(8) Blog Posts Made in September 2012

Fair Isle - Day 2

Sun 30 Sep 12

The recce screen deployed before first light but became a little bogged down having made contact with 11 Jack Snipe.  Meanwhile the main force scoured the Havens and Bu Ness in rain and driving wind before retiring for a leisurely breakfast!

Once deployed, the main force recovered the recce screen and spent the morning searching for new and existing rarities.  The morning turned up Richard’s Pipit above South Harbour and a Paddyfield Warbler at the shop, re-discovered just before the transport back to FIBO.

After lunch the team deployed back to the shop to get good views of the Paddyfield Warbler.  The task was expected to last most of the afternoon but the bird was very obliging and good views were achieved within half an hour.  With the Paddyfield Warbler having completed its photo call the team returned to scouring the south and were put onto a Red-breasted Flycatcher hiding in the cliffs around Hesswalls.

Another successful day.  What will tomorrow bring?


Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for Week Ending 30 Sep

Juvenile Montague's Harrier at Akrotiri Gravel Pits - 24 Sep 12 courtesy of Deb Easterbrook

* A photo of the species is included please visit the Flickr site.

An enjoyable month with 1038 records submitted detailing 148 species.  The Cyprus year list now stands at 170 and the Cyprus life list has increased to 273 with 9 additions since arriving back on the island.  Some good species have been added throughout the month including 5 Cyprus “ticks” and the earliest record of a Moustached Warbler.  September birding in Cyprus is non stop and it appears so is the illegal poaching which is currently at an intensity that I have not witnessed previously – truly shocking!  A mist net, limestick and tape lure appears to be in every patch of trees or orange grove; it is very worrying for the future populations of several species.

I had arranged to meet Colin Richardson the recorder at Akrotiri for the day so set off at 0630 to arrive at 0800.  On arriving I saw Colin’s car and he was already stood on the salt lake about half a mile away.  We scanned the waders with a Whimbrel being noteworthy.  I also saw a couple of year ticks with a White Pelican and Grey Plover being present.  We soon found the prize feeding amongst the Greater Flamingos, a Bar-tailed Godwit – a very scarce migrant and another Cyprus “tick” for me.

We progressed to Bishop’s Pool and it was clear that there was some good raptor passage occurring with numerous Marsh Harriers, Honey Buzzards and Montague’s Harriers* passing.  At Bishop’s Pool, we were searching for a particular bird that has been reported intermittently for about 2 weeks.  This is as close to a twitch as it gets in Cyprus.  In any event almost immediately, Colin spotted our quarry – an adult White-throated Kingfisher (Smyrna).  The rarest of the 3 Kingfishers that occurs on the island and less than annual.  For me another new Cyprus bird.  A Peregrine flushed the Teal and a few Red-footed Falcons passed overhead quickly followed by a dashing dark phase Eleonora’s Falcon - a bit of a falcon fest to be sure.

Since there was some good raptor passage occurring we decided to take lunch under the eucalyptus trees near Phasouri Reed Beds and opposite the large antenna array.  No sooner had we sat down and we were viewing Honey Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, Montague’s Harriers and Red-footed Falcons all spiralling above us.  Soon 1,2 and eventually 5 Black Kites* circled above us and amongst them a bird which drew our attention.  Another scarce passage migrant, less than annual and another addition to my Cyprus list – a juvenile Egyptian Vulture*.  A real red letter day for me on Cyprus with 3 new birds for the country and a good number of additions to the year list.  As we continued to watch we eventually teased out and identified a distant pale phase Booted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, 2 Lesser Kestrels and to finish the day a juvenile Bonelli’s Eagle drifted quickly over the salt lake.

At Akhna Dam on Tuesday evening all was normal, however 2 Great White Egrets were present and a single Little Crake continued its stay, although it appears to be becoming more elusive.  Searching the reed beds produced 3 (Eastern) Reed Warblers, a Sedge Warbler*, 26 Willow Warblers and another Moustached Warbler*.  A late flurry of 4 Wood Sandpipers kept the single Ruff company and a late Hoopoe was seen – the first for about a week.  Three Whiskered Terns remained faithful to the site and a Kingfisher looks set for a long stay.

