(5) Blog Posts Made in August 2014

Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 31 Aug 14

Laughing Dove at Ayia Napa Football Pitches on 25 Aug

On Bank Holiday Monday – 25 Aug, I rose early and headed to Cape Greco.  With the humidity being high the morning fog was very thick.  At Ayia Napa Football Pitches, all 4 Shrikes were perching on the fences with a Woodchat being the most notable.  They were joined by a rufous phased Common Cuckoo but amongst the gloom only a very poor record shot was gained of my first encounter with this bird.  A female Black Francolin fed on the grass and as I drove through the housing estate, I managed to photograph 1 of the Laughing Doves* that was present.  Onward to Ayia Napa Sewage Works where there had been a bit of a fall of migrants in the early morning fog.  Shrikes of 3 species – Lesser Grey, Red-backed and Masked were on nearly every bush.  Willow Warblers numbered 10+ and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers were vocal in good numbers.  At least 7 Eastern Orphean Warblers continued their passage and were joined by good numbers of Lesser Whitethroats and 2 Common Whitethroats.  High on the escarpment 2 Ortolan Buntings called and as I walked around I flushed a calling Tree Pipit – the first for the autumn.  A calling Scops Owl in the day was a strange record for the site but a couple of Spotted Flycatchers as I left was predictable.

At Cape Greco 4 Cyprus Wheatears and 3 Isabelline Wheatears were present in the ploughed fields but little else of interest, so I headed to Akhna Dam.  Again, Shrikes everywhere and a good number of Yellow Wagtails – most unidentifiable to race.  I did however, see and photograph a very obvious Syke’s (beema) Wagtail*.  2 Whiskered Terns fed actively and 33 Glossy Ibises were with the Cattle Egrets, Little Egrets, and Grey Herons.  A Sand Martin flew through with Swallows and on the muddy fringes 5 Temminck’s Stints were a good count with 2 Ruffs.  A Pallid Swift drank from the dam and a Long-legged Buzzard bathed.  At Ay Nik, I saw my first 2 European Beeaters of the autumn passage, alerted by their calling as they passed over the house.

On Tuesday I visited Oroklini Marsh and Hills.  The White Pelican was still present with 47 Greater Flamingos.  Several waders were present including a Spotted Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Redshank, several Little Stints and 2 Temminck’s.  Later in the hills above the village, a Masked and Lesser Grey Shrike were seen and a male Peregrine drifted along the escarpment.  A Spotted Flycatcher was unexpected as was a Cyprus Wheatear and finally I flushed 3 Ortolan Buntings – calling as they went.  At Vrysoulles a European Beeater sat on the wires and at Dhekelia a Long-legged Buzzard was harassed by a Kestrel.

On Wednesday evening I paid a brief visit to Akhna Dam where I was greeted by good numbers of Lesser Grey, Red-backed and Masked Shrikes along with the usual Long-legged Buzzard.  A juvenile Collared Pratincole* was present with a Greenshank, Temminck’s Stint and a Kingfisher and Glossy Ibises numbered 51.  I flushed 4 Hoopoes as I left the site and returned home.  I took a day off on Thursday 28th August with only one mission – to catch up with Demoiselle Cranes for the year.  I left early and arrived at Akrotiri at about 0815.  I scoped the salt lake and saw about 50 odd Grey Herons.  A little further right and in the distance I could see dark shapes that were obviously cranes with their “shaggy” rear ends.  I drove to the other (east) side of the salt lake and taking the usual track down to the edge I walked out to the birds.  I could only get to about 500 metres from the birds before they began to shuffle and look agitated.  The Cranes are very skittish and it wouldn’t do to disturb such a rare bird so I stopped and scoped from where I was.  The birds settled and began to regroup and before me were 71 magnificent Demoiselle Cranes* complete with white ear tufts, shaggy black breast feathers and shaggy rear ends, (my 250th bird of the year if the Menetries’ Warbler is accepted).  A superb and very rare bird in the Western Palaearctic it’s always a great privilege to see them.  I took a couple of record shots from distance which was not bad all things considered.  A little later than usual due to the overcast conditions, after much wing stretching and walking, one bird began to run and the remainder followed taking to the air at 1020 and flying west out over Akrotiri peninsular.  I moved along Lady’s Mile seeing only Little Stints, Kentish Plovers and 1 Common Sandpiper and stopped at Zakaki Marsh.  Looking from the hide I saw Reed, Sedge and my first Great Reed Warbler of the autumn working its way clumsily through the reeds.  The juvenile Collared Pratincole was still present and caught and devoured a Scarlet Darter as I watched and a female Citrine Wagtail put in an appearance.  3 Glossy Ibises and a Kingfisher were obvious but 2 female type Garganeys took a bit more digging out.  I left and returned to the Larnaca area via Oroklini Marsh where the White Pelican and 39 Greater Flamingos were still loafing.  The usual waders and the juvenile Gull-billed Tern was still in situ along with an increase in Little Stints (including 2 Temminck’s) and Spur-winged Plovers.  Later at Akhna Dam nothing much had changed with Shrikes being the most common birds, but a Spotted Flycatcher was new and the Glossy Ibises had reduced to 18.

