Army Ornithological Society Blog

Cyprus Weekly

Birding highlights for week ending 9 Sep

An asterisk (*) indicates that a photo of the species is available to view on Flickr.

Monday and Tuesday comprised of two days leave.  The obsession has finally taken over, so I really needed to attempt the Demoselle Cranes again.  I visited Akrotiri Salt Lake early on the Monday but again, no Cranes.  This has been a particularly poor year for the migration
of the species.  Perhaps, because the Salt Lake is so full of water it has affected their usual stop over habit.  More worrying is perhaps that it's indicitive of the declining population of this threatened Western Palearctic species.  I continued the day noting the many Slender-billed Gulls, four Great White Egret and six Spoonbill.  Two Whimbrel remained and did several Marsh Terns. At the back of Zakaki Marsh, four Eleanora's Falcons hunted at close range and two Ringtails and a sub-adult male Montagues Harrier hawked the reedbed.  Perhaps the highlight of the day was seeing the c350 Honey Buzzards roosting on the salt lake, rising on the thermals and forming several large kettles of perhaps 70 birds in each.  A real spectacle and well worth the trip.  My time at Akrotiri was cut short as I managed to find a nail on the gravel pits and hence my first puncture of the tour.  Not unexpected or surprising but still a pain in the obvious.  Anyway soon underway, I got the tyre repaired at a garage for 5 Euros (at least something is cheap in Cyprus) before heading West.

I returned home via Oroklini Marsh where a pair of Marsh Sandpipers* were present along with a couple of Redshanks and the usual expected species. Not being able to resist the draw of Akhna Dam as I have to pass it, I decided to stop for a couple of hours.  It was a good decision. Thirteen Honey Buzzards made their way east, a ringtail Montague's Harrier and female Marsh Harrier drifted ove the reeds carefully watched by the resident Long-legged Buzzard.  Then, everything seemed to happen at once, a group of terns that I watched intently, proved to include all three species of marsh tern with a juveinile Black Tern* being a new bird for the tour.  Suddenly eveything began to flush, a Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, many Spur-winged Plovers and Cattle Egrets and then I was treated to about half an hour of an Osprey (a new bird for Cyprus for me) fishing*.  Feeling fully satisfied, as I left, I photographed a couple of Turtle Doves including a juvenile* and was lucky enough to see another Wryneck.  What a fantastic couple of hours birding!

The following morining, I arrived early at Ayia Napa Sewage Works.  Seveal Whinchats were present which are passing through in large numbers now.  An Isabelline Wheatear, the usual three species of Shrike and a juvenile Barred Warbler.  As I climbed the escarpment, I  flushed a few Ortolan Buntings and then at the top saw a bird on a rock which I photographed and identified as a Tree Pipit*. The first reported for the autumn I think and a new bird for the year.

Ayia Napa Football Pitches held seven Isabelline Wheatears, three Hoopoes and a couple of Lesser Grey Shirkes with many Yellow Wagtails becoming evident.  A picnic lunch with Deb at Cape Greco allowed me a chance to see another 39 migrating Honey Buzzards and a Marsh Harrier whilst a Cyprus Warbler also gave brief views.  A nice Cyprus Wheatear* and a male Blackcap ended the lunch.

I took a friends father to Akhna Dam, whos local patch is at North Cave Wetland, so he was an interested birder.  He was delighted to see sixteen European Beeaters as we entered the site along with a Spotted Flycatcher.  Hoopoes totalled four and a few smart Yellow Wagtails were also present.  A lone Wood Sandpiper and three Ruff fed amongst the seven Squacco Herons and  a Glossy Ibis put in a late appearance.  Finally, as we left the site a Hobby passed over the top of the car.

Back to work on Wednesday so only the afternoon to birdwatch.  I had to visit the tailor's shop to have my summer Mess Dress fitted, due to the fact that I've lost so much weight since being here - I thought that would grab your attention - not really.  Anyway, that visit coupled with trying to get to grips with the new Blog on the AOS Website saw me eating into birdwatching time.  I eventually arrived at Ayia Napa Sewage Works at 1630.  There wasn't much about with a late Pallid Swift, two Honey Buzzards, three Ortolan Buntings and an Eastern Orphean Warbler being the highlights.  It would appear that the Eastern Orpheans have passed through and that only a few tardy stragglers are now being encountered.  A good thing to remember if wishing to see this species, it's a very early autumn migrant in Cyprus so a visit from late July through to early September should bring success.

