(4) Blog Posts Made in September 2014
Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 28 Sep 14
Osprey at Akhna Dam
With Fresh Water Lake North appearing to be the best wetland site on the island at the moment and being the closest, I headed there on Monday evening. As I arrived there was a swirl of activity above me with c50 European Beeaters, Sand Martins, Barn Swallows and 1 Red-rumped Swallow. A Marsh Harrier was also being mobbed by a couple of Hooded Crows. As I scanned the water the Avocet and Marsh Sandpiper were still present and a Spotted Redshank had reappeared. A Great White Egret was a good find and next to it an adult Spoonbill was my first for the month and indeed sometime. A few Curlew Sandpipers were dotted around with Little Stints, Dunlins, Wood Sandpipers and Common Redshanks also being obvious. A couple of Common Kingfishers darted about and I then heard the familiar piping of a Pied Kingfisher as the female that’s been present for sometime flew from the South to the North Lake at about 1810. 8 Flamingos remained in situ and the Black-winged Stilts numbered 4. A few Turtle Doves flew into a bush and flushed a Night Heron as a Ruff came into view with a couple of Snipe. At home the Little Owl continued to call in the night.
On Tuesday afternoon having not visited Ayia Napa Sewage Works for sometime I drove down there arriving at about 1500 via the football pitches where my first Lesser Grey Shrike for a week – an immature was on the fence with 2 immature Red-backs. I proceeded to the sewage works noting a Common Sandpiper and 6 Shovelers were present. As I made my way around the scrub at least 6 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Blackcaps and a few Spectacled Warblers were seen. On the tracks 2 Northern Wheatear males were noted and 2 male Masked Shrikes flushed as I approached. 2 Whinchats were perched up but their passage is coming to an end and Stonechats will soon be arriving at their wintering grounds. A Spotted Flycatcher did what it’s supposed to do and a Wryneck flew from a bush and perched briefly before disappearing once more. A large raptor flew across me and was clearly a Steppe Buzzard whilst in the distance a male Hobby drifted out to sea. As I walked the tracks a large pale raptor rose from the scrub and flew over my head. With very pale features, barring on the underparts and a hint of a brown throat, coupled with it’s size and plain brownish back with some white spotting across the coverts, it was a light phase Short-toed Eagle – a great find! As I walked to the car, 4 Spur-winged Plovers were on the settling ponds and a call alerted me to the presence of a pair of Grey Wagtails, which were new of the site. European Beeaters continued to pass overhead as I headed to Cape Greco. At the Cape it was fairly quiet, although a male Cyprus Wheatear, a couple of Spectacled Warblers, a male Sardinian Warbler and several Crested Larks were present whilst Sand Martins and Barn Swallows headed out to sea.
On Wednesday afternoon I took a visiting UK birder out – Chris Godding. We visited the Ayia Napa Sewage Works area first, which produced a couple of Lesser Whitethroats, Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, a Hobby and a Honey Buzzard as the highlights. Stopping at he football pitches produced 2 Lesser Grey and 2 Red-backed Shrikes. We then went via Ayia Thekla, where 5 Greater Sand Plovers and a few Kentish Plovers were present to Akhna Dam. A Roller flew off as we arrived and an Osprey passed overhead heading to the coast. Akhna Dam was fairly quiet, although a few waders were present with a Whiskered Tern. A Peregrine was flying high in the distance but with not much else happening, we visited the North and Fresh Water Lake South. With a few good birds seen we proceeded to the North and finished the day at Fresh Water Lake South – Famagusta, which is currently probably the best wetland site on the island. The trip was very productive and didn’t disappoint. The Spoonbill was still present with 24 Greater Flamingos. Squacco, Night and Grey Herons were present with a good count of 24 Little Egrets and Cattle Egrets coming to roost later. The waders were well represented with Wood, Marsh and Curlew Sandpipers feeding actively. Spotted and Common Redshanks were joined by feeding Ruffs and a lone Avocet continued its stay. Careful scanning produced a couple of Snipe and a juvenile Little Crake. We managed to pick out a single female Garganey and Pintail amongst the other wildfowl. A female Marsh Harrier flushed everything as a couple of Honey Buzzards passed behind us with one resting in a eucalyptus briefly. Hundreds of European Beeaters were feeding above us and as we watched a Hobby and 5 Red-foooted Falcons were above us and heading South. Perhaps the highlight of the visit was a hunting Peregrine and a Black Kite which drifted past, showing well towards dusk and just before we left. I thank Chris for his company for the 3rd year running and being a week later this year some good birds were added to his Cyprus list as we saw 66 species in the day – which isn’t a bad count given the windy conditions induced by the pending Coptic storm that’s due.