On Friday morning the warming sound of 18 European Beeaters in the woods behind the house was a good start to the day and it’s a time of the year that I really enjoy.  In the afternoon at Akhna Dam Shrikes were the most common once more with 26 Glossy Ibises a single Ruff and the usual Little Owl.  Other than that it was fairly routine.  I departed early on Saturday morning for Ayia Napa Sewage Works.  Passing the football pitches.  Lesser Grey Shrikes were obvious and in the nearby housing estate a Laughing Dove sat on the wires once more.  This seems to be the regular spot, so an additional day bird for visiting birders of the future.  Moving along to the sewage works 2 Common Sandpipers were on the lagoons and it was clear that there had been a major movement of Shrikes with 30+ Red-backs, 4 Lesser Greys and 5 Masked being present.  Only 1 Eastern Orphean Warbler was seen and a cracking male Montague’s Harrier passed overhead.  A Roller alighted as I approached and a Tree Pipit flew over calling.  A couple of Lesser Whitethroats were seen and I kept seen 3 calling Buntings overhead but couldn’t get onto them.  Returning to the car, I saw Stavros a very good local Cypriot birder who is an excellent photographer poised photographing something.  I made my way over and asked “What he’d seen”?  He pointed to a pair of Cinerous Buntings on the rocks – a male and female.  Sure enough, I got onto the male with a lemony upper chest and throat before they flew off once more.  A male and female definitely and perhaps another.  I was sure they were the birds that were calling earlier and then we saw a Cretzchmar’s Bunting perched on a bush.  I continued along the bluff as 10+ European Beeaters came into view calling and glimpsed another brief view of a calling Cinerous Bunting.  A great bird for the autumn and a bonus bird for the year as they are scarce anyway but usually only reported in the spring.  I continued back via the football pitches and a female Monty’s passed in front of the car.  At the football pitches, a number of Swifts and hirundines were over the fields, including, 8 Pallid Swifts, 1 immature Alpine Swift, 5 Red-rumped Swallows, 2 Barn Swallows and a single Sand Martin.  A brief stop a Sotira Pond revealed a Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Teal , a Green Sandpiper and as I left an Isablelline Wheatear flushed.  With shopping to do and the car to have cleaned before my sister arrived in the evening that was it for the day – but Cinerous Buntings at anytime of the year made it a worthwhile day out.

Early on Sunday morning Akhna Dam held a Wryneck, Roller, Great Reed Warbler and 2 Wood Sandpipers.  The usual Shrikes predominated and I flushed a pair of Black Francolins.  I drove around the Ay Nik area with my Brother-In-Law showing him a butterfly lifer – Small Desert Blue and worked our way around the area seeing several Rollers, Lesser Grey Shirkes, about 80 European Beeaters and my first 2 Whinchats of the autumn.  We paused to see some Little Tiger Blues on the host bush and did another round at Akhna Dam to see thousands of African Grass Blues and 2 Greenshanks, a Long-legged Buzzard and a Kingfisher which weren’t present earlier.  The fields above the dam came up trumps with an Isabelline Wheatear.