A quick walk around Akhna Dam on Wednesday produced a Purple Heron, Little Crake several Red-backed and Masked Shrikes and a Sedge Warbler.  Probably the highlight was the first White Wagtail of the winter that was reported yesterday by my Cypriot counterpart.  Other than that the experience was uneventful.  With a Mess lunch on Thursday – you know where this is going to end up – no birding in the evening.  Deb and I picked up our friends from Larnaca airport at 1500 on Friday, so this allowed me a quick trip to the Larnaca Sewage Works area prior to their arrival.  A very quiet scene greeted me with only Kentish Plovers and Yellow-legged Gulls on the beach whilst a lone Black-necked Grebe continued at Larnaca Sewage Works.

Early on Saturday morning saw me visiting Akhna Dam in an attempt to track down a least one of the several Bluethroats that have recently been reported.  I was not successful with the Bluethroats although 2 Little Crakes,2 Great White Egrets and 3 Sedge Warblers and 2 Ospreys were evident along with some commoner species.  The count was actually 3 Ospreys but one was found shot deat.  The mindless destruction that this nation carries out is beyond belief.  I was contacted by a birder who was reading this blog and he informed me that his group had witnessed the "hunters" shooting many European Beeaters at Kiti Dam near Larnaca.  Leaving them where they fell, he commented that they looked very proud and pleased with themselves - pathetic.  In the evening I had European Beeaters over my house and a small passage of hirundines including 2 Red-rumped Swallows and a House Martin amongst the numerous Barn Swallows.

On Sunday I visited Oroklini Marsh in the morning which was relatively quiet with only a Great White Egret and 2 Marsh Sandpipers being of interest.  Later I drove past Dhekelia Fire Station and found 14 Stone Curlews.  In the afternoon I went to Akhna Dam and there were 2 more Great White Egrets, 7 Sedge Warblers, a Little Crake, Great Reed Warbler and finally a female Bluethroat, which was the 170th bird of the year.

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

Other interesting finds: NTR.

Highlight of the Week:  A difficult decision with a choice of 3 this week but I think for rarity value it must be the White-throated Kingfisher at Bishop’s Pool with the juvenile Egyptian Vulture a close second followed by the Bar-tailed Godwit, although, a large raptor passage is always exciting.

Look Forward:  October is the month where passage birds begin to peter out and winter visitors begin to arrive in larger numbers, I’m hoping for a Blue Rock Thrush this week.

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

Mark Easterbrook


Fair Isle - Day 1

Sat 29 Sep 12

Not a promising start to the day with the FIBO warden, Dave, deciding whether or not to start the early morning trap run because of the wind and rain.  In the end it was go and, whilst those new to the island learnt about the Heligoland traps and their use, the sum total of the trap run was two birds, a Meadow Pipit and a Song Thrush.

After breakfast the team headed out for an abortive attempt to find Barred Warbler and was just considering moving on when a ‘red flag’ event was called.  All birders on the island moved to Furse where a Buff-bellied Pipit had been located and was showing well.  After a Snipe search the team returned to the observatory for lunch.

Whilst everyone was enjoying a post lunch cuppa in the lounge a warbler popped in through the open door.  Having stunned itself against the glass and dropped down behind a sofa it was recovered by one of the rangers who confirmed it as a Blyth’s Reed Warbler.  It was bagged, allowed to recover in the ringing room, and then tagged before being brought out for a ‘press call’ and being realised.  Armchair birding for rarities at its best!

After all the lunchtime excitement the team resumed the hunt over the southern half of the island turning up: Arctic Warbler, Little Bunting, Barred Warbler, Bluethroat, Yellow-browed Warbler, Lapland Bunting.  Quite a collection for an afternoon and a fair few lifer’s for some.

After dinner Saturday night went with a swing and following an informative talk on the history of Fair Isle the CAOS team managed a creditable third place in the ’mystery birds’ quiz although, it has to be said, this achievement was marred slightly by the fact that there were only three teams!


Fair Isle - Arrival

The Team Arrives - Fri 28 Sep 12

The two traveling teams made the RV at Tingwall Airfield in good time for the flight to Fair Isle, scheduled for 1430, having traveled to Shetland Mainland by either air from Inverness or the ferry from Aberdeen.

Following the team arrival at FIBO the team took over their rooms, dumped their kit and, after the welcome briefing, legged it out for quick tour of the island in the remaining available light.

