(2) Blog Posts Made in June 2014
Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 8 Jun 14
Juvenile Swallow at Akhna Dam on 29 May
The beginning of the week and a stop at Akhna Dam revealed that the Curlew Sandpiper and 12 Little Stints were still present. The Little Egret remains at the site and the usual breeding species could be heard all around the site. As I departed, 2 Rollers were sat on wires opposite the dam entrance track. In the afternoon I visited the Fresh Water Lake South in Famagusta, at least 3 Glossy Ibises now have chicks and there appears to be 4 Night Heron nests. Whilst watching the now very large Cattle Egret chicks I noticed a tern on the other side of the lake which proved to be an adult Gull-billed. 8 Ferruginous Ducks flew across to the northern lake – my biggest count here so far. The Squacco Herons appear to have 3 nests with the birds sitting, but there’s still no sign of any chicks. That concluded Monday’s activities.
Living up to its reputation as a very dull month, this continued at Akhna Dam on Tuesday where only 3 Little Stints, 3 Little Egrets, a Squacco Heron and 11 Spur-winged Plovers including one juvenile were present. As I was leaving the site, I did manage to see a Temmink’s Stint which represented my first June record ever. And so it continues…….. Akhna Dam on Wednesday was dire! 2 Little Egrets, 1 Squacco Heron and 6 Spur-winged Plovers – desperate. I did however see 2 Turtle Doves and on the way home a Kestrel and a Roller at Vrysoulles. June is without doubt the worst month for birding in Cyprus and unless you want to see Cyprus Wheatear and Cyprus Warbler and you’re on a family holiday, you should not visit in this month!
On the 4th Akhna Dam held a couple of Turtle Doves, a Squacco, 2 Little Egrets and 6 Spur-winged Plovers and in Vrysoulles a Roller flew over the road. On Thursday, a trip to JUMBO had the drain holding 4 Spur-winged Plovers and 2 Moorhens – one a juvenile. Oroklini Marsh was a little more interesting with a fly over 1st Summer Black-headed Gull and a flushed Green Sandpiper. The late Shelduck continued to consort with the Mallards and a Black-headed Wagtail continued to call – they must be breeding here. Greater Flamingos had increased to 37 and a singleton Little Stint and Little Ringed Plover were present. A surprise Red-rumped Swallow flew across the road at Dhekelia and apart from 2 Little Egrets at Akhna Dam there was literally, nothing of interest.
On Friday afternoon we travelled to Limassol to stay over night and visit a restaurant that had been recommended – it was worth the trip, the food was superb! Rising early on Saturday morning I visited the Limassol sites. At Zakaki Marsh 5 Wood Sandpipers were surprising, whilst 3 Ferruginous Ducks and 2 Reed Warblers were also seen. At the edge of Akrotiri Salt Lake, Greater Flamingos numbered 92 and Black-winged Stilts 19, but the Kentish Plovers were notable by their absence. A single Little Tern landed briefly but there was little of interest so I drove to Episkopi, pausing at Phasouri Reed Beds were 7 Eleonora’s Falcons were hawking insects. 4 Eleonora’s Falcons were also at Kensington Cliffs and a genuine Rock Dove put in an appearance. Moving to Happy Valley Cliffs, my first Cyprus Wheatear of the month and a couple of Sardinian Warblers but no Alpine Swifts or Griffon Vultures. I drove the Troodos Foothills seeing Black-headed Bunting, Red-rumped Swallows, Serins and Rollers but as the rain started to fall, I headed east to the Larnaca area. At Spiro’s Beach, 3 Shags were roosting on the mooring buoy and at the sewage works an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Greenshank and a Spectacled Warbler broke the boredom. Driving to the North shore of Larnaca Salt Lake was rewarding, where I managed to see and photograph my first immature Great Spotted Cuckoo* of the year and 5 Sand Martins were amongst a throng of House Martins. 2 Glossy Ibises flushed and a pair of breeding Spur-winged Plovers were very vocal.
Stopping at Oroklini Marsh on the way home produced a surprise moulting adult Whiskered Tern, Greater Flamingos had increased in number to 66 and 2 Glossy Ibises were present, (probably the same pair that were at Larnaca Salt Lake). Pausing briefly at Akhna Dam was a waste of time, with the exception of an adult Black Tern which was hawking the water’s edge. On Sunday a trip to the supermarket at Demirhan in the north for some shopping before returning to the UK on 11 June, allowed me to have a look at Demirhan Pools, a site which I rarely visit. There were hundreds of Terrapins around the sides of the pool and a Grey Heron immediately flushed, followed by 11 Night Herons and 2 Little Egrets. 2 Rollers were perched on the reeds and a European Beeater glided above. As we left the site a male Black Francolin stood proud on an earth mound as it called – as they do. Shopping done, I had a haircut and a shave at the local barbers – a most enjoyable experience, before having a look at the Fresh Water Lake South. Nothing really new here but may chicks in the nests of Glossy Ibises, Cattle Egrets, Little Egrets and Night Herons. Then I eventually found what I was looking for a Squacco Heron tending a chick – result and confirmation of breeding. At Akhna Dam in the evening 2 Black Terns were present with a Little Stint and a Roller, with another passing over the road as I returned home.
Highlights of the Week: An adult Gull-billed Tern in Famagusta and Temminck’s Stint at Akhna was my first June records for these species.