So ended a productive week and that’s August over for another year – not so productive as last year where I saw 135 species only managing 124 this year but it did include a few goodies.

Highlights of the Week: A Tree Pipit was a good early record and the Syke’s Wagtail was unusual in recognisable plumage for the time of year.  However, without doubt and always star birds Demoiselle Cranes always take some beating but the 2 Cinerous Buntings came close.

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 24 Aug 14

Gull-billed Tern at Akhna Dam on 20 Aug

On Monday evening I headed for Akhna Dam, with migrants passing in good numbers now many of the commoner passerines and waders were still present and nothing out of the ordinary was noted.  On Tuesday again at Akhna a Greenshank and 2 Common Starlings were present, with the Long-legged Buzzard continuing its stay.  3 White-winged Black Terns flew through without stopping with the Glossy Ibises and Ruffs looking on.

Wednesday and at this time of year, I visit the Ayia Napa Sewage Works area.  A female Black Francolin fed on the football pitches and 4 Lesser Grey Shrikes perched on the fences as I passed.  Willow Warblers are increasing at the sewage works and at least 6 Eastern Orphean Warblers were present.  Many Eastern Olivaceous Warblers were heard and seen and Shrike numbers are definitely on the up.  A single Roller flushed as I walked and then a small flock of birds flew up from the ground with 1 perching in a nearby bush.  Posing nicely, it was my first migrant Ortolan Bunting of the autumn.  Later at Akhna Dam a large female Peregrine buzzed the not too impressed waders as a Long-legged Buzzard rose from its perch on the rocks.  An immature Gull-billed Tern* rested in the water and a Kingfisher fished from a dead snag.  Again Shrikes were ever present in good numbers and an identifiable Black-headed (feldegg) Wagtail was with the Yellow Wagtail flock.  A Ringed Plover was with the Little Rings and a couple of Hoopoes fed in the grass.

On Thursday the routing visit to JUMBO resulted in a quick look at JUMBO Drain.  Formerly a fantastic little spot, it was heartbreaking to see it dry with the reeds removed.  Anyway, onto Oroklini Marsh where the White Pelican was back amongst the Flamingos,  an immature Gull-billed Tern was resting on the mud with a good number of waders feeding around it, including 2 Spotted Redshanks, 2 Redshanks, a Greenshank, Little Stint , 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 27 Black-winged Stilts and c50 Spur-winged Plovers.  3 Wood Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper and a Yellow Wagtail were seen as 6 Garganey alighted.  A Long-legged Buzzard soared in the distance.  As I drove into Akhna Dam the Little Owl was back in its usual place after an absence of about a week.  3 Hoopoes flushed, a male Red-backed Shrike kept look out whilst 2 Rollers were also perched on dead tree snags.  3 Garganey were on the water with 10 Grey Herons and 3 Little Egrets, with a good number of Yellow Wagtails feeding in the scrub, however, waders were conspicuous by their absence except for the noisy 52 Spur-winged Plovers.

On Friday I travelled to Troodos for the Summer Ball, pausing at the Caledonian Falls where I saw a Grey Wagtail, Jay and several Cyprus Wheatears.  On Saturday from the Mess balcony, a Crossbill, 5 Pallid Swifts, a Spotted Flycatcher and a few Cyprus Wheatears were seen.  I was awoken in the early hours of the morning by a calling Scops Owl outside my room with another replying from a distance – a good August record. 

On Sunday, Deb and I travelled back early pausing stopping at Oroklini Marsh, where a Spotted Redshank, Redshank and Marsh Sandpipers were the attractions and Greater Flamingo numbers had increased to 56.  Later at Fresh Water Lake South (Famagusta), a Whiskered Tern passed by and I gained a good tick for the autumn with an Avocet feeding with the Black-winged Stilts.  Waders were plenty with Collared Pratincoles, Spotted Redshanks, Redshanks, Ruffs, and Greenshanks all being present along with some commoner smaller waders.  3 Garganey and a female Shoveler were with 5 Greater Flamingos and in the reeds; Willow Warblers, Eastern Olivaceous and Cetti’s Warblers were all present before I headed home.