Wine tasting in the Mess on Friday ensured that no birding took place. An early rise on Saturday and showing a photographer around the Cape Greco area. It was really quiet with only Spectacled Warblers, 5 Grey Herons and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls offshore and a male Cyprus Wheatear hanging on. At the sewage works it was quite also with a female Northern Wheatear, a few Lesser Whitethroats and Long-legged Buzzard being the highlights. At Ayia Napa Football Pitches an immature Lesser Grey Shrike, Turtle Dove and Roller posed for the camera but there wasn’t much happening. We proceeded to Ayia Thekla where as usual 6 Greater Sand Plovers revealed themselves amongst the Kentish Plovers whilst a Kingfisher and Common Sandpiper moved along the rocky coast. I returned home via Akhna Dam where as Temminck’s Stint and Whiskered Tern were present. I eventually found a Curlew Sandpiper and 4 immature Red-backed Shrikes and a male Black Francolin showed themselves as I left the site.
On Sunday, as I left for the Larnaca area an adult Long-legged Buzzard was over the house and as I passed Akhna Dam a ringtail Montague’s Harrier passed over the road. Arriving at a windy Larnaca Sewage Works there was little of interest although the Shelduck continued its over-summering and 5 Whiskered Terns and a White-winged Black Tern were on the lagoons. A female Marsh Harrier flushed the birds in the field and this was fortuitous as it flushed a Greater Short-toed Lark which called and then settled next to a Crested Lark where I got the scope on it. 14 Greater Flamingos were on Larnaca Salt Lake which had water present after a hefty thunder storm on Saturday. At Oroklini Marsh, a Black Kite and 5 Red-rumped Swallows were overhead but the lagoons were fairly empty. I didn’t do much better at Akhna Dam which was also quiet, although a Whiskered Tern and 2 Curlew Sandpipers were evident. As I drove around the fields at the top of the dam a Honey Buzzard was resting on the ground but alighted before I could get any decent photos.
In the evening I visited Fresh Water Lake South in Famagusta. It’s a fantastic little wetland and always worth a visit. The Spoonbill and Avocet were still present and at least 50 European Beeaters passed overhead. Greater Flamingos numbered 23, 5 Red-rumped Swallows were overhead and the Marsh Sandpiper was still on the mud. Spotted Redshanks had increased to 4 and then a juvenile Bonell’s Eagle flew through mobbed by Hooded Crows which flushed everything. Things resettled revealing a Temminck’s Stint and a Green Sandpiper. A good number of raptors appeared over the woods which included at least 2 Black Kites, 7 Marsh Harriers (2 males) and 2 male Red-footed Falcons flew through the area which made the 3 Whiskered Terns flush and rise high above. That concluded an eventful week which produced some good migration and birds.
Highlights of the Week: A Spoonbill was a good find and the re-sighting of the Pied Kingfisher was notable. Short-toed Eagle is a scarce raptor on Cyprus and it’s always good to see one.
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Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 21 Sep 14
Bar-tailed Godwit at Glapsides Beach on 17 Sep
In a break with tradition, I headed for Fresh Water Lake South in Famagusta on Monday evening to avoid Akhna Dam as I didn’t want to be reminded of the Long-legged Buzzard shooting. In any event with the sun going down it was an enjoyable hour or so. The Avocet has returned and 2 Marsh Sandpipers were still present. Greater Flamingos numbered 29 and there had been an influx of Teal with a pair of Garganeys. I found a Water Rail feeding under a tamarisk and 5 Glossy Ibises flew into roost. The 50 or so European Beeaters roosting in the eucalyptus were very vocal and a pair of Kingfishers chased each other. 3 Night Herons appeared at dusk and as I searched an adult male Little Crake worked its way along the front of a small reedbed. A pair of Whiskered Terns and a White-winged Black Tern concluded the evening and by the time I got home it was almost dark.
