Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 24 May 15
Corn Bunting at Akhna Dam on 22 May
On Monday, an afternoon visit to Akhna Dam had good numbers of Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints present with reduced numbers of Temminck’s Stints and Wood Sandpipers. Herons were well represented with Grey, Purple, Squacco and Little Egrets showing themselves periodically. A lone Coot was a new arrival, 45 Glossy Ibises flew in and a female type Yellow Wagtail was a surprise.
As I left the site a European Roller passed in front of the car. In the evening a European Beeater flew over the back garden, calling.
Stone Curlews were heard at the back of camp during the night of the 18th. In the afternoon, I paid a brief visit to Akhna Dam, with the heat rising rapidly, the wetlands are the only likely place to find birds at the moment. A heat wave this week has sent temperatures to 35 degrees on average. Perhaps next week when it drops to normal May levels there may be a little migration once more. Curlew Sandpipers had increased to 19, Glossy Ibises to 88 and Little Stints were fairly stable at 33. 2 Ringed Plovers were present and the surprise bird of the day was a non breeding plumaged Black-tailed Godwit. Other than that it was generally the same as Monday with the Heron species. At least 5 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, a Reed Warbler and Cetti’s Warbler were heard as I traversed the area.
With it all getting a bit samey and Deb requiring a JUMBO visit we headed off to Larnaca on Wednesday afternoon. 5 Spur-winged Plovers were in the JUMBO Drain, so I moved to Oroklini. With the heat and humidity being quite uncomfortable I wasn’t very hopeful. So it proved, with the water levels reducing, a Little Tern fished whilst 3 Glossy Ibises landed briefly for a drink. 2 Squacco Herons were visible with 1 Little Egret and a small (c60) breeding colony of Cattle Egrets. Spur-winged Plovers numbered 4 and 18 (9 pairs) of breeding Black-winged Stilts were evident. A single Ruff was chased by a pair of Stilts and that was about it for the day.
On Thursday, it was my departure (it’s getting close) Silver Lunch in the Mess so no birding in the afternoon. On Friday, I did a quick visit to Akhna Dam. Glossy Ibises numbered 46, with 1 Wood Sandpiper amongst them. 7 Curlew Sandpipers were present with 5 Ruffs and 7 Little Stints. As I drove around a Purple Heron flushed and then I was surprised by the appearance of a Great White Egret. Unusual for this time of year 5 Corn Buntings* were present and as I left a couple of Rollers chased each other.
On Saturday, I heard a few European Beeaters calling as they passed over the house so being awake I headed off to Cape Greco. It was very quiet with the only things of note being a Turtle Dove, Spotted Flycatcher, a singing Black-headed Bunting and a single European Beeater. A male Cyprus Warbler sat in the open singing and Spectacled Warblers were in and out of the bushes. As I drove around the Sea Caves and Limnara area, I was surprised by a calling Short-toed Lark amongst the many Crested Larks and on a wire was another European Beeater. I tried to photograph a male Red-backed Shrike without luck and c110 Greater Flamingos were out at sea heading east. Ayia Napa Sewage Works was also very quiet with an Eastern Olivaceous, Turtle Dove, 2 singing Black-headed Buntings and a Spectacled Warbler being the sum total for a trudge around in the heat.
We stayed in Bojaz for the night of the 23rd, so on the way back on Sunday, I stopped at the Famagusta Wetlands. At Silver Beach a Little Tern was the highlight with a Squacco Heron and 3 Kentish Plovers nearby. 8 Black-winged Stilts were present with 3 chicks, proving breeding at the site. At Gulserin a pair of Ferruginous Ducks was a good find but a male Shoveler was unseasonal and a Wood Sandpiper was at the base of the reed bed. My final stop was Fresh Water Lake South where I immediately saw a Whiskered Tern and another pair of Ferruginous Ducks. The breeding colony contained at least 200 Cattle Egret nests with well developed chicks, 3 pairs of Glossy Ibises with chicks and a pair of Little Egrets with a pair of chicks. A Squacco Heron was present but I couldn’t see a nest. In the evening I visited Akhna Dam where 13 Squacco Herons, including 1 juvenile was a good count. 4 Rollers were present and on the lagoons, a pair of Black-winged Stilts were in the same area as 4 Little Egrets and once more the Great White Egret. 22 Glossy Ibises flew in as I left and on the way home the Little Owl was in its hole at Vrysoulles. Common Swifts over the quarters must have numbered at least 200 and were making quite a noise.
Highlights of the Week: Difficult this week – a Whiskered Tern and Great White Egret were good finds.
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