Thursday already and the monthly visit to Jumbo.  Jumbo is a large shop near Larnaca that sells everything and it's one of Deb's favourite places.  Whilst I can't boast that, it is only five minutes from Oroklini Marsh.  So the deal is..... I drop Deb to Jumbo for two hours, birdwatch the marsh, pick Deb up, go for a coffee and a sandwhich and return home via Akhna Dam - "PERFECT", I hear you say - and I agree.  Oroklini Marsh held three Marsh Sandpipers*, three Ruff, seven Redshanks and a Spotted Redshank with only one Wood Sandpiper remaining.  Teal have increased to 43, Shovellers to three and a lone female Red-crested Pochard continues its stay.

Later at Akhna Dam, a skulking Little Bittern eventually gave itself up, two Little Crakes fed actively in the open* and three Glossy Ibisis flew into feed.  Perhaps the surprise and most exciting bird was a Eurasian Starling, a new bird for the Cyprus year and amazing what you get excited about in different parts of the world.

I attended a dinner at Troodos station on Friday evening which put paid to any birding, however, I did manage a walk around the local area in order to record a number of the common mountain species for the month.

I managed an hour or so before showering and encountered a familiy group of 5 Woodlark, a Short-toed Treecreeper, Cyprus Pied Wheatear and Isabelline Wheatear with 5 Serins along for the ride.  On Saturday, I travelled back on the minibus with a headache and apart from 6 or 7 Beeaters at the back of the house, I noted nothing else.

Having missed Saturday I rose early on Sunday and made for Ayia Napa Sewage Works. The site was alive with birds and a female and male (eastern black-throated form) Black-eared Wheatears were a highlight.  Another couple of Ortolan Buntings made an appearance and I flushed another 2 Corncrakes.  Isabelline Wheatears and Whinchats were everywhere, as were Red-backed Shrikes.  It was pleasing to see a female  Cyprus Warbler which are becoming difficult.  I saw a Turtle Dove and another 3 shot by hunters.  Later at the Football Pitches a female Black Francolin* and a Tree Pipit was picked up on call and then seen perched on a fence.

The afternoon at Akhna Dam saw me sight my first female Pallid Harrier of the tour - obvious with its very pale collar and bouyant flight. Nothing new was noted but the juvenile Collared Pratincole continued its stay and I saw another 2 or the same pair of Little Crakes. For pictures of birds with * please click on the following Flickr links:

The week was once again very productive.  For me the highlights were the spectacle of Honey Buzzard passage over Akrotiri Salt Lake and a fishing Osprey at Akhna Dam.

Other interesting finds:  Definately not the Jumbo swag bag that Deb managed to accumulate durng the monthly visit.

Look Forward:  A day's leave on Monday so I must plan well, I also have to do a recce for next week as I'm picking a UK birder up and guiding him for a day, so I need to locate his hotel and we have friends visiting at the end of the month (yes I do have non-birding friends), that Deb and I will have to get prepared for, ie buy more beer and brandy sour making ingredients.  The Battle of Britain Ball is at the end of the week so birding is likely to be curtailed next week due to the effects of alcohol - is there a theme developing?

If you are planning a visit or require more info please feel free to contact me at:   birder639@yahoo.com

Mark Easterbrook

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Cyprus Weekly

Birding highlights for week ending 2 Sep 12

Wryneck - Akhna Dam Aug 12

An asterisk (*) indicates that a photo of the species is available for viewing - please visit Flickr site to view

A bank holiday Monday and I have arranged to meet Colin Richardson the Cyprus Recorder at Akrotiri.

Following last week’s successes, I keep thinking things must slow down soon and the highlights will reduce but it “just gets betta” (said in a Greg Wallace – Masterchef type way).  I submitted 736 records of 128 species last month and the Cyprus year list now stands as 132.

I expect September to be busier so, I’ll have to have my eye in during the coming month.