Although only out on the ground for two hours much was seen the highlights being: Fair Isle Wren, Great Skua and Olive-backed Pipit.  A cheeky Twite also welcomed our arrival greeting us from an adjacent gate top.

Sat 29 Sep will be the team's first full day on the island and expectations are high...


Cyprus Weekly

Birding highlights for week ending 23 Sep

Male Peregrine Falcon of the Sub species brookei resident on Cyprus - smaller and darker than ours at Konnos Bay Cape Greco 22 Sep 12

An asterisk (*) indicates that an image of the bird is available for viewing on Flickr.

An interesting week ahead.  With many early migrants now on the way, it’s time to look for the less common species amongst the throng of so many migrants and potential early winter visitors.

On Tuesday I picked up a UK birder at 0600.  We visited Ayia Thekla and secured the Greater Sand Plover.  We then moved to Ayia Napa Football Pitches where 3 species of Shirke, Yellow Wagtails and both Northern and Isabelline Wheatears were seen.  We were attempting to locate a calling Eastern Olivaceous Warbler when Chris said he had a warbler in the scope but wasn’t sure what it was.  I looked through the scope and thought the bird looked a bit odd and maybe it was a Garden Warbler.  In any event as it flew it revealed its black and white tail and I new instantly it was a Red-breasted Flycatcher.  I studied more and concluded that it was a female type.  A Cyprus MEGA and tick for me – Well done Chris for finding it!  Description already submitted.  I’d hoped that we’d find something memorable and we did – so optimists are not always disappointed.

On a high we went to Cape Greco and 2 sites for the Cyprus endemics.  I had staked these out last week so was hopeful.  We secured Cyprus Wheatear and Warbler in fairly short order and moved on to the Sewage Works where 2 Stone Curlews, 5 Ortolan Buntings and a female Redstart were the highlights although a Red-backed shrike atop almost every bush was impressive.

Onto the wetlands that were predictable but a single Spoonbill remained at Oroklini Marsh as did a Spotted Redshank, 3 Marsh Sandpipers and a single Curlew Sandpiper.  Akhna Dam brought further success with an active flock of 70 or so European Beeaters, a Purple Heron and a Squacco Heron.  All in all a fairly productive day with 70 species recorded.

On Wednesday evening I visited Akhna Dam and after recorded the usual commoner species, I saw a juvenile Pallid Harrier and the by now resident Osprey fishing once more.  As I was leaving the site, my attention was drawn to a small stand of reeds as a Little Crake weaved in and out of the reeds. Whilst watching there was some warbler activity and I noted the first Great Reed Warbler of the month and a skulking Cetti’s Warbler.  I then saw another bird that I initially thought was a Segde Warbler, as I watched and Deb photographed it, I quickly realised with a flared supercillium that it was the first Moustached Warbler of the season – a regular winter visitor to the site.  The record would be the earliest ever so is causing some interest and you guessed it – another description!  Sadly, that night I reported more tape luring from the SBA, just outside the camp fence.  I have now reported occurrences on every evening/morning from my first report of 13 Sep.  There however, appears to be no appetite from the SBA Police to take any action, it is very depressing.  I also received a report from the UK birder that I guided on Tuesday of a European Beeater being shot and left to die at Ayia Napa Football Pitches, he has now witnessed the harsher and darker side of the Cypriot race – a nation that is undoubtedly sick and beyond help.  I am beginning to adopt the Homer Simpson approach to the problem – “The first step to failure is trying”, it gets you that way after a while.

A visit to the fantastic shop that is JUMBO (well for Deb anyway), allowed me the opportunity to survey Oroklini Marsh which produced 29 species with 11 of them being waders.  A lone Spoonbill continued its stay.  We returned via Akhna Dam where an Osprey continued to fish, however the site was much less busy than yesterday although 114 Yellow Wagtails was the highest count yet.  Another Wryneck was probably the highlight.

Friday evening was a bit depressing at Akhna Dam with a large number of limesticks being present.  I released a Willow Warbler and removed 5 sticks before I was seen, however being outnumbered and with Deb, I couldn't do much.  Sadly the Red-backed and Masked Shrikes, Willow Warblers, Yellow Wagtails, Wrynecks, Spotted Flycatchers and Whinchats were "All doomed" in the words of Frazer.  A Common Crake showed itself again and a Purple Heron hid in the reeds.  A solitary Whiskered Tern continued its stay.

