(12) Blog Posts Made in September 2013

Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 29 Sep

Osprey at Akhna Dam on 29 Sep

* indicates that a photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view or click on the link

Monday already and after a long day at work I managed to get to Akhna Dam for a couple of hours.  The evenings are drawing in and it’s now dusk at about 1850 so I need to make the most of the time before the clocks go back.  The dam was productive although nothing exceptional was seen.  Waders numbers were fairly consistent with the last couple of weeks with Ruffs and Little Stints being in the majority.  A couple of Whiskered Terns were present, one being a moulting adult and Red-backed and Masked Shrikes continue to pass through in reduced numbers.  A Little Owl was in the usual place, Snipe numbers had increased to 4 and a Sedge Warbler was seen.  As I returned home through the village c20 European Beeaters fed from the telegraph wires.

With the car back up and running with Turkish insurance, we headed over to the North via the dreaded “Poundland”.  We arrived at Fresh Water Lake South and I immediately sighted a Whiskered Tern.  Several waders were present including a Spotted Redshank, Ruffs, Ringed Plovers, Wood & Green Sandpipers and 3 Black-winged Stilts.  A couple of Kingfishers chased each other around the tamarisks.  A whos who of herons were present with c30 Grey Herons, 2 Purple Herons, 2 Night, 5 Squacco and 18 Little Egrets accompanied by 6 Glossy Ibises.  Clapsides beach held 4 Ruff and an early Golden Plover but disappointingly there were no post breeding Audouin’s Gulls present.

Mid week already and with a BBQ looming I only managed to grab a couple of hours at Akhna Dam where there were a few notable highlights.  A Jack Snipe fed actively under a tamarisk with 4 Common Snipes in close proximately.  A couple of Shrikes continue their passage and Ruff numbers had increased to c30.  A Temmick’s Stint and 9 Lapwings* flushed amongst the more common Spur-winged Plovers* and a lone White Wagtail continued its stay.  A Honey Buzzard* drifted overhead and a few Willow Warblers and a Reed Warbler moved actively in the reeds.  As I was leaving the site on the main road to Ay Nik a latish Lesser Grey Shrike sat on a sprinkler head and overhead a fantastic view as 33 White Pelicans* flew south west in formation.

On Thursday, I was late home and had to drop Deb to the theatre club in Dhekelia where a Red-backed Shrike sat on a fence.  On the way home, I stopped at Dhekelia Fire Station and the Stone Curlew roost had risen to 23 vice 18.  Briefly, with the light fading at Akhna Dam, I encountered a Greenshank, 2 Snipe, a couple of Little Stints and Ruffs with an immature Masked Shrike catching flies in the twilight.  A couple of Garganeys rose from the water and a Northern Wheatear was sat on a ploughed field. I also noticed a Whiskered Tern hawking the water.

On Friday morning as I departed for work 18 European Beeaters passed over the house heading south east.  Attending a dinner in Troodos, we travelled up in the afternoon seeing a Great Grey Shrike in Ay Nik and 2 Ospreys over Polemedia Dam as we started the ascent.  On Saturday on the way down we stopped at Oroklini Hills and saw a Masked Shrike, Northern Wheatear, 3 Chukars and c20 European Beeaters.  With the station fete on Saturday, I had little time to go birding so had to wait until Sunday afternoon when I visited Akhna Dam.

At Akhna Dam I immediately noticed an Osprey* sat in the water with a Little Egret nearby and c30 European Beeaters overhead.  A solitary White Wagtail continued in situ and a Spotted Flycatcher called as I passed.  A couple of Shrikes; Red-backed and Masked continue to perform as they hunt actively prior to departure and at least 5 Kingfishers were seen.  A female Marsh Harrier spooked the various waders with 4 Snipes and at least 25 Ruffs being seen along with smaller numbers of Little Stint, Little Ringed Plovers and a single Curlew Sandpiper.

Highlight of the Week:  A Jack Snipe is always a good bird on passage and the 33 White Pelicans was a good count but good to get another opportunity to photograph an Osprey..

Look Forward:   A couple of days off in the week should see me at Akrotiri attempting to catch up with a Lesser Spotted Eagle..