On Tuesday as I entered work 11 European Beeaters passed above me. I managed to twitch a Bar-tailed Godwit* at Glapsides Beach in the north that had been reported yesterday. Arriving at the site I saw 2 Dunlin and then the Godwit which I photographed and was a welcomed addition to the year list. Bar-tailed Godwit is much less common on Cyprus than Black-tailed, with there only being about 20 or so records, many of which are recent. 2 Common Redshanks and a Little Ringed Plover was present with 11 Little Egrets flying in. As I left I noted a Honey Buzzard spiralling upwards and heading out to sea. In the evening I visited Fresh Water Lake South again where I was greeted by a Pied Kingfisher flying from the South to the North Marshes area. 2 Common Kingfishers were also present along with the 2 Marsh Sanpipers, 9 Curlew Sandpipers, 1 Spotted Redshank and 8+ Common Redshanks. A couple of Dunlins and a Ruff joined later with 2 Whiskered and 1 immature White-winged Black Tern resting on dead snags in the water. A Water Rail showed briefly and 23 Greater Flamingos remained. Circa 90 European Beeaters passed overhead and a few Swallows drifted through. 12 Night Herons flushed and searching revealed the presence of at least 7 Squacco Herons.
At Akhna Dam on Wednesday a Great White Egret was possible with 1 adult male Masked Shrike and 7 Red-backed Shrikes including 1 adult male. A lone Tree Pipit alighted and called from the grass and a few waders were present although nothing unusual. 3 Marsh Harriers were present and a nice male was unusual, females are usually the norm. A Whiskered Tern over the water and a Hobby were highlights with a Greenshank and a couple of Turtle Doves ending the session. Later at Fresh Water Lake South, 2 female Marsh Harriers were present, the 2 Marsh Sandpipers remained with a handful of Curlew Sandpipers and Dunlins. A single Kingfisher appeared and the usual Heron collection was present in good numbers. A good passage of hirundines occurred with good numbers of Sand Martins, Red-rumped Swallows and Barn Swallows being represented. 25 Greater Flamingos were still feeding and a White-winged Black Tern and 2 Whiskered Terns hawked the water. As the light faded, c20 Turtle Doves and c50 European Beeaters roosted.
I had visitors on Thursday, so whilst sat on the patio having a beer, the only thing I saw was a Honey Buzzard drifting slowly eastwards. On Friday was the Mess cheese and wine afternoon, so guess what – no birding. On Saturday, I managed to pull myself out of the house and get to Akhna Dam where it was fairly quiet although 4 immature Whiskered Terns were a good count. 9 Red-backed Shrikes, including 1 male and a male Masked Shrike continued to pass through. The regular passage waders were present but there wasn’t much to get excited about.
On Sunday, I did a bit of a tour of the north and stopped at Silverbeach for the first time in months. Good decision, a Lesser Spotted Eagle* had obviously roosted overnight and took off joining a Steppe Buzzard, Honey Buzzard and Marsh Harrier, 2 Cattle Egrets were also on the marsh. I carried onto Glapsides Beach where the Bar-tailed Godwit had gone, however a Whiskered Tern flew over me and on the marsh, a Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlins, 2 Redshanks and 16 Little Egrets, with the toilet block being pumped out, Deb and I left before we re-visited our bacon sarnie that we’d had for breakfast. We continued to Fresh Water Lake South where the Avocet and 2 Marsh Sandpipers were still present. 3 Marsh Harriers flew through the site and a Steppe Buzzard passed high overhead. The 2 Whiskered Terns and a White-winged Black Tern were still at the site, however the Greater Flamingos had reduced to only 5. Good numbers of Sand Martins continued to pass overhead with a few Swallows and several European Beeaters caugh insects from nearby eucalyptus trees. Perhaps the surprise of the site was the first Cormorant of the winter circling above.
