The first of two day’s out with Julia and Pete was spent mainly around the Akrotiri Peninsula but the surprise of the day was found during a spur of the moment visit to Kouklia Soakways.
As we drove into Phassouri Reed Beds Julia noticed two birds at the edge of the field – a male and female Black Francolin. Moving on to the soundtrack of the day – the call of migrating European Bee-eaters – we saw several European Honey Buzzard fly over , a couple of Western Marsh Harrier and a female Red-footed Falcon. A male and a female Golden Oriole flew into a tall tree and we had brief glimpses of them. There were also several Eurasian Turtle Dove flying around together with several Yellow Wagtail. A lone Cattle Egret was present but the only waders we saw were two Common Snipe that flew over the area.
On the Gravel Pits we stopped near the church to watch a kettle of around fifty European Honey Buzzard on the thermalling up and disappearing into the clouds. We also had a Tree Pipit fly over calling and on one of the pools we found several Dunlin, Kentish Plover and a Common Sandpiper. We saw a couple of Whinchat and a Northern Wheatear as well as several juvenile Red-backed Shrike. We also had a single Lesser Grey Shrike on the road past Bishop’s Pool.
Lady’s Mile had Kentish Plover, a single Common Ringed Plover, several Dunlin and plenty of Little Stint. A Western Marsh Harrier flew over and then a juvenile Montagu’s Harrier. We were able to get great views of two Great Reed Warbler and several juvenile Yellow Wagtail (feldegg) from the hide at Zakaki Marsh due to the recent clearing work done by a BirdLife Cyprus volunteer. A hunting Western Marsh Harrier put a Northern Pintail, Garganey, Mallard, two Little Egret and a Grey Heron to flight.
After lunch we went to Kensington Cliffs where we were treated to a great flying display by around twenty Eleonora’s Falcon who were joined by seven Eurasian Griffon Vulture soaring over the cliffs and a single Long-legged Buzzard. We finally left as the Griffon Vultures headed inland and then back again behind the cliffs and out of sight.
We decided to pop into Kouklia Soakaways on the way back to Paphos on the off chance of a Bonelli’s Eagle. No luck with that but we had two, maybe three, Long-legged Buzzard, another Western Marsh Harrier and a Peregrine Falcon. Again there were many European Bee-eater and we thought at first we were looking at another one on the wires over the road as we were leaving. Suddenly it dawned that we had a Cyprus rarity in front of us – a White-throated Kingfisher – recorded less than annually. Unfortunately before we were able to even get a quick photo for the record it flew off into the nearby orchard. We had no luck relocating it but the views we had were unmistakable. A quick visit to Asprokremmos Dam added Spotted Flycatcher and Black-crowned Night Heron to the day’s list which contained some quality birds.
Species seen – 58
Little Grebe, European Shag, Black-crowned Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, European Honey Buzzard, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Black Francolin, Common Moorhen, Common Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Eurasian Turtle Dove, White-throated Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Sand Martin, Common House Martin, Tree Pipit, Black-headed Wagtail, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Eurasian Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Common Linnet