I picked up the UK birder again on Saturday morning and we added the Peregrine, a Sardinian Warbler and a Quail at Ayia Napa Football Pitches - you don't see many of them alive in the autumn.  We visited Ayia Napa Sewage Works and were confronted by a group of 3 "men" limesticking.  They were very aggressive and threatening but not particularly frightening - the ignorant cowards.  One said "You come here again - I kill you" and then threatened to phone the Police.  Remarkable and amazing that a poacher was going to ring the Police in the belief that it was to his benefit - surely the sign of a completely broken lawless system.  We left quietly realising there was little we could do and I reported the incident to the Cyprus Game Foundation.  We noted at least half a dozen warbler species hanging from the gluey sticks before we departed and Chris was truly angry and shocked.

Anyway, in an attempt to prolong my life a little longer I headed off the Larnaca area on Sunday morning which proved to be a good decision.  As I drove towards the sewage works there was an obvious movement occuring.  Two Red-footed Falcons moved along the beach whilst Marsh and Montague's Harriers quartered near the sewage works.  As I drove along Spirios Beach I managed to photgraph one of the falcons* and flushed a Tawny Pipit* and Northern Wheatear.  Later at the Sewage Works I spotted the first 2 Black-necked Grebes* of the winter.  On the way home Oroklini held the usual waders, with the Spoonbill still being present and I flushed a pair of Water Rails.

Akhna Dam held nothing new but Masked Shrikes and Wrynecks are always nice to see and a single Little Crake continued to parade in the open during the day - most bizarre!  The week ended with circa 30 European Beeaters around the house and a flyover Stone Curlew at dusk.

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

Juvenile Pallid Harrier at Akhna Dam

Moustached Warbler at Akhna Dam

Great Reed Warbler at Akhna Dam

Little Egret at Oroklini Marsh

Moorhen at Oroklini Marsh - just to prove it's not all about rairities and watching common birds is just as enjoyable

Tawny Pipit at Spiros Beach

Other interesting finds:  Not much doing on the butterfly front at the moment but the autumn is the time to start looking for Little Desert Blue.

Highlight of the Week:  The finding and identification of a female/juv Red-breasted Flycatcher at Ayia Napa Football Pitches with Chris Godding.  A less than annual passage migrant that is rarely recorded and another Cyprus “tick” for me.  The Cyprus list now stands at 269.

Look Forward:  October is looming and more winter visitors should be arriving and the Common Crane passage is due.

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

Mark Easterbrook


Cyprus Weekly

Birding highlights for week ending 16 Sep

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

The tally continues to rise with 154 birds now on the Cyprus year list with some excellent additions last week.  I’ve added an Akhna Dam list to my Wildlife Recorder database.  As the site is my local patch and I visit it at least once a day when time allows I was interested to see how many species I’ve recorded there over the years.  The total stands at 182 with some note able rarities.

A day’s leave on Monday left me still recovering from a hangover but also wishing to check on what was moving.  Deb wanted to visit Larnaca so that was the day decided.  I did nip out at first light to Akhna Dam for a couple of hours and 4 roosting Purple Herons greeted me amongst the numerous Grey cousins.  Nineteen Night Herons passed above with a couple of Wryneck showing well.  Spotted Flycatchers, Red-backed Shrikes and Whinchats were very evident with singleton Isabelline Wheatear, Lesser Grey Shirke and Hoopoe also being present.  A fair selection of waders was present with a Temminck’s Stint being the highlight.  A Peregrine passed overhead whilst a Little Crake and Common Kingfisher continued feeding unperturbed.

I visited Larnaca Sewage Works and found my first Turnstone at the site but little else was moving.  On leaving the site a cracking adult male Marsh Harrier passed over on route to Oroklini Marsh.  On arrival it was obvious that the Spur-winged Plovers had increased to 54 whilst the Black-winged Stilts had reduced dramatically from in excess of a 150 to 13.  Four Marsh Sandpipers, a Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin and 5 Redshanks were present, however the site was much quieter than I’ve come to expect.  As I returned home via Akhna Dam where I added an immature Black Kite and also witnessed a Whiskered Tern being shot out of the sky which I found quite distressing.  The mindlessness of these people is unbelievable and leaves me totally confused as to what motivates them – apart from money, rhetoric and bravado obviously.  It’s such a good place to birdwatch but I remain pleased that major birding tour operators avoid it.  Returning home via the back of camp, a female Montague’s Harrier made steady progress westwards.

