(5) Blog Posts Made in May 2014
After trips to Corsica and Extramadura it was back to SPTA. Yesterday I was able to get into the Warminster Range Danger Area to survey a grid sqaure. First bird was a calling Nightingale whist 2 Fox Cubs explored the the cut ground in front . I had expectd to hear this bird as the habitat was just right with a lovely scrub canopy and a thicket around it. There were a lot of Whitethroats, Chaffinches and Linnets in dense scrubland as I headed north with steady numbers of Yellowhammer, Goldfinches, Chiffchaffs and Wrens. Towards the end of the survey there were 2 Grasshopper Warblers reeling from amongst the low bushes. Stock Doves had taken up residence in the owl box in a small copse but at least a Kestrel flew out of its box. A Swift passed by and on the grassland Skylarks were singing. There were a number of Marsh Fritillaries as well as Dinghy Skippers, Meadow Browns and lots of moths. Today I spent the morning around Deptford Down. The track I could take my car down last year is now only passable to the most robust of 4x4s thanks to greenlaners. I checked out a scrape from which I could see the A303 but could only find a pair of Red-legged Partridge plus Skylarks. I then surveyed a square with just a hint of woodland plus a small dam and a few Hawthorn bushes. As ever there was a pair of Mallards on the water and plenty of Skylarks singing around the square with one lone Meadow Pipit calling from a post in the centre. Best view was 4 Swifts passing overhead. On the grass there were nearly 200 Rooks but I could not find a Jackdaw. Whitethroat and Corn Bunting were singing from lone bushes. I found a different route off the area and stopped at the Berril Valley on my way home to say hello to Jenni who was carrying out an invertebrate survy as part of her Whinchat study; she has found 24 nests so far and most had been predated. Nearby a pair of Reed Buntings watched proceedings as we discussed the project and sightings of harriers, Hobby and Stone Curlews.Comments
Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 25 May 14
Glossy Ibis at Fresh Water Lake South on 18 May
In a break with tradition, I visited the North after work and sat for an hour or so at Fresh Water Lake South watching the Cattle Egret colony with many of the nests now having chicks*. At least 1 Glossy Ibis was also sitting on eggs* and about 20 were present overall. It appeared that several Squacco Herons may be attempting to nest along with a couple of Night Herons that were sitting and a lone Little Egret nest was also in the colony but without chicks yet. A pair of Ferruginous Ducks flew in and the usual Coots, Moorhens and Little Grebes were present. 3 Yellow-legged Gulls drifted overhead whilst 7 Black-winged Stilts and a lone Spur-winged Plover were quite vocal as I left.
On Tuesday it was back to a very quiet Akhna Dam after visiting JUMBO with Deb. I checked the drain and a number of Spur-winged Plovers were present. The area to the south of the main road looks promising as it hasn’t been cleared; so I’ll have to keep an eye on it. At Oroklini Marsh, 3 Little Terns were very active with the usual Black-winged Stilts and Spur-winged Plovers which are all obviously nesting. I saw 2 Reed Warblers*, one of which I managed to photograph. On the main pond, 21 Flamingos were still present with a pair of Red-crested Pochards whilst a handful of Sand Martins fed actively over the water. Perhaps the biggest surprise was a lone Shelduck with a Grey Heron in the background. At Akhna Dam all was quiet, although I flushed 2 late Yellow Wagtails – female types not identifiable to sub-species and a Stone Curlew flew over the eucalyptus. The sun abated and there was a flurry of activity as 2 Wood Sandpipers, 34 Little Stints and 2 Temminck’s Stints arrived to feed.
On the 21st I attended a meeting at Troodos Station and saw a few mountain specialities with Masked Shrikes, Spotted Flycatchers and Hoopoes being on territory. Juvenile Coal and Great Tits were observed and many Eastern Olivaceous Warblers sand loudly in all locations. As I returned home a Long-legged Buzzard was sat on a bush overlooking the motorway at Zygi – my first of the month. 9 Calandra Larks sang and flew around the fields at Pervolia and a surprising male Black-headed Bunting also sang from atop an artichoke flower. 2 Turtle Doves were in the fields adjacent to Larnaca Sewage Works and the lone Shelduck was at Oroklini. Akhna Dam in the evening held 2 Temminck’s Stints once more and a reduced number of Little Stints with one Ringed Plover. A Cetti’s Warbler was seen as was a Roller and as I departed a Squacco Heron flew to roost.
