Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 4 Aug

Juvenile Yellow Wagtail at Akhna Dam

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

On Monday, I took a day’s leave in an attempt to find a few early migrants.  It was on the same date last year that I found an unlikely Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler at Ayia Napa Sewage Works, which is where I headed initially.  I visited yesterday but there were few birds evident.  What a difference a day makes (that is not a cue for a song).  There were clearly more birds present with several Spectacled Warblers and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers being present with an immature Masked Shrike.  I then found a cracking male Red-backed Shrike, the first of the autumn to my knowledge followed by the first Eastern Orphean Warbler of the migration period.  A Common Sandpiper was on the lagoons with the usual Little Grebes and at Cape Greco Pines the Cyprus Wheatears were still present along with another Eastern Olivaceous Warbler.  I returned via Sotira Pond to find 4 Glossy Ibises, a Green Sanpiper, Stone Curlew, 5 Black-winged Stilt and 7 very vocal Spur-winged Plovers.  Retuning home for lunch a Hoopoe flew across the road at Freneros. 

In the afternoon I visited the Larnaca area where the north side of the salt lake was completely dry although overhead 7 Pallid and a Common Swift drifted southwards.  At the sewage works, a pair of immature Whiskered Terns and a Little Tern were present along with a couple of Common Sandpipers and 2 Ruff.  Retuning via Akhna Dam as usual a large influx of waders had taken place although most were Little Ringed Plovers with 26 resting on the mud, 8 of which were adults.  2 Common Sandpipers and a single Ruff fed actively whilst a Little Owl and immature Masked Shrike sat quietly on their respective look out posts.

On Tuesday after work, I once more visited my local patch at Akhna Dam.  2 Little Owls were present as I entered the site and a Temmick’s Stint accompanied the 6 Little Ringed Plovers that were present.  As I drove the site, I flushed at least 7 Hoopoes and a Glossy Ibis, with an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Common Kingfisher and 3 Common Sandpipers putting in an appearance.  A Squacco Heron and circa 20 Spur-winged Plovers with a noisy Zitting Cisticola (Fan-tailed Warbler), living up to its name completed an enjoyable couple of hours.  Wednesday, with the car in the garage, (again – but I have put it through its paces), it was returned in time for me to visit Akhna Dam.  Little had arrived from the previous day although Little Ringed Plover numbers had once more increased to 27.

With it being extremely hot (40 degrees +) on Thursday afternoon, I stayed in until later which allowed me the opportunity to watch the beginning of the 3rd Ashes Test with Deb.  OK, so it’s a lie, she does not enjoy cricket more than she dislikes my perpetual listing!  A quick trip over the north and stopping at Fresh Water Lake, Famagusta saw me recording 4 Night Herons, 1 1 CY and 3 adults, 6 Squaccos, 4 Little Egrets, c150 Cattle Egrets, 2 Glossy Ibis and a single female Mallard.  Later at Akhna Dam, situation normal although the Little Ringed Plover flock had moved on and 2 Rollers crossed the road at Avgorou on the way home.  A noisy Little Owl kept me awake for a while as I struggled to sleep in the heat – Aircon time one thinks.  On Friday, I stayed in had a few beers and watched the cricket before heading over the north in the evening to visit the best Chinese restaurant we’ve so far managed to find..

An early rise on Saturday morning and I headed straight for the Cape Greco area in the hope of some migrants and I was not disappointed.  As I walked to the car 2 European Beeaters were over the wood at the back of the house which was great – not so great was that the locals were shooting at them.  The MINDLESS, BARBARIC, annual SLAUGHTER begins once more with the authorities obviously being either unable or unwilling to do anything about it.  At Ayia Napa Sewage Works, a couple of Common Sandpipers and a Green Sandpiper were on the lagoons, with Little Grebe numbers rising to c70.  As I walked towards the small olive grove, it was clear that there had been some movement as there seemed to be a lot more birds than earlier in the week.  At least 10 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers moved around restlessly and I caught sight of an immature Masked Shrike.  As I worked the area I disturbed at least 3 Eastern Orphean Warblers and 5 Spectacled Warblers.  I walked to the eucalyptus stand where a female Cyprus Warbler flitted about and a Spotted Flycatcher was actively doing what its name suggests.  With a few migrants obviously moving, I explored further and as I followed an in-flight Eastern Orphean Warbler, I caught a glimpse of a red tail.  I located a perched male Redstart and as it moved on the branch it revealed a large white wing patch.  Of the sub-species samamisicus, it was the Turkish and Caucasus race known as Ehrenberg’s Redstart.  During my previous visits to Cyprus I had recorded these as Eastern race Redstarts, with the Eastern Redstart now being recognised as a sub-species the discrimination of the samamisicus is in fact a Cyprus “tick” for me.  Having missed them in the spring when they are fairly common, to find one in the autumn where they are classed as very rare was indeed rewarding and worth the trip out in the by now (0800), blistering heat.  Happy, I moved to Cape Greco picnic site where 2 Rollers flew south, an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler fed actively and a Cyprus Wheatear (now becoming scarcer) caught an insect.  With not much else happening I moved along to Ayia Thekla to check out the Greater Sand Plovers, of which there were 4 in the usual place along with 2 Common Sandpipers. 

At Akhna Dam in the afternoon, not much was changing, the Little Owl roosted, the usual waders were present with 26 Little Ringed Plovers being in the majority and 2 Hoopoes flew away as the car approached.  Departing for Dhekelia at 1815 we stopped at the power station to view 6 Shags and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls before going to our friends to attend a leaving function.  Staying overnight and a bit worse for the wear, we rose late, drove home, watched the cricket, suffered and stayed out of the heat.  Not a bad week with evidence of small migration but nonetheless, rewards are there if you get out in the heat.

Highlight of the Week:  It’s always good to catch up with a few firsts for the migration period and the Ehrenberg’s Redstart was a good moment.

Look Forward:   Migration – it’s that time of the year again when getting out as often as possible should pay dividends even though it is now uncomfortably hot.

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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