Later in the day at Oroklini Marsh 16 Little Stints, 2 Redshanks and a Black-winged Stilt was all that was there at a site where the water is rapidly diminishing, the highlight was a single Red-rumped Swallow passing above me. At Dhekelia 3 Shags were on the rafts and at the fire station c30 Stone Curlews were present. At Akhna Dam, Shrikes were noticeable by their absence but it gave me a good opportunity to photograph a close and compliant Great White Egret*. 8 marsh terns were present consisting of 4 Whiskered* and 4 White-winged Blacks*, as far as comparison images go for both Terns* it probably doesn’t get much better than the opportunity I had. A single Greenshank was joined by 9 Glossy Ibises and 2 Turtle Doves drank from the dam as a Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin and the Little Stints looked on. On the fields above the dam 2 Tawny Pipits flushed before I returned home and concluded another week.
Highlights of the Week: Bar-tailed Godwit – never an easy bird to see provided a good photo opportunity of a close bird in Cyprus. Always nice to see a bit of raptor passage.
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Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 14 Sep 14
Montague’s Harrier at Akhna Dam on 12 Sep
Monday was a day off and we travelled to the Akrotiri area in the hope of some mass raptor passage – well that was a wash out with little happening. Zakaki Marsh was the first stop but nothing earth shattering was present, in fact a lone Pallid Swift was probably the highlight. At Lady’s Mile a few waders were present including a couple of Dunlins and a Curlew Sandpiper, but no sign of the previously reported Broad-billed Sandpiper – the week had not started well. 21 Greater Flamingos flew over Akrotiri Bay obviously departing and looking for more favourable feeding grounds as the salt lake is almost completely dry. We moved onto Bishop’s Pool which looked a little more promising with Turtle Doves flying around as we approached. A Grey Wagtail was heard and then seen and as we walked around to the reed bed in the south west corner a Great Reed Warbler alighted. We were soon treated to the spectacle of 3 Eleonora’s Falcons* (ropey record shot) hunting and drinking which was a treat and of the waders, a couple of Sanderling amongst the Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints was a highlight. A female Marsh Harrier put in an appearance and a Glossy Ibis flew in as we departed. On to Phassouri Reed Beds we saw a Water Rail, a Roller and a couple of Hoopoes with 2 Whinchats being present in the Akrotiri Gravel Pit area.
We travelled through the Episkopi Garrison area noting 4 Eleonora’s at Kensington Cliffs and 7 at Happy Valley along with a Long-legged Buzzard and an unidentified large raptor which looked interesting – albeit being mobbed by falcons as it flew away giving the worst view possible – you can’t win em all? As we approached Asprokremnos Dam a Honey Buzzard flew low over us a Kouklia. At the dam the 4th record for Cyprus was our quarry and we soon located and photographed an Egyptian Goose*. The status of which is as yet unconfirmed but they are not known from collections etc on the island. With nothing else doing we took lunch at Mandria and “ticked” the ever present Shag on the rocks. At Skarinou as we stopped for a coffee at McDonalds, a ringtail Pallid Harrier flew past. The White Pelican was still present at Oroklini with 43 Greater Flamingos* and a Temminck’s Stint was picked out amongst the commoner Little Stints. With nothing else doing we stopped at Akhna Dam where it was all fairly mundane and routine. As we exited I finally spotted a Little Owl in its usual spot. A trip tick and good photos were taken by my sister before it scurried into its hole and out of site once more – it had taken me over a week to catch up with the bird. As we drove through Vrysoulles village several Honey Buzzards were low over the road and finding higher ground we saw at least 30 at close quarters giving views of the yellow eye, grey pigeon like head and the barring on the underside and tail – excellent. So we needn’t have travelled to Akrotiri for raptor passage but the Eleonora’s Falcons are always good to see. A ringtail Montague’s Harrier added to the throng and as we drove around 3 Lesser Grey Shirkes, a couple of Red-backs and 2 Red-rumped Swallows above us made for an interesting half an hour. From the garden a little later another 10 Honey Buzzards were seen high above us heading south east.
