A male Western Black Redstart on the ruins at Amathus Archaeological Site, Limassol this afternoon. A common winter visitor.
A morning out with Rob and Payel started at the hide overlooking Zakaki Marsh. We had excellent views of Bluethroat and Moustached Warbler which kept us entertained for a long time. Only I caught a brief glimpse of a Spotted Crake but we all saw two Water Rail run in front of the hide. We also saw Water and Meadow Pipit, Common Reed Bunting, Western Black Redstart, Common Starling, Northern Pintail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot and Eurasian Teal. The short drive from there to Lady’s Mile gave us the chance to look closely at a Zitting Cisticola and of course several Common Stonechat. Common Linnet, White Wagtail and a Common Kingfisher were also in the area.
Five Kentish Plover flew over us and a lone Dunlin fed on the marshy area of Lady’s Mile. We spent some time looking at the gulls on the water and picked out an adult Caspian and an adult Armenian Gull in with the many Common Black-headed Gull. We headed into the area behind Lady’s Mile hoping to find the ‘Steppe’ Grey Shrike that had been there recently. We quickly found a shrike – but not the right one! A late migrating juvenile Red-backed Shrike was sitting on the bushes recently occupied by the Cyprus rarity which was nowhere to be seen.
Nothing of interest was to be seen at Phasouri Reed-beds so we headed inland to Germasogeia Dam. Our main target there was the endemic Cyprus Warbler. We soon heard Chukar on the hillsides and in the trees and bushes found European Serin, Eurasian Blackcap, Corn Bunting and Spanish Sparrow. We heard European Robin and saw several Zitting Cisticola but although we could hear the scolding of a Cyprus Warbler we had to wait a while for one to appear. Finally, we saw one and it sang briefly in front of us. Another was also in the area but not seen well. There was only a little water in the dam and the only wetland species we saw were Great Cormorant.
A good morning out with the highlight the showing Bluethroat at the hide.
Total species seen: 45
Great Cormorant, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Common Kestrel, Chukar, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Common Black-headed Gull, Caspian Gull, Armenian Gull, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Kingfisher, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, European Robin, Bluethroat, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Moustached Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Great Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Common Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting
Peter and Pat were staying in Nicosia so we spent the morning at two sites nearby the capital with a view to seeing Cyprus Warbler and, if we were really lucky, a late Cyprus Wheatear. Our luck didn’t extend as far as the Cyprus Wheatear – they all seem to have left now – but we saw a good variety of species in the late autumn sun.
Starting at Agios Sozomenos the first bird we saw was a male Hen Harrier flying towards the car! We stopped and watched it quartering the alfalfa fields putting up several Meadow Pipits as it did so. Two Cattle Egret were unmoved and remained feeding near the water sprinkler. We moved on and stopped to watch a late migrating juvenile Red-backed Shrike. As we got out of the car a female Hen Harrier flew up. Great to see both sexes of this winter visitor. A few Eurasian Skylark were seen in the distance at the edge of a field and they were put to flight by one of several Common Kestrel. At least one Common Stonechat seemed to be perched on every bush or stem we passed and we gave up counting quite early on. Plenty of Western Jackdaw and Hooded Crow as well.
A Little Owl watched us as we searched the cliffs for a Finsch’s Wheatear – a localised winter visitor to Cyprus. This area usually has several individuals but we had no luck at our first stop. We did see a Western Black Redstart, a couple of Common Chaffinch and of course some Common Stonechats. We heard a European Robin staking its territory. We had a quick look in the Sewage Pool at Vathi Gonia and added Little Grebe, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Eurasian Coot and two Green Sandpiper to the morning’s list. A Peregrine Falcon flew over but disappeared quickly over the top of the ridge.
Driving back to recheck the cliffs we quickly spotted a male Finsch’s Wheatear flitting across the road from left to right. Usually they will move away from the road if you stop but this one didn’t and we spent some time watching him quite close to the car. Returning to the abandoned village we were entertained by two Spectacled Warbler flying near us as we drank a welcome cup of coffee. We checked the fields again as we left the area and found a group of Spanish Sparrow and a Zitting Cisticola.
We then spent an hour in the Panagia Stazousa valley. We heard many European Robin setting up territories as well as seeing a female Eurasian Blackcap and hearing several singing males. Several Common Chaffinch, many Western Jackdaw, flocks of European Goldfinch, a few Meadow Pipit and again lots of Common Stonechat were around. A single European Serin flew over and we saw three Corn Bunting and another flock of Spanish Sparrow – but although we had heard a couple of Cyprus Warbler contact and alarm calls it looked as if we were to be denied a decent view of one. A female popped into view from a fig tree but she didn’t hang around for long. But as we were heading back along the valley towards Nicosia I spotted some movement to our left and there sitting and even singing for us on the top of a bush was a male Cyprus Warbler. We watched him for several minutes before he flew off. A great end to the morning – although not to be upstaged another male and female flew briefly into the road side vegetation as we drove past.
A good morning out and proof that it’s not always necessary to head the island’s birding ‘hot-spots’ to see a good variety of species.
Full species list
Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Hen Harrier, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Eurasian Coot, Green Sandpiper, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Little Owl, Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, European Robin, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Finsch’s Wheatear, Zitting Cisticola, Spectacled Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crown, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Corn Bunting
The first of two days out with Mark and Sally around the Paphos area; today we visited Acheleia Dam, Anarita Park, Minthis Hills, Kannaviou Dam and surrounds, and Evretou Dam.
A good surprise on the small Acheleia or Pianina Dam was a Ferruginous Duck – one of Mark’s targets that I had not expected to find around Paphos. Pleased with our start we headed to Anarita Park where we found a couple of Woodlark, flocks of European Goldfinch and plenty of Common Stonechat on our arrival. Scanning the rocks for wintering Finsch’s Wheatear we found two males that appeared to be fighting over territory and a female to the left of them. To the north we found another male (although we weren’t sure it wasn’t one of the two earlier seen arguing) and another female. We then spent some time watching a male Blue Rock Thrush who was showing better than a female we had seen earlier. A Little Owl was on its usual rock and we spotted another roosting in an olive tree.
We had no joy finding a Cyprus Wheatear there, nor at Minthis Hills our next stop, with all seeming to have moved on. We found several flocks of wintering birds there – European Serin, Common Linnet and Meadow Pipit. At Polemi we saw a Common Buzzard and moving on to Kannaviou we stopped and scanned the Dam first. A Great Egret was the best of the water birds there which also included two Grey Heron, many Eurasian Coot, some Mallard, Little Grebe and a single Great Cormorant. Two male Western Black Redstart were flying around and arguing near the dam wall in front of us. Eating our lunch in the nearby forest we were surrounded by flocks of Common Chaffinch, plenty of European Robin, some European Serin and Sardinian Warbler. We explored the area and finally managed to get views of around six Coal Tit – an endemic Cyprus sub-species.
Another Great Egret was on Evretou Dam and a Common Snipe was feeding around the edge. We were treated to fly pasts from both a Long-legged Buzzard and a Peregrine Falcon and spent some time watching the flocks of Corn Bunting. Two Common Starling were a good bird for that area of Cyprus. Large flocks of both Common Woodpigeon and Western Jackdaw were flying around. As the sunset we watched eight Great Cormorant coming into roost on water side trees.
Total species seen – 44
Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Mallard, Ferruginous Duck, Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Chukar, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Common Snipe, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Little Owl, Crested Lark, Woodlark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, European Robin, Western Black Redstart, Common Stonechat, Finsch’s Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Corn Bunting