Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 17 May 15

Lesser Grey Shrike - Cape Greco Antennas 17 May

Monday once more and an evening visit to Akhna Dam.  Arriving at the water the highlight was 18 Purple Herons taking flight with a few Grey Herons and Little Egrets.  6 Squacco Herons eventually showed themselves and a Roller was on top of a dead tree.  8 Glossy Ibises came in later and rested as 15 Little Stints, 2 Temminck’s and a couple of Wood Sandpipers fed actively.  A female Marsh Harrier flushed everything and once settled again a pair of Ringed Plovers were with a Little Ringed Plover before they departed.

On Tuesday afternoon I visited the Cape Greco area and once more the pines were the most productive.  At least 3 Collared Flycatchers remained (2 males), with a female Pied Flycatcher and 2 female Common Redstarts.  A number of Turtle Doves flushed and Spotted Flycatchers were the most numerous birds.  A pair of Whinchats were feeding actively and as I was leaving the now, regular pair of male Black-headed Buntings sand from the telegraph wires.  At Ayia Napa Sewage Works it was fairly quiet and it’s a sad thing when the highlight was 3 Sand Martins with 7 House Martins.  A Black-headed Bunting flew over the car and I photographed a Dragonfly which I believe to be a new species for me – Small Skimmer* (later confirmed by the Dragonfly recorder – Dave Sparrow – Thanks) which are quite scarce on the island, so a Dragonfly tick in the twilight of the tour was a bonus.  In the evening at Akhna Dam, a Roller was in the usual place and the female Marsh Harrier was still present harassing the waders.  17 Wood Sandpipers were in the majority although 13 Little Stint and 2 Temminck’s Stints looked a greater number as they ran around feeding furiously.  2 Common Sandpipers were also present with a pair of breeding Spur-winged Plovers and 5 Ruffs arrived for a drink as I watched.  A Greenshank was the biggest surprise and as it called, 2 Squacco Herons and an adult Night Heron emerged from the longer grass.

Household provisioning duties took  place on Wednesday afternoon allowing me only a little time at Akhna Dam on the way home.  We were greeted by at least 15 European Beeaters on the wires with several being seen previously as we drove around.  Otherwise it was much the same.  The Greenshank was still present but had been joined by a Black-winged Stilt.  Ruffs had reduced to 4, Little Stints to 2 and Temminck’s Stints 4.  Wood Sandpipers were present in good numbers and 3 Purple Herons were present as were 3 of their smaller Squacco cousins but were outnumbered by the 28 Glossy Ibises that fed in front of me.  2 Spotted Flycatchers were the only passerines noted as I left the site.

At lunchtime of Thursday, I received and email from the Cyprus Recorder tipping me off that a probable Lesser Flamingo had been seen at Koprulu consorting with 50 or so Greater Flamingos.  I shot off immediately, arriving at about 1230.  30 or so White-winged Black Terns were in the air with 2 Whiskered, a Gull-billed and a Marsh Harrier.  Circa 120 Glossy Ibises added to the mayhem.  I concentrated on the Flamingos and after careful searching and about 20 minutes found a smaller bird with its head in the water most of the time.  Eventually, it rose and started to walk between the Greater Flamingos.  The size differential was obvious and the bill shape which was smaller and more acutely angled began to add up.  It appeared black at distance and I grabbed a few very ropey record shots in the heat haze and at distance.  The bird was overall more pinkish and lacked the obvious black and bright pink wing markings of the Greater Flamingos.  I concluded that it was a Lesser Flamingo* – a Cyprus and WP “tick”.  I left soon after to pick up Deb from work. 

The Larnaca shopping run in the afternoon, allowed me to drop Deb off for an hour and a half whilst I had a quick scoot around the Larnaca sites.  It was a good decision with lots of Curlew Sandpipers on Larnaca Airport Pool North and a concentrated effort revealed 2 Broad-billed Sandpipers amongst them.  On to the sewage works where Black Francolins called, a Stone Curlew took shade under a bush and 25+ White-winged Black Terns hawked the water with 3 Little Terns pirouetting near the hide.  A 1st winter Little Gull was a surprise and several commoner waders were on the plastic that separates the lagoons.  At Spiro’s Pool I was greeted by the site of hundreds of waders comprising 29 Curlew Sandpipers, c500 Little Stints, 2 Dunlins, 4 Black-winged Stilts, c120 Ruff, 6 Ringed Plovers and 4 Kentish Plovers.  A lone Greater Flamingo alighted, headed out to sea, thought better of it and landed at the far end of the pool. As I passed the airport’s south pool 18 European Beeaters* were on the wires. On the way home at Oroklini another Little Tern was the highlight and some common waders were present but there wasn’t very much to get excited about.

On Friday, I visited the Famagusta Wetlands and there were a few good birds around.  At Silver Beach, a Little Tern was with a Gull-billed Tern and 8 Little Stints fed with a Wood Sandpiper.  43 Yellow-legged Gulls were at Clapsides Beach and at Gulserin Pond, another Gull-billed Tern was present. 2 Sand Martins were with c500 Barn Swallows but that was it before I went for a bit of male grooming at the barbers before the Waterloo Night in the Mess, which obviously turned out to be a bit messy and put paid to any birding on Saturday morning.  In the evening I visited Koprulu in the north.  Only one Flamingo was present and it was the Lesser.  Circa 30 White-winged Black Terns were a good sight and a couple of Gull-billeds were also present.  3 Calandra Larks sang above the fields and there was one of each of Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron and Squacco Heron.  100 or so Glossy Ibises were flushed by a Marsh Harrier and a pair of Stone Curlews were in the field as I left with 4 Turtle Doves flying past the car.

With time running out for a few late migrants, I headed to Cape Greco early on Sunday morning.  The pines were sadly very quiet with only a male Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher and a flyover Red-throated Pipit to show for my efforts.  As I headed down to the cape, 3 European Beeaters were above me and 2 female Red-backed Shrikes* were present with one posing for the camera.  With not much happening, I was pleased to find my 1st Lesser Grey Shrike* of the spring, with a small passage in the spring, I thought I’d missed it for the year list.  A couple of Black-headed Buntings could be heard singing, Spectacled Warblers were everywhere and at least 3 male Cyprus Warblers sat up and sang in the open – most unusual.  A similar story at Ayia Napa Sewage Works with 4 singing Black-headed Buntings, a skulking Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and 6 Beeaters overhead was a sign that migration is petering out with the year list on 247 – will I make it to 250 before July 11th?

Highlights of the Week:  A first for Cyprus found by 2 BLC volunteers at Koprulu was also a WP tick and my 320th Cyprus bird – Thanks to Jane Stylianou for the tip off.  Collared Flycatchers are late but still good to see and the Lesser Grey Shrike was a bonus bird.

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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