Highlights of the Week: The first Ortolan Buntings of the autumn was a good record as was 2 calling Scops Owls in Troodos but the bird of the week is an Avocet at Fresh Water Lake South (Famagusta).

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 17 Aug 14

Lesser Grey Shrike at Ayia Napa Sewage Works

I didn’t manage to get out on Monday as I was busy with a leaving do and the smoking of a Bong – I mean Sheesha in the north – Strawberry flavour only and no ganja involved.  On Tuesday I managed Akhna Dam where a few Collared Pratincoles were present with the usual waders and Terns but Lesser Grey* and Red-backed Shirkes are becoming more prevalent as Masked Shrikes have reduced. 

On Wednesday, I travelled to Troodos, hosting a visit but did manage to see the mountain specialities minus a Wren but did find 4 Crag Martins as a bonus along with 5 Eleonora’s Falcons.   A single Red-rumped Swallow near Platres was the only one and a single flyover Crossbill was all I could manage at Giant Juniper Picnic Site.  I stayed overnight at Troodos and after a few beers with the guys left the following morning but failed to see a Grey Wagtail on the way down.  On Thursday a quick visit to Akhna produced little but a Hoopoe or 2 were new arrivals.  A single Sand Martin with Swallows was a month tick and at Oroklini Marsh a lone White Pelican was a surprise and a year tick.  Over the north for a Turkish Meze was enjoyable and as we drank an EFES at Monk’s Bar (an exceptional place for a pint), a Barn Owl flew over which was also my first of the year (not an easy bird to happen across in Cyprus).

On Friday, I had been hired by a UK birder to take him out for the day.  He had 10 target species which were likely at this time of year and a few other “would be goods”.  I picked him up from the Nissi Beach area near Ayia Napa at 0600 and off we went.  Not 10 minutes later lifer number 1 in the bag with 5 Greater Sand Plovers  with 7 Kentish Plovers on the rocks at Ayia Thekla.  5 Pallid Swifts were overhead which was a bonus bird as they are now at the end of their migration.  A few more common birds were added to the obligatory day list – “It’s All About The List”.

We moved onto Ayia Napa Football Pitches where target bird number 2 fed on the first field.  A female Black Francolin, which was a stroke of luck as I haven’t seen one for ages there.  We continued onto Cape Greko and clocked a male Lesser Grey Shrike on wires next to the road.  Cape Greco Pines produced the next lifer with a couple of Eastern Olivaceous Warblers showing well with a few Spectacled Warblers nearby.  As we drove past the picnic site, we were pleased to see a nice male Cyprus Wheatear, although we needn’t have fretted as we saw about 4 or 5 in the area, soon followed the next endemic a female Cyprus Warbler with a Sardinian male near by.  I haven’t seen a Cyprus Warbler for about 2 months – they are tricky just after they’ve bred so my most reliable bird in the area hasn’t been showing, so I was pleased to nail that one early on.  Onward to the Cape itself and one of the most definite lifers performed as several Chukars ran across the ploughed fields.  As we drove past the wires (the AOS trip in March will remember the ploughed fields and wires as a very productive area)?  A bird caught my eye and as it perched had a white rump.  It flew to the field and started to feed where we scoped it.  The first Isabelline Wheatear of the autumn – Paul’s luck was in, another lifer and sought after bird on the top 10, although I hadn’t expected to find one this early in the season.