On the 9th before heading to the north, 5 Honey Buzzards, 5 Red-rumped Swallows, 8 Sand Martins and a female Marsh Harrier was seen from the garden. At Fresh Water Lake South, Famagusta it was clear that there’d been an influx of birds as the place was heaving. With the water receding this is now an excellent wader site and probably the best on the island. As we scanned I found a single White Stork*, which is not an easy bird to catch up with at times on Cyprus. 49 Greater Flamingo’s were present, we’d probably seen all the Flamingo’s present on the island in the last 2 days. The Avocet remained with 2 Marsh Sandpipers, a Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshanks and a Curlew Sandpiper being the wader highlights. An impressive 80 Spur-winged Plovers was a good count and another Water Rail was seen briefly in the open under a tamarisk overhanging the water. 2 female Marsh Harriers flushed the waders and a Ringtail Monty’s passed in the distance. My sister asked “What’s this flying in”? and bingo – an Osprey* which was later seen fishing and successfully catching a fish was a great moment. We returned home happy and from the house, to finish the day a Hobby and an immature Bonneli’s Eagle was seen.
On the 10th a pale phase Booted Eagle went high over Ay Nik with a couple of Long-legged Buzzards, 2 Hobbys and many Red-rumped Swallows continued to pass, with a Hoopoe flying through the garden. At Akhna Dam and early Chiffchaff was seen with Willow Warblers and a Common Snipe was the most unusual of the normal waders. A single Glossy Ibis was present and in the fields an Isabelline Wheatear showed its diagnostic tail pattern and posture.
Early on the 11th c20 European Beeaters were over the house and 3 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers were heard. At Ayia Napa Football Pitches Red-backed, Lesser Grey and Masked Shrikes were still hanging around but the highlight was a female Golden Oriole. Another was present at Ayia Napa Sewage Works and a Honey Buzzard left its overnight roost early to continue its passage. The first 2 Eastern Black-eared Wheatears were seen along with several Isablelline Wheatears and numerous Whinchats. A single Roller flushed and 3 species of Shirke and Spotted Flycathers were ever present. There had obviously been a large fall of Blackcaps with over 20 being obvious – queue the limesticks! A single Lesser Whitethroat and a Common Whitethroat added to the Sylvia fest. Later at Cape Greco although quiet, my first Northern Wheatear and 3 Tawny Pipits of the autumn were seen with a Cyprus and several Isabelline Wheatears also putting in appearances. Sardinian, Spectacled and a Cyprus Warbler were around the picnic site but it was all fairly quiet. We moved onto Ayias Trias via the Protoras McDonalds for a Sausage and Egg McMuffin for breakfast – why else would you go? We continued “all coffee’d up” and at Ayias Trias, a Kentish Plover was with 3 wintering Greater Sand Plovers.
The 12th saw c40 Red-rumped Swallows pass over the house with about 20 European Beeaters that continue their southerly movements. At Akhna Dam there had been an influx of raptors with at least 3 Montague’s Harriers* at the water’s edge with a flythrough Black Kite, female Marsh Harrier, dark phase Booted Eagle and a couple of Long-legged Buzzards. A Whiskered and White-winged Black Tern hawked the water and 2 immature Collared Pratincoles* were new for the month. A couple of Syke’s (beema) wagtails, retaining summer plumage were with the Yellow Wagtail flock although numbers are progressively diminishing. Red-backed and Marsh Shrikes were fairly numerous and a couple of Turtle Doves and a Golden Oriole were well received. The Little Owl was in its usual roost and a migrating male Cyprus Wheatear (not a common bird at Akhna) was sat on a sprinkler head. The Kingfisher remains at the site and was joined by 2 Dunlins although a fly through ringtail Pallid Harrier was unexpected. Another Golden Oriole flew over the road at Vrysoulles as we drove home.
On the 13th I hosted a BBQ, so last minute shopping was the order of the day, however I did get out early to the Ayia Napa Sewage Works area which was rewarding. At the football pitches 2 Rollers sat on the fence as did a number of Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes. A pair of Black Francolins fed on the fields as is the early morning norm. A couple of Tree Pipits called as they flew over and 7 Laughing Doves were present on wires in the nearby housing estate. At the sewage works 4 Shovelers were new for the site and Red-backed Shrikes were numerous followed by a few Masked and 2 Lesser Greys. Whinchats were well represented and 2 Isabelline Wheatears were present as 2 Black Kites flew from their roost and were observed at close quarters before continuing out over Cape Greco. Sylvias were obvious with Spectacled, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Sardinian and 3 lateish Eastern Orpheans being present. Circa 20 European Beeaters* passed overhead and several unfortunate Turtle Doves were being shot at. As we drove away from the site a grey backed bird flying across in front of the car perched up and good views of a Wryneck were had before also finding a light throated form of Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. Before the BBQ we visited Fresh Water Lake South which was very hot and where 2 White-winged Black Terns and a female Marsh Harrier were the highlights. A Marsh Sandpiper continued at the site; however the Avocet and White Stork were no longer present.