Monday, a bank holiday, and a drive to Akrotiri Salt lake to meet Colin Richardson , a friend and the Cyprus bird recorder.  We left Ay Nik early and were at Akrotiri Salt Lake by 0730ish.  Disappointingly, no Demoiselle Cranes were present and raptor passage was nearly non existent.   I did however add a Black Kite, Montague’s Harrier and Marsh Harrier.  Out on the Salt Lake 179 Slender-billed Gulls – which is unprecedented for this time of year, four Great White Egrets and three Spoonbills.  Two White Storks lingered, three Whimbrels were a surprise but the Marsh Terns weren’t.  At Lady’s Mile on the way home a winter plumage Sanderling stood out amongst the Little Stints and three summer plumaged Dunlins were also obvious amongst the many Kentish Plovers.  Engineering work at Limassol Port has produced a run-off with water being pumped into the salt lake.  This has had a very positive effect as seen by the presence of the Slender-billed Gulls and at least 700 Greater Flamingos – not normal in the summer.

Tuesday and its back to the guessing game – where is the next migrant going to turn up?  I visited Akhna Dam, however there was little wader activity.  As I arrived a long winged white tern flew toward me.  I quickly got out of the car in time to see a stubby black bill and white back with a black smudge on the ear coverts.  A Gull-billed Tern, flying purposefully south and not stopping – a good start.  A Great White Egret had been reported in the morning by my Cypriot birding friend and it remained in situ for the evening – putting on a good fishing display.  Three species of Shrike were noted, a couple of Hoopoes, another or the same first winter Citrine Wagtail and as I left a Wryneck was on the grass in the open, probably the same bird as last week – a bit of an extravert this one.  Deb also photographed a Common Snipe* that remained in place feeding and cooperative for the camera.

I have been made aware of a heinous birding crime that is taking place on island – SUPPRESSION!!!!!  A White-breasted Kingfisher has been suppressed for several days, so as the local photographers could get it – a crime punishable with a severe tongue lashing and will cause a delay in me reporting birds from this end of the island.  It’s a Cyprus “tick” for me so I’ll probably attempt it at the weekend when I am going to Akrotiri Salt Lake again to try and see the Demoiselle Cranes that appear to be fairly scarce this autumn.

Wednesday afternoon as you’ve probably remembered is the midweek visit to Ayia Napa Sewage Works (barring there being a MEGA in the area).  Find your own MEGAs if you can, it’s much more rewarding.  A great visit.  Four Alpine Swift, 32 Honey Buzzards in a thermal heading out over the Cape and a real surprise.  I was alerted by an unfamiliar call.  I investigated and found a female Common Rosefinch.  Unfortunately no camera but if accepted, I have submitted the description, it will be the eighth record for Cyprus and another Cyprus “tick”.

I had an operational visit to Akrotiri on Thursday, so departing from Ay Nik early allowed me time to check Akrotiri Salt Lake for Cranes.  No Cranes today – another dip.  The salt lake held the by now familiar Flamingos, six Great White Egret, Slender-billed Gulls and a flyby Red-rumped Swallow.  Later that evening Akhna Dam was relatively quiet but Spotted Flycatchers* now appear to be coming through in good numbers.  28 Wood Sandpipers were impressive and a juvenile Collared Pratincole* was a late migrant.  Another or the same Gull-billed Tern was present and obligingly landed for the camera*.

Friday, the weekend and unfortunately no birding due to me indulging in too much Keo.

Saturday is another Birdlife Cyprus field trip to Akrotiri Salt Lake for Demoiselle Cranes (again) and raptor migration.  I also intend to attempt to find the White-breasted Kingfisher above Asporkremmos Dam.  Disaster, no Cranes again on the third attempt.  The field trip produced my first Ferruginous Duck at Bishop’s Pool, five female Marsh Harriers and a Ringtail Montague’s.  Two Purple Herons were at Phasouri Reed Beds and several Curlew Sandpipers were at Lady’s Mile.  We returned home having not attempted the Kingfisher.

In a break with tradition I visited Ayia Napa Sewage Works in favour of Larnaca.  I’m pleased I did, as I flushed two Corncrakes, saw four Golden Orioles, eleven Ortolan Buntings* and a couple of Honey Buzzards.  Ayia Napa Football Pitches held the usual selection of species although a Whinchat was a new bird for the year.

