Quick visit to Agios Sozomenos outside Nicosia this morning. Very quiet apart from some Red-throated Pipits, a Cyprus Wheatear and a group of five Whinchat (one photographed below) and a male European Stonechat together on the edge of a field. The European Stonechat was my first of the winter – soon they will be so common everywhere until late March.
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.
Final full day of guiding for the Travelling Naturalist Cyprus group today which we spent in Paphos. We visited Paphos Sewage Works, Timi beach, Mandria, Asprokremmos Dam and Paphos Headland and throughout the day it got windier which hampered our birding. But even so we had great views of two Bimaculated Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, a Eurasian Stone Curlew and Western Yellow Wagtail at Mandria; at least ten Spur-winged Lapwing at Paphos Sewage Works and a bush full of feeding and resting warblers at the Headland which included several Eastern Subalpine and Ruppell’s Warbler. As we left the Headland we saw a lovely male Whinchat – one of the first of spring.
Spent the last few days in north west corner of island – joining BirdLife Cyprus’ members weekend there which included a boat trip to Cape Arnaouti from Latchi Harbour.
My birding highlights included Baltic Gull, Gull-billed Tern, flocks of Purple & Grey Heron and Glossy Ibis, several Red-backed and Masked Shrike, a migrating European Sparrowhawk, flocks of European Bee-eater (see photo), an Ortolan Bunting, several autumn plumage Cyprus Wheatear (see photo), Red-rumped Swallow, Alpine Swift, a juvenile Pallid Harrier, Whinchat and a Common Hoopoe.
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.
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
Peter, Pat, Paul and Janet were staying in Nicosia so we had a bit of a drive before we could start our morning’s birding. We headed to Achna Dam where water levels are still good and where I had seen some good birds on a trip there last week. We spent some time there getting good views of three Great White Egret, an immature Whiskered Tern, a Common Kingfisher and two Northern Pintail. A group of five Glossy Ibis feeding on the far shore left the area after a while – probably continuing their migration south. Ten newly arrived Northern Lapwing flew into the area from the north. Several Cattle and Little Egret and Grey Heron were also present and a couple of Willow Warbler were feeding in the shorter reeds. As we returned to the car we spotted two Dunlin, a Little Stint and a Little Ringed Plover feeding in a muddy area. A juvenile Western Marsh Harrier was quartering the area and we saw it fly up from the ground with something in its talons. Unfortunately although we heard several European Bee-eater flying over the area they were too high for us to see.
We searched the rocky beach at Ormedeia for a Greater Sandplover but had no joy so we had to make do with a single Kentish Plover and three more Northern Lapwing. A quick stop at Oroklini Marsh enabled us to see a large group of almost forty Spur-winged Lapwing as well as a couple of Common Redshank, a Little Ringed Plover and a Ruff.
We finished our morning driving through the valley of Panagia Stazousa as we headed back to Nicosia. We were hoping that there would still be some Cyprus Wheatear around and we were not disappointed. At least four were still present and dutifully obliged by sitting out in the open on the top of low bushes. While watching one of them we spotted a juvenile Red-backed Shrike and when it flew further away we were pleased to also see a juvenile Masked Shrike in another bush. Several Whinchat were seen resting as they migrated through the island. We also had brief views of a Spotted Flycatcher and a female Eurasian Blackcap but a female Common Redstart was more co-operative and sat low in a shrub enabling us to watch her through the telescope. An unexpected bird to finish the morning on. A morning on which we managed to see a good variety of species – a few more than I had anticipated.
Total species – 40
Northern Pintail, Little Grebe, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Coot, Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Northern Lapwing, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ruff, Dunlin, Little Stint, Common Redshank, Whiskered Tern, Western Marsh Harrier, European Bee-eater (h), Common Kingfisher, Common Kestrel, Red-backed Shrike, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Hooded Crow, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Willow Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Cyprus Wheatear, House Sparrow, White Wagtail, European Goldfinch
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 early morning birding around Larnaca this weekend. Autumn migration definitely winding down and winter visitors just starting to show.
Some of the more interesting sightings were:
Larnaca Desalination Fields
Northern Wheatear 1
Yellow Wagtail 9
Red-backed Shrike 1 juv
Black Francolin 2
Larnaca Sewage Works
Northern Pintail 6
Greater Flamingo 17
Spur-winged Lapwing c30
Ferruginous Duck 7
Great Cormorant 1
Collared Pratincole 5
Whiskered Tern 1
Eurasian Golden Plover 1
Black-winged Stilt 2
Black-necked Grebe 1
Dunlin, Little Stint, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, Little Grebe, Mallard
Eurasian Thick-knee 19
European Bee-eater 3
Red-backed Shrike 2 juv
Dunlin 1 on beach
Red-rumped Swallow 4
European Bee-eater 26
Sand Martin 1
Cattle Egret 7
Whiskered Tern 1 imm perched on watering equipment
Greater Short-toed Lark 3
Yellow Wagtail 5
Common Buzzard 1 flew SW
Cyprus Wheatear 6
European Stonechat 1m
Northern Wheatear 1
Cyprus Warbler 1 singing male plus one other
Kamares area of Salt Lake
Laughing Dove 1
Common Kingfisher 2
Common Snipe 1
Spur-winged Lapwing 4
Little Egret 4
A few hours out around Paphos with Robert and Jean started at Paphos Sewage Plant where our first birds were a pair of Grey Wagtail and then a lovely male Black Francolin who stood at the road side in front of us feeding for several minutes. Many Spur-winged Lapwing were feeding in the fields – it seems they had a successful breeding season at this location. We also found a Northern Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat and several Willow Warbler – a few late migrants still around.
