than 30 Eurasian Stone Curlew, two Black-eared Wheatear, many juv Red-backed Shrike and Whinchat and then a juv Common Cuckoo resting on my veranda when I got home.
Photos of the small flock of Greater Flamingo on the Salt Lake and three of the Ruddy Turnstone group.
More sea watching today and some good waders around – Eurasian Oystercatcher moving very quickly west close to shore, flock of 14 Common Redshank, another of 28 Ruff, a juvenile Collared Pratincole and single Ruddy Turnstone and Little Ringed Plover. Also small flocks of Grey and Purple Heron and Glossy Ibis, single Cattle Egret and Black-crowned Night Heron, Garganey, a lone Elenora’s Falcon heading east and two Slender-billed Gull. The photos are the best of a bad bunch of photos taken today – blame the speed of the birds, the harsh light and of course the photographer!
Visited the hide at the Sewage Works, Achna Dam, Ormideia and Oroklini this morning. Birds of interest:
Larnaca Sewage Works
Marsh Sandpiper 6
Kentish Plover 50+
Common Ringed Plover 10+
Little Stint 30+
Whiskered Tern 3
Grey Heron 3
Spur-winged Lapwing c30
Ruddy Turnstone 2
White-winged Tern 1
Whiskered Tern 5 (see photo of a juvenile that was preening on a rock)
Northern Lapwing 2
Spur-winged Lapwing 45
Little Egret 1
Grey Heron 5
Common Ringed Plover 6
Common Kingfisher 2
European Bee-eater 14
Dekeleia Fire Station
Eurasian Thick-knee 8
Common Kingfisher 1
Grey Plover 1
Spur-winged Lapwing 110
Glossy Ibis 1
Western Marsh Harrier 1
Common Redshank 1
Common Ringed Plover 6
Little Stint 6
Still some migrating waders around today with two Ruddy Turnstone and six Broad-billed Sandpipers the highlights. Plenty of Ruff, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Common Ringed Plover and Black-winged Stilt. Also two Black-tailed Godwit and Marsh Sandpiper and a few Little Ringed Plover, a Curlew Sandpiper and a Common Greenshank. Still a large flock of Little Tern on Lady’s Mile so hopefully they will stay to breed. I also found two Woodchat Shrike and four Red-backed Shrike with a Black-eared Wheatear, a Whinchat, a female Common Redstart and several Spotted Flycatcher.
Photos of a few of the birds at Paphos Headland early this afternoon. Birds of note included:
Greater Sandplover 3 hunkered down
Eurasian Golden Plover 58
Common Sandpiper 2
Ruddy Turnstone 2
Eurasian Skylark 12
I spent Wednesday morning and all day Friday taking Katrin and Volker around several of the main Paphos birding locations. On Wednesday morning we concentrated on finding the two endemics – Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear. To maximise our chances we spent a couple of hours at Mavrokolymbos Dam. Luckily we found two Cyprus Wheatear that have still not headed south for the winter. We heard a couple of Cyprus Warbler too in an area where I have found them in the past. They were not as obliging as the wheatears – we can say that we definitely saw them but only briefly as they flitted between bushes, usually diving quickly out of sight again. A Long-legged Buzzard perched on a low rock also kept us entertained until finally the local Hooded Crows forced it to leave the area. Two Eurasian Hobby flew briefly into view and we heard many newly arrived European Robin, saw some Spanish Sparrow, found many Sardinian Warbler, a female Black Redstart and a late migrant Spotted Flycatcher. The only water bird in the area was a Grey Heron.
We checked the road to Akoursos for Cyprus Warbler as well and again we were made to struggle for good views. A male played very hard to get and while a female was also around. Driving towards Kathikas we found a good number of Corn Bunting and a Lesser Whitethroat. A surprise near Pegeia was a female Merlin that flew in front of the car.