On 23rd I visited the north and at FresH Water Lake South, I confirmed a Night Heron sitting on Eggs and at least 4 Glossy Ibises nests. 2 Ferruginous Ducks were also present and a Purple Heron flew in the direction of Fresh Water Lake North. I watched the Cattle Egret nest for some time estimating approximately 200 nests with the average number of chicks being 3. I saw my 3rd Plain Tiger of the year which was a new grid square of the species. On Saturday, prior to the Mexican Theme Night at Arriba Plonkzales (my house), I visited Akhna Dam in the morning. The female Pied Kingfisher was still present which surprised me. 36 Little Stints, a couple of Ruffs and 4 Black-winged Stilts were not much to show for a couple of hours, with the usual herons and a Roller going about their business.
With a monster Tequila, Mojito, Marguerita and Daiquiri hangover on Sunday the most I could manage was seeing nearly a hundred Swifts over the house. The week ended on a low but to be fair it was never going to be an epic. With the month drawing to a close and a Bank Holiday looming, a trip to Akrotiri is on the cards, in search of the reported Bar-tailed Godwit - a year tick.
Highlights of the Week: During a fairly dull week the Long-legged Buzzard and the Pied Kingfisher takes the accolades. However, confirming a Night Heron on eggs was a good find.
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Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 18 May 14
Black Tern at Akhna Dam on 13 May
John had done the early morning round of Akhna Dam and it was fairly uneventful although the 2 Black Terns were still present. From a birding perspective it was fairly mundane but John had an encounter with a Cypriot POACHER – (They like to call themselves hunters, but there is little sport in their mindless, uneducated activities, so we should not legitimise their activities by referring to them as such). The cretin was firing a shotgun into some eucalyptus trees – what he was shooting at is a mystery. However, when John was watching him, he turned his gun on John in an aggressive manner, a familiar scene as I’m sure CABS will justify. It is amazing that these inbred criminals believe they are above the law in acting in such a way. Still I suppose that’s why Cyprus joined Europe, to become educated and get dragged out of the dark ages – that or they wanted the money to build pointless roundabouts and speed bumps. In any event it was reported to the Police both SBA and Civilian, who seemed equally non-plus about it. John returned to the airport via Oroklini and saw a couple of Spoonbills, a pair of Garganeys and a Little Tern. With that being done, I decided not to go out on Monday and went for an Indian with Deb, not a First Nation American or person from the Sub-Continent but a chicken vindaloo and Tarka Dhal which was excellent.
The beginning of a birding week would not be complete without a visit to Akhna Dam. As I entered the site from the north-west, the female Pied Kingfisher was sat on a dead tree overlooking the water. I proceeded a little further and the 2 Black Terns were still present and very vocal as they hawked the water. 66 Ruffs were feeding actively but left shortly after the shooting started. Other waders recorded were 5 Wood Sandpipers and 1 Curlew Sandpiper. 3 Little Egrets flew in briefly and at the southern end of the dam a Roller perched atop a bush. Any waders that remained were flushed soon enough by a hunting male Peregrine as it flew through at speed.
On Wednesday morning I awoke to the sound of a passing Beeater as I considered my bowl of muesli for breakfast. With not much time on Wednesday due to a bit of fancy dress shopping at JUMBO – RIP JUMBO Drain. I looked in at Oroklini Marsh where 26 Greater Flamingos were still present, along with 4 Red-crested Pochards, only 7 Black-winged Stilts, 5 Squacco Herons and c50 Cattle Egret. I proceeded home via Akhna Dam and with food for the freezer in the car, I couldn’t stop long. I passed a Roller on the wires at Xylotymbou and at the dam, the Osprey was still fishing, 2 Temminck’s Stints were with 6 Little Stints and 7 Ruff were feeding with 8 Ringed Plovers. Only 1 Black Tern remained and during my brief visit, I couldn’t find anything else to write about.
On Thursday, Akhna Dam was the quietest I have seen it this year. 2 Little Egrets, a Night Heron, 5 Little Stints, a Temminck’s Stint and a Spotted Flycathcher was all I had to show for an hour and a half’s searching. Tomorrow, in my “King of the BBQ” role, I am cooking for the UAO’s annual event. The Little Owl remained at its roost in Vrysoulles and whilst at home a lone European Beeater flew over the house calling and 5 Night Herons alighted from the wood behind the house. It is likely that there will be beer involved in the equation, so the chances of getting out on Friday afternoon are looking remote – which may not be a bad thing given yesterday’s showing. Saturday was also a write off, for obvious reasons – no detail required, I hope?
On Sunday, I headed for the Larnaca area, with 1 Greater Flamingo on the Salt Lake and 1 Spur-winged Plover on the Airport Pool North, things did not look promising. The only presence in the Spiro’s Beach and Larnaca Airport Fields were 3 Kentish Plovers and thankfully no lunatic Cypriots to bump into my car. As I approached the Sewage Works the usual male Black Francolin flushed and flew across in front of the car. With things looking normal and mundane with a pair of Shovelers still remaining, a family party of Mallards or 2 and 25 Coots, careful searching produced a breeding plumaged Black-necked Grebe, which was my first ever May record and a real surprise. A White-winged Black Tern was to be expected but was still pleasing to watch as it gracefully plucked insects from the water. The north side of the Salt Lake produced my first Small Desert Blues of the year with a Cetti’s and Spectacled Warbler also being seen. A juvenile Great Tit, clumsily made its way around a hedge and a Spotted Flycatcher had read the script and caught flies from a telegraph wire. Oroklini was the last stop where 30 Greater Flamingos still fed actively and a flyby Little Tern added to the interest. Only 2 female Red-crested Pochards were present (the others must be sitting) and 12 Black-winged Stilts remain after the heavy rains, which probably washed a few nests out. A drake Garganey emerged from the reeds as I departed.
Later in the day, Akhna Dam was a little more lively with 12 Little Stints and 3 Temminck’s Stints* being present and 10 Ringed Plovers flew into join them later on. 4 Common Sandpipers were busy and a territorial Little Egret chased another off and was fairly aggressive in its nature. A Squacco Heron flew over the dam as did a couple of European Beeaters calling as they continued north.
Highlights of the Week: Although a fairly quiet week with migration petering out, a breeding plumaged Black-necked Grebe was an unusual May record and the emergence of good numbers of Small Desert Blues.
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Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 11 May 14
Icterine Warbler at Cape Greco on 10 May
Having stayed over in the North on the Karpas we returned via the North coast road and Balalan Cliffs where c80 Alpine Swifts, 4 Pallid Swifts and a Blue Rock Thrush put on a good show. We drove up to Kantara and on the way up stopped at a site where Two-tailed Pashas breed. We were lucky and sighted one working its way along the conifers and strawberry trees (host plant). Moving down the south side of Kantara after lunch towards Bojaz we soon found ourselves in Famagusta looking at Fresh Water Lake South where we saw my only White-winged Black Tern of the spring so far. A first summer Black-headed Gull was late and a bit of a surprise but the several species of Herons weren’t. 37 Glossy Ibises settled and 16 European Beeaters passed overhead. After dropping the ladies at home we headed off to Akhna Dam to finish off the day. A couple of Turtle Doves flushed at we entered, a Temminck’s Stint was still present and a late Cuckoo appeared and perched in front of us. A female Redstart broke the boredom and as we left the site we were delighted to find our first Lesser Grey Shrike of the holiday – but it didn’t hang around for the camera.
On Monday, we headed to Troodos via the usual sites. At Larnaca, no sign of any Broad-billed Sandpipers, but the Shelduck and male Shoveler were on the sewage works lagoons. A Little Tern flew over and 8 Greater Flamingo were present but there was little else of interest. We paused at the hide at Zakaki Marsh where 6 Curlew Sandpipers were feeding actively with Little Stints, Wood Sandpipers and a single Collared Pratincole was playing hide and seek. We were pleased to see our only Sedge Warbler of the trip and an adult Yellow-legged Gull rested on the pond. We continued to Akrotiri Salt Lake and drove most of the way to the area near Zakaki Run-Off. The majority were Kentish Plovers but included a couple of Ringed Plovers. As we scanned a pair of Spoonbills became obvious, however a pair of Grey Plovers and a Turnstone were a surprise. With 2 Collared Pratincoles resting, a couple of Greenshank and in the distance 3 Slender-billed Gulls, the visit was bearing fruit. John scanned the Greater Flamingos and found 2 birds with colour rings, the first a yellow ring reading JCBS and the second a white one reading T(BAR)DPJ – the birds were of French and Turkish origin respectively. Bishop’s Pool was very quiet with only 9 Ferruginous Ducks, 1 Little Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper being worthy of note. Onwards through Akrotiri Gravel Pits where a female Marsh Harrier and a dark morph Eleonora’s Flacon were present to Phassouri Reed Beds where 5 Glossy Ibises and a Purple Heron were the highlights. At Kensington Cliffs at least 8 Eleonora’s Falcons were in acrobatic display flight and a little further along at Tunnel Beach Cliffs we ate lunch and luckily caught up with a single Griffon Vulture.
