Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 11 Aug
Common Kingfisher at Akhna Dam on 11 Aug
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Migration gathered pace this week with the first visit to Akhna Dam producing some good birds. The first of which was a Purple Heron quickly followed by a Sedge Warbler, an adult male Little Bittern and 2 Squacco Herons. The site’s vehicular access has been blocked off so a walk is necessary to gain any benefit of a visit. As I walked around, several Eastern Olivaceous Warblers were obvious as were the Common Sandpipers. 3 Yellow Wagtails, female types, not ID’d to race were noted which were my first for the autumn. 2 Common Kingfishers were present and I then caught site of a loan Common Starling. Masked Shrikes and Hoopoes were present as usual for this time of year as were the commoner waders – Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Spur-winged Plovers. A good start to the week with some visible migration underway and completed by 2 Rollers over the road at Avgorou as I returned home.
Tuesday’s visit to Cape Greco and the North were productive. In the morning at Ayia Napa Football Pitches, 2 female Black Francolins strutted their stuff out in the open whilst further on at the Sewage Works, a male Eastern Orphean Warbler and Cyprus Warbler were seen briefly whilst 2 male Red-backed Shrikes and a Lesser Grey Shrike were more obvious sat on top to their lookout perches. A Common Swift was heard overhead and 4 Common Sandpipers were on the lagoons. At Cape Greco Pines, nothing much doing but 3 Chukars scampered away, a male Cyprus Wheatear caught flies and 2 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers tried to hide.
In the afternoon, it was the weekly trip to Koprulu Dam. Now reduced to two small puddles which will probably be dry in about 2 or 3 days, I didn’t expect much. But proving me wrong, it’s amazing how migrating waders find even the smallest patches of water to feed in, it was quite productive. An adult male (moulting heavily) Spotted Redshank stood out and as I watched, at least 7 Wood Sandpipers came into view with a Ruff and finally a very white, winter plumaged Marsh Sandpiper with its needle thin bill joined the feeding flock. With 16 Cattle Egrets, 6 Grey Herons, 5 Spur-winged Plovers and 4 Black-winged Stilts present, it’s probably going to be the last visit to the site until November/ December and the first rains. Returning home via the Fresh Water Lake in Famagusta which is beginning to reduce in water and revealing some mud produced 8 Squacco Herons, 4 Little Egrets, an adult Night Heron, with 23 Spur-winged Plovers, 1 Black-winged Stilt and 6 Glossy Ibises, so not exactly heaving yet.
On Thursday prior to heading over the north for dinner out at the Turkish kebab emporium, I walked around Akhna Dam for about an hour. As I arrived good numbers of Yellow Wagtails flew from the grass and 2 Green Sandpipers took to the air. As I walked around the usual flock of Common Sandpipers were present including a Wood Sandpiper and a Redshank called and then landed not far from me. With 4 Glossy Ibis and a Squacco flushing, I noticed a wader on the shore which I managed to photograph that was my first Dunlin* of the autumn, a breeding plumaged bird. An immature Masked Shrike was still present as were 3 Little Ringed Plovers and 2 Little Owls. As I stood above a reed bed, I first heard 2 and then saw a Reed Warbler. A couple of European Beeaters called as they passed high above me but that was about it for the visit.
Friday had arrived and I watched the cricket. On Saturday I made an early start and returned to the Cape Greco area. At Ayia Napa Football Pitches, a male and female Black Francolin fed on one of the pitches whilst 2 Common Swifts were above me. On an adjacent pitch 5 Yellow Wagtails and a female Red-backed Shrike fed actively. As I drove past the Ayia Napa Sewage Works lagoons, 5 Common Sandpipers were present but not much else. Clearly there had been a mini fall with many Sylvia warblers being present including at least 5 Eastern Orphean Warblers, 2 Common Whitethroats, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 Spectacled Warblers and 2, a male and female Cyprus Warblers. Another Red-backed Shrike at the top of the hill was also fairly obvious. As I reached the top of the hill, vehicles were present – not a good sign. Sure enough the song of an unseasonal Blackcap alerted me to a tape lure and a pair of poachers with about 60 – 100 limesticks being set – the first of the autumn and quite early. There, the grotesque site of several birds hanging from the deadly sticks awaiting their demise and their lives and migration to Africa cut short. So, despite my efforts to report the site throughout last autumn – no action! The barbaric, narrow-minded, uneducated slaughter of millions of migrating species continues unabated, quite sickening. I reported the incident but I know nothing will be done. 3 juvenile Black-headed Buntings* called as they flew across me and one stopped to have a look around before proceeding south. As I left the area an adult Roller perched on a small conifer, 2 Grey Herons flew west and several Eastern Olivaceous Warblers were very vocal.
On Sunday evening I visited Akhna Dam and all appeared quiet. A single Squacco Heron fed in the water soaked vegetation and not much else appeared to be occurring. With persistence, I saw 4 Glossy Ibises and 18 Yellow Wagtails. As I scanned I saw 3 Wood Sandpipers and a Green Sandpiper with 4 Garganeys flying in and landing on the water. A juvenile Masked Shrike revealed itself briefly and 3 Little Ringed Plovers called and flew over the water. I eventually found 3 Kingfishers* and amongst the hundreds of migrating Swallows, a single Sand Martin and 2 House Martins. I also snapped a breeding plumaged Cattle Egret*. That concluded the day and the week and with England recovering against Australia all was well.
Highlight of the Week: A couple of juvenile Black-headed Buntings were good August records.
Look Forward: More braving the heat in an attempt to find some rarities.
If you are planning a visit or require more info please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org