Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 25 Nov

Immature Caspian Tern at Akhna Dam

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

On Tuesday, I visited the Cape Greco area.  This proved to be worthwhile, finding the previously reported wintering male Finsch’s Wheatear, at least 7 Black Redstarts, numerous Spectacled and Sardinian Warblers, several Robins, a single male Blue Rock Thrush and Song Thrush.  At Ay Nik in the evening, I heard a calling Barn Owl. 

Having not visited Akhna Dam as much as I should have over the past couple of weeks, I thought I’d put a bit of time in.  Upon entering I flushed 4 Woodlarks* and then manoeuvred the car into a position to get some photographs.  I carried on driving and a Black Redstart gave itself away in a flash of red.  The dam was fairly quiet with only 7 Cattle Egrets and a Hen Harrier dive bombing the Coots being present.  I went for a walk and several Stonechats fled from a female Sparrowhawk.  As I searched the reeds for a Moustached Warbler which I eventually found, my attention was drawn to a large white bird flying behind the reeds.  I initially thought it was a gull species but it was flying oddly, when it turned a large looking “carrot” on the end of it’s face had me becoming very animated.  A Caspian Tern and my 276 Cyprus bird and 13th addition this year.  I couldn’t remember if it was a description species, although that wasn’t going to be difficult, I quickly got out the camera and managed a bit of video and a couple of record shots albeit not the best in all the excitement.  The bird fished for about 5 minutes between 1600 and 1610 caught 2 fish and then proceeded to head off South and away from the dam.  As I drove home 71 Corn Buntings roosted on telegraph wires over the fields behind Akhna and at Ay Nik, I flushed a Black Redstart and a Little Owl.

The immature Caspian Tern continued fishing at Akhna Dam on Thursday and a male Sparrowhawk and female Hen Harrier continued to harass the wildfowl.  At Sotira Pond a late Swallow was present and a Green Sandpiper remained but there was little else of interest.  In the afternoon I visited the Turkish half.  I had previously visited a site in the southern areas of Famagusta and had been told that with the recent rains it had filled up and there were some waders there.  I drove to Gulserin Marsh and the mud flats were alive with waders.  As I scoped through them, Dunlins, Little Stints, numerous Redshank, 4 Greenshank, a lone Wood Sandpiper, 2 Spotted Redshanks, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, common Spur-winged Plovers and a lone Black-tailed Godwit.  Not surprisingly a Sparrowhawk was present and soon I came across several large gulls.  4 of them were Caspian and the other an adult Armenian Gull, so increasing the year list by 3 species.

I then went to the north of the city and to the Fresh Water Lake South, dropping Debs at the China Bazaar – the North’s equivalent of JUMBO, but even cheaper – HOOOORAAAHHH.  The lake itself had 11 Cormorants present, 4 Great White Egret a single juvenile White Pelican, presumably the same one as last week, 2 Kingfishers, a pair of Shovellers and 312 Cattle Egrets coming to roost.

On Friday, I dropped Deb at JUMBO in Larnaca and visited Oroklini Marsh to conduct the monthly count.  Although nothing unusual was noted, I saw my first Water Rail of the month.  On the way home a Peregrine landed on the chimney at Dhekelia Power Station and 6 Shags were present on the mouring platforms.  The Dhekelia Stone Curlew roost held 134 - a good count.

On Saturday, Akhna Dam still had the Caspian Tern present along with 4 Meadow Pipits, a couple of Song Thrush and a Black Redstart.  Over the North the newly found Gulserin Marsh had a Temminck's Stint, numerous Redshanks accompanied by a single Spotted Redshank, several Little Stints and Dunlins.  On the north of Famagusta the fresh water lake held the immature White Pelican with 2 Great White Egret, 2 Little Egret and 5 Cormorants.

On Sunday, Larnaca Salt Lake now holds c1600+ Greater Flamingo whilst the sewage works allowed me to photograph an Armenien Gull*.  The lagoons held 21 Ferrruginous Duck, 8 Wigeon, 2 Pintail, c800 Shoveller and 2 new wildfowl species for the year, a male Pochard and 2 Gadwall.  Spiros Pool now has 105 Golden Plover present but little else except for numerous Skylarks.

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

Other interesting finds:

Highlight of the Week:  Finding a Caspian Tern at Akhna Dam, a difficult bird in the country and one that many residents haven’t managed to catch up despite many years of chasing.  Having not seen the species in Cyprus previously this was an unexpected addition to the Cyprus list.

Look Forward:  I really must make an effort to nail a Reed Bunting for the year and visit a few more sites in the North of the island.

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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