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 and Short-toed Treecreeper with the Scops Owl being heard on several occasions. Other notable species seen included: the 6th Bar-tailed Lark for Cyprus, Scopoli’s Shearwater, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Calandra Lark, Richard’s Pipit, Ferruginous Duck, Greater Sandplover, Audouin’s Gull, Caspian Tern, Eleonora’s Falcon, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Black Francolin, Chukar, Pallid Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Bonelli’s Eagle, Spur-winged Lapwing, Spotted Crake, Long-legged Buzzard, Baltic Gull, Barred, Rüppell’s and Subalpine Warbler, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Red-throated Pipit, Eurasian Wryneck, Pallid Swift, Masked Shrike, Cretzschmar’s and Ortolan Bunting. A few stormy days meant some expected species were held up in their arrival to the island but other passerines were grounded for several days.
April 8th: Larnaca Airport Pools South, Sewage Works and Airport
Coast, Limassol town
Arrival at Larnaca at 14.30pm gave the group some time for birding south of Larnaca airport where despite the very strong winds we found several hundred Ruff, some Marsh Sandpiper, Greater Flamingo, Common Greenshank, Slender-billed Gull, a Little Tern and several Black-winged Stilt feeding on the salt pans with Black Francolin and Tawny Pipit in the nearby fields. In the shelter of some coastal trees we found several passerines resting including both male and female Rüppell’s Warbler, Collared Flycatcher, Eurasian Pied Flycatcher, Common Nightingale, Wood Warbler, Common Redstart, Greater and Lesser Whitethroat, Common Chiffchaff and Song Thrush. A good start in poor conditions with the birding finishing as we arrived at our hotel base in Limassol in an area where an established colony of Laughing Dove now breed.
April 9th: Germasogeia Dam, Phasouri Reed-beds, Akrotiri Gravel
Pits, Akrotiri Salt Lake, Lady’s Mile.
The winds abated overnight and we headed inland for Germasogeia Dam after hearing a singing Eurasian Blackcap outside the hotel. At the Dam, we stopped to watch a calling Black Francolin and then a Little Owl perched in the open on a low branch of a carob tree. Hundreds of Common Swift flew over the fields and the sounds of Spanish Sparrow, Corn Bunting and Zitting Cisticola filled the air. We found a singing Cyprus Warbler near the inlet stream and several Cretzschmar’s Bunting were displaying nearby, as a Great Reed Warbler sang in the reeds. We also located and watched Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Whinchat, Masked Shrike, Common Nightingale, Eurasian Hoopoe, Sardinian Warbler, Collared Flycatcher, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Red-rumped Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Common Snipe and Green Sandpiper. Moving down to the coast we spent the rest of the day at various locations in the Akrotiri Peninsula. Several Woodchat Shrike were seen on the Gravel Pits there and we added Black-eared Wheatear to our list of migrants. On a small area of water Wood and Marsh Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Common Snipe, Black-winged Stilt and Ruff were feeding and offshore a large flock of more than 600 migrating Garganey were floating in the bay. Yellow-legged Gull and Little Egret moved along the coast. More Ruff were at Phasouri Reed-beds – the subject of a current restoration project including the construction of two hides – and we also added Western Marsh Harrier, Glossy Ibis and Squacco Heron to the trip’s list. Several hundred Greater Flamingo were still on the main Salt Lake and in an orange grove we watched two male Eurasian Pied Flycatcher and Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler with Woodchat Shrike, Black-eared Wheatear and Whinchat nearby. We finished our day checking the pools behind Lady’s Mile beach where Gull-billed Tern, Tawny Pipit and Isabelline Wheatear were new for the day.
April 10th: Cape Drepanum, Arodes, Smygies/Neo Chorio, Baths
of Aphrodite (Latchi)
Today was spent in the north west of the island above Paphos with the first stop at Cape Drepanum a westerly cape where we hoped to find more migrants. Only Northern Wheatear fitted that description although we had good views of a Peregrine Falcon on the offshore island of Geronisos where Yellow-legged Gull and Rock Dove breed. Plenty of them were in evidence as were Western Jackdaw. A group of Little Egret migrated over headed N and two European Shag were seen. Moving on we spent several hours in the valley behind Arodes village. There we found a good selection of birds with the highlight being an adult Bonelli’s Eagles flying over us as well as Ortolan Bunting, Common Cuckoo, several of the endemic migrant breeder - Cyprus Wheatear - on territory, a pair of Cyprus Warbler, Great Spotted Cuckoo, a calling Eurasian Hoopoe, several Collared and Eurasian Pied Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, European Serin, a Little Owl, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Wood Warbler and Black-eared Wheatear. More flycatchers were at Smygies in the Akamas National Park as was a large colony of Spanish Sparrow, a Masked Shrike and breeding European Serin. A Scops Owl called nearby but despite searching we couldn’t find its roosting location, as was the case in the caravan park at the coastal Baths of Aphrodite where we heard another calling. Here we had a large group of Tree Pipit and yet more black and white flycatchers, several Wood Warbler and Eurasian Blackcap. Four White Wagtail were a new trip species and late migrants.