On the 14th following the BBQ and prior to the airport run, I visited Akhna Dam where sadly the lowlight was a Long-legged Buzzard* that had been shot. The people on this island really are vile and disgusting and it left me very depressed. I reported the incident with photographs to BirdLife Cyprus and the RSPB although nothing ever happens and that is the sad reality of serving in a place like this. I also posted on the Birding Cyprus Facebook page in the hope that some Cypriots will be embarrassed enough to take the right action – if indeed they are listened to either?
21 Night Herons were vocal in the woods behind the house and when they alighted to continue their migration there were 26 of them. Unfortunately the week ended on a bit of a subdued low.
Highlights of the Week: White Stork is not a common bird on Cyprus and the 4th record of Egyptian Goose (status uncertain) was good to catch up with but it’s always pleasing to see raptors on passage especially Ospreys fishing and Montague’s Harriers at rest on the ground.
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Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 7 Sep 14
White Pelican at Oroklini Marsh on 7 Sep
As I walked to work on Monday, c15 European Beeaters left their overnight roost and headed off east over the camp. In the evening I visited Fresh Water Lake South which still had 23 Greater Flamingos present with 22 Grey Herons. Other Herons represented were Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Squacco Heron and Night Heron. 5 Glossy Ibises joined the throng and an immature White-winged Black and Whiskered Tern hawked the water. The Whiskered Tern was then chased by a female Pied Kingfisher which was a great sighting for September. Many of the commoner migratory wader species were present but a pair of Snipe were the first for the autumn. Singleton, Curlew Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper and Temminck’s Stint were the highlights with last month’s Avocet also putting in an appearance. The waders and wildfowl all flushed as a female Marsh Harrier came in over the water and once settled again revealed a drake Ferruginous Duck, female Shoveler and female Pintail which had gone undetected previously. So a good start to the month with 48 species accounted for.
On Tuesday I had arranged to meet a couple of UK birders at Oroklini Marsh which is drying out rapidly but still attracted a Spotted Redshank, Redshanks, a pair of Green Sandpiper a couple of Common Sandpipers, several Little Stints and a Temminck’s Stint. Greater Flamingos are becoming scarce with only 16 being present. Stopping at Dhekelia Fire Station on route to Akhna Dam revealed 13 roosting Stone Curlews. I continued to Akhna Dam where it was very quiet and Shrikes had much reduced with only a couple of Red-backed and Masked showing themselves. A single Ruff was with a Temminck’s Stint and a few Little Stints but there wasn’t much else to talk about – even the Little Owl wasn’t in its usual place. I returned home for “Pimms O’clock” and watched c30 European Beeaters feed and roost in the wood behind the house.
On Wednesday morning 14 European Beeaaters passed above me as I went to work. In the afternoon we took a picnic lunch to Cape Greco and did some snorkelling. Does anyone have a Mediterranean Fish Guide? Only Joking! Mid morning and on the way to the bank, an adult Long-legged Buzzard thermalled over the camp as it headed east. At the picnic site a Cyprus Wheatear performed well and a female Marsh Harrier headed out to sea. At the ploughed fields an Isabelline Wheatear showed well but there wasn’t much else of interest. Ayia Napa Sewage Works was equally dull with Red-backed and Masked Shrikes being the most common birds with Willow Warblers being a close runner up. A single Spotted Flycatcher broke the boredom and 5 Ortolan Buntings were of interest. The Eastern Orphean Warblers appear to have all gone through now but there may be a few stragglers into September. As we left the site via Ayia Napa Football Pitches, 2 Laughing Doves were seen in their usual place and on the fences of the pitches the only 2 Lesser Grey Shrikes of the afternoon – they do have a very small window where they are most numerous, probably the last 2 weeks in August, without looking at the records and graphs. At home the European Beeaters fed actively above the house and as we ate the BBQ, a Stone Curlew could be heard calling.
