A visit to Cyprus in the spring timed to coincide with as many migrants as possible and to locate and get good views of the island’s endemic Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear and its endemic sub-species. During the week good views were had of Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear as well as the endemic sub-species – Coal Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper and Eurasian Jay. Other notable species seen included: Hooded Wheatear, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Bimaculated and Calandra Lark, Ferruginous Duck, Temminck’s Stint, Eleonora’s Falcon, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Black Francolin, Chukar, Pallid and Montagu’s Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Bonelli’s Eagle, Spur-winged Lapwing, Spotted Crake, Long-legged Buzzard, Baltic Gull, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Red-throated Pipit, Eurasian Wryneck, Pallid Swift, Masked Shrike, Cretzschmar’s and Ortolan Bunting. A lack of winter rainfall meant many of the wetlands were almost dry with the result that both the number and variety of waders were lower than usual.
The tour was led by Jane Stylianou.
April 9th: Larnaca Limassol
Arrival at Larnaca at 19.00pm and transfer to hotel in Limassol.
April 10th: Germasogeia Dam, Phasouri Reed-beds, Akrotiri Gravel Pits, Akrotiri Salt Lake, Lady’s Mile, Zakaki Marsh.
Weather: Sunny and warm with dust haze. Wind W. Temperature 26 C
The dusty haze that dominated the day made birding conditions unpleasant but a good variety of species were seen. Starting inland at Germasogeia Dam we had great views of a male Cyprus Warbler at our first stop followed by a more distant singing Cyprus Wheatear. With both endemic species seen so quickly we were pleased to then find Great Spotted Cuckoo, Grey and Purple Heron, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Spanish Sparrow, Whinchat, Eurasian Reed Warbler and Eurasian Blackcap. Both Black Francolin and European Bee-eater were heard – the first calling from deep in a field of cereal and the latter migrating overhead obscured by the haze. We also heard a Spotted Crake in the reeds but were unable to locate it. We headed to the coast and spent the rest of the day around the Akrotiri peninsula. Phasouri Reed-beds was not the hot spot it could be due to both the recent drought and a devastating fire but we still found two Squacco Heron, several Glossy Ibis and an Isabelline Wheatear. Black-headed Wagtail flew over as did Rock Dove, a Western Marsh Harrier and a Common Buzzard. A male Woodchat Shrike was in the olive groves as we headed towards the coast and the Gravel Pits area. Seven Little Egret were migrating along the shore and a Eurasian Hoopoe flew over the area. We found our first Yellow-legged Gull and Sardinian Warbler of the week as well as Red-rumped Swallow and Whinchat. In the water that remained on Lady’s Mile we checked for waders. We found the resident Kentish Plover as well as migrating Dunlin, Little Stint and a lone Spotted Redshank. Two Lesser Black-backed Gull of the fuscus or ‘Baltic’ race were resting there. Finishing the day in the recently built hide at Zakaki Marsh we had excellent views of Ferruginous Duck, a female Garganey and a Cattle Egret, as well as Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhen and migrating Sand Martin.
April 11th: Timi Beach, Arodes, Smygies/Neo Chorio, Evretou Dam.
Weather: Sunny and showers. Wind W. Temperature: 22 C
On our way to the north west of the island we passed by Timi Beach near PaphosAiport where a male Hooded Wheatear had been reported. Fortunately, the bird was still present and we got great views of this rare Cyprus passage migrant. Heading into the Akamas area we spent a few hours in the valley behind the village of Arodes. We were treated to a show by a couple of pairs of Great Spotted Cuckoo who were intent on upsetting the local Eurasian Magpies. We also spotted an adult Bonelli’s Eagle on a cliff as well as seeing Little Owl, Chukar, Cyprus Wheatear, Sardinian Warbler, Corn Bunting, Tree Pipit and Woodchat Shrike. In the Akamas National Park we heard Cretzschmar’s Bunting and saw small groups of European Serin and Spanish Sparrow. A Eurasian Hobby flew over and a Long-legged Buzzard was watched for some time as it soared over the area. Heavy rain accompanied our drive to Evretou Dam but luckily the sun came out as we parked to get scan the muddier shallow end. At least a hundred Yellow Wagtail – mainly flava and feldegg races were on the track feeding and following a herd of goats that was disturbing insects. In with them we found a single Water Pipit and at least one Ortolan Bunting. Common Whitethroat and Little Ringed Plover were also added to the day’s list. As we started our drive back to Limassol we passed a Black Francolin calling loudly in full view enabling us to observe closely it’s technique for projecting its voice over the valley.