With lifers coming thick and fast we drove onto the Ayia Napa Sewage Works area.  A Common Sandpiper, Coots and Little Grebes added to the growing day list and on the fence the first lowland Spotted Flycatcher of the autumn caused a bit of confusion initially in poor light.  As we parked the car and moved up the hill, a Lesser Grey Shrike alighted and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers could be heard everywhere and we then caught up with many flight views of the next lifer an Eastern Orphean Warbler, eventually securing scope views of a couple of perched birds.  The area also provided views of Lesser Whitethroats as we walked around.  As we drove away, I called a male Masked Shrike which eventually perched on the fence line next to the first Willow Warbler of the season – good birds!

We left the area on route to Larnaca Sewage Works and as we passed Oroklini we stopped on the hard shoulder to view yesterday’s White Pelican as it circled the road – a most unexpected lifer.  We continued to Larnaca and along the airport fence line Paul spotted an immature Roller and then a male Black Francolin which he secured good views of.  Spiro’s beach held the remarkable site of c200 Kentish Plovers – the most I’ve ever seen at the site and a few Yellow-legged Gulls passed over the sea.  At the sewage works the next lifer (and a definite which I wasn’t worried about), c20 Spur-winged Plovers.  When seeing them everyday, you do tend to get a bit blasé so it’s good to be reminded what a stonking bird it really is.  Cyprus is probably the easiest place in the Western Palaearctic to see one.  The drake Shelduck continued its stay and Shovelers had increased to 4.  A few other birds were added to the trip list but there wasn’t much else of interest.

We continued on a visit to the little known site of Parthenitis Dam that produced the first Cattle and Little Egrets and on the mud 2 Little Stints were joined by a Temminck’s and 2 Yellow Wagtails were also on the water’s edge.  At Oroklini, a Spotted Redshank was joined by a Common Redshank and in the shallows and unexpected Marsh Sandpiper was found.  A Temminck’s Stint fed actively with 2 Little Stints and 4 Whiskered Terns (2 summer adults and 2 immatures) rested on the sand.  32 Greater Flamingos were present and several Little and Cattle Egrets loafed lazily.  Chancing my luck, I stopped at Dhekelia Power Station and on the mooring buoys were 8 Shags of the Mediterranean race.  I drove up the road passing Dhekelia Power Station mentioning that it was a Stone Curlew winter roost site and then we saw 11 of which 2 posed in the open giving cracking views – we were having a good day! At Akhna Dam we were greeted by a male Masked Shrike which was later seen well again as we left.  As we drove to the water’s edge a large bird was bathing and bingo – another lifer, Long-legged Buzzard which was joined by its mate.  They put on a great display overhead, where all the relevant ID features could be seen.  4 Collared Pratincoles were a bonus as were several wanted Spanish Sparrows and 3 migrant Garganey were on the water.  With time running out 3 Hoopoes flushed and several Yellow Wagtails included the 2 lingering 1st winter Citrine Wagtails which were the last lifer, ending what was a very successful day out.  Thanks to Paul Smith for his company and commitment to finding the birds.

On Saturday, I stayed I went for the obligatory Turkish shave and haircut and watched the cricket.  On Sunday I went to Akhna Dam where a Sand Martin was the highlight with the usual waders and migrants.  A little later in the afternoon I visited the Fresh Water Lake South where c40 Pallid Swifts were overhead with Swallows.  A juvenile Whiskered Tern rested on the water and 5 Glossy Ibises were scattered throughout the site.  7 Squacco Herons were present including 2 immatures and Ferruginous Ducks had increased to 8 with 3 Garganey also being present.  Good numbers of Spur-winged Plovers and Black-winged Stilts were present and another Sand Martin passed overhead with Swallows.  Waders had congregated at the west end of the lake and at least 5 Redshanks, 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 Common, 3 Green, 1 Wood Sandpipers were present.  A couple of Ruffs joined the throng with Little Stints and Little Ringed Plovers being numerous.  I eventually found my first Curlew Sandpiper – a moulting adult of the autumn and that concluded an excellent week.

Highlights of the Week: The first Isabelline Wheatear and Willow Warbler of the autumn were good finds; however finding 14 lifers for a visiting UK birder was pleasing.