For pictures of birds with * please click on the following Flickr links:

Snipe at Akhna Dam
Spotted Flycatcher at Akhna Dam
Little Crake at Akhna Dam
Gull-billed Tern at Akhna Dam

Other interesting finds:  On Tuesday evening as Deb and I walked around Akhna Dam trying to photograph the Great White Egret a Chameleon fell out of a tree in front of us.  No doubt a possible member of the AOS, it had obviously fallen asleep on the job and lost its grip.  Anyway Deb got some great photos of it and another creature is also in the photo – comments welcomed*.

Look Forward:  It’s supposed to get busier in September!  I’ve already been fairly productive so I don’t know if I’ll be able to meet the demands of September and heavy migration – but I’ll give it my best shot.

If you are planning a visit or require more info please feel free to contact me at:   birder639@yahoo.com

Mark Easterbrook

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Cyprus Weekly

Birding highlights for week ending 26 Aug 12

An asterisk (*) indcates that a photo of the species is available to view on Flickr.

With a deluge of migrants last week and some good fortune the Cyprus total for the year since June 11th now stands at 114. Considering, during my last tour which started in Jul 97, I bagged 117 species by the end of the year, it’s going pretty well. It must be said that I was a bit of a novice at that time and probably missed more than I saw – some would say “little has changed”. The weather appears to have cooled with some westerly and northerly winds that will aid migration. Westerly’s are always welcomed as it drives the migrants down my side of the island and away from Paphos which is regarded as “birding central”, a misconception that I am attempting to address.

Monday morning and as I ate my cornflakes, I heard and then saw a European Beeater over the woods at the back of the house – a good start to the week! The traditional evening visit to Akhna Dam produced a reduced number of usual waders, 6 Glossy Ibis, 5 Grey Heron, 1 Night Heron, a brief Great Reed Warbler, a Reed Warbler (see other interesting finds) and the now shy Little Crake remained present. An increase in the number of Yellow Wagtails was noted albeit many females and juveniles not revealing their race. There was however a splendid male of the feldegg (black-headed) sub species present.

A real dilemma this Tuesday, a Broad-billed Sandpiper has been seen at Zakazi Marsh, Limassol on the edge of Akrotiri Salt Lake, yesterday and the best chance at this end of the island is Akhna Dam, Larnaca Sewage Works or Oroklini Marsh I guess – decisions, decisions. Deb has made Tavas (a local Cypriot stew/casserole containing pork, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cumin, and nutmeg cooked in chicken stock, in the slow cooker), which makes my decision slightly easier as dinner is sorted. Should the trip to Cyprus come to fruition, we’ll be eating a lot of this. For those of a vegetarian persuasion, Cyprus is probably not the best place as it’s rather meat heavy. Larnaca Sewage Works was fairly disappointing with nothing significant being present except for the malodorous smell that I’ve come to love.

We then pushed onto Oriklini Marsh. As I drove up, I noticed a large number of small waders mostly Little Stints and Little Ringed Plovers. However, there under a dead bush in the marsh, a dark wader jumped out at me. I knew instinctively what it was and so spent the next 20 minutes or so watching and attempting to photograph a cracking adult Broad-billed Sandpiper*. The photos weren’t the best, so remembering my fieldcraft with a combination of the monkey run and leopard crawl (oh, how the Cypriots must have laughed), I got into a position to secure some very good photographs of this scarce spring and autumn migrant. An Avocet was also present along with 7 Little Egrets, a Teal, 3 Garganey and the normal numbers of Mallards, Stilts etc.

Onward to Akhna Dam and as I entered 10 Wood Sandpipers flushed and 3 species of Shrike were obviously noticeable perched on dead snags that used to be in the water, as the levels have reduced significantly in the increased summer heat. I then heard a call that I recognised as a Citrine Wagtail. It took me about half an hour of driving around tracking the flock of 30 or so Yellow Wagtails until I confirmed my initial ID. I managed to photograph the female/non breeding male Citrine Wagtail*. This species used to be under-recorded in the autumn unless it was a breeding male because of confusion with juvenile/female Yellow Wagtails, however the call is quite different, being a longer deep more drawn out version; (a dreeeepppp rather than a shreepp if you get my meaning – but it’s all very subjective?). In any event it was in the bag. As I tracked the Wagtails a Hoopoe flew and a Kingfisher was seen but little else of any note. Dinner and a beer (KEO – again lots of this to be drunk for the visitor to Cypurs) were great which rounded off a very enjoyable afternoon.