April 12th: Petratou Romiou, Kouklia Fish Farm & Soakaways, Asprokremmos Dam, Mandria, Paphos Sewage Work, Anarita Park.
Weather: Changeable. Wind W. Temperature: 21 C
Heavy overnight rain and the fact that the forecast for the east of the island was for more there forced a quick re think to the day’s programme and we returned to the west – this time to visit the best birding spots to the east of Paphos. We stopped near Petra touRomiou and were surprised to find one of the season’s first Eleonora’s Falcon – a dark morph bird - perched in a tree. A Common Nightingale was heard in the vegetation and several Yellow-legged Gull flew by. In the reeds near Kouklia Fish Farm a Great Reed Warbler was seen singing from the top of a reed but Eurasian Reed Warbler and Cetti’s Warbler were less visible. At Kouklia Soakaways we saw two Long-legged Buzzard and picked out Red-rumped Swallow and Alpine Swift among the large flocks of migrating swallows and swifts brought down by the weather. More of both these species were seen at our next stop – Asprokremmos Dam. In the car park area there we found a very showy Semi-collared Flycatcher coming down to the road from the pines to feed on insects. Several Wood Warbler were in the pines and also in the nearby carob grove where we had a pair of Cyprus Warbler and a male Eurasian Pied Flycatcher. Several Whinchat, White Wagtail, a Eurasian Hoopoe and four Woodchat Shrike were seen. At the coastal sites of Mandria and Paphos Sewage Plant we found a Eurasian Turtle Dove, several ZittingCisticola, Eurasian Hoopoe, more Woodchat Shrike and groups of migrating Yellow Wagtail. We finished the day inland at Anarita Park where a small group of migrating Lesser Kestrel were hunting. Also present were Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, a Eurasian Wryneck, a Spotted Flycatcher and several Corn Bunting. Three chasing Great Spotted Cuckoo narrowly missed flying into our car as they chased each other over the open grass land.
April 13th: Oroklini Marsh, Leivadia, Cape Greco, Agia Napa Sewage Works.
Weather: Cloud clearing, then sunny. Wind: SW. Temperature: 22 C
With the weather improving we headed east from Limassol with our first stop at Oroklini Marsh just outside Larnaca. The island’s first wetland to be the subject of an EU Life+ project hosts breeding Spur-winged Lapwing and Black-winged Stilt and we found good numbers of both. Other waders present and new for the trip list were Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Snipe and Wood Sandpiper. A few winter visitors such as Greater Flamingo, Northern Shoveler and Eurasian Teal were still present as was a single male Eurasian Wigeon and a pair of Garganey. More than 100 Cattle Egret were back on the tamarisks nest building. Eurasian Reed and Cetti’s Warbler were in the reeds and as we left seven Glossy Ibis flew in. We visited a rain water run off channel nearby which is a reliable location for Temminck’s Stint and found four there as well as Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Green and Wood Sandpiper and more Spur-winged Lapwing. Moving on Cape Greco on the south east corner of the island we were hoping that the recent bad weather would have downed some migrants. We saw Common Quail, Eurasian Hoopoe, Wood Warbler and Yellow Wagtail fly in off the sea and see shelter in the vegetation. We also had good views of breeding Cyprus and Spectacled Warbler and other migrants – Eastern Orphean Warbler, Common Redstart, Ortolan Bunting, Eurasian Turtle Dove, Little Egret, Northern Wheatear, Whinchat, Eurasian Pied Flycatcher, Greater Short-toed Lark, female Collared Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher and Lesser Whitethroat. Western Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard and Peregrine Falcon flew over the area.
April 14th: : Kensington Cliffs, Omodos, Livaditou Pashia, Troodos, Akrotiri Salt Lake.
