Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 10 Mar
Male Cretschmar's Bunting at Ayia Napa Sewage Works 10 Mar
* indicates that a photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view.
I quickly nipped over the North to Fresh Water Lake South on Tuesday before Cape Greco. Not much doing but a Great White Egret and at least 45 Cattle Egrets on nests was interesting. Crossing the border, I continued to Cape Greco to see the deluge of migrants – disappointment ensued. Although a Baltic Gull* at Konnos Bay was a good record consorting with several Yellow-legged. Under the Army camp there was the male Cyprus Wheatear that looks set to breed a lingering male Blue Rock Thrush and a couple of wintering Black Redstarts remain. A good find was a new butterfly for me in the form of an Eastern Baton Blue*. A confiding female Serin* gave me the only photo opportunity of this bird thus far so I took it with not a bad result.
Wednesday’s outing was to the North but it has to be said things are pretty quiet still regarding migration. Silver Beach produced some Teal and a Little Egret whilst Clapsides Beach held a Redshank and a Curlew which appears to be the only one remaining of the wintering group. Gulserin Pond faired little better but 4 Armenian Gulls was noteworthy. A drive around the back of camp before returning home left me surprised as I saw 4 Hen Harriers (1 adult male) quartering the grasslands but little else.
On Thursday, staying local, I made for Akhna Dam, a site that I don’t visit much at the moment but once the water reduces a little should come back into its own. Anyway, a single Snipe, a couple of Song Thrushes, some Swifts, Corn Buntings and a Buzzard was all I had to show for a couple of hours. I counted the roosting Cattle Egrets which totalled 151 and a much reduced flock of Starlings landed on telegraph wires. I returned home via the Little Owl site and at least this bird performed on queue – so a good month tick achieved.
On Friday we needed to do some shopping before our friends arrive in the evening but I’m still trying to figure out how I can get some birding done. Plan hatched, we visited Oroklini Marsh, where 2 Bluethroats (1 male svecica), c80 House Martins and 7 Black-winged Stilts were in residence with a couple of Pintails still hanging on. Shopping completed we headed to the North side of Larnaca Salt Lake, where I flushed a single Jack Snipe and about 25 Snipe. Waders were much in evidence with 6 Greenshanks, c40 Redshanks, 1 Marsh Sandpiper and 5 pristine breeding plumage Greater Sand Plovers which were obviously migrants. 4 Little Ringed Plovers and 3 Ringed Plovers with Little Stints and Dunlins added to the throng and finally a single Green Sandpiper hid amongst the rocks. A couple of Water Pipits and a Bluethroat completed the line-up, whilst in the distance good numbers of Shelducks and a reduced number of Greater Flamingos were still in situ post their winter visit.
Matt Laing had arrived on the evening of the 8th and wanted to go to Cape Greco for an early morning round and some photography. Not a bad day, having looked at previous annual reports it looked like Ruppels Warbler was a distinct possibility. It was windy when we arrived so the Cyprus Warblers weren’t behaving although we did get 2 fleeting views of singing males. We moved to the Cape and under the army camp there was a distinct air of migration feel to the place with at least 40 Stonechats and about 15 Black Redstarts – more than I’ve seen in the last month. A Cyprus, Isabelline Wheatear and lots of Chukars were seen and Matt got some good photos of Spectacled Warblers. As we walked away I saw 7 large birds flying in off the sea – Common Cranes*, migration was certainly taking place. We moved to the rubbish tip area pausing to photograph Crested Larks and a singing Corn Bunting. As we walked, I immediately got onto a Sylvia Warbler – bingo!!! A male Ruppels Warbler – the first of the year. We watched it and Matt managed a couple of record shots. The area was alive with Chiffchaffs* but nothing more interesting and by the number of Black Redstarts and Stonechats here, there had certainly been a movement of these species. An Isabelline Wheatear finished off the migrant hunt.
With migrants much in evidence we headed to Ayia Napa Sewage Works. As we drove the approach track, numerous Chiffchaffs were seen and with them a male Ruppels Warbler – one of 3 seen in the area. We walked towards the famous olive grove and I heard and then saw my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year but not before seeing 2 Cretzchmar’s Buntings*, one of which a cracking male posed for the camera. Stonechats* and Black Redstarts were once again numerous and Matt managed a good photo of a male Blue Rock Thrush. 6 Little Grebes and a Spectacled Warbler along with a few Song Thrushes completed the tally, although a Buzzard made a late appearance. As we crossed the area a good patch of Giant Orchids was found, with a single well developed species that could be a very rare specimen and a new orchid in the form of many Serapias levantina*.
We drove back via tracks to the east of Ayia Napa Football Pitches where we flushed a female Finsch’s Wheatear. At Paralimni Lake on the way home, several Greenshanks, 11 Black-wiinged Stilts and 5 Spur-winged Plovers were noted. Lunch in Famagusta with our friends gave me an opportunity to visit Fresh Water Lake South briefly where the highlight was 2 Great White Egrets. The week ended with a snooze on the setee after a satisfying Iskender Kebab and a bottle of EFES - life is good!
For pictures of birds with a * please click on the following Flickr links:
Serin at Cape Greco.
Baltic Gull in flight (record shot) at Konnos Bay.
Meadow Pipit at Cape Greco.
Buzzard at Cape Greco.
Chiffchaff at Cape Greco.
Cretzschmar’s Bunting at Ayia Napa Sewage Works.
Common Cranes in off the sea at Cape Greco.
Stonechat at Ayia Napa Sewage Works.
Lang’s Short-tailed Blue at Cape Greco
Common Blue at Cape Greco
Painted Lady at Cape Greco
Highlight of the Week: Discovering only the second record ever for Cyprus of a very rare Orchid - Orchis papillionacea* above Ayia Napa Sewage Works has put me on the orchid map! Finding a male Ruppels Warbler having not seen one for since 2011 with Tim Cowley in Israel was a moment that I enjoyed. Spring Cretszchmar's Buntings was also enjoyable. Only a week after Roger’s departure – which just goes to show how quickly things change in Cyprus.
Other Interesting Finds: A new butterfly with a lovely Eastern Baton Blue at Cape Greco and a new orchid – Serapias levantina* at Ayia Napa Sewage Works, however Orchis pappillionacea takes the biscuit!
Look Forward: With my 3rd set of visitors for the year, some time off, some birding, some eating and some drinking – huzaaarr, it promises to be a good week.
If you are planning a visit or require more info please feel free to contact me at: email@example.com