Early Wednesday morning, same routine but a flock of about 20 European Beeaters in the wood behind the house and this afternoon the first of the twice weekly visits to Ayia Napa Sewage Works and the Cape Greco area. Ayia Napa Football Pitches held 5 Lesser Grey Shrike, 1 Red-backed Shrike, 2 Isablelline Wheatears and a Northern Wheatear. Perhaps the biggest surprised were 3 Black Francolins (1 female and a male) feeding in the open on one of the football pitches.

I progressed to the sewage works noting a juvenile Red-backed Shrike and Roller. There had obviously been a significant fall of Sylvia warblers including 1 juvenile Barred Warbler, 2 juvenile Orphean Warblers and at least 15 Lesser Whitethroats interspersed with Spectacled Warblers that seemed to be everywhere. Also present was a lone Willow Warbler. As I left the site at least 9 migrant Pallid Swifts hawked the lagoons and a Hobby shot straight through on route to the sea via Cape Greco.

Thursday afternoon and again uncertainty prevailed. With migrants everywhere it was difficult to decide on a location – you can’t be everywhere at once! Again I speculated and decided on Oroklini Marsh. With an unprecedented movement of White Storks at Akrotiri Salt Lake (2000 – 2800), I thought maybe other species had also moved. At the Marsh, the Broad-billed Sandpiper was still present along with a good number of Little Stints. I scoped the lake noting an influx of Northern Shovellers, Teal and Garganey. As I panned a movement in the reeds proved to be a female Little Crake and a large grey wader in the water was obviously the first Spotted Redshank of the autumn. Thirteen Little Egrets (a good site count) were present which were obvious migrants, along with 2 Grey Heron and a preening, and my first Purple Heron during this tour.

At Ay Nik over my quarter a male Peregrine flew very fast south east heading for Cape Greco and the Beeaters continued to hunt over the woods at the back of the house. Friday and I’m thinking of having a day off from the migrant hunt. Right, enough of those crazy thoughts; I have the readers and my Cyprus list to consider. Akhna Dam held the same variety of species although a Dunlin was the first for the sight this autumn.

The weekend is here again and lots of sites to visit and not enough time to do it all properly. I can’t go more than an hour away as I’m the Duty Field Officer, so that rules out Aktotiri Salt Lake to look for roosting Demoiselle Cranes. It’s the issue with work, it does get in the way of meaningful ornithology, In any event an early morning round of Ayia Napa Sewage Works was productive with three new birds for the list. The first a total and unexpected surprise was a Corncrake flushed from underfoot and the otherd a little later was a cracking male Cretzchmar’s Bunting and four Whitethroats which appear to have had a bit of an influx. Ayia Napa Football Pitches held good numbers of Lesser Grey Shrike, Isabelline Wheatears* and Yellow Wagtails with a record thirteen Hoopoes. As a bonus I managed to photograph male and female Black Francolins.* Ayia Thekla held one Greater Sand Plover and a Common Sandpiper.

It’s Sunday and as committed followers realise – it’s Sewage Works Day (hooorahhh). But no, I decided on another visit to Ayia Napa Sewage Works as it appears to be the migrant hotspot. Today was Blackcap day, at least seven males and two females and I also flushed a male Redstart. Eastern Orphean Warblers continue to pass although it appears that the main passage has already occurred. A migrant Spotted Flycatcher was also of note.

Later that morning I assisted a Birdlife Cyprus field trip to Akhna Dam and Oroklini Marsh. Although nothing spectacular was found two Great Reed Warblers continued as did a Glossy Ibis and the now usual species. At Oroklini, the Broad-billed Sandpiper remained in situ, along with a Spotted Redshank. At Akhna Dam in the evening Deb and I were very fortunate in being able to photograph a very confiding Wryneck* - the best views I’ve ever had I think! I also found and photographed another Citrine Wagtail*, this time a 1st winter individual.

The week ended with a flurry and bird of the week was definitely the Broad-billed Sandpiper although a showy Wryneck was also exceptional. The Corncrake was a Cyprus “tick” and it’s always nice to see a Cretzchmar’s Bunting.

Other interesting finds: For those that are interested (especially the purists and ringers (stringers), look up Marsh Warbler vs Reed Warbler vs Caspian Reed Warbler (fuscus) – a real head scratcher!