April 11th: Zakaki Marsh, Omodos, Agios Nikolaos road, Platres,
Livadi tou Pashia (Troodos), Troodos Square, Lady’s Mile, Zakaki
As wet weather was forecast for the rest of the week, I changed the programme to enable us to get to Troodos earlier in the trip than originally planned. We started in Limassol though with a visit to the hide overlooking Zakaki Marsh reed-beds. Two female Little Crake were feeding on the edge of the reed cover as was a Water Rail. Also present were Little Egret, Squacco Heron, a Black-crowned Night Heron, Sedge, Cetti’s and Eurasian Reed Warbler, Greater Whitethroat, two Garganey, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Common Snipe, Ruff and Green Sandpiper. A Eurasian Hoopoe flew over and Common Swift, Barn Swallow and Northern House Martin fed over the area. Heading inland to the mountains we stopped at Omodos village where had good views of Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Masked Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow and Cyprus Wheatear. On the road towards Platres we found more of those species as well as a Long-legged Buzzard and several Cretzschmar’s Bunting holding territories. A Common Nightingale was heard singing outside Platres and next to the trout farm there we saw Grey Wagtail and heard Northern Wren and Eurasian Blackbird. The picnic site at Livadi tou Pashia was full of breeding residents and migrants – Masked Shrike, Common Chaffinch, the endemic sub-species Coal Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper, Northern Wren, Eurasian Blackbird and Eurasian Hoopoe. We stopped at Troodos Square to check the flocks of swift there and found several Pallid Swift and, more surprisingly, Vic spotted two Red Crossbill feeding on a small pile of snow that remained near one of the buildings. A Common Cuckoo was calling across the area but eventually we headed to the lower altitudes again without having located the other endemic sub-species, the Eurasian Jay. Another Long-legged Buzzard was seen by the road back down to Limassol where we returned to check Lady’s Mile and Zakaki again where we watched more than 40 migrating Purple Heron, a Woodchat Shrike feeding on several beetles and three Tawny Pipit.
April 12th: Petra tou Romiou, Timi Beach, Mandria, Anarita
Park, Asprokremmos Dam
We headed west today and managed to avoid most of the heavy showers. Our first stop at Petra tou Romiou added Alpine Swift to our trip list but there was no sign of Eleonora’s Falcon there yet. As we scanned the area of Timi Beach we were rewarded with a Caspian Tern moving E along the shore and migrating Common Greenshank and Little Egret resting on the beach. In the bushes, we found Ortolan Bunting, Whinchat, Woodchat Shrike, Common Whitethroat and Common Nightingale with a pair of breeding Eurasian Thick-knee in the ploughed field. We moved to Mandria where we were just in time to see three Greater Sandplover on the beach and also two Audouin’s Gull on the offshore rocks – the latter unusual for that end of the island. A male Subalpine Warbler was feeding in some reeds, Red-throated Pipit were overflying and a Laughing Dove was near the village. Northern and Isabelline Wheatear were located. We spent some time watching a large flock of Yellow Wagtail and were able to pick our thunbergi, feldegg and flava races. A female wagtail had us puzzled for a while until we realised it was a female Citrine Wagtail. A Ruff and a Spur-winged Lapwing were also in the same field. We then moved inland to Anarita Park and we rewarded with lovely views of a male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush with a pair of Cyprus Warbler close by as well as a couple of Ortolan Bunting and several Black-eared Wheatear. Five Lesser Kestrel were feeding in the area, a female Pallid Harrier flew over and five European Turtle Dove headed N. We also saw a Long-legged Buzzard, Little Owl, Whinchat, Corn Bunting, Tree Pipit, Common Redstart, Chukar and a female Collared Flycatcher. We finished the day at Asprokremmos Dam where we watched a flock of 27 Gull-billed Tern over the water and had several migrant passerines in the trees of the car park which included Wood Warbler and Common Redstart.