In the valley behind Agia Varvara we were treated to a flyby from two Long-legged Buzzard and came across a European Stonechat – one of the first of the autumn, soon they will be everywhere. More Willow Warbler and Whinchat were present as was a juvenile Red-backed Shrike. We found a small area of water and a Common Kingfisher was seen there.
We spent some time in the fields at Mandria where a small group of Red-footed Falcon were feeding and flying around. Suddenly they all took off and we watched them circling up as they gained height and soon were lost to sight and we assumed they migrated south. We then realised that a ring-tail harrier was being chased around the same fields by several Hooded Crows. Eventually we were able to get good views of the underparts and identified it as a female Montagu’s Harrier. There were a good number of both Yellow and White Wagtails in the fields as well as yet more Whinchat and Northern Wheatear.
We finished our time out around Asprokremmos Dam. We heard a Cyprus Warbler and had brief views of a female in flight but were disappointed not to see the male at all. An Eleonora’s Falcon was seen flying above us and another new bird for the day was a Tawny Pipit. A quiet morning at the end of migration but Robert and Jean had several lifers with the Long-legged Buzzard and Red-footed Falcons a special treat.
Picking David, Jan and Rachael from Polis our first stop of the day was behind the village of Neo Horio after which we moved on to the deserted village of Androlikou and then to the valley behind Arodes via Pittokopos. We briefly visited Kannaviou Dam which had very little bird life and then drove through the Sarama valley to finish at Evretou Dam. The call of European Bee-eater was the sound track of the day as they passed over heading south in large numbers – some of them passing low over us or perching on low trees by the side of tracks meaning we had plenty of opportunities to enjoy their vibrant colours. Other highlights included a couple of male Red-backed Shrike, at least two European Golden Oriole, a Common Hoopoe, several Cyprus Wheatear, a male and a female Black-eared Wheatear and a couple of Black Francolin. Two Long-legged Buzzard were the only identifiable large raptors although a probableBonelli’s Eagle was seen above Arodes before disappearing into the haze. Juvenile Red-backed Shrike and Spotted Flycatcher were everywhere we went as were many Willow Warbler.
Highlights per location:
Neo Horio – Smygies – Chukar, European Bee-eater, Common Hoopoe, Red-backed Shrike, Olivaceous Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat, Cyprus Wheatear
Neo Horio – Androlikou – Red-backed Shrike, Cyprus Wheatear, European Bee-eater
Androlikou -Pittokopos – European Bee-eater, Red-backed Shrike, Whinchat, Cyprus Wheatear
Arodes – Long-legged Buzzard, Red-backed Shrike (male), Masked Shrike, Willow Warbler 30+, Spotted Flycatcher, Black-eared Wheatear 1m and 1f, Cyprus Wheatear, Whinchat,
Kathikas – Long-egged Buzzard
Kannaviou – Coal Tit h, Cyprus Warbler singing (odd location for that species)
Sarama valley – European Turtle Dove, European Bee-eater, European Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Spotted Flycatcher, Cyprus Wheatear
Evretou Dam – Chukar, Black Francolin, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Garganey, Little Stint, Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper, European Bee-eater, Western Yellow Wagtail, Corn Bunting, Cretzschmar’s Bunting
Nelson wanted to see Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear on his short stay in Cyprus with anything else a bonus. I was a bit apprehensive as Cyprus Warbler can be quite skulking at this time of year and it was possible that Cyprus Wheatear could have moved on. But we started early at Cape Greco and luckily a couple of male Cyprus Warbler were flitting around in an area where they usually breed and are regularly seen in the spring. We also had good views of a couple of females and one juvenile. One of the males even decided to sing – we were very pleased. We also saw a couple of Spectacled Warbler, Isabelline Wheatear and several Red-backed Shrike. Moving closer to the coast we soon found a very smart juvenile Cyprus Wheatear which sat very still to enable both Nelson and Molly to watch him at their leisure. We were very pleased to see good numbers of Chukar as well. European Bee-eater were migrating overhead – many heard only although finally three or four passed low in front of us. Six Purple Heron migrated over as well as did Red-rumped Swallow and Sand Martin. We added Lesser Grey Shrike, Northern Wheatear, Willow Warbler and another Cyprus Wheatear before heading towards Agia Napa Sewage Works.
A surprise find on the pools there was a single Ferruginous Duck. Four Spur-winged Lapwing were flying around the area calling and two Common Sandpiper were feeding on the edge of the pool. We stopped to watch a juvenile Montagu’s Harrier gaining height over the area and migrating south. An Eleonora’s Falcon was being mobbed by two Common Kestrel below him. We added yet more Red-backed Shrike to the mornings totals but also a male, female and juvenile Masked Shrike which gave us a chance to compare their different plumages. A Spotted Flycatcher was another new species there.
Moving to Agia Napa Football Fields we found several Cattle Egret, another Isabelline Wheatear, a Common Hoopoe, a juvenile Red-backed Shrike and at least 60 Yellow Wagtail feeding on the fields. Our last stop was at Macronissos Beach where at first it seemed we wouldn’t find anything but more scanning produced two Greater Sandplover and three Kentish Plover – two bonus species on which to finish our morning.
Total species seen – 40
Chukar, Northern Shoveler, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Coot, Cattle Egret, Purple Heron, Kentish Plover, Greater Sandplover, Spur-winged Plover, Common Sandpiper, Montagu’s Harrier, Common Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Common Kestrel, Eleonora’s Falcon, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Crested Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Sand Martin, Willow Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, House Sparrow, Western Yellow Wagtail, European Goldfinch