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

Mark Easterbrook


Gibraltar Ringer 6

With Carl and Ann Powell due out here shortly, the last thing I am going to mention is the weather. For a reasonable number of birds, we need an easterly wind and this is not due to return until the end of this week. Today started wet and got wetter until the early afternoon when the sun and wind helped to dry us out. We had managed a productive hour from first light picking up a steady flow of Sardinian Warblers, Pied Flies, Blackcap, Wrens, Iberian Chiffchaff and Blackbirds (never seen so many of the latter in one place), while watching the progress of squalls in the harbour below, the Bay, and the Straits further out. Anticipating trouble as the winds got up, it was a job to get all birds out and nets closed in time. In a break, and because we have yet to have a day without moving nets, we moved 2 unproductive nets from the bottom of the hill to the top.  More emotional moments and all eyes on Mark and his teddy (see earlier blogs). At last the rain stopped, the sun came out and a female Sparrowhawk obligingly flew into an upper net. Not much causes me to run uphill but in this case and blowing out of every orifice, I caught her - a beautiful 2nd year female. The ringing day finished with an adult male Redstart in fresh and striking plumage.

Well, not quite the end of the day. A visit to La Linea and an 'all you can eat' Chinese restaurant was preceded by a viewing of White Storks nesting on platforms beside the road and a spiral of up to 40 birds over local wetland. Slept all the way back!


Gibraltar Ringer 5

It had to happen - the weather has turned and so last night we decided to go into Spain for some inland ringing this morning. Two and a half hours in the queue to cross the border did nothing for our collective sense of humour but fish and chips collected and eaten at the home of John Hale in Malaga Province managed to restore spirits...and a few beers.  Mark Cutts and I stayed with John overnight and severely dented his beer stocks while Julia and Robin overnighted around the corner at their house in Casares. By the time we had opened 13 nets in John's 14 acre garden we had still no idea of the landscape but as dawn broke, a fantastic panorama of rocky hills and scrubland opened before us. Lesser Kestrel and Blue Rock Thrush were overtaken in interest by low flying Griffon Vultures (pictured) and then by large flocks of feeding Crag Martins with the occasional Red-rumped Swallow and House Martin.

Despite rain overnight, bird numbers were down this morning again, mostly due to the westerly wind but the pleasure of walking through such interesting countryside, compensated. A new bird was Cetti's Warbler, common enough in the UK but we were never going to ring it on Gibraltar. A retrapped Cetti's was ringed by Julia 10 days previously. We left John in his idyllic surroundings to return to the Rock and check that our furled nets remained so.


Gibraltar Ringer 4

With the prospect of going over to Spain to ring tomorrow morning, we are hastily back from Middle Hill and a quick repack of kit.  No time compromised as the change in wind to a Westerly and little early cloud, reduced the numbers of birds considerably. Even the raptors were scarce today. Nevertheless, of the 23 birds ringed this morning, one new one for the list was Whitethroat. The fresh birds that we see in the fields at home look a little tired and worn here and it is surprising how many local birds simply do not move far. The combination of well travelled and local species that moult twice if hatched early in the year, makes for some interesting debates, Sardinian Warbler and Blackbirds in particular. Pied Flycatchers (pictured), Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler and Redstart made up some of the other numbers. A control Blackcap was very surprisingly ringed by Julia 2 years ago at Jew's Gate.

Despite having all nets up and in the right place, Charles Perez helpfully suggested that the line of four on the steepest slope should be moved three feet to the left to get closer to the vegetation. We all agreed and Mark Cutts' teddy remained intact so hopefully Sunday's ringing should produce better numbers.


Gibraltar Ringer 3

Mark's teddy bear has been sown back together and he has been placated by a Redstart. What did you expect when ringing with two A ringers? Charity?  So when the second Subalpine Warbler turned up yesterday and it was ringed by Julia, pieces of teddy were everywhere. It could be assumed that the next rarity would be his. Wrong. One of the first birds today was a Bonelli's Warbler (pictured) - a really delicate and beautifully coloured bird and so I had to ring it. Poor old teddy.

Alarmingly, having opened the nets on Middle Hill in the dark, the first net round in the light was confronted by a large family of 'apes'. They have more right to be on the hill than we do and so they were gently persuaded to leave. A rather slow tick-over of birds followed but produced the Bonelli's and some Redstarts among the Sardinian Warblers and, a first for the trip, a pair of Pied Flycatchers. Again, Iberian Chiffchaffs in reasonable numbers, which show more of the colouration of Willow Warblers than Common Chiffs. Only 29 birds ringed today but we are still ringing more than Jews Gate at the moment.

