A record photo of one of four Gull-billed Terns at the Sewage Pools this morning. Three other tern species also present – seven Little Tern, one Whiskered and one White-winged Tern. Black-winged Stilt and Spur-winged Lapwing had chicks of varying sizes. On the water there were five Ferruginous Ducks in with the Mallard and around the edge there was a Little Ringed Plover, a Common and Green Sandpiper and some Kentish Plover. I only saw the best bird as I drove up to the hide – a Osprey was being chased over the area by Hooded Crows and heading east. A juvenile had been reported there towards the end of June and I guess it may well be the same bird.
Did a couple of Common Bird Monitoring Surveys in the Cape Greco area and then stopped off at Oroklini Marsh on the way home. Several Cyprus Warblers and a singing male Black-headed Bunting on territories at Cape Greco with Long-legged Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and Eleonora’s Falcon fly overs. A Whiskered Tern was on Oroklini Marsh as were several Black-winged Stilt (see photo), plenty of Cattle Egret, a few Ruff and some Spur-winged Lapwing.
This year a day out in mid-May means finding very few passerine migrants, the need to concentrate on breeding birds and visiting a wetland to increase the variety of species seen. Luckily Robert had a list of realistic target species which made our day easier although we had to work hard to find the Black-headed Wagtail. The other species Robert hoped to see were Cyprus Warbler, Cyprus Wheatear, Black Francolin, Chukar, Little Owl, Spur-winged Lapwing and Masked Shrike.
Starting at Cape Greco, the first bird we saw was a singing male Cyprus Warbler which was a great start. We explored the area and found another two males and two females together with a couple of juveniles. We soon heard the distinctive call of the Cyprus Wheatear and spotted a singing male on a low bush. Several others were later seen as were a couple of European Turtle Dove, a Spectacled Warbler, a male and female Red-backed Shrike as well as a couple of Sand Martin. A couple of Black-headed Buntings were singing near the Sea Caves area where we also found our only Chukar of the day.
We then headed to Akhna Dam where several Spur-winged Lapwing were found as was a male Garganey, a couple of Ruff and Common Sandpiper, some Little Egret, a Grey Heron and a Glossy Ibis. Several Eurasian Reed Warbler were heard singing and a flock of around 30 Common Swift and seven Alpine Swift were flying over the area and coming down to drink – a great sight. We visited both hides at Oroklini and Robert got great views of another of his targets here – this time a male Black Francolin was out in the open calling for quite a while. We also saw more Spur-winged Lapwing here as well as Black-winged Stilt, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Little, Whiskered and White-winged Tern and Garganey. There were several recently hatched young Cattle Egret in the colony and we also spotted a Spur-winged Lapwing chick with one of its parents.
We then went inland to Panagia Stazousa to try and find a Masked Shrike and a Little Owl. We found the Little Owl perched outside its nest site but it took a while to find a Masked Shrike until eventually a male flew into view. We also saw more Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear as well as Olivaceous Warbler, a European Roller, a fly-over Eurasian Hobby and two Long-legged Buzzard. We heard Cretzschmar’s Bunting but couldn’t get decent views of them.
Our next stop was on the eastern side of Larnaca Salt Lake where there was still some water and I was hoping may be a suitable location for the feldegg race of the Yellow Wagtail – Black-headed Wagtail. We found some water and the bonus of three Broad-billed Sandpiper (a regular but scarce passage migrant to Cyprus) feeding with Black-winged Stilt, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little Stint, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper and some stunning Curlew Sandpiper. A Squacco Heron was also present and we heard the call of a Yellow Wagtail and saw a couple fly over but were unable to see which race they were. Finally, a male Blue-headed was spotted feeding next to some reeds and then to its right there was a male Black-headed. All of the target species seen we went south of the airport to see what was on the Sewage Pools there. There were several Little Tern and a couple of White-winged Tern as well as two Yellow-legged Gull, some Spur-winged Lapwing and several Ruff. New birds for the day were a single Gull-billed Tern feeding over the water and a Collared Pratincole which we saw head out towards the coast.
We finished our day there pleased with our efforts.
Total species seen 66
Chukar, Black Francolin, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Common Teal, Little Grebe, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Laughing Dove, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Common Moorhen, Common Coot, Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ruff, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Collared Pratincole, Yellow-legged Gull, Little Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Tern, Little Owl, Long-legged Buzzard, European Roller, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Hobby, Red-backed Shrike, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Olivaceous Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Northern House Martin, Barn Swallow, Collared Sand Martin, Cetti’s Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Cyprus Wheatear, House Sparrow, Blue-headed Wagtail, Black-headed Wagtail, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Black-headed Bunting, Cretzschmar’s Bunting
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.
Once again some good birds in Nicosia; this time at Athalassa Dam where highlights were ten Tufted Duck, a Black-necked Grebe and two fishing Whiskered Terns (unusual for January, they are usually passage migrants through Cyprus).
Main birds seen:
Black-crowned Night Heron 2 ad
Cattle Egret 1
Little Egret 2
Grey Heron 3
Great Cormorant 2
Black-necked Grebe 1
Common Pochard 1m
Ferruginous Duck 3
Tufted Duck 10 (inc 4 males)
Grey Wagtail 2
Eurasian Blackbird 2m
Whiskered Tern 2
Northern Shoveler c80
Eurasian Teal c50
Common Chiffchaff 20+
A first winter Whiskered Tern was on my local Nicosia patch this morning.