On Friday the aim was to have a general bird watch and see what was around. We started at Paphos Headland where we were pleased to find three Greater Sandplover in their usual location on the beach despite being warned by a local birder that they weren’t present. We also found a Common Sandpiper and four Ruddy Turnstone which late migrant Whinchat and Northern Wheatear were also present together with some of the numerous European Stonechat and Crested Lark that we would see during the day. At Paphos Sewage Plant we also found our target species quite quickly – Spur-winged Lapwing – although behind the fences today and not feeding in the fields as we had hoped. We spent some time watching a mixed flock of Meadow and Red-throated Pipit in an unploughed field together with a good number of White Wagtail and a few Western Yellow Wagtail. Six Eurasian Skylark flew over – all these species highlighting the fact that winter visitors are well and truly here.
We then visited Anarita Park where we failed to find our target species – a Finsch’s Wheatear. One had been reported back on territory in mid week but we had no joy today even after trying several areas where they usually winter. We did find some compensation in a very smart male Blue Rock Thrush. We also found Chukar, a Little Owl, four Northern Wheatear, two Whinchat and a Cyprus Wheatear. Moving down to the coast we drove around the fields at Mandria and were pleased to finally see a raptor – a ringtail Hen Harrier that flew over the western part of the area being chased by Hooded Crows. Here we also found two juvenile Red-backed Shrike.
Over looking Asprokremmos Dam from near Anarita Mast we were treated to a fly over from an Eleonora’s Falcon and then a young Osprey fishing in the Dam itself. Also trying to feed over the water was an immature Whiskered Tern. An odd bird for this location but a new one for our trip list was a Northern Lapwing. Several Great Cormorant and Grey Heron were also on the water.
We finished our day checking the Ha Potami valley and then headed back into Paphos after seeing a good variety of species during what is a relatively quiet period bird-wise.
Species list- Chukar, Mallard, Little Grebe, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dover, Common Coot, Grey Heron, Great Cormorant, Greater Sandplover, Northern Lapwing, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Whiskered Tern, Little Owl, Osprey, Hen Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Hobby, Eleonora’s Falcon, Merlin, Red-backed Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Eurasian Skylark, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Willow Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Cyprus Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, European Robin, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Red-throated Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Western Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Common Chaffinch, European Goldfinch, Corn Bunting
We were made to work hard for the birds we saw today but David, Ann and I managed in the end to get a good variety of species and excellent views of two of David’s main targets – Greater Sandplover and Red-footed Falcon. This time of year is often very quiet bird-wise and today was no exception. We saw no large migrating raptors although we did see resident Long-legged Buzzard and Bonelli’s Eagle.
We started with a walk around Paphos Headland specifically to see the Greater Sandplover that overwinter there and have been present now for a few months. We found three of them and with them were two Ruddy Turnstone, a Common Ringed Plover and a Dunlin. A Common Kingfisher was hovering and fishing close to the shore. We then headed to the Paphos Sewage Plant where we had great views of several Spur-winged Lapwing, Spanish Sparrow and many Willow Warbler. The latter were everywhere we went today feeding mainly in trackside weeds. In the distance we saw a Long-legged Buzzard being mobbed by Hooded Crows and a group of nearly 50 migrating Great Cormorant.
The area behind Agia Varvara village was quieter than on recent visits there but we did see another Common Kingfisher, Spanish Sparrow bathing in a large puddle, several Spotted Flycatcher and Whinchat as well as a juvenile Red-backed Shrike. The Red-footed Falcon feeding in a ploughed field at Mandria were real stars and it was also interesting to watch around half of those present suddenly take off and, gaining height, move south. The rest remained on the field, some hunting and others just sitting on the field. In other fields we found more than two hundred Western Yellow Wagtail, around twenty Greater Short-toed Lark, several Northern Wheatear, a male Black Francolin, a European Turtle Dove and then a lone European Bee-eater was spotted sitting on a wire – always a popular species.
Moving on to the area behind Asprokremmos Dam we found a juvenile Cyprus Wheatear as well as more Whinchat and Western Yellow Wagtail. The Dam itself was quiet but a Bonelli’s Eagle brightened things up as it flew over us near the Dam wall. We decided to head for Armou Hills as our final destination A ‘Steppe’ Grey Shrike had been found there in late September and re seen again at the end of last week. But there our luck run out. We didn’t find it and had to console ourselves with another Cyprus Wheatear, several Northern Wheatear, more Whinchat, a juvenile Red-backed Shrike and another fly past Long-legged Buzzard.