With that thought in mind, we put up yet more nets! We now have 18 nets totalling 324 feet but we have at least produced a circuit so that we only pass the nets once, albeit crampons are needed for half of it. A gentle start stalking Red-necked Nightjars tomorrow (a European Nightjar heard this morning) and a better day for teddy perhaps.


Gibraltar Ringer 2

Much better day on the slopes of the Rock with 47 birds ringed and yet more nets added. Highlights were undoubtedly Subalpine Warbler, Redstart, Nightingale, Iberian Chiffchaff and all ages of Sardinian Warblers.  A rather pathetic attempt to dazzle Red-necked Nightjars and catch them with a hand net calls for further practice.  However, a little later, Charlie Perez was on hand to provide local knowledge, especially the peculiarities of local moult (Greenfinch juveniles apparently moult twice in the first year making aging a devil of a job). As for the Blackbirds, we have a constant flow but again they are just different from those in Somerset and each charcoal grey bird comes with its own aging characteristic.

There is no flat here and all nets are perched on rocks or along footpaths and firebreaks.  Fine while the weather is cool but tiring in the afternoon sun. Although ringing in the National Park where there are no casual walkers, the presence of Barbary Macaques means that little can be left out overnight.  It brings additional meaning to the phrase Poo Traps.

And while the ringing goes on, a constant stream of raptors passes overhead.  Today just casual glances identified over 60 Booted Eagles at a time, accompanied by Short-toed Eagles, Black Kites and up to a dozen Sparrowhawks. The latter paid close interest to the tape lure playing Blackcap calls and some low level passes just missed the nets.  Tomorrow?



Gibraltar Ringer 1

The joint Services ringing display team gets off to a cracking start with Roger Dickey, Julia and Robin Springett and Mark Cutts all arriving at Bruce's Farm on time and kicking off with erecting nets in the garden.  This activity spurred on by a Red-necked Nightjar flitting about the bushes and tress in close proximity.  Not exactly a huge amount of bird activity so a check on Jew's Gate to see what was happening at the southern end of the Rock and to hear how a Booted Eagle was netted that morning and mostly Pied Flies.  Appropriate licences and permits secured, the afternoon saw many more Booted Eagles and a single Black Kite.  A further check on the migration timetable confirmed that despite appearances, we had arrived at the right time! And then the first warbler - a male Sardinian which in the excitement of ringing anything, I forgot to photograph.  Fast forward to today and the erection of another net in the garden and 12 nets at Middle Hill.  Regrettably, the lack of levante (cloud over the hill and nets) prevented useful ringing during the afternoon and all return to wash down at Bruces Farm.  The early morning had produced Gibraltar's complete collection of Blackbirds but even these proved different in moult, colour and behaviour.  So eyes return to the skies and 63 Booted Eagles in one pass accompanied by a Short-toed Eagle and a Sparrowhawk.  With 12 new nets to open tomorrow we expect great things...



After a short break by the tropical waters of the South Atlantic it was back to local birding.  There was however a quick trip to the south coast with the AOS within a few days of returning.  All the major exercises have finished so access is good to the Plain.  Last week I was walking around several areas but there was nothing out of the ordinary.  Corvids and pigeons still dominate the area however Ravens are now a common sight or more precisely sound.  There are large flocks of Linnet and Goldfinch as well as increasing number of tit flocks.  Meadow Pipits are moving through as are Swallows.  There seems to be quite a migrant passage going on.  Last Saturday there was a Marsh Harrier hunting along a grass ridge before being spotted by local Jackdaws that drove it off across a field with one week old lambs (destined for Waitrose).  An organised walk was held covering Ranscombe Bottom and Thirteenhundred Down finishing past the grenade range.  It was very quiet but still 22 species were seen including a Wheatear and Jay.  Our local Peregrines did not dissapoint though one flew off before the main party had made it up the steep incline to the fence line.  One was still at its nest not far from a Raven nest.  A Jay ended up in the ringing nets on Monday when I joined some colleagues on Haxton Down (SPTA East).  This confirmed migration was in full swing with lots of Chifchafs, Blackcaps and Meadow Pipits caught.  We also caught Grasshopper Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Redstart, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting as well as several other species; I ringed my first Goldcrest.  On two previous walks there did not seem to be much about and even on the day of ringing there was little actitviy in the air except for the Swallows.  There was however a lot of birds caught (199 new birds in 6 hours) that showed there was a lot going on.  The difficulty for observers is that the birds are feeding on the centre of vegetation and not displaying on the edges thus giving the impression that not a lot is happening.  Reality is that there is a lot of movement but to those out walking there are few birds hence my statement that there was nothing out of the ordinary.  Of course there is nothing ordinary about the Plain and on Saturday we found some Bastard Toadflax; a nationally scarce plant that somewhere else would have conservationists declaring the area a national nature reserve.   Also reported are temporary pools with Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly.  The one that did get away from me, as I was at Portland, was a Great Reed Warbler ringed on the Centre which has caused quite a stir.  Salisbury Plain out of the ordinary?; obviously I am not looking hard enough.


Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 15 Sep

White Pelican at Akhna Dam on 16 Sep

indicates that a photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view or click on the link

New car in-play; and a Tree Pipit* at Akhna Dam.  A drive around revealed many of the usual suspects but a pair of White Pelicans* were new arrivals.  A grouping of marsh terns* was a bonus which included 2 White-winged Blacks, a couple of Whiskered and a year tick with 3 young Black Terns.  The Little Owls remained faithful to their favoured holes.

On Tuesday as I drove to Akhna Dam, at Ayios Kendeas Monastery near Ay Nik, a Hobby sat in the field and a Marsh Harrier quartered it.  At least 70 European Beeaters sat in trees and this appeared to be the beginning of a very large passage throughout the week.  The 2 White Pelicans remained at Akhna Dam, with 5 Marsh Harriers including 1 male.  A couple of Red-rumped Swallows passed with the many other hirundines and an early pair of Lapwings made for an interesting record.  Numerous marsh terns were present, however the Black Terns had moved on.  A Wryneck and Little Bittern were new arrivals and a Whinchat sat on a water sprinkler head as I left.

On Wednesday I had to visit Akrotiri and over the A1 motorway at Vavatsinia, 4 Golden Orioles passed overhead.  At Akrotiri 11 Honey Buzzards rose on a themal over Bishop’s Pool, followed shortly by a light phase adult Booted Eagle, whilst in the pools 4 immature Whiskered Terns, 3 Night Herons and a Squacco added to the day list.  A steady flow of migrant Honey Buzzards followed with a “Steppe” Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Hobby, several Eleonora’s Falcons and a Saker.  A Spotted Flycatcher and Red-backed Shrike broke the raptor passage and many Marsh Harriers were seen heading out to sea.  Circa 50 European Beeaters were near Phasouri Reed Beds and a juvenile White-winged Black tern did a fly-by.  In the evening at Akhna Dam, a Temminck’s Stint was new as was an immature Citrine Wagtail.  A Segde and Reed Warbler was seen and a lone Glossy Ibis made a brief appearance.

On Thursday I had to visit Troodos and although there wasn’t much time, as I looked skywards from Mount Olympus, I saw 2 Alpine Swifts, several House Martins, a couple of Jays were below me and at the station a single male Cyprus Pied Wheatear remained after the summer.  On the way home at Avgorou, a Red-rumped Swallow and many European Beeaters were overhead.  In the evening, Akhna Dam held another Tree Pipit, 5 Curlew Sandpipers was a good count and 2 Golden Orioles were chased from the eucalyptus trees by Magpies.  A Greenshank, Turtle Dove and Redstart were new for the week and the Little Bittern fed in the reeds.

On Friday the 20th I had agreed to take a visiting UK birder out on an expenses (petrol money) only basis.  I had taken him out about the same time last year with some good results.  Prior to meeting him I ticked the Greater Sand Plovers off for the month, as 4 were at Ayia Thekla.  A Hoopoe, Isabelline Wheatear and several Yellow Wagtails were also present.  We moved to the Ayia Napa Football Pitches complex where the many Yellow Wagtails included a single Tree Pipit.  On the adjacent pitches there had obviously been a fall of Spotted Flycatchers and Whinchats as they perched on every fence with a few Red-backed Shrikes.  On the grass several Isabelline Wheatears and a female Eastern Black-eared Wheatear fed along with a Hoopoe and a female Black Francolin which was a lifer for Chris as we had missed it last year.  At the sewage works, Lesser Whitethroats were in the ascendancy with 12+ being present with 3 Common Whitethroats and a male Blackcap.  A pair of Eastern Black-eared Wheatears were present with the male looking majestic in breeding plumate – a real star bird.  A Turtle Dove flew by and a couple of Isabelline Wheatears, Whinchats and a single Northern Wheatear added to the passerine tally.  A pair of Common Sandpipers were on the lagoons as we left the site.