As I walked to work on Thursday prior to my long weekend, 23 Glossy Ibises and 15 European Beeaters passed overhead. Later 9 Alpine Swifts were over the house with good numbers of Red-rumped Swallows and a single Pallid Swift. We went to the north for lunch stopping at Fresh Water Lake South on our return where the Avocet was still present. 5 Alpine Swifts also passed over the lake and 30 Greater Flamingos remained. A single Marsh Sandpiper was the highlight of the waders of which there were many and 4 Purple Herons flew in. A lone Ferruginous Duck flushed and 5 Snipe were feeding actively. Later at Akhna Dam Shrikes had reduced in the numbers passing through and on the water’s edge a breeding plumaged Dunlin was unexpected. The usual collection of waders was present for this time of year and a Hoopoe and Roller flushed as we departed.
On 5th September we visited Kantara Castle in the north. With my brother-in-law being an avid Butterfly fan we eventually saw a flying Two-Tailed Pasha, additionally I saw my first Chiffchaff of the autumn with several Willow Warblers. A male Sardinian and Blackcap added to the tally and 8 Ortolan Buntings called overhead. No Ravens were seen and they are becoming particularly difficult to find – surely only a matter of time before they are extinct on the island. We drove the coast road where we added a Montague’s and Marsh Harrier before we saw an Audouin’s Gull flying along the coast at Essentepe. We had lunch at Buffavento Restaurant overlooking Five Finger Mountain which was excellent. As we departed and drove the mountain road, a Cyprus Wheatear was present. We drove to another Butterfly site and remarkably a Two-Tailed Pasha* was sat in the middle of the road and then flew to a nearby tree – a real bonus to see and photograph such a beautiful species.
On Saturday it was an early rise and visit to the Ayia Napa area, first stopping at Ayia Thekla to add 5 Greater Sand Plovers, 12 Kentish Plovers and a Common Sandpiper to the list. A female Black Francolin fed on the Ayia Napa Football Pitches and in the housing estate on route to the sewage works 3 Laughing Doves were feeding on the ground. As we proceeded, we stopped to view a Red-backed Shrike and another bird was seen at the base of the bush. Nearly the size of the Shrike, it was obviously a female Eastern Orphean Warbler and a lifer for Gary. We walked around the sewage works scrub adding Ortolan Buntings, the usual Shrikes, 2 Isabelline Wheatears, 3 Whinchats, a Turtle Dove and 12 migrating European Beeaters. We walked below the rocky outcrop where we added a Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and a Wood Warbler feeding with the many Willow Warblers. 7 Rollers heading out to see was quite a site and as we drove away a pair of Ringtail Harriers proved to be a Montague’s and a Pallid both being mobbed by a Hobby – great result! The rest of the day was fairly unremarkable but 21 Turtle Doves flying through Akhna Dam in the evening was my highest count for the site and a Great White Egret with the Cattle Egrets was a surprise. A White-winged Black Tern fed over the water and 4 Garganeys attempted to hide on the mud.
The following day we headed to the Larnaca area but passing the marsh at Oroklini I noticed that the White Pelican* was back again. Taking a detour, we stopped to photograph it as 4 Alpine Swifts passed above us. A Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler were added to the increasing trip list and we continued to Larnaca Sewage Works where the over summering Common Shelduck was still present. 2 Whiskered Terns were also there and a male Black Francolin flushed from the scrub. A Red-rumped Swallow was overhead at Cape Kiti and on the way home a ringtail Montague’s Harrier flew across the road at Vrysoulles. As we sat in the garden, a large raptor was high in the sky and we eventually located a pair of Boneli’s Eagles - a great garden tick!. As we watched a pair of Long-legged Buzzards came into view and as we scanned we spotted a thermalling kettle of raptors. A female Marsh Harrier was seen and then above the house a kettle of c60 Honey Buzzards of several plumage variations passed over the house – absolutely amazing.
Highlights of the Week: Raptor migration is always thrilling and 60 Honey Buzzards over the house was no exception but it would be remiss of me not to mention the Two-Tailed Pasha as a one of the highlights.