Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 22 Mar 15

Semi-collared Flycatcher at Asprokremnos Dam on 21 Mar.

The weekly BLOGs are becoming a bit delayed due to the fact that I don’t have the time due to too much birding – if that’s possible.

On Monday, a day’s leave and I headed to Cape Greco. Wheatears were very much in evidence with 5 species being present.  In the pines, the male Ehrenberg’s Restart* was still present with 2 Common Redstarts and the Great Spotted Cuckoo (or a different one) continued its stay.  Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, although reduced in numbers are still present with at least 4 being in the pines.  Blue Rock Thrushes and Hoopoes appear to be everywhere still.  A few Black Restarts and Stonechats remain from the winter but they continue to decrease in numbers.  A Wryneck was still present in the antennas area as were several Tawny Pipits.  Cretzschmar’s Buntings continue to pass through in good numbers and a few Nightingales have begun to sing from hidden perches.  2 Audouin’s Gulls continued to loaf at Kermia Beach and that moved me quickly onto the Ayia Napa Sewage Works area.  In the area Cretzschmar’s Buntings were obvious as were more Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers.  My first 2 Masked Shrikes of the year were seen and Whreatears were also well represented.  4 male Ruppel’s Warblers were noted and Blue Rock Thrushes continue to populate the bluff.

In the afternoon I visited Larnaca and at Dolphin Rocks, 7 Sandwich Terns were present with 64 Black-headed Gulls and 2 1st winter Mediterranean Gulls. Oroklini Marsh still holds 35 Greater Flamingos and a Reed Warbler was heard.  A Marsh Harrier flew over the marsh and disturbed and Avocet  and 5 Snipe.  Whist watching I noted 2 adult Baltic Gulls, a 2nd winter Armenian Gull but perhaps the surprise of the day was a male Penduline Tit.  I visited Akhna Dam before returning home but a few Wheatears were all that was of interest.

On Tuesday at Akhna Dam Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers were present with Reed Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Cetti’s Warblers also being fairly obvious along with c20 Spanish Sparrows.  On the 18th, I picked up Caitlin at Paralimni for an early morning start at Cape Greco.  The pines held much the same with a Great Spotted Cuckoo still being present with Hoopoes.  A late Robin was heard from the undergrowth but we moved on to the Cape to see what was happening. No real change here with lots of Sylvia Warblers and Wheatears being present.  An Eastern Orphean Warbler was a good find but typically didn’t show for very long.  9 Tawny Pipits were at Limnara Valley and a Nightingale sang sweetly.  More of the same at Ayia Napa Sewage Works but we did manage to photograph an obliging Eastern Black-eared Wheatear and Greater Short-toed Lark*.  As we passed Avgorou on the way to Akhna Dam I spotted a Long-legged Buzzard* perched on a small cliff which we took time to admire, but soon enough we were at Akhna.  Several Black-headed Yellow Wagtails were present including Supercilliaris and melanogrisea (White-chinned Wagtail) forms.  Some more Greater Short-toed Larks8 posed for the camera and Caitlin took time to photograph Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers.  A Tree Pipit was seen briefly as it called and 4 Water Pipits were also present.  With nothing else for it we stopped at Stelios snack bar for a mega Cyprus mixed sandwich – the birding food of choice.  At Oroklini 6 Sandwich Terns were present with the 2 1st winter Med Gulls, c50 Black-heads and 1 Armenian.  The marsh still held the Avocet and a couple of Black-winged Stilts.  A female Mallard had 11 ducklings in tow and a Marsh Harrier rose in the distance.  JUMBO drain held a Little Ringed Plover, 3 Green Sandpipers and 3 Spur-winged Plovers.  I dropped Caitlin off and continued to the Larnaca area before waiting for “H” hour when Deb would land at Larnaca on the famous BA662 arriving at 1825.  On the south airport pools, 31 Black-winged Stilts were joined by a Spotted Redshank, with good numbers of Greater Flamingos and 5 Common Shelducks still being present.  Nothing much else was in the area but I did manage to scope a calling male Black Francolin at Pervolia.  I drove to Petounta Point for the first time this year and sadly it’s been drained and is a shadow of its former glory.  A Hoopoe, Meadow Pipit and Common Redstart flushed as a Reed Warbler sang from the reed bed and 13 Baltic Gulls passed the point.  A male Ruppel’s Warbler showed well but that was it.  The Larnaca Salt Lakes were fairly boring with nothing much of interest and by this time “The Eagle Has Landed”, so it was time to pick Deb up and finish the day with a curry at the Balti House on Larnaca Strip (I can recommend it)!

On the 19th I visited Paralimni Lake where I heard and saw my first Sedge Warbler of the year which kept the year list on target.  An Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers was active near a Blackcap and a Black-winged Stilt called as it went.  At Cape Greco Pines, another 3 Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, a Common and Ehrengerg’s Restart wer present and a Hoopoe flushed from underfoot.  At the Cape, still good numbers of Ruppel’s Warblers, Blue Rock Thrushes and Wheatears, with a Tree Pipit being heard.  A Sandwich Tern cruised west as I watched and several Tawny Pipits and a Cretzschmar’s Bunting were quite vocal as they flew over.  The same species were present all over the cape area and 2 Audouin’s and a Yellow-legged Gull remained at Kermia Beach.  I walked around Ayia Napa Sewage Works noting good numbers of the same species that were present earlier on the cape.  I had been walking for a while when a raptor rose over the escarpment.  Going through the data base of species in my head and after a bit of thought and confusion (that was the key) a worn pale phase Booted Eagle was added to the year list which was quite unexpected, although previous record show that there is a small spring passage at about this time.  In the afternoon I visited the north which was quite unproductive for a change.  The highlights were a Great White Egret and a Glossy Ibis amongst the c500 Cattle Egrets at Fresh Water Lake South.

On Friday after work we headed to Troodos for a dinner, stopping on the way in atrocious weather to see 4 Crossbills at Levadia Tou Pasha, 2 of which were immatures.  As I left on Saturday morning in the snow, I noted a late Mistle Thrush and at the Caledonian Falls 7 Siskins.  On the way down the Dhiarizos River Valley on route for an overnight stay in Paphos, Kidasi held a Northern and Cyprus Wheatear but no Finsch’s as the AOS discovered last year.  The wintering birds appear to depart by the 2nd week in March from this site.  I met Colin Richardson and Bill Stacey at Anarita Park where at the entrance at least 4 Lesser Kestrels* hawked over the fields.  Moving on 2 Blue Rock Thrushes performed well for the crowd and a little later on male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush* was and excellent bird to see for the year, it was joined by a Northern and Cyprus Wheatear before a magnificent adult Bonelli’s Eagle flew over flushing a couple of Meadow Pipits.  It was then that Colin received a text from a visiting birder (Jim Wilson) alerting us to several Semi-collared Flycatchers in the pine woods above Asprokremnos Dam.  With no time to waste a semi-twitch was on.  As I arrived I soon located a female Semi-collared* feeding actively and flushed several Hoopoes,  A pair of Garganeys landed briefly below us on the dam and it took a while to find another female flycatcher and eventually the male.  The male Semi-collared Flycatcher* fed actively flying to the ground and showed well as we watched and photographed it.  The least numerous and most difficult of the black and white flycatchers to see was in the bag!

At Mandria 78 Cormorants headed out to see and Northern and Isabelline Wheatears were common.  I checked in at the hotel, dropped Deb and headed off to the headland.  I walked along seeing 3 Common Redshanks, 3 migrating Spur-winged Plovers and a late, migrating Greater Sand Plover.  The surprise was eventually (this year) catching up with the only winteriing Whimbrel* on the island, a bird I thought I’d missed for the year.  At least 12 Yellow-legged Gulls passed to roost as I walked to the car.  The usual trip to Armou Village near Colin’s house produced 2 Cyprus Scops Owls and that was it for the day except for watching the rugby, a few beers and an excellent Steak and Kidney Pie in Tramps Bar.

On Sunday, we departed earlyish and stopped at Mandria.  Much the same here but a flock of c800 Yellow Wagtails – mostly feldeggs was amazing.  From the same field I flushed a Quail and a few Tawny Pipits and Greater Short-toed Larks were also present.  At Kouklia Soakaways, a Long-legged Buzzard was over the hills as were a pair of Alpine Swift with many Common Swifts and House Martins.  Onward to Episkopi where another 4 Alpine Swifts and 3 Griffon Vultures were seen.  At Akrotiri Gravel Pits, a Marsh Sandpiper was with c20 Ruff and a Water Pipit showed briefly amongst the Yellow Wagtails. A late Hawfinch was near Phassouri Reed Beds as a Marsh Harrier went about its business.  At Zakaki Marsh from the hide I caught up with 2 Little Crakes, a male and a female whilst Sedge and Reed Warblers were active in the vegetation.  A Kingfisher was the last bird I saw in the area before heading to Larnaca and 2 Lesser Kestrels passing over the car at Kivisili.  Akhna Dam held nothing new so after stopping at home for a cup of tea and to sort out some dirty washing admin, I drove to Paralimni Lake to end the week.

On arrival I quickly saw a Spotted Crake in front of the reeds and after watching for an hour or so it was chased by a Water Rail as another swan close by.  As I scanned the reed bed another Crake appeared – an adult male.  All grey on the front with obvious barring on the flanks reaching the legs – BAILLON’S, my first of the tour – RESULT, and a good decision to visit, the hybrid “dombrowski” (Romanian Wagtail) nearly when unnoticed in the excitement.  As I watched the reed beds, a couple of Sedge, Reed and Cetti’s Warblers were very active.  Lesser Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs chased each other and then the familiar deep croaking and grating of a Great Reed Warbler which remained hidden.  A great end to another productive week.

Highlights of the Week:  Another superb week’s activity, culminating in Rock Thrush, Semi-collared Flycatchers and 3 species of Crake.

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

Mark Easterbrook


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