Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 17 Mar

Eastern Subalpine Warbler at Cape Greco 13 Mar

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

Tuesday and a trip to the dentist in Dhekelia allowed me views of 3 Cyprus Warblers.  In the afternoon, we'd arranged to take a couple of visiting parents, who were birdwatchers out.  I took them to the Cape Greco area firstly stopping at Ayia Napa Sewage Works to see the Orchid - of course.  In any event, a male Blue Rock Thrush, a cracking male Masked Shrike and good numbers of Isabelline and Northern Wheatears.  The Cape provided more views of the same species, so we stopped at Paralimni Lake on the way home, where a Great White Egret, numerous Green Sandpipers and a couple of Spur Winged Plovers were of interest.  A flock of c400 Ruff was the largest of the spring so far.  Of interest at Ayia Napa Sewage Works was huge numbers of Vagrant Emperors following a heavy dust storm.

On Wednesday morning, I had arranged to meet 2 orchid enthusiasts from the Limassol area to show them the rare Caspian Butterfly Orchid.   Prior to this, I stopped at Paralimni Lake where good numbers of waders were present, including a Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh, Green and Woodsandpipers with a couple of Greenshank and 2 Lesser Whitethroats.  We achieved the orchid sighting and in doing so we also saw a couple of Blue Rock Thrushes, several Northern and Isabelline Wheatears, a Lesser Whitethroat, the male Masked Shrike again, a Long-legged Buzzard, a Common Sandpiper and a Green Sandpiper.  We continued to the Cape Greco Sea Caves area where we found good numbers of Northern Wheatears, a couple of Black Redstarts, good numbers of Pyramidal Orchids and where I photographed the male Subalpine Warbler – above.

I returned home to meed Matt & Karen, where we headed to the North for an overnight stay at Bellapais.  We arrived to an excellent hotel and restaurant where we celebrated Matt’s birthday before a good night’s sleep in well-appointed rooms.  We rose and after breakfast visited the Bellapais monastery, but not before seeing a couple of Red-rumped Swallows and an adult Bonelli’s Eagle over the hills above Kyrenia.  After the monastery we drove east on the north coast stopping for coffee and birding along the way, where we saw Northern Wheatears, a Long-legged Buzzard and at Balalan, at least 4 Cretszchmar’s Buntings, 2 Red-rumped Swallows*, a Corn Bunting, Song Thrush, Sardinian Warbler and a couple of Stonechats.  We crossed the east end of the Kyrenia range and headed down the south coast via Bojaz and Salamis.  We had lunch at the restaurant at the ruins and then walked around hearing several Cetti’s Warblers and seeing Cyprus and Sardinian Warblers.  As we were leaving 2 Audouin’s Gulls did a fly by and Matt managed a couple of good shots of them.  The Famagusta wetlands were a bit disappointing but the Chinese for dinner at Clapsides beach wasn’t – the end of another day!

Friday morning and out early to Cape Greco via Paralimni Lake.  The lake held good numbers of waders and a good variety with Snipe, Spur-winged Plovers, Marsh, Wood and Green Sandpipers with Greenshanks and Redshanks also being in attendance.   A flock of c400-500 Ruffs was an impressive sight.  3 Great White Egrets also fed amongst the numerous Cattle Egrets.  We proceeded to Ayia Napa Sewage Works and another Orchid photostop – we saw 7 species in total.  At least 8 Cretszchmar’s Buntings were present along with Lesser Whitthroats, a Common Whitethroat, 2 Ruppels Warblers, a Blackcap and a couple of Blue Rock Thrushes.  I managed to capture a Vagrant Emperor female*, that had become entangled in the long grass, which was useful as they had proved incredibly difficult to photograph previously.  At least 3 Cyprus Wheatears were present along with Northerns and Isabellines.  We proceeded to Cape Greco where Matt photographed a singing male Cyprus Warbler (incidentally, it had a single white feather on its head and appears to be the same bird I photographed about a month ago and on the same bush).  A walk around revealed a couple of Blue Rock Thrushes, several more Cyprus Warblers and as we walked we flushed several birds some of which did not look like Sparrows.  As we studied them, and listened to the calls once more, it became clear that they were Greater Short-toed Larks* and we both managed some good shots of them. 

We returned home for the by now compulsory end to a holiday and a visit to the Turkish barbers for the full-monty 20 Euro treatment.  Feeling completely, clean, abused and revitalised and not to mention looking a lot younger we went for a beer and a kebab for lunch before Matt & Karen departed for the airport.  Another set of visitors behind us – we settled down for a bit of a subdued night of TV.  It’s always strange and the house is a bit empty when visitors depart and you have to settle back into the routine.  But at least I don’t have to struggle another Meze down for a few weeks.

On Saturday we left early and headed for Hisarkoy in the North to stay with a friend and Orchid guru – Tony Hutchinson.  We arrived at about 0800 but not before seeing a long awaited year tick with a nice Great Spotted Cuckoo flying across the road and landing in an olive tree.  We drove to Camlibel and onto Tepabasi, where we visited the Cyprus Tulip* fields and saw a new and impressive orchid; Naked Man Orchid (Ochris italic)*.  We returned for Hallim (Halloumi) cheese pittas for lunch that we’d purchased in Morphou and after a lovely lunch walked into the local hillsides and woods.  Here we saw Dull Ophrys (Ophrys fusca fusca israelitca)*, (Cyprus) Woodcock Orchid* (Ophrys lepethica) and Serapias vomeracea bromelii, which were all new as well as some others that I’d seen before.  We continued walking and flushed another Great Spotted Cuckoo and a single Alpine Swift flew over the hillside.  I managed to add a Cyprus butterfly “tick” in the pine woods with a patrolling male Orange Tip*.  We went to the local restaurant for dinner and enjoyed and excellent and inexpensive full Turkish kebab and a statutory Efes larger.  We returned to watch the second half of the Wales, England game, an experience I could have done without especially in the presence of a Welshman.

On Sunday we visited the Tulip Festival at Tepabasi.  We enjoyed an excellent couple of hours of folk music, dancing, crafts and chicken gyros.  The first three items keeping Deb very happy and the final one making me extremely happy rounded off an interesting morning.  We returned to Famagusta via Koprulu Dam, where 59 Greater Flamingos, 33 Ruff and several Pintails were seen.  The numbers were made up with thousands of Teal, Shovellers and Coots.  Several Calandra Larks displayed around the surrounding fields and a pair of Stonechats hung on to their wintering territory.

The Famagusta sites held little, although 160 Greater Flamingos, 4 Wigeon and some Black-headed Gulls were at Fresh Water Lake North.  We returned home, completed the post weekend admin and headed off to Paralimni Lake for the last hour of light in an extremely strong wind.  The lake is now being drained and is attracting good numbers of waders.  Today, 12 Black-winged Stilts, 5 Green Sandpipers, a Snipe, c40 Kentish Plovers, 2 Ringed Plovers and a Great White Egret were present.  I also added 2 welcome year ticks if you’re into sub species with a flock of c30 Yellow Wagtails of the Black-headed (felldegg) race, which included 2 Blue-headed (flava) birds.

We returned home and the most important event of the week took place – “List Maintenance”.

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

Highlight of the Week:  Lots of migration, a trip to the Tepabasi Tulip Festival and finding a very rare Orchid at Ayia Napa Sewage Works – only the 3rd record for Cyprus.

Other Interesting Finds:  An Orange Tip in the North – my first for Cyprus and a couple of new orchids including Naked Man Orchid, (Cyprus) Woodstock Orchid, Serapias vomer berelii and Dull Ophrys.  Also a Pyramedial Orchid at Cape Greco.

Look Forward:  A day off on Monday and lots of migration during the week with a trip to Paphos next weekend.

If you are planning a visit or require more info please feel free to contact me at:

Mark Easterbrook

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