April 13th: Oroklini Marsh, Leivadia, Cape Greco
From our Limassol base, we travelled east today stopping first at Oroklini Marsh which is a protected area for several species including Spur-winged Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt and Red-crested Pochard. We saw all three species as well as a pair of Ferruginous Duck and of Garganey, some late Black-necked Grebe, Common Greenshank, many Ruff, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Wood and Green Sandpiper, Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egret. More unexpected there were two Spotted Crake and a Eurasian Thick-knee. A nearby drainage channel often has interesting species but was quieter today although we did spot a Little Tern fishing just offshore and found a pair of Black-winged Stilt already on a nest. The rest of the day was spent at Cape Greco where the star birds were a Bar-tailed Lark (only the 6th Cyprus record) and a Barred Warbler. Also new for the trip were two Eurasian Wryneck and a female Eastern Orphean Warbler. We found good numbers of other migrant passerines including Subalpine and Rüppell’s Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Eurasian Blackcap, Greater and Lesser Whitethroat, Woodchat and Masked Shrike, Tree Pipit, Common Redstart, Black-eared, Northern and Isabelline Wheatear, Collared and Pied Flycatcher and Common Nightingale. Three flocks of Glossy Ibis passing over head totalling more than 230 birds and it was good to see several male Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear on territories in the area.
April 14th: Kensington Cliffs, Petra tou Romiou, Timi Beach,
Paphos Headland, Geroskipou, Agia Varvara, Anarita Park, Paphos Sewage
Today we visited a few near sites in the Paphos area as well as returning to others to see if new species were around. Our first stop though was Kensington Cliffs just to the west of Limassol to see Eurasian Griffon Vulture and hopefully Eleonora’s Falcon which should just be arriving. We were pleased to see one of both species. A quick stop at Petra tou Romiou where we were just in time to witness a pair of Peregrine Falcon exchange a food ‘parcel’ and fly quickly away. And likewise at Timi Beach as we were getting out of the car two Scopoli’s Shearwater were seen making their way west quite close to the shore. A Tawny Pipit was seen fly in off the sea and land exhausted, a male Western Marsh Harrier migrated west, also just offshore as did eleven Lesser Black-backed Gull of the fuscus race - ‘Baltic’ Gull. More than a dozen Northern Wheatear were feeding in the coastal grass as were a couple of Black-eared Wheatear. We also added a Common Kingfisher to the trip list. We then spent some time in the Archaeological Site at Paphos Harbour where we concentrated on getting good views of the two Red-throated Pipit that we found in with the many Yellow Wagtail there. We also found a female Desert Wheatear and saw another four migrating ‘Baltic’ Gull offshore. After lunch, we visited the valley behind Agia Varvara village where we found another flock of migrating Yellow Wagtail as well as European Turtle Dove, Wood and Green Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Collared Flycatcher, Black-eared Wheatear and Tree Pipit. Yet more Yellow Wagtail and Northern Wheatear were at Paphos Sewage Plant although the attraction there was the small breeding group of Spur-winged Lapwing which were feeding in the fields together with two Squacco Heron and two Cattle Egret. Our last stop for the day was at Mandria where we found a small group of Greater Short-toed Lark in the fields, a male Common Redstart and – in keeping with the rest of the day - more than 200 Yellow Wagtail.
April 15th: Alaminos, Petounta Point, Kivisilli, Kiti Dam,
Pervolia, Larnaca Salt Lake
After checking out of our Limassol base, we headed to the Larnaca area and visited several locations there before departure just after midday. Our first stop was at the fields behind the village of Kivisili. Two male Red-footed Falcon were there to greet us and made a good start to our last few hours. More than twenty Lesser Kestrel were also feeding in the fields and nearby bushes held a couple of Eurasian Wryneck, Common Nightingale, Whinchat, Tree Pipit and Lesser Whitethroat. Northern and Black-eared Wheatear were feeding in the ploughed fields. We heard at least two Black Francolin and an Olivaceous Warbler singing. Although Kiti Dam held no water we spent some time in small area of trees there where we added Semi-collared and Spotted Flycatcher to the trip list and also found a Great Spotted and Common Cuckoo as well as Common Nightingale, Eurasian Pied and Collared Flycatcher, another Eurasian Wryneck for the day and an Eastern Bonelli’s and a Wood Warbler. Our last birding stop was in the fields outside Pervolia. The target species there was Calandra Lark and we heard them as soon as we parked and then spent some time watching their display flight. A Common Quail called near us and two Greater Short-toed Lark were also in the fields. A Richard’s Pipit suddenly came into the ‘scope’s field of vision as we watched one of Calandra Lark singing on the ground. An unexpected bonus for the last new species of the trip. We then headed for Larnaca Airport and the return flight to London Heathrow.
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