Apart from the usual Mallards, Little Grebe and Eurasian Coot, there was a Whiskered and a White-winged Tern at the Sewage Pools as well as breeding Spur-winged Lapwing, the long-staying Ruddy Shelduck and two Ferruginous Duck. A small group of Kentish Plover flew in while I was there. The majority of bird life on the main Salt Lake was in the north east corner where I found more breeding Spur-winged Lapwing, some Black-winged Stilt, a Grey Heron, two Little Egret, two Cattle Egret and a Squacco Heron. A pair of Black-headed Wagtail were at Spiros Pool and the reeds near the Kamares aqueduct were full of Eurasian Reed Warbler families.
For our second day out Pete, Julia and I spent our time around various Paphos birding sites with the main targets being Greater Sand Plover and the endemics. The first were found on the Headland where three birds were roosting on the rocks in the early morning sun. The endemics were a little harder although we finally had decent views of a male Cyprus Warbler at Asprokremmos Dam and found several Cyprus Wheatear at Minthis Hills. No rarities this time but we had a good selection of birds with interesting species seen including:
Paphos Headland – Greater Sand Plover 3, Common Sandpiper 1, White Wagtail 1 flew over
Agia Varvara Soakaways – Long-legged Buzzard 1, Common Snipe 1, Chukar 4+, European Bee-eater c20, Whinchat 4, Willow Warbler c20
Paphos Sewage Works – Spur-winged Lapwing 7, Common Cuckoo 1 (rufous phase), Yellow Wagtail (feldegg & flava mainly) 100+
Mandria – Long-legged Buzzard 1, Tawny Pipit 1
Asprokremmos Dam – Eurasian Hoopoe 1, Spotted Flycatcher 3, Red-backed Shrike 1, Whiskered Tern 4, Cyprus Warbler 1m, 1f, 1+ juv, Spectacled Warbler
Minthis Hills – Long-legged Buzzard 3, Northern Wheatear 1, Cyprus Wheatear 4, Corn Bunting 3
Full list of birds seen:
Little Grebe, European Shag, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Chukar, Common Moorhen, Greater Sand Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Common Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Whiskered Tern, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Cuckoo, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Yellow Wagtail –flava and feldegg, White Wagtail, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Corn Bunting
It was good to meet up with Carl and Riss again and enjoy some friendly birding around Paphos. We checked out several locations that were new to them so they could visit themselves later in their holiday and found some good species on the way. It was much quieter than it has been over the last two weeks and we especially noted a big reduction in the number of European Bee-eaters around.
The star turns of the day were a male Western Marsh Harrier we saw with prey (probably a female Black Francolin) in its talons even though it then disappeared into an alfalfa field and defied all our attempts to relocate it; an Osprey we watched fishing at Asprokremmos Dam; and a lone male Red-footed Falcon on wires near the small church at Mandria.
Long-legged Buzzard were seen at Agia Varvara, Mandria and Kouklia Soakaways. We found a Cyprus and Isabelline Wheatear at Agia Varvara and several Greater Short-toed Lark and Tawny Pipit in the fields of Mandria where there were also many Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat and Northern Wheatear. In the wetter areas at Agia Varvara there were three Common Snipe. There we also heard a Water Rail and managed to see rather than hear two Cetti’s Warbler.
A juvenile Eleonora’s Falcon was perched in a tree at Petra tou Romiou where two Hooded Crow and three other Eleonora’s joined it for a while – it got a bit crowded! Other good birds included at least two Whiskered Tern on Asprokremmos Dam, two European Roller at Mandria, four Spur-winged Lapwing at Paphos Sewage Works and a Grey Wagtail at Kouklia Soakaways.
European Shag, European Honey Buzzard, Western Marsh Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, Chukar, Water Rail (h), Common Moorhen, Spur-winged Lapwing, Common Snipe, Whiskered Tern, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Eurasian Turtle Dove, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Eurasian Hoopoe, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Yellow Wagtail inc feldegg and flava races, Grey Wagtail, Whinchat, Isabelline Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet
Early start to avoid the humid heat of Larnaca today. Larnaca Sewage Works had most species including migrating Common Ringed Plover, Wood and Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Common Redshank, White-winged and Whiskered Tern. Two adult Slender-billed Gull were present, three Grey Heron flew over heading W and a Eurasian Curlew that flew in briefly was later seen heading E. There was a single Greater Flamingo also with the usual resident Mallard, Coot and Little Grebe and a good number of Spur-winged Lapwing and Black-winged Stilt – both with several juveniles.
More than two hundred Kentish Plover were roosting on Spiros Beach in a post-breeding flock which contained many juveniles.
Little Stint were feeding around the edge of the main Salt Lake where there were also more Black-winged Stilt and Spur-winged Lapwing. Two European Roller and a male Red-backed Shrike were near Tekke Mosque.
Less wind than on previous days in the Larnaca area as summer takes hold. Had a quick look around Cape Kiti and Larnaca Sewage Works this morning. Was surprised to find a European Bee-eater on the wires near Meneou. Just one Calandra Lark was seen at Pervolia with none heard singing today. Single Little Terns were at Meneou Pool and Larnaca Sewage Works where there was also a scruffy looking Whiskered Tern. An Audouin’s Gull was with several Yellow-legged Gulls on Spiros Pool.