We proceeded to Akhna Dam and as we arrived a brown bird with a black and white tail pattern flew in front of the car.  It was amazing that with Chris last year on the 18th of September we had found a Red-breasted Flycatcher and as I re-found the bird as it flew away from me once more, I confirmed another 1st for the year again.  With its diagnostic tail pattern it was unmistakeable although despite extensive searching, I could not re-find it.  I was amazed to see an adult Demoiselle Crane, its location and late occurrence probably explained by a broken leg.  It flew high to the North as I watched it.  A Peregrine buzzed the waders which included the usual suspects and a Little Bittern flew from its concealed hide away.  A single Glossy Ibis was present and as I looked for the Flycatcher as we left I noticed another bird on the ground in tamarisk, cocking its tail.  I managed to get reasonable views with little contrast between its brown back and tail with light moustacial markings, no noticeable supercillum, I concluded a Thrush Nightingale – a Cyprus “tick”. The brown back with no contrast is an important feature as the eastern Nightingale species is much greyer, the breast mottling and moustache also being significant ID features.  I’ll thank Chris for his company and I’m going to have to take him out more often, he is the Red-breasted Flycatcher God!

On the 21st, Deb and I visited Paphos to stay overnight with friends and on Sunday morning I walked the Paphos Headland.  Although not very busy 4 Greater Sandplovers, 2 Kingfishers and a Common Sandpiper were present and at least 6 Honey Buzzards came from the east and headed out over the sea, against a SE wind, struggling and flapping frantically, I’m sure I saw one individual ditch in the sea.  I had arranged to meet Colin Richardson at Mandria at 10:00 and a little late arrived at about 20 past.  Roger will testify to what a great migrant hotspot this is – right on the sea with ploughed fields it always turns up something.  The AOS trip in March will spend a few hours grilling the area for migrants and Larks.  Without disappointment the fields turned up my first couple of Red-footed Falcons for the autumn, 4 Tawny Pipits, a Short-toed Lark, Eleonora’s Falcon, Hobby and Lesser Kestrel amongst the kettles of migrating Honey Buzzards and a resident Long-legged Buzzard.  The fields were full of Northern Wheatears with a single Isabelline and a constant stream of Marsh Harriers, ringtail Montague’s Harriers and hirundines all headed south out over the Mediterranean.  8 Lapwings, 2 large flocks of Beeaters and a Shag sat on a buoy concluded what the site had to offer.  As I drove back to Ay Nik at Limassol over the mortorway a White Pelican flew around the hotels – most bizarre!  We stopped at the Larnaca area on the way home (churlish not to) and in the fields a very early Golden Plover sat amongst the 20 or so Spur-winged Plovers.  3 Greenshanks and a Marsh Sandpiper were on the lagoons and 15 Whiskered Terns and a White-winged Black was a good count.  A couple of Black-winged Stilts lingered and 10 Greater Flamingos were present – 9 adults.  Akhna Dam held a few more Whiskered Terns and the usual waders which concluded an excellent week.

Highlight of the Week:  A Booted Eagle is always a joy to see and to find another Red-breasted Flycatcher and a Thrush Nightingale really was a red letter day.

Look Forward:   A few more visits to Akrotiri for a raptor watch and a bit of migrant hunting at Akhna Dam and Cape Greco.

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 the Week Ending 15 Sep

Black-tailed Godwit at Akhna Dam on 14 Sep

indicates that a photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view or click on the link

A visit to Troodos gave me the opportunity to catch up with the usual mountain species and I also encountered a Long-legged Buzzard and a Golden Oriole on the way up.  At Amiantos Cyprus Wheatears were still present and at least 4 Crag Martins.  At the Giant Juniper picnic site 4 Red-rumped Swallows sat on wires and a Crossbill called as it flew overhead.  The remainder of the species list was fairly routine although Blackbirds were conspicuous by their absence.  On the way down the mountain at Platres Trout Farm a Grey Wagtail was present.  A single Whiskered Tern and 3 White-winged Black Terns were at Larnaca Sewage Works which also allowed me the opportunity to add a few wildfowl and 3 juvenile Greater Flamingos to the month list.  3 Shags sat on the usual platforms at Dhekelia Power Station and at the Fire Station 18 Stone Curlews were roosting, which appears to be the beginning of the post breeding winter roost which totalled c200 last year.  A Cyprus Wheatear was also present.  A brief stop at Akhna Dam revealed 2 Little Owls, the usual collection of Shrikes, however a Golden Oriole was a good bird for the site as was a Wood Warbler, which are not that common in the autumn.  A female Whinchat was a new arrival and a Greenshank was also present.  On the way home, 3 European Beeaters were on wires in Vrysoulles and another Whinchat sat on a dead snag.