We drove up to Troodos but with the weather coming in we only saw a single Jay and outside the chalet 8+ Pallid Swifts mixed in with Commons. In the evening we heard a Scops Owl calling from a large conifer directly outside the accommodation. As luck would have it, the bird flew to an obvious branch on top of the tree and showed very well so that was a result. It rained heavily in the night and things didn’t look good in the morning.
The plan on Tuesday was to drive down the Dhiarizos River Valley looking for Great Spotted Cuckoos, Long-legged Buzzards etc. The weather was appalling all the way to the coast at Mandria and we observed little. A couple of Cetti’s Warblers looked bedraggled in the rain at Kouklia Soakaways. On the beach at Mandria a 1st and 3rd winter Caspian Gulls were present still but with little happening and the rain sheeting down we drove back up to Troodos. At Fasoula a male Red-backed Shrike showed at the side of the road and near the Troodos Station a pair of Chaffinches was present. Arriving to no electricity in the chalet and with the weather worsening, we cut our losses and headed back to Ay Nik. On the way down we stopped at Giant Junipers recording a few of the mountain specialities including Short-toed Treecreeper, Blackbird and got great views of 3 Masked Shrikes. Further down the hill, at Saittas, at least 4 Serins sang and fed young, so another bird added to the growing list – “It’s all about the list”.
At Oroklini, 20 Greater Flamingos were still hanging around and 6 Sand Martins were seen with 3 Squacco Herons in a distant tamarisk. A Temminck’s Stint was still at Akhna Dam with all the usual suspects. We finally discovered why the adult Cormorant* was still present – it’s obviously been shot and lost half a wing.
A visit to Cape Greco on the 7th and the first stop was Cape Greco Pines. A Lesser Grey Shrike sat on wires and a Red-backed Shrike was nearby. In the pines several Spotted Flycatchers were the most obvious but a Redstart, Whitethroat and singing Willow Warbler were also present. Perhaps the biggest surprise was a female Pied Flycatcher*. At the picnic area, several Black-headed Buntings sang and 2 were seen, a pair of Cyprus Pied Wheatears showed well and the regular Cyprus Warbler sang from its usual perch giving great views. Up at Ayia Napa Sewage Works, a Common Sandpiper and 17 Little Grebes were on the lagoons with another Lesser-Grey Shrike on the trees above. At least 4 Red-backed Shrikes (1 female), were in the area and a male Black-headed Bunting sang and was seen. A few European Beeaters were above us but a male Northern Wheatear was a surprise find. Amazingly, a pair of Alpine Swifts passed low above us, which were very late migrants.
Arriving at Akhna Dam we paused to view an adult Gull. I could not believe I said Armenian Gull*, but that’s what it was, surely the only May record to date? A very unusual occurrence! A Collared Pratincole was flying around and occasionally sat on the mud and then another surprise and “tick” for the site - a breeding plumaged Grey Plover*. The Cuckoo was still present but the Temminck’s Stints and other waders appear to have thinned out. 4 Ringed Plovers remain, but there wasn’t much else about. Oroklini held 2 Curlew Sandpipers, a pair of Garganeys and only 5 Greater Flamingos. A Cattle Egret was seen on a nest which will be a good record for the site but again it was fairly quiet. The final visit was to Parthenitis Dam where an adult Little Bittern and Night Heron were welcomed sightings. A pair of Black-winged Stilts, 2 pairs of Spur-winged Plovers and a calling Stone Curlew finished the day off. At home in the wood to the rear of the house, I heard a calling Golden Oriole as I drank a beer.