Look Forward: A bank holiday Monday and some leave coming up. It must be Akrotiri and the salt lake for Demoiselle Crane and raptor migration.

If you are planning a visit or require more info please feel free to contact me at: birder639@yahoo.com

Mark Easterbrook
_________________
Been There - Seen It
The BFG.

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Cyprus Weekly

Birding highlights for week ending 19 Aug 12

An asterisk (*) indciates that a photo of the species is available to view on Flickr.

Overall an outstanding week, with lots of good migrants and residents up for grabs!

Monday, a long day at work, only allows for a quick visit to Akhna Dam. I suspected that the week would not be as rewarding as last week’s variety of birds. Having been on the island since 11 Jun, I successfully passed the 100 species barrier. Fittingly, the 100th bird was a beautiful singing male Cyprus Warbler at Cape Greco. I suspect, someone playing a recording of a singing Sardinian Warbler prompted this behaviour (who could that have been)? In any event at the beginning of the week the current species total resides at 104.

On Monday after work I attempted to twitch a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling at Ayia Napa Football Pitches which resulted in a dip. I did however see 4 Lesser Grey Shrikes and a Spotted Flycatcher. Later at Akhna I confirmed that the 2 Marsh Warblers were still present, photographed 6 Black-crowned Night Herons* and noted that the 2 Whiskered Terns (1 juvenile) and the White-winged Black Tern were still there. 2 Hoopoes fed actively, 7 Garganey flushed and a single Kingfisher* fed from a dead snag – and that was Monday.

I wait with baited breath to see if my Marsh Warblers of last week will be accepted by the Rarities’ Committee – with supporting photos and a superbly written description (modest as usual), I don’t see why not. They continued to be seen at Akhna Dam until the 14th. However, locals are of the opinion that they are Eastern Reed Warblers also known as Caspian Reed Warbler (fuscus), that do occur on passage. I look forward to the intellectual ornithological debate and am interested in the opinions of the experts on the photographs I’ve submitted – if experts on this matter exist?

I had to visit Troodos as the Troop Commander on Tuesday and Wednesday. I must visit at least once a month, so I attempt to make the most of it, if I can, and record the mountain specialities for the month. Additionally, it’s a welcome break from the heat of Ay Nik and it usually coincides with a leaving function – strange coincidence that? The draw back being – what am I missing at Akhna Dam, my local patch – I hate visitors finding birds on my patch! It invariably happens and I’m always gutted when it does. It’s like when you’re on a birding holiday abroad seeing some great birds and you find out someone found a Hoopoe on your patch in Lincolnshire. It’s a strange feeling but despite the great holiday, you wish you were there, in an Edith Charmers type way. Please read the weekly supplement for details of an unforgettable birding moment in Troodos.

Wednesday afternoon and evening and it was back to the slog of attempting to find migrants – some slog? Akhna Dam produced the usual suspects but a female Marsh Harrier was notable as was the change from juvenile Masked Shrikes to adult males and females. On the way home a Lesser Grey Shrike was on wires in the local village, Vrysoulles.

Thursday and Friday I had leave booked. Ridiculously, I thought I would get some concentrated birding done – Deb, the long-haired General had other ideas. Having said that a compromise was reached and happiness prevailed. I got out early on the Thursday arriving at Ayia Napa Sewage Works for 0630. 16 European Beeaters were calling and seen perched in trees, whilst Eastern Orphean Warblers continue to pass in good numbers. Regrettably another Blackcap was found in a mist net, this time a male. I have only seen 2 so far this autumn both in mist nets. Unless the locals have a ringing licence – anyone for pickled Blackcap? A Black Francolin was flushed on the return to the car.

Later at Cape Greco Picnic site, 3 Sardinian Warblers and a Cyprus Warbler showed themselves whilst a Spectacled Warbler posed for the camera*. On the return home Ayia Napa Football Pitches held 34 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Hoopoe, 5 Lesser Grey Shrikes and 1 Red-backed Shrike. We visited Larnaca for lunch and after a walk around the shops we headed off to the Sewage Works. Here I got a Cyprus “tick”, a Whimbrel – not an easy migrant on Cyprus. There was also a “ringtail” Montague’s Harrier and a Sand Martin – both firsts for the autumn as far as I know. At Oroklini Marsh (it’s on the way home and it’s a pity not to), a Water Rail and the first Ringed Plover of the autumn were noted.