Total species seen: Black Francolin, Little Grebe, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Grey Heron, European Shag, Great Cormorant, Common Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Greater Sandplover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Bonelli’s Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, European Bee-eater, Common Kingfisher, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Red-backed Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Barn Swallow, Willow Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Western Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, European Greenfinch, Common Linnet, European Goldfinch.
Some interesting waders on the Sewage Pools today although the Broad-billed Sandpipers that were there on Saturday seem to have moved on. Today I found an adult Ruddy Turnstone still in breeding plumage and a Eurasian Curlew – both of which are never common here. Also several Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper and four Collared Pratincole (inc a juv). Still several Black-winged Stilt around as well as c30 Spur-winged Plover and at least 14 Kentish Plover.
In addition to four Greater Flamingo (photo) there were 11 Ferruginous Duck with Northern Shoveler numbers now up to 17. Six Garganey were preening and roosting as was at least one Common Teal.
Ten juvenile Yellow-legged Gull flew in and single juvenile White-winged Tern and Gull-billed Tern were feeding over the water. A Squacco Heron flew over heading east and two Pallid Swift flew over in with many Barn Swallow.
Concluding the tour with The Travelling Naturalist group we had the following highlights:
26th March – The main effort of the day went into finding different flora in Akamas but the birding highlights were Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Cretzschmar’s Bunting and Tree Pipit.
27th March – We headed for Troodos via Kouklia, Archimandrita and Agios Nikolaos. Highlights were two Eurasian Griffon Vulture plus Coal Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Red Crossbill, European Serin, Laughing Dove, Cyprus and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Great Spotted Cuckoo and Eurasian Sparrowhawk, plus a Spur-winged Lapwing and a Long-eared Hedgehog outside hotel in morning.
28th March – Concluding a successful week’s guiding we explored the beach near the hotel this morning, finishing with a quick visit close to Larnaca airport. Highlights Ruddy Turnstone, Pallid Harrier, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Kentish Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Ruddy Turnstone, Spur-winged Lapwing and migrating Common Shelduck.
A morning around a few Paphos sites with Stephen and Lorraine. The main target species was the wintering Finsch’s Wheatear but first we headed to Paphos Headland for a short walk to track down the Greater Sand Plover that winter there. They were not easy to find this morning but eventually we found three of them feeding close to the water’s edge. A fly-by first winter Mediterranean Gull was a surprise – never seen in Cyprus in large numbers it is rarely seen in the west of the island. Twenty ducks flew offshore heading SW which we decided were probably Northern Pintail. Other wintering waders were good Cyprus birds although familiar to British birders – around fifty Eurasian Golden Plover, a Whimbrel and two Ruddy Turnstone. Small flocks of Eurasian Skylark were flying around as were European Goldfinch and Common Linnet – and of course there were plenty of Common Stonechat.
We then headed inland to check out Anarita Park which is a well-known wintering site for Finsch’s Wheatear. We quickly found a female flitting between rocks and plant stalks and after some perseverance we had good views of a male in another area. We also saw three Little Owl and several Woodlark. Our last stop was at the Paphos Sewage Plant where the fields were full of Meadow Pipit. Eighteen Northern Lapwing were feeding in a recently harvested field and two Spur-winged Lapwing also found. Large flocks of Common Woodpigeon were flying around. We found a Western Black Redstart in the olive trees as well as wintering European Robin and Common Chiffchaff.
Although most of the species seen on a Cyprus winter’s day were well known to Steven and Lorraine, our great views of Greater Sand Plover, Finsch’s Wheatear and Spur-winged Lapwing made up for that.
Full list of species:
Great Cormorant, Common Kestrel, Northern Pintail, Greater Sand Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Northern Lapwing, Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Little Owl, Woodlark, Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, European Robin, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Finsch’s Wheatear, Sardinian Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet