Cyprus Weekly

Highlights for the Week Ending 4 Nov

One of Six, Lesser Short-toed Larks at Larnaca Airport Fields

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

At the end of October the Cyprus list stands at 275 an increase of 13 species and the year list stands at a respectable 197 for only 5 months birding. 

Monday, my last day’s leave post Deb’s parents departing.  I decided to visit the Larnaca area once more.  I firstly checked on the South Airport Pools, the first 2 Flamingos (1 juvenile) and 10 Redshank.  In the surrounding scrub a pair of male Black Francolins and 63 Stone Curlews.  I proceeded to the Sewage Works and scanned with the scope.  The pair of Shelducks remained along with a pair of Ferruginous Ducks that I hadn’t picked out on Sunday.  Black-headed Gull numbers had increased to 144 and amongst them the first Mediterranean Gull of the winter with a 2nd Winter bird being present.  The fields adjoining the works held numerous White Wagtails, circa 30 Red-throated Pipit and at least 3 Water Pipits.  I drove onto towards Spiros Pool and the Airport Fields.  The corn crop has just been harvested and the birds have obviously found a good food source in the newly ploughed fields.  Numerous Skylarks fed with the Red-throated Pipits but the highlight were 6 Lesser Short-toed Larks* feeding on the grass and waste ground next to the fields.

On the way home, Oroklini Marsh held nothing noteable, however, it has had some water let into it which may prove attractive to wintering wildfowl.  A stop at Akhna Dam was productive where 2 Marsh Harriers quartered and an Osprey continued to fish.  The now resident Sparrowhawk female was harassed by Hooded Crows and a 2 Kingfishers were behaving very territorially.  The highlight was a juvenile Pallid Harrier* first hunting and then landing for a drink at water’s edge.

I returned to work  on Tuesday (very large groan) and with lots to do and many things to catch up on at home, the prospect of getting out in the afternoon didn’t look too promising.  Tuesday afternoon and with the clocks going back an hour there is little time to waste as it now gets dark at about 1730.  I visited Akhna Dam, however it was fairly uneventful.  A pair of Marsh Harriers and a female Hen Harrier were present and 6 Chaffinches were obviously newly arrived since they were the first record for the site this autumn – no doubt part of the big influx of finches noted last week at Cape Greco.  A Great White Egret was the highlight of the afternoon.  The strategy at the moment is to scan the ploughed fields at the rear of Akhna Dam for endless hours in an attempt to find something different.  The activity produced a field full of Corn Buntings and White Wagtails, accompanied by 2 Red-throated Pipits, 2 Skylarks and several Stonechats.  October ended with a whimper, I didn’t go birding as I was completing my monthly records for submission to the recorder.  I submitted 784 records detailing 143 species in the month.  Not a bad effort bolstered by some late migrants and the arrival of some early winter visitors.

Thursday the 1st of November and the beginning of a new monthly list and hopefully the arrival of some more speciality winter visitors like Moustached Warbler, Penduline Tit and Reed Bunting.  However, Oroklini Marsh and Akhna Dam presented no such opportunities and although the first monthly counts were undertaken the highlight at Akhna Dam was a pair of Marsh Harriers.

Friday and Trafalgar Night looms, oh dear, the chances of birding tomorrow look decidedly poor and I was unable to go out before the function as I had too much going on elsewhere.  On Saturday I managed a couple of hours in the afternoon at Sotira Pool and Akhna Dam.  2 Green Sandpipers were a surprise at Sotira although little else showed itself apart from my very bad headache.  As I continued to Akhna, I saw a ringtail Hen Harrier over Avgorou and a Snipe in a rain filled puddle.  At the dam itself another 2 ringtail Hen Harriers, a drake eclipse Pintail, 2 Lapwing and a Kingfisher were the pick of a fairly talentless bunch.

On Sunday, I visited the fresh water lake on the Turkish half of the island near Famagusta in an attempt to twitch a Caspian Tern - in any event I dipped.  The lake did hold a juvenile Whiskered Tern which is quite late, 3 Great White Egrets and a juvenile Night Heron.  I then proceeded to Larnaca Sewage Works where a pair of Greater White-fronted Geese had arrived, the pair of Shelducks remained and 2 drake Pintails were also present.

We then drove to Kornos and a site to see the first Orchids of the season; Autumn Lady's Tresses*.  We were successful and also managed a photo.  The site also held a Kingfisher several Chaffinches, a Robin, Cetti's Warbler and a new Dragonfly - Blue-eyed Hawker or Southern Migrant Hawker a pair of Winter Damselflies, which were also new and Deb gripped me off when she showed me a picture of a Pygmy Skipper that I didn't see!

For pictures of birds with * please click on the following Flickr links:

Other interesting finds: At Gambion Dam, definitely the first Orchids of the year – Autumn Lady’s Tresses, several Blue-eyed Hawkers (Southern Migrant Hawkers), a pair of Winter Damselflies and a Pygmy Skipper.

Highlight of the Week:  The discovery of 6 Lesser Short-toed Larks at Larnaca and the arrival of 2 White-fronted Geese also at Larnaca.

Look Forward:  Everything is slowing down but there are the arrivals of wintering wildfowl to watch out for.

If you are planning a visit or require more info please feel free to contact me at:

Mark Easterbrook

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