On Friday, Deb and I had a picnic lunch at Cape Greco but obviously via the Sewage Works – do you see a pattern developing? Here, Deb photographed a beautiful Red-backed Shrike* and a juvenile Roller*, the resident Long-legged Buzzard perched on a rock for us. In the evening I visited Akhna Dam and found a Little Crake* which was pleasing. 2 Sedge Warblers continued to flit about the reeds and a Great Reed Warbler then appeared*.

An early morning jaunt to Akhna Dam on Saturday saw me bag my first Woodchat Shrike – a nice adult male and with a Lesser Grey, Red Backed and a variety of Masked Shrikes being present. I did think where else could you see 4 Shrike species in a matter of minutes? The Little Crake continued to perform in its favoured area of reeds and activity was brisk.

The Sunday visit to the market, Oroklini Marsh, Larnaca Sewage Works and Spiro’s Pool. The obligatory Cyprus Special Sandwich for 4 Euros is a must and what more could a lady want than to have lunch at the sewage works (or am I missing the point)? The sewage works held 9 Northern Shovellers and 4 Eurasian Teal – numbers are increasing. 2 juvenile Whiskered Terns were present, 8 Little Stints and a European Roller. The nearby Spiro’s Pool will be dry by the end of the week but still held approximately 150 Kentish Plover and 38 Yellow-legged Gulls. In the evening at Akhna Dam there was nothing new although a Long-legged Buzzard appears to have taken up residence as have 2 female Marsh Harriers. I photographed a Ruff* for the gallery and got a pretty good shot of an adult Whiskered Tern feeding a juvenile*.

If you do not wish to read a political rant please stop reading now:

Sadly, with migration comes illegal bird trapping (the pictures under SITES on the Flickr page some may find disturbing) and the mindless slaughter of millions of birds every spring and autumn. I was unable to free the female Blackcap* (the first of the autumn), as it was on private land, a dog was present and I’d have probably been arrested for trespassing – unbelievable. Whilst the Cypriots currently hold the EU Presidency and willingly accept European money for building many useless speed humps and roundabouts, they also reject, ignore or disregard the laws they don’t like. The activity is illegal under EU law and it’s a disgrace that it is allowed to continue in a developed country and is a damning indictment of how ineffective the EU is. Indeed, several visiting birders have been beaten and spent time in hospital for attempting to release trapped birds and during my last tour a Game Reserve warden had his car blown up in Limassol – such is the profit to be made by the carnage and slaughter of millions of birds. Adhering to the typical Cypriot psyche – maximum profit, minimum effort.

I have the relevant emails of the RSPB, Birdlife Cyprus and the Cyprus Game Reserve so will be writing in due course with the photographic evidence, which I will continue to collect. Local perpetrators can be fined, although there is no appetite to enforce this by the Cypriot authorities, it is accepted that the activities are condoned as traditional pursuits. It clearly has little to do with tradition since mist nets and tape lures are less than traditional, lime sticks could be considered traditional, however, it is probably more to do with 80 Euros for a jar of 12 pickled song birds than tradition. Little has been achieved in the 12 years that I have not visited the Island, despite contrary claims by the Cypriot authorities. A despicable, cultural, lucrative activity carried out illegally with blind disregard for the future of the environment and wider European biodiversity.

Two nets here catching a conservative 12 birds a day, multiplied by say 50 nets in the area (probably a conservative estimate), and multiplied again by 2 months worth of migration….. You do the maths – a very large impact on European breeding warblers?

RANT ENDS

The week ended with a bag full of birds, with the Little Crake being memorable but moment of the week was undoubtedly the Goshawk and Peregrine encounter.

Other interesting finds: The search for Palm Dove has so far proved fruitless, however, I had almost forgotten about them in the rush of migrant activity.

Look Forward: Difficult to predict, migrants are everywhere so it’s down to maintaining focus and braving the summer heat in the pursuit of birding excellence.

If you are planning a visit or require more info please feel free to contact me at: birder639@yahoo.com

Mark Easterbrook
_________________
Been There - Seen It
The BFG.

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Sooty Tern Population Size

The latest Ascension research paper, Estimate of Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus population size following cat eradication on Ascension Island, central Atlantic, has been published in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club. 19: 166–171.

Download a copy of the paper.

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