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 10 Aug 14

Long-legged Buzzard at Akhna Dam on 9 Aug

Monday’s visit to Akhna Dam was fairly uneventful although I did pass a Roller on the roadside at Avgorou as I headed to the site.  The Little Owl didn’t let me down once more as I entered the South end of the dam.  1 Glossy Ibis remained from yesterday’s influx and was joined by 2 immature Night Herons and 4 Black-winged Stilts feeding on the mud.  Much was the same with a pair of White-winged Black Terns and a 1st winter Citrine Wagtail still in place.  The Green and Wood Sandpipers had reduced and the Common Sandpipers had increased to 11.  As I drove around I found my first male Red-backed Shrike* of the autumn - I never get bored with such a cracking well plumaged bird. As I left c200 Spanish Sparrow were in the tamarisks.  The end of the day finished with an excellent Sirloin Steak and a flake on the settee.

On Tuesday, despite having to go shopping I managed to get over to Fresh Water Lake South in the north.  There were plenty of waders at the site but the most interesting was a single Redshank, with all the other usual suspects.  19 Greater Flamingos were at the site obviously following the dwindling water.  A pair of Glossy Ibises fed on the fringes and 4 Squacco Herons were amongst the reduced Cattle Egret roost which included 2 Little Egrets.  A drake Ferruginous Duck caught the eye as it flew across the water with its obvious white wing bars and a moulting adult White-winged Black Tern came into view, but that was about it for the day.

An airport run to Larnaca provided an opportunity to stop at Oroklini Marsh on the return journey.  A Glossy Ibis was looking lonely but 3 Redshanks had arrived and were joined by a leggy looking cousin in the form of a Spotted Redshank.  20 Flamingos were present with a few commoner waders but there was nothing else worth talking about.  Later at Akhna Dam, 5 White-winged Black Tern adults were moulting and were the highest count so far.  9 Common Sandpipers and 2 Greenshanks outnumbered the lone Green Sandpiper and a few BW Stilts.  A Hoopoe flushed as did a female Masked Shrike and as I was driving across the mud I flushed a number of female type Yellow Wagtails not identifiable to ssp which included 2 1st winter Citrines.  As I drove a little further 8 Collared Pratincoles became apparent including 5 immatures – again the highest count for me so far this autumn.  I returned home Deb and I visited the north for an Iskender Kebab which was excellent!

I wasn’t able to get out on Thursday, however on Friday; a late evening visit to Akhna Dam was very productive.  There was a small raptor passage with 2 Long-legged Buzzards, a dark phase Booted Eagle, (remarkable how small it looked next to a Long-legged Buzzard), a ringtail Montague’s Harrier passed high overhead and at distance and a Hobby flushed the few waders that were present.  1 Glossy Ibis was present on the mud and a pair of White-winged Black Terns fished actively.  I heard a Turtle Dove in the eucalyptus stand and a pair of female type Yellow Wagtails took off calling as I drove by.  The only other bird of note was a Greenshank with 4 Wood Sandpipers.

On Saturday I drove to Ayia Napa Sewage Works and I wasn’t disappointed with my first adult male Lesser Grey Shrike* of the autumn and then an adult male Woodchat Shrike (a common bird in the spring but fairly scarce in the autumn), of course an immature Masked Shrike was also present and 3 Pallid Swifts passed overhead.  A Common Sandpiper was on the lagoons and the bushes were full of the usual Eastern Orphean and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers.  A single immature Sardinian Warbler was seen and a little later at the Cape Greco rubbish tip, a moulting male Cyprus Wheatear put in an appearance.  I arrived at Akhna Dam to be greeted by the pair of Long-legged Buzzards* and 6 Collared Pratincoles were on the mud.  Green Sandpipers numbered 24 – a good count and Yellow Wagtails were at 9.  A Squacco Heron and immature Masked Shrike rounded off the morning.