For a number of reasons, operational tempo, no car, mess lunch, trying to sort out a new car, no birding was done on Tue, Wed, Thu or Fri – I can’t remember the last time I was unable to go birding for 4 days in a row.  Anyway, although illegal, I took the new car to Akhna Dam on Saturday.  Now with 4WD capability I was able to access via a track that I had previously attempted in the old car but was unable to.  Many waders were present, most notable being 7 Curlew Sandpipers, 3 Spotted Redshanks, a Greenshank and 17 Ruffs.  13 Grey Herons was a good count and 3 Glossy Ibises hid in the reeds.  Further around the dam, 3 female Marsh Harriers and a Black Kite spooked the Herons which revealed a Squacco and 3 Night Herons.  I then noticed a Great White Egret lurking in the vegetation.  I stopped to look at the waders as I left and found 2 Snipe and a Black-tailed Godwit* then flew in.  Although a regular migrant, they are never seen in any great number.  15 European Beeaters were overhead and I then noticed a pair of White Pelicans – so a pretty good day and back in the saddle. 

On Sunday, the first visit to the Ayia Napa area in the new birding mobile.  At the football pitches 4 Isabelline Wheatears were present and close scrutiny revealed the presence of a female Eastern Black-eared Wheatear.  A Whinchat also fed on the grass and c120 Yellow Wagtails, including 3 feldeggs and a 2 flavas were spread around the complex.  A single Red-backed Shrike and a Spectacled Warbler concluded proceedings.  I continued onto the sewage works area passing a Spotted Flycatcher and Common Sandpiper on the lagoons.  I walked the area and Willow Warblers were in the ascendancy.  A single male Eastern Orphean Warbler was typically shy and it was obvious from the numbers present that Sylvia passage appears to be coming to an end.  As I rounded the olive grove a stonking male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear was resplendent in summer plumage – surely one of the most pleasing and beautiful birds of the genus?  Although not very busy, a Whinchat put in an appearance as I left the site.  At Ay Nik (ESBA), a male Lesser Grey Shrike was on the wires, another species reducing in numbers as September moves on.

I visited Akhna Dam once more in the evening and much of what was present on Saturday was still there although Curlew Sandpipers had increased to 9.  The 2 White Pelicans were still present, Squaccos numbered 3, c50 Sand Martins headed south and 2 immature White-winged Black Terns fed over the dam.  Then – a year tick, a cracking adult Osprey sat on a dead snag and then fishing, a very pleasing end to what was a fairly shocking week from a birding perspective.

Highlight of the Week:  The new car and a chance to get out and about.  On the birding front a couple of Golden Orioles and a Wood Warbler were notable although eclipsed by an adult Osprey.

Look Forward:   A trip to Akrotiri in an attempt to catch some raptor migration and hopefully a seawatching trip to the North.

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 the Week Ending 8 Sep

Immature Curlew Sandpiper at Akhna Dam on 8 Sep

indicates that a photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view or click on the link.

I have nearly recovered from the indignity of having to push my car to the car park followed by wheeling the granny’s shopping trolley from the NAAFI to my house whilst being ridiculed by all. Having conveyed this story to several of my close birding friends in the hope of a sympathetic ear, I was met with laughter and by one with uncontrollable hysteria – but at least it cheered them up!  In fact one described it as the “Walk of Shame”, which was disappointing.  With my birding life in tatters due to my lack of vehicle access, I moped around Ay Nik, in what is arguably the most birding intensive month of the year.  Walking to lunch, c20 European Beeaters were over camp and on the Regimental Football Pitch, 14 Cattle Egrets, 8 Jackdaws, 1 Hooded Crow and a Wood Pigeon were feeding actively.  At this rate it’s going to be a lean month.

On Tuesday as I walked to work an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler was heard “chacking” and then seen in an acacia above me.  In the evening I walked the wooded area and scrub ground behind my house.  Surprisingly, it’s amazing what you find when you look.  I’m usually rushing off somewhere but since I can’t, I’ve been working the local area inside the perimeter fence with some success.  51 European Beeaters were seen on wires adjacent to the sewage plant whilst on the fence line, 2 Red-backed Shrikes and a Spotted Flycatcher with another in the woods. 