The 8th was a disaster! The rain was sheeting down again and the Larnaca area was dead. As I made my way along the airport fields, I stalled in the mud as a pick-up truck also stopped. As he pulled away, he skidded and smashed my rear light unit – great! I managed to cajole him into giving me 50 Euros towards the repair – and that was an amazing result as he claimed to speak no English after saying “No problem, No damage, everything OK – a likely story but a typical situation faced by many tourists. He eventually coughed and we went on our way. Car now in the garage, honking down with rain, no birding – write the BLOG. Torrential rain throughout the day stopped play.
Trying to avoid the rain we visited Akhna Dam and John found a Broad-billed Sandpiper amongst the Little Stints, with a single Curlew Sandpiper also being present. 14 Temminck’s Stints was the biggest count this year and a Whiskered Tern hawked the water’s edge. Good numbers of Sand Martins were present and with the first record for Cyprus of Brown-throated Martin, being ringed at Polis on 1st May, they were worth looking through – without luck. Oroklini, whilst running away from the rain produced very little and as the weather followed us, we headed east once more to where the sun was shining. Arriving at Cape Greco Pines, it was clear that there were plenty of birds present, a good hour or so produced some late records of migrants including a female Collared Flycatcher*, 3 Redstarts, a couple of Willow Warblers an Icterine Warbler and a Garden Warbler. A Little Bittern flushed from a small pine tree was a surprise but the Turtle Dove was predictable. A Lesser Grey and male Red-backed Shrike were good to see and 6 Spotted Flycatchers were evidence of their continued passage. Another torrential down poor at Ayia Napa Sewage Works caught us out and we consequently received an unusual drenching. We returned home to sit it out. In the afternoon we visited the north and Fresh Water Lake South. A Spoonbill immediately flew over us and a drake Ferruginous Duck floated by. Another Whiskered Tern sat on a dead snag but 21 Glossy Ibises flying into the Cattle Egret colony were more obvious. Circa 200 Sand Martins were present proving a good passage during the day and Beeaters continued to pass overhead. Finishing at Akhna Dam a 7 Little Terns*, Black Tern* (my first for the year), 2 Rollers and the Pied Kingfisher was still present. So despite nearly being thwarted by the weather, we managed to outwit it and the day proved to be very productive. Remember, good weather birders never see anything.
On the 10th we visited the Cape Greco area in the search of some Trumpeter Finches that had been reported. As is the way with Cyprus birding, “Cape Greco” as a site description, doesn’t really help. We searched anyway but without joy. At the pines we decided to find our own and were rewarded with 2 Whitethroats and a Garden Warbler. A Turtle Dove flushed and Spotted Flycatchers had reduced to 4. We moved onto Cape Greco Picnic Site area and after a short walk flushed an Icterine Warbler* which showed well along with 2 Willow Warblers. A couple of late Masked Shrikes were obvious and European Beeaters flew over in good numbers. A soaring female Sparrowhawk was a surprise and a late Northern Wheatear female was present on the ploughed fields, which was a good record. At Ayia Napa Sewage Works, a Tawny Pipit was present and 5 Black-headed Buntings were heard with 1 being seen. We drove onto Akhna Dam, where another Black Tern had joined yesterday’s bird along with a Whiskered Tern. The female Pied Kingfisher* performed well for us and a few waders were present but no sign of the large numbers of Ruffs, Temminck’s Stints or the Broad-billed Sandpiper. A female Great Spotted Cuckoo was chased by a Magpie and as we left the site we were very surprised to see a late migrating Osprey.
An early morning visit to Akhna Dam on Sunday produced a Sedge Warbler that was new; the 2 Black Terns remained along with 2 Little Terns and the Osprey which sat in a lone tree above the dam. Other than that, 2 male Red-backed Shrikes were present but not much else to get excited about. We returned home and a Golden Oriole was singing from the back of the house in a eucalyptus tree. After having a bit of breakfast we headed to the north and the Morphou area. The first stop was Kalkanli Dam where remarkably 6 pairs of Wigeon remained with a single male Red-crested Pochard and hundreds of Coots. At least 14 Yellow-legged Gulls flew around and Beeaters passed overhead. A Ruff on a pond by the rubbish tip looked oddly out of place. We paused to photograph a Little Owl on route to Cape Kormakiti. Stopping for a brew at Sadrazamkoy, a good selection of hirundines and Beeaters headed out to sea over the cape. We reached the cape after passing a couple of Corn Buntings and a male Red-backed Shrike. Looking out to sea for an hour or so produced 4 Scipoli’s Shearwaters and a Shag. A Red-throated Pipit was a very odd sighting as it hesitated to fly out to sea. On the way back from the cape 19 Turtle Doves in a tree was a good sighting as was a pair of Black-headed Yellow Wagtails. Returning home another “biblical” down poor put paid to any hope of searching for Ravens on the Kyrenia Range. At Akhna Dam in the evening, the female Pied Kingfisher was still present as were the 2 Black Terns. 8 Ringed Plovers flew in to join the 6 Little Stints and 7 Ruffs that were present. A male Black Francolin running across the track in front of the car ended the week.