On Sunday, I needed to go shopping as I was hosting a BBQ but before hand stopped at Oroklini Marsh where 2 Whiskered Terns (an adult and immature), hawked the water 3 Pallid Swifts were overhead and paused before moving east and a few commoner waders were active on the mud.  I stopped at Akhna Dam where 7 Collared Pratincoles were running around on the mud (probably a different set of birds from yesterday).  However, it was fairly quiet so I moved on to the shopping.  Needing some rolls I went over to the north and stopped at Fresh Water Lake South in Famagusta.  A pair of immature White-winged Black Terns flew in and a Ferruginous Duck took off from its hiding place in the reeds.  A large number of Spur-winged Plovers and Black-winged Stilts were present with 6 Ruffs.  2 Squaccos hid in the reeds and then suddenly the waders took to the air.  Looking around quickly, a pair of Bonelli’s Eagles was the cause and the soon flew through and perched in trees above the lake.

A BBQ and a few beers rounded off a productive week.

Highlights of the Week: A Woodchat and Lesser Grey Shrike were good finds as were a few late Pallid Swifts but the accolade must go to a pair of majestic Bonelli’s Eagles at Fresh Water Lake South.

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 3 Aug 14

Putative Menetries’ Warbler at Akhna Dam on 30 Jul

Another Monday had arrived and a visit to Akhna Dam was the only option with the time available.  3 Collared Pratincoles (1 immature) were present with a Temminck’s Stint and the usual commoner waders with Wood Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers and Black-winged Stilts being numerous and only slightly outnumbered by the Spur-winged Plovers.  Terns were also well represented with White-winged Black, Whiskered and Gull-billed all hawking the water.  A surprise 1st winter Citrine Wagtail*, the first for the autumn nearly caught me out as I nearly dismissed it as a Fem/Imm Yellow Wagtail.  As I left the site, an immature Roller caught insects, a Hoopoe flushed and a Little Owl was back on its usual perch.

On Tuesday at Akhna, 2 Whiskered Terns were present with 5 Grey Herons and 11 Little Stints.  The Pratincoles had reduced to 1 adult and the Citrine Wagtail was still knocking about.  5 Ruffs flushed as I arrived and a Greenshank flew off calling but there wasn’t much about.  A Little Owl was very vocal outside the house and that concluded Tuesday.  Wednesday’s trip to Ayia Napa Sewage Works started slowly with 4 Pallid Swifts passing overhead.  My attention was drawn to a Sylvia Warbler.  Clearly a juvenile or Female type, it moved through the bushes and I was drawn closer to it by its “jizz”.  Moving quickly and cocking its tail with some lateral movement it was unlike the usual Sylvia behaviour that I witness from Cyprus, Sardinian, Spectacled or any of the migratory species.  Obviously not big enough to be an Eastern Orphean of which 4 or 5 were in the area and more robust than a Spectacled Warbler and a small family party were nearby.  When I saw the tail movement again, I only know of 2 birds that do this – a Menetries’ Warbler or an Upcher’s Warbler.  Clearly a Sylvia, I had Menetries in my mind when I grabbed 3 photographs.  The bird called as it became agitated and it was like a Fan-tailed Warbler but a little higher pitched and more elongated and not unlike the staccato call of a Spectacled Warbler. With a description submitted, I await the adjudication from the Rarities Committee.  That was a about it for the site apart from an immature Masked Shrike being mobbed by a male Eastern Orphean Warbler.  At Ayia Napa Football Pitches, 18 Common Swifts were over the field, obviously migrants as the breeding visitors had left the island in the first week in July.

I stopped at Sotira Pond on the way home for the first time in months and 2 female Garganeys were amongst the other commoner wildfowl.  Progressing to Akhna Dam, waders were well represented but nothing out of the ordinary revealed itself.  On the way home a Hoopoe flew over ploughed fields at Avgorou and a Roller perched on top of its usual bush at this time of the year.