On Wednesday evening I repeated the same walk as yesterday and found 5 Golden Orioles, 2 Masked Shrikes, a Red-backed, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and as I walked the scrub, I flushed a Wryneck, Ortolan Bunting and a pair of Willow Warblers chased a Great Tit.  Finally, a calling Tawny Pipit flew above me calling as it proceeded south.  All within 500 metres of the house – incredible!

I’d been offered a car to go shopping by my office buddy which was much appreciated.  He did say not to go to Akrotiri twitching.  In any event as I was passing Akhna Dam on the way back it seemed an opportunity not to be missed so I stopped for a walk around for an hour or so.  The usual waders were present for this time of year, but a Greenshank, Temminck’s Stint and a Dunlin were the highlights.  I flushed numerous Red-backed, Lesser Grey and Masked Shrikes as I walked around along with a Wryneck.  3 Glossy Ibises flew in and 7 Squacco Herons flew out.  An immature Night Heron walked around the reed beds and 7 Turtle Doves landed in a eucalyptus stand.  The Little Owl was in its regular spot although the highlight of the day was finding an Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler with the Willow Warbler influx.  A common enough bird in the Spring, Bonelli’s Warbler is a very tricky and not often occurring (or recorded) species in the Autuimn – description submitted.  A single female Marsh Harrier quartered the reed beds as I was leaving.

On Friday, I attended the Mess followed by a leaving function and with no car I had a BBQ at the house with friends on Saturday so drunkenness and no transport produced 5 European Beeaters over the house on Saturday as I ate a pork chop and drank a KEO.  I did however, manage to negotiate the use of a car for Sunday morning, although it meant an early rise to have it returned in time.  So with a sore head, I visited Akhna Dam where you rarely have a wasted journey.  On a small pond as I entered, 13 Little Egrets, 3 Wood Sandpipers and a Spotted Redshank* fed actvively.  As I walked the north east bank of the southern arm, 10+ Red-backed Shrikes were obvious as were 2 Masked Shrikes and a lone Lesser Grey.  I flushed a Wryneck and photographed 1 of 2 Great Reed Warblers*.  12+ Willow Warblers* were in the area and 3 Sedge, 4 Reed, 2 Eastern Olivaceous and a Cetti’s Warbler were also present.  7 Night Herons rose from the reeds along with a pair of Squaccos and along the waters edge an immature Citrine Wagtail flushed as a Tawny Pipit called and flew south above me.  A single Green Sandpiper, 2 Commons and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers ended the morning, although as I was leaving I saw and photographed an immature Curlew Sandpiper*.  In the afternoon at Ay Nik, an evening walk produced a Red-backed Shrike, 8 European Beeaters, a Fan-tailed Warbler and 2 Willow Warblers.  The week ended with me flaking on the setee.

Highlight of the Week:  Compared to last week’s exceptional sightings this week has been very, very, very and a few more verys dull.

Look Forward:   A new car – I want it, I need it, as I am loosing my sanity in the Ay Nik area and Deb is fed up with watching such films as Run Silent Run Deep etc.

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 the Week Ending 1 Sep

River Warbler at Ayia Napa Sewage Works on 26 Aug

indicates that a photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view.

Monday, a bank holiday and historically something good turns up.  I headed to the Ayia Napa area pausing at the football pitch complex before proceeding to the sewage works.  At the football pitches a good number of Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes were present with a Spotted Flycatcher and some Yellow Wagtails with one feldegg type.  A couple of Hoopoes fed on the grass and a pair of Pallid Swifts and 17 European Beeaters were overhead, not too shabby a start to the day.

I continued to the sewage works and as I drove the approach track it was clear from the numbers of Shrikes and Spotted Flycatchers that there had been a sizeable fall of migrants.  As I passed the lagoons a female type Garganey was present and a single Common Sandpiper.  High on the bluff an adult Long-legged Buzzard rested (my first for several months in the area).  15+ Red-backed Shrikes, 4 Lesser Grey Shrikes and at least 9 Spotted Flycatchers were in the area with at least 3 Isabelline Wheatears.  Every bush seemed to be alive with birds with Sylvia warblers being in the majority.  As I worked the area, I say my first Blackcaps for the autumn along with 10+ Eastern Orphean Warblers, 5 Common Whitethroats, 6 Lesser Whitethroats, 7 Spectacled Warblers and a single immature Barred Warbler.