Weather: Sunny. Wind SW. Temperature: 22 C
Today we headed for the Troodos mountains with two stops on our way up. The first was at Kensington Cliffs to the west of Limassol. We were looking for Eurasian Griffon Vulture. The local population had been reduced to just seven but after a recent reintroduction programme, birds from Crete have increased that to over 20. We were treated to an early morning aerial display from eight of them as the sun warmed the cliffs. We also heard Alpine Swift and saw Eurasian Shag, a Peregrine Falcon and a Western Marsh Harrier. On the road to Troodos we stopped outside the wine producing village of Omodos and took a side road through the vineyards where we saw Cyprus Wheatear, Masked Shrike, European Serin, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and a pair of Long-legged Buzzard. Near Agios Nikolaos we found singing Cretzschmar’s Bunting and had our first views of the endemic sub-species Coal Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper. A Common Cuckoo was calling at a picnic site on the south side of the Troodos range where we saw more Coal Tit, Common Chaffinch, Eurasian Hoopoe, Winter Wren, Masked Shrike and Eurasian Blackbird. At Troodos Square we spent some time picking out Pallid Swift among the flocks of swifts, enjoyed a displaying Woodlark and saw a Eurasian Jay – another Cyprus endemic sub-species. Back down in Limassol we made a quick visit to Akrotiri where we saw Eurasian Hoopoe, Black-winged Stilt, Woodchat Shrike and Greater Flamingo.
April 15th: : Zakaki Marsh, Lady’s Mile, Petratou Romiou, Paphos Headland and Archaeological Site, Timi Beach, Anarita Park.
Weather: Sunny. Wind SW. Temperature: 26 C
We made a return visit to the hide at Zakaki Marsh and quickly found our target species of Little and Spotted Crake. Two Sedge Warbler chasing in the reeds were new trip species. At Lady’s Mile we found three Curlew Sandpiper, a Sanderling, many Little Stint, Kentish Plover and Common Greenshank and enjoyed the spectacle of a group of around seventy migrating Greater Flamingo along the coast. At Petra touRomiou we had five migrating ‘Baltic’ Gull. At the headland at Paphos we had more than a hundred migrating Glossy Ibis, three Purple Heron and three Grey Egret overhead, flying north. Several Eurasian Hoopoe and a Common Nightingale were seen coming in off the sea. We had brief views of Red-throated Pipit as well as several Yellow Wagtail and Eastern Black-headed Wheatear in the archaeological site. At Timi Beach we had migrating Grey Heron and a Common Kingfisher on the beach with some Northern Wheatear. In the shrubs there were Common Nightingale and a female Common Redstart and on a ploughed field we picked out a crouching Eurasian Stone Curlew and a Spur-winged Lapwing. Late afternoon saw us return to Anarita Park where we again watched Great Spotted Cuckoo but found more than twenty Lesser Kestrel on this visit as well as seeing a female Pallid and a male and female Montagu’s Harrier quartering the area.
April 16th: Alaminos, Petounta Point, Kivisilli, Kiti Dam, Pervolia, Larnaca Salt Lake.
Weather: Sunny. Wind: SW. Temperature: 28 C.
Final species total: 144.
After checking out of the Limassol base, we headed to the Larnaca area and visited several locations there before departure later in the day. In reed beds at the coast near Alaminos we were surprised to find both a male Eurasian Pied Flycatcher and an Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler. Although the marshy areas of Petounta Point were dry we found Northern and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Common Redstart, Eurasian Turtle Dove and Whinchat. We were pleased to find our first Tawny Pipit of the week in a stubble field and then even more pleased as I heard a Bimaculated Lark flying over and it flew down into the same field. In the fields near Kivisilli we watched several Lesser Kestrel, a male Montagu’s Harrier and a male and female Western Marsh Harrier. While eating our lunch in the trees below Kiti Dam we watched Spotted Flycatcher and a male Collared Flycatcher. Wood Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Great Spotted Cuckoo and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler were all heard. As we left the area two male Golden Oriole flew over the trees and were then heard calling. We stopped by the coastal fields near Cape Kiti and found several displaying Calandra Lark as well as three Red-throated Pipit and a Black Francolin. Our last locations were around the Salt Lake at Larnaca. On the pools of treated water near the Sewage Works we added Northern Pintail, Common Redshank and Marsh Sandpiper to our trip list as well as seeing more Black-winged Stilt and Spur-winged Lapwing. A flock of around fifty Greater Flamingo and more than thirty Little Egret were on the salt lagoons south of the airport as were nine newly arrived Little Tern and plenty of Little Stint. On the fields to the north of the lake were two Tawny Pipit and a flock of Greater Short-toed Lark. Our last birds of the trip were fifteen Slender-billed Gull on the main Salt Lake. After that we headed to the nearby Larnaca Airport for departure back to Heathrow.
For details of the full species list or to request further information about the next time we will be offering this trip. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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