On Thursday afternoon with some shopping required we headed to the Larnaca area and a stop at Oroklini Marsh.  3 Glossy Ibises were new and the Black-tailed Godwit continues its stay. Greater Flamingos have reduced to 32 and a few Little Stints and Common Sandpipers were on the diminishing water’s edge.  Moving on to Akhna Dam and spending a while before the shopping defrosted, a Little Owl was in its usual place as I entered the site.  A Hoopoe flushed and a single Temminck’s Stint, Little Stint, Ruff and Wood Sandpiper remained from the week’s earlier influx.  As I left the site by the roadside perched on a bush was my first Long-legged Buzzard for the site and East of the island since 23 Dec 2013.  A pair of Rollers perched on the usual bush at Avgorou as I returned home.

Friday and a new month had arrived.  As I drove into Ayia Napa Sewage Works – just like number 10 busses a pair of Long-Legged Buzzards were above me – after seeing none in the east for ages.  A walk around found the usual (for this time of year) Masked Shrikes and Eastern Orphean Warblers present but to be honest there were no real signs of mass migration.  Akhna Dam a little later found the usual Little Owl and a couple of Hoopoes.  The 1st winter Citrine Wagtail was located from its call whilst a Temminck’s Stint along with several Little Stints were also located from call.  This site too was very quiet so a slow start to the month.

On the 2nd an early morning visit to Akhna Dam found a pair of Night Herons, 3 Squacco Herons and a Greenshank.  I drove to the Larnaca area and a pair of Black Francolins were feeding on the fields next to the sewage works.  On the beach at Spiro’s were 23 Yellow-legged Gulls, a 1st winter Baltic Gull and a surprise adult Heuglin’s Gull*.  A Spectacled Warbler zipped by and on the fields by the airport were c60 Kentish Plovers and 4 Yellow Wagtails (Ssp – undeterminable).  Later at the sewage works the Shelduck was still present (a good August tick), as were a pair of Shovelers amongst the Mallards.  2 female Garganeys were with the Coots and around the edges of the lagoons, 2 Ruffs, 10 Black-winged Stilts, 2 Little Stints, 1 Kentish Plover and on the fields 8 Spur-winged Plovers.  7 Flamingos flew over me as I departed.  I visited a seldom visited dam shortly after near Avdellero – by a pig farm and slurry pits, it’s a very malodorous place.  As I approached another Long-legged Buzzard perched briefly on a cliff face (typical – you don’t see one for ages…).  A juvenile Greater Flamingo looked misplaced on the reducing water and 7 Green Sandpipers flushed.  As I scanned the mud 2 Little Stints, A Black-winged Stilt and Little Egret were evident and behind me a large roost to c100 Jackdaws were very vocal.

I stopped at Oroklini Marsh on the way home and the Black-tailed Godwit was still present.  A Whiskered Tern was perched on a rock in the water and 35 Flamingos were feeding.  A breeding plumaged Dunlin was on the mud with a couple of Wood Sandpipers and Little Stints and 3 Night Herons (2 Adults and a Juv) were roosting with the Cattle Egrets.  Stopping at Dhekelia Power Station, revealed 4 Shags perched on the mooring buoys.  I drove around the Ay Nik area before returning home and turned up 4 Rollers.

On the 3rd I visited Ayia Napa Sewage Works again but the excitement of the previous days had subsided and the only new bird of any note was my first Lesser Whitethroat of the autumn.  A couple of Cyprus Wheatears were in the Cape Greco area (1 a juvenile) but that also was very quiet.  At Ayia Thekla the Greater Sand Plovers had increased to 4 and 7 Kentish Plovers were alongside for comparison.  In the evening at Akhna Dam 16 Glossy Ibises were new arrivals, as were 3 Gull-billed Terns (1 Adult / 2 Imms), 2 adult breeding plumaged Whiskered Terns and 2 adult moulting White-winged Black Terns. The 1st winter Citrine Wagtail was still present and the waders present were what you’d expect at this time of year with nothing out of the ordinary, although the site seems to be the place to see Temminck’s Stint of which there was 1.

Highlights of the Week: The jury is still out but with the Chairman of the Sub-Rarities Committee and a former Country Recorder being onside it would appear that I may have found and photographed the 2nd record of Menetries’ Warbler* for Cyprus.

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

Mark Easterbrook