As I continued around the area Willow Warblers were everywhere and as I rounded the end of the eucalyptus stand I became aware of a movement.  I stopped and saw a plain looking brown bird perched in a tree with few leaves on it.  I thought at first it was a Thrush Nightingale but as it moved with streaky breast and white tips to the dark undertail coverts, I couldn’t believe it.  A LIFER – River Warbler* and self found, I managed to photograph the bird as it crept along the branch in typical loucustella fashion before it was lost to view.  As a bonus as I walked 10 yards into the bush I flushed a Corncrake.  Totally delighted, I went home for the day and spent it with Deb knowing that it wasn’t going to get any better than that.

With another day’s leave on Tuesday.  I had a text message and email giving me the call for the Demoiselle Crane * passage.  There was a large movement from the North and to the West of the island witnessed by many between 2100 – 2200 on Monday evening.  Problem, the car is still buggered and needs looking at – do you risk a trip to Akrotiri, of course you do!  I departed Ay Nik at about 0700 and arrived at Akrotiri Salt Lake at about 0815.  The journey was not without incident as the car kept loosing power so I had to do the journey in 3rd gear for most of the way at about 60Kmh.  Having said that, by 0830, I was viewing 3 groups of Cranes.  As they departed at about 0845, a little earlier than usual Colin Richardson and I counted 123 birds which is a good number for recent years.  With many passing the night before that wouldn’t have stopped, this is likely to be the largest number seen this year although it is likely that a few stragglers will continue into early September.  As I was in situ and not wishing to waste the day we continued birding around the salt lake for the rest of the morning, immediately seeing 2 Golden Orioles.  On the North side of the lake an adult Saker sat and then hunted whilst being harassed by a Bar-tailed Godwit that was taking its life in its hands.  More than 8000 Greater Flamingos* were present with 3 Marsh Harriers and 3 Black Kites.

We moved to the South side of the lake behind Lady’s Mile and found 6 Turnstones, 4 Marsh Sandpipers, 6 Dunlin, 6 Avocet, 3 Gull-billed Terns, 2 immature Whiskered Terns and 2 White-winged Black Terns.  A single Ringed Plover and c400 Black-winged Stilts made up the numbers whilst a dark phase Eleonora’s Falcon hawked the reed bed.  I departed at 1200 and headed for Ay Nik with the car becoming worse with every mile.  I made it back in time to pick up Deb from work and whilst leaving the camp, the car stalled and would not restart so embarrassingly, I had to push it to the Mess car park and abandon it.  The next day, it jumped started, so I got it home and rang the gargage.  With the throttle going to cost £240 with other work pending, the decision was made to scrap the birding mobile and find another – a sad day indeed, I have seen and photographed many good birds from the birding mobile (not so 4WD vehicle), although it was a fiscal liability.  The rest of the day was spent sorting paperwork out for the scrapping.

On Thursday, I had arranged for my Greek birding friend Andreas Kepfalas to pick me up as he’d found a Baillon’s Crake at Akhna Dam.  We arrived at about 1800 and saw several Reed Warblers but no Crake, we did however find an immature Citrine Wagtail amongst the hundred or so Yellow Wagtails.  As we watched the Cattle Egret roost form which eventually totalled c700+ we saw 15 Night Herons overhead and 10 Glossy Ibises joined the roosting Egrets.  Perhaps the total surprise of the visit was a pair of Blue-cheeked Beeaters flying over.  Not often seen in the autumn they were an excellent record.  Many thanks to Andreas for the evening out and the lift.  Friday – no car and no birding as a result.  This situation is likely to continue for a few weeks until I sort a new vehicle.  I did walk the woods at the back of the house which produced a Little Owl, 8 European Beeaters and 6 House Martins over the house.  I test drove a 4WD jeep on Saturday morning and secured the vehicle for payment and collection on 12 September.  What am I going to do for 10 days without a car?  No birding and more pulling the shopping trolley to the Ermes no doubt – what have I been reduced to?  On Sunday morning a pair of European Beeaters continued over the house and later in the day, I heard a Little Owl and a pair of Stone Curlews to start the September month list.

Highlight of the Week:  A self found and photographed LIFER, River Warbler, the 14th record for Cyprus, Demoiselle Cranes and an adult Saker – an outstanding week!

Look Forward:   Buying a new birding mobile is the priority, without it – I’m screwed at a critical time in the birding calendar.

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

Mark Easterbrook