Cyprus Weekly

Highlights for the week ending 11 Nov

Red-necked Phalarope at Bishop's Pool - 9 Nov 12.

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

A busy week at work coupled with the fact that it’s now dark by 1700 has meant that little birding was done in the early part of the week.  However, during a visit to Famagusta and on the way home in the darkness a Barn Owl flew over the city walls, towards Verosha (the dead city) which was an interesting sighting, no doubt roosting in the derelict buildings that remain under military control.

I took a day's leave on Friday so travelled to Akrotiri in the hope of achieving something from a fairly dismal week's birding.  After dropping Deb at work (hoorahh - some monies entering the BFBF - Big Fat Birding Fund), I arrived at Akrotiri at about 0830.  Noting immediately that the Greater Flamingos had increased to about 8000.  The recent heavy rains have transformed the salt lake, although access is now difficult with it not being as dry and driveable.

After noting a Black Redstart I proceeded to Bishop's Pool passing a couple of Stonechats and Spectacled Warblers.  On arrival at the pool I scanned the area quickly and didn't see much although a pair of Marsh Harriers were overhead.  On observing more closely, I picked out a Red-necked Phalarope that has been present for about 2 weeks but I thought it would have gone by now.  So a bonus to the Cyprus year list, I have previously seen one on Larnaca Salt Lake in 1999 - anyway a good bird.  I decided to walk around the pool and flushed a covey of Chukar and a Grey Wagtail.  I got into position and managed a not bad shot of the Phalarope (above).  The bushes were alive with Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps as I carried on around the pool.  As I reached the next hide and stopped a bird flew from the reeds.  With a dark blue back and obvious white flashes in the wings it was a White-breasted (Smyrna) Kingfisher.  Having seen the bird in September and with reports being sporadic, I think this was the first sighting since early October.  To be honest I was surprised it was still present - perhaps it will over winter?

After that success I went to the Akrotiri Environmental Centre where a few other birders had congregated.  One a Cypriot named Thomas, I recognised and this was fortunate as he is taking Roger ringing in February when he visits so I sorted that one out.  Then an RSPB chap named Doug Radford noticed my AOS polo shirt and said "Do you know Richard Sargeant"?  I thought is there no escape? and said "Never heard of him", only joking, so we shared some tails of stringing and the like.  The views from the centre brought a male and female Hen Harrier, Bonelli's Eagle, Sparrowhawk, 5 Common Cranes and numerous Slender-billed Gulls and Flamingos with a lone Whiskered Tern making an appearance.  The waders were too distant to confidetly identify although 6 Lapwings were obvious.

Driving to Larnaca in a deluge and heavy thunder storm, the forked lightening was very impressinve, lighting the skies pink, which is normal at this time of year.  On the Larnaca Salt Lake c250 Greater Flamingos had gathered (the first sizeable flock of the year) and the Stone Curlew flock was in its regular place.  Sprios Beach and fields was full of Skylarks and Crested Larks accompanied by several Chukars, a single male Black Francolin and Red-throated Pipit.  As I scanned the fields I picked out 3 Golden Plovers - my first for the year taking the Cyprus year list to 199.  Larnaca Sewage Works held nothing new but the 2nd Winter Meditteranean Gull, 2 Ferruginous Ducks, 2 Greater White-fronted Geese and a female Red-crested Pochard were still present, along with a couple of Dunlins and Redshanks, although there was no sign of the Shelducks.  An increase in Meadow Pipits was noticeable as I flushed at least seven whilst walking the the hide.  I returned home and the rain continued. 

On Saturday we visited Famagusta for a bit of shopping, lunch and a shave - more of that later.  Prior to this I visited the pond to the north east of Famagusta known as the Fresh Water Lake South.  Here 3 Great White Egrets and 5 Little Egrets were outnumbered by the 63 Spur-winged Plovers.  A juvenile Whiskered Tern flew about but the highlight strangely, was 2 Cormorants and admitidly they weren't that exciting but they did represent my 200th species achieved in Cyprus this year in exactly 5 months to the day - so not a bad effort.

I had a haircut and wash, double shave, eyebrow threading, nose hair clipping, ear hair burning, hot Vic towelling and a Turkish coffee for 20 euros.  Great value and a must for any visitor.  It took at least 10 minutes off me, anyway I'll look my best for Remembrance Sunday!

Sunday and of course Remembrance Parade, although being my usual organised self (?), I did manage to get to the Ayia Napa area prior to attending the parade and obligatory curry lunch.  Ayia Napa was hopeless, I've never seen so many shotguns in one area; there must have been 30 "hunters" in an area of about a mile square, so finding any birds was impossible - one can only hope that they do what they usually do and shoot one another.  I carried onto Ayia Thekla in the hope of recording a few species for the month.  On the rocky shore a Common Sandpiper which appears to be overwintering was quickly followed by 11 Greater Sand Plovers on the usual stretch of rocks along with 34 Kentish Plovers.  A lone Golden Plover* was a surprise and a Cormorant flew west over the sea.  A few beers at the curry lunch put paid to any afternoon birding, so a fairly mundane week drew to a fairly mund

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

Highlight of the Week:  Finding the White-throated Kingfisher again and seeing my second Red-necked Phalarope on Cyprus

Look Forward:  More winter visitors and hopefully a few surprises.

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

Mark Easterbrook

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