Highlights of the Week: A few Lesser Grey Shrikes and a remarkable adult Armenian Gull at Akhna Dam. The Scipoli’s Shearwaters were a year tick as were the often difficult to catch up with Garden Warblers. However, a great view of an Icterine Warbler was very enjoyable.
Other Interesting Finds: 2 Plain Tigers*, a rare butterfly on Cyprus – 1 at Cape Greco and 1 at Ayia Napa Sewage Works both on 7 May.
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Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 4 May 14
Blue-cheeked Beeater at Oroklini Marsh on 1 May
Another week, another after work evening visit to Akhna Dam. However, European Beeaters are now passing through all day in good numbers with some stopping at various perches within the Ay Nik area. The week commenced as the last had ended. The breeding plumaged Spotted Redshank remained with 2 Temminck’s Stints and good numbers of Little Stints and Wood Sandpipers. A lone Greenshank was accompanied by several Black-winged Stilts and a couple of Ringed Plovers. 10 Little Egrets were present and in the tamarisks several warbler species fed actively including Wood, Willow, Cetti’s Reed, Great Reed, Blackcap and Whitethroat. A strange looking Wheatear caused me some confusion. After photographing it and seeking a second opinion, it was concluded that it was a strange not atypical Eastern Black-eared Wheatear female*. Spotted Flycatchers continue to pass through in force with a least 6 fly-catching as the sun went down.
After some brief shopping prior to our guests arriving, I did a quick round at Akhna Dam. A couple of good birds were present with a Spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Collared Pratincole being the highlights amongst the many Ruffs, Wood Sandpipers, Little Stints and 2 Temminck’s Stints. A singleton, complete breeding plumaged Curlew Sandpiper was present – they are superb birds when in that condition. European Beeaters were fly catching and at the top of the southern arm and a Wood Warbler and male Common Redstart were still present.
On the way into work on Wednesday, 6 Glossy Ibises flew over the house and European Beeaters were calling. In the Eucalyptus trees opposite the armoury, 2 Golden Orioles called. Taking the usual trip to JUMBO presented some great opportunities as we dropped Deb and Val in Larnaca for a couple of hours whilst we visited the sewage works and airport fields. We stopped at the Airport Pools North where the most interesting find was a pair of Dunlins amongst the c130 Little Stints. 3 Greater Flamingos linger on the pools. A pair of Little Terns passed Spiro’s Beach but there was nothing else around. The sewage works held some interesting wildfowl including a Ferrruginous Duck, drake Garganey, and a very lost looking Shelduck and drake Shoveler. The usual commoner waders were present and later at Pervolia the “drive by” pair of Calandra Larks sang and we flushed 3 Black Francolins. We picked the girls up and stopped at JUMBO drain before dropping them off and heading to Oroklini. DISASTER!!!! JUMBO drain has been cleared of reeds and vegetation – all that was present were 6 Spur-winged Plovers. I am heart broken, I had found, nurtured and loved this site and now it is no more. Pulling myself together, at Oroklini, the Black-tailed Godwit was still present (forgive me for annotating this as a Bar-tailed last week – not an ID error but a typo). Also present were 4 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Wood Sandpipers, several Ruffs and a lone, surprising, Curlew. John also spotted a single Sand Martin which have been in very short supply so far this spring. 11 Red-crested Pochards were present along with 12 Greater Flamingos. We departed and headed for Akhna Dam where John had seen a female Pied Kingfisher in the morning, probably the same one that was at Fresh Water Lake South last week and has relocated. We reached Akhna Dam and after passing a couple of Temminck’s Stints, (4 in total were seen), Deb immediately spotted the Pied Kingfisher sat on a dead snag overlooking the water. Result – my 207th bird for Akhna Dam and well done Deb! It pirouetted and flew around the dam before settling again elsewhere. The Spoonbill, 18 Squacco Herons and 2 Collared Pratincoles seen in the morning had moved on and generally the dam was fairly quiet except for the usual wader suspects.