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Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 1 Jun 14
Gull-billed Tern at Akhna Dam on 29 May
A bank holiday had me travelling to the Akrotiri area to see what was about. A Bar-tailed Godwit had been reported over the weekend and with it being a year tick, I decided to give it a whirl – without success, it has to be said. Lady’s Mile was pretty desperate with a few Kentish Plovers and Little Stints being all there was to show for an extensive search for the Godwit. Akrotiri Salt Lake was a little better. Circa 120 Greater Flamingos still remain and in the background on the far edge of the lake, 4 Great White Egrets loitered. A single Slender-billed Gull with a lone Whiskered Tern hawking the reed bed was interesting records and Little Terns numbered 11 – a good count. With no interesting waders being present, I moved to Zakaki Marsh where 7 Little Egrets and a Squacco Heron were obvious. A single Ruff was less so and eventually I saw a Reed and Cetti’s Warbler. The usual Stilts and Spur-wingeds were present but again, fairly quiet. 4 Ferruginous Ducks were unusual for the site as they are usually at Bishop’s Poool. As I drove the coast road back to Larnaca, at Kiti Fields, a Black Francolin strutted its stuff on top of a greenhouse frame and I saw a late male Red-backed Shrike*.
Larnaca Sewage Works was almost devoid of birds but a pair of Ferruginous Ducks and a pair of Shovelers were of note. Many Mallard chicks were with their parents and a couple of Ruffs was all there was in the way of semi-interesting waders. Onward to Oroklini and the Shelduck was still there – my latest ever record for one in Cyprus in the Spring. The usual Heron species were present but again, fairly dull. As I drove into Akhna Dam, a Roller flew by and I flushed several Spur-winged Plovers but with time rolling on and it becoming increasingly more evident that there was nothing about, I returned home.
On Tuesday with domestic duties being king, I paid a brief visit to Akhna Dam which was very quiet once more. With only 8 Little Stints, 6 Ruffs, 12 Spur-winged Plovers, 1 Grey Heron and a Little Egret present, there wasn’t much to get excited about. Wednesday had arrived and Akhna Dam was still very quiet although a Roller was the difference from yesterday. I headed towards Oroklini Marsh and this proved to be a good decision. On the main lake nothing much had changed although the Shelduck appears to have moved on. 7 Night Herons and a skulking Squacco Heron were amongst the Cattle Egret colony and the Greater Flamingos had increased to 30. I drove around to the south hide and walked the area. 4 Little Terns were vocal as were the breeding Black-winged Stilts and Spur-winged Plovers. A calling Yellow Wagtail revealed a female type with a male Black-headed close by, suggesting probable breeding. I could hear a Greenshank calling my first for 3 weeks and a Green Sandpiper flushed providing my first record this month. With 6 Ruffs and 22 Little Stints at least there was something to look at. Eventually I found a Little Ringed Plover with its back to me sitting on mud – blending in perfectly, I had to wait for it to move to confirm the yellow eye-ring. As I drove home after finishing a KFC – always a treat when visiting Oroklini, a Night Heron flew past at Vrysoulles and the ever reliable Little Owl sat on its stone at the rock face roost site.
Thursday had arrived and it was the day to visit the North and check on the status of the Cattle Egret colony. The chicks are now well developed and wing exercising. I did have some good finds though. The Little Egret’s nest had two well grown chicks in it which confirms breeding at the site and another possible. At least 4 Glossy Ibis’ nests were located, one with 2 large chicks which confirmed breeding this year and finally with 3 Night Heron nests visible one of these had 2 well developed chicks and another a couple of eggs – so a good confirmation of breeding. It would appear that a couple of Squacco Herons are sitting but no eggs or chicks were seen. The pair of Ferruginous Ducks continue at the site and a couple of Black-winged Stilts and Spur-winged Plovers were evident.
I moved to Akhna Dam after re-crossing the border to the south and was greeted by a couple of Magpies and a Roller chasing a pair of Great-Spotted Cuckoos – which was a good moment. As I approached the large area of water in the middle of the dam, a Hoopoe flushed and a white shape was sat on a small island. I quickly raised my bins and bingo – a year tick – an adult Gull-billed Tern* taking the year total to a respectable 245. I manoeuvred the car and got some reasonable images of the bird. 3 Little Stints fed in front of the tern, and a couple of Black-winged Stilts were with a Cattle Egret and 2 Squacco Herons. Highlight of the week over, I returned home happy. On the 30th Akhna was a re-run but with the addition of 2 Night Herons – a 1st CY & 2nd CY.
On the last day of the month I visited the Cape Greco area and it was really quiet. The reliable male Cyprus Warbler continued to sing and they’re always nice to see but there was little else. At Ayia Napa Sewage Works, a similar story with a couple of Spectacled Warblers and a singing Black-headed Bunting. A Hobby being mobbed by 2 Kestrels was a welcome relief and a tick for the month. I proceeded to Ayia Thekla where only a Little Egret broke the boredom and at Akhna Dam the Gull-billed Tern was still present and amongst the Little Stints, a late Curlew Sandpiper and a Temminck’s Stint. A pair of Rollers performed well and the pair of Squacco Herons were also present.
Sunday, a new month and a new list. The Shelduck remained at Oroklini which is a very late record as did 28 Greater Flamingos and 5 Red-crested Pochards. The pair of Shovelers remain at Larnaca Sewage Works. A Greenshank here was unexpected and 3, 3 CY Armenian Gulls were a very good record for June. A Green Sandpiper and 2 Glossy Ibises were at the north end of Larnaca Salt Lake. At least 5 Calandra Larks performed at Pervolia Fields and a male Black-headed Bunting was singing once more. Akhna Dam still had a few migrants passing through with a Curlew Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and an adult Black Tern. The pair of Night Herons and a Squacco remained but there was nothing of interest with the 11 Little Stints. Looking in at Vrysoulles 2 Owlets were at the entrance to the nest site but there was no sign of an adult.
Highlights of the Week: An adult Gull-billed Tern was at Akhna Dam and was a bit of a surprise at this time of year. Confirming breeding status for Night Heron was a good moment.
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