Two Stone Curlews passed over the house at dusk whilst a Night Heron called and roosted in the woods behind and as I checked for evidence of tape luring and bird trapping at night a small flock of European Beeaters passed over in the dark calling as they went.

It’s Tuesday and during the weekend I reported bird song at night from behind the house.  This is a ploy of the illegal bird trappers to lure migrating birds down.  I thought nothing would happen but I received the following information:

The patrol found the following equipment, all of which is used for illegal poaching in the area:

21 Mist Nets, 5 Car Batteries, 5 CD Players, 7 Loud Speakers

All this equipment was confiscated by the SBA Police.

This will represent the saving of thousands of migrating birds.  As I’ve said previously, 1 net catching 10 birds a day (conservative estimate), multiplied by 21 and multiplied by 50 days – you do the maths!

Still on a high from the poaching news I visited Akhna Dam in the evening.  Although there was nothing earth shattering or new, the juvenile Collared Pratincole remained and 3 migrant Marsh Harriers passed over.  A Wood Sandpiper*, Ruff and a couple of Whinchats were seen along with a Sedge Warbler whilst I was watching the regular Little Crakes.  Two Little Owls and a couple of Stone Curlews at Ay Nik completed the day’s highlights.

I did the usual Wednesday round ending up at Ayia Napa Sewage works which was relatively quiet in a lull in migration – or the Cypriots have killed so many birds there’s nothing left?  At the site a Long-legged Buzzard soared above the bluff and the female Eastern Black-eared Wheatear remained.  A couple of Lesser Whitethroats and a Blackcap remained whilst at Ayia Napa Football Pitches the highlight was 3 Tree Pipits and a lingering Lesser Grey Shirke whose numbers have decreased rapidly and significantly.  They have a fairly small concentrated window of migration save for a few stragglers.  At Ay Nik the largest flock of European Beeaters yet that numbered c70 passed over the house.

A Little Bittern* and a Little Crake* were seen again at Akhna Dam on Thursday with the usual commoner migrants and residents.  I managed to photograph a moulting adult Dunlin* and a Beeater.  Lesser Grey Shrike numbers have dropped although several Red-backs and a single adult Male Masked Shrike remain.  Three Little Stints were new arrivals and Ruff numbers increased to 8.

On Friday prior to the Battle of Britain Ball I managed a couple of hours at Akhna.  Although not very much had changed watching an Osprey fish whilst being mobbed by a female Marsh Harrier was enjoyable.  I spent the remainder of the time attempting to photograph the now contentious Eastern (Caspian) Reed Warblers* and an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler*.

No birding took place on Saturday as I had the mother of all hangovers, although a flock of about 40 European Beeaters and 4 Stone Curlew passed over the house.

An early Sunday morning start saw me at Ayia Napa Sewage Works with many Blackcaps being present and some other common migrants with the highlight being a male Cretzchmar's Bunting.  Cape Greco revealed a Cyprus Wheatear, numerous Whinchats, however, 2 singing male Cyprus Warblers gave exceptional views and I managed to photograph a female Redstart, only my second of the autumn.  I returned via Ayia Napa Football Pitches where a Lesser Grey Shike remains and I spotted 2 Golden Orioles in flight, one being an adult male.

Onward to the market and Oroklini Marsh!  The marsh held 4 Marsh Sandpipers, 5 Redshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Dunlin, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 5 Little Stints.  I also managed to photograph an adult Spoonbill* that was accompanied by 2 juveniles.  Returning home, Akhna Dam held an Osprey, 29 European Beeaters, Red-backed and Masked Shrikes, 2 Little Crakes, 2 Reed Warblers (fuscus), many Yellow Wagtails and a Purple Heron.

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

Other interesting finds:  Shed loads of mist nets, confiscated – RESULT and some fairly glum looking illegal bird trappers.

Highlight of the week, during a fairly uneventful period was probably the Turnstone - not a common bird, remarkable what sets you alight in Cyprus? 

Look Forward:  I have a day’s leave on Tuesday to take a visiting UK birder out for the day which I’m looking forward to – hopefully we’ll find something memorable.

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

Mark Easterbrook


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


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