On Thursday, John had found 2 Blue-cheeked Beeaters* at Oroklini. He texted Val and I got the message and was able to leave the house soon after at break-neck speed to get to the site. I did this within half an hour and was able to see to fantastic birds – only the 2nd and 3rd this spring. A quick record shot and couple of views as they caught insects and they rose from the wires, gained height and headed north 5 minutes after I arrived. A very fortuitous year tick, thanks to John. A Roller sat atop a distant bush, so I stayed at the marsh for a while noting a pair of Little Terns, 6 migrant Grey Herons, a Wood Sandpiper with 2 Curlew Sandpipers, some Ruff and the long staying Black-tailed Godwit. In the afternoon we visited the north and Fresh Water Lake South allowing for some good photo opportunities of the Cattle Egret colony, Squacco, Night Herons and Glossy Ibises. At Akhna Dam there was a good selection of waders present with 6 Temminck’s Stints and 3 Collared Pratincoles being the hightlights. We flushed a Common Cuckoo and a Turtle Dove was heard.
On the 2nd we travelled to Dipkarpaz on the Karpas Peninsular for the KUSKOR weekend. Travelling along the south road, at least 12 Rollers were seen and many Black-headed Buntings heard. A fortuitous stop revealed a Little Owl, Corn Bunting and flyover Red-throated Pipit. European Beeaters were evident in good numbers as were Cyprus Pied Wheatears. After booking into the Dipkarpaz Arch Houses Hotel – which was excellent we went for a walk in the village finding a female Golden Oriole, several Blackcaps and a few Spanish Sparrows. As we looked skyward we saw a drifting adult Bonelli’s Eagle which caught a thermal and rose quickly until it was a small speck in the sky.
On Saturday morning we drove to the Seabird restaurant to catch a boat to the Klidhes Islands to undertake a breeding seabird count. On the way we saw a Little Owl* my first Black Kite of the year and a female Red-footed Falcon. At the restaurant 2 Common Sandpipers and a feldegg Yellow Wagtail was present. On the boat and reaching the islands we counted at least 65 Yellow-legged Gulls – many on nests and c40 Audouin’s Gulls with 18-20 nests being counted. Shags* have had a good breeding year with many juveniles being present with a total count of c50. A Little Egret was present and a Peregrine caught a Rock Dove and fed it to a juvenile as Dad watched on. Another Black Kite drifted over the boat bound for the land and we soon returned to the restaurant for lunch. In the afternoon we birded around the tip of the Karpas and saw some interesting birds including late female Black-eared Wheatears, and Isabelline Wheatear and several Northern Wheatears. A few Whinchats were fly catching and a female Masked and Red-backed Shrike were sat on bushes. With European Beeaters passing over constantly we eventually found a female Barred Warbler, a Whitethroat and an out of place male Chaffinch. Spotted Flycatchers were numerous and a single Red-rumped Swallow looked at home. Driving back to the hotel a female Montague’s Harrier was seen and 16+ Turtle Doves. In the evening from the hotel a Scops Owl was heard.
The next day we headed home via the north coast road and Balalan Cliffs, where numerous Alpine Swifts were nesting with a couple of Pallids and a male Blue Rock Thrush sang and was seen. At Kantara my first Two-tailed Pasha was seen but little else. Stopping at Fresh Water Lake South in Famagusta, a Little Bittern flew across the lake in front of us but the highlight was my and our first White-winged Black Tern of the spring. We then came across a 1st summer Black-headed Gull which didn’t look quite right but a good grilling determined that it was indeed a young Black-headed Gull and not a Grey-headed that was the cause for much scrutiny. A Purple Heron flushed as we departed and 16 European Beeaters passed overhead. Squacco and Night Herons were well represented in the Cattle Egret colony along with Little Egrets and Glossy Ibises which made quite a sight. A Cuckoo was at Akhna Dam as was a Dunlin and Temminck’s Stint amongst the numerous Little Stints. A female Redstart lingered and as we drove through the farmland a resplendent, Lesser Grey Shrike sat on a bush – a great end to the day.
Highlights of the Week: Blue-cheeked Beeaters are always a difficult species to catch up with in Cyprus so I was particularly pleased with that.