Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 18 Aug
Red-backed Shrike at Akhna Dam on 18 Aug
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Monday and Akhna Dam. Yellow Wagtails have increased to c40 although waders were in short supply with only 17 Spur-winged Plovers, 1 Wood Sandpiper and 1 adult Black-winged Stilt. Glossy Ibises remain constant at 5 and Squacco Herons at 2. 3 Masked Shrikes were present including a pristine adult male. I found an area to watch a reed bed which revealed 2 Sedge Warblers, a Cetti’s Warbler, 4 Eurasian Reed Warblers, 2 probable Eastern (Caspian Reed Warblers) and a putative adult Marsh Warbler (TBC, tomorrow if it’s still there). A couple of Common Kingfishers called and were seen as I sat by the reed bed and a Grey Heron flew over. The adult Dunlin was seen again and 3 Hoopoes flushed as I drove around the site. On the way home an adult Roller perched in its usual tree on the main road near Avgorou.
On Tuesday a visit to Troodos allowed me to catch up with the mountain specialities plus a few goodies. At Amiantos Asbestos Mine, 4 Crag Martins hawked the screed slopes and up the road at Giant Junipers Picnic Site 2 Red-rumped Swallows flew across the treeline. With most of the mountain species in the bag, after my meeting and lunch I headed back to Ay Nik, catching up with a Grey Wagtail and Wren at the Caledonian Falls Trout Farm in Platres. I visited Akhna Dam in the evening and there had been an influx of Common Sandpipers – 14, but nothing else was new and no sign of the probable/possible Marsh Warbler – so I’ll have to put that one down to experience. A difficult species at the best of times unless singing and add that to the complexity of the Eastern Reed Warbler and you have a recipe for a stringy record without a positive ID and a good photo to look at, as was the case last year.
On Wednesday, since Koprulu in the north is now dry, I reverted to last years plan to visit Ayia Napa Sewage Works mid-week and what a good decision that proved to be. As I walked the area Eastern Olivaceous Warblers were much in evidence and 8 Pallid Swifts hawked over the lagoons along with numerous Swallows. I explored further and saw at least 4 Red-backed, 2 Lesser Grey and 2 Masked Shrikes. Spectacled Warblers were obvious and 3 Eastern Orphean Warblers gave reasonable views, a bit of a skulker and difficult to view at times. As I rounded the end of the Carob grove, a bird sat motionless on a dead snag. I quickly raised by bins and though I knew what it was immediately although several very strident tail cocks with a rufous rump confirmed it was a Rufous Bush Chat or Scrub Robin if you prefer, in any event a view of about 6 seconds confirmed it was of the nominate race Ssp syriacus, which is greyer on the head, nape and mantle than the browner Middle East form – a Cyprus “tick” for me an about as good as it gets these days! It flew into the scrub, (as you’d expect) and I was unable to relocate it for the photo opportunity. As I returned to the car, a Grey Heron gained height and drifted out over Cape Greco and a browner bird flew across me; about the same size as an Orphean Warbler, as it perched in a bush briefly the oversized Garden Warbler looking individual gave itself up as a juvenile Barred Warbler, my first of the autumn. Driving from the area a Common Whitethroat fed on berries. Feeling extremely happy Deb and I stopped for a celebratory ice cream and later a beer where 6 European Beeaters flew over us – the end of a good day.
Larnaca Sewage Works was a bit predictable on Thursday afternoon although added a few month ticks including 5 Little Stints, a juvenile Whiskered Tern with 2 White-winged Black Terns, 4 Northern Shovellers and a Teal. With Oroklini now dry, I returned via Akhna Dam where a Temminck’s Stint was new for the month, a Night Heron passed overhead and Hoopoe numbers had increased to 8. A couple of Sedge Warblers were still present and roosting Yellow Wagtails numbered about 40 whereas Cattle Egrets were in excess of 600. On Friday I attended the Mess and the Horse Racing Night which ended up with not getting out until Saturday evening.
In any event Saturday evening was a great success. There had been a large influx of waders at Akhna Dam and I was attracted to a calling wader, the call of which I didn’t recognise. In profile, it became obvious – a brown looking, immature Terek Sandpiper, a great find for Cyprus and an addition to my Cyprus list. Not seen annually, I scoped it briefly before some cretin on a motor cross bike flushed everything. The bird with Green and Wood Sandpipers flew high to the south and did not return. Sunday morning at Akhna brought my first Willow Warbler of the autumn and 2 Purple Herons whilst later at Larnaca Sewage Works, 2 Avocets and a Ringed Plover added to the monthly total. In the evening at Akhna a good looking although moulting adult Whiskered Tern fed actively. The end of a good week had arrived with the addition of 2 difficult birds to my Cyprus list bringing it to 300 including full species and recognisable sub-species.
Highlight of the Week: A couple of Cyprus “ticks” of course with the sighting of the semi-rare Rufous Bush Chat, the highest count ever for a year is only 3 so any sighting is a chance moment and an excellent, less than annual Terek Sandpiper.
Look Forward: Migration is hotting up and I can’t get out enough but with the Bank Holiday weekend approaching, I’m hopeful of catching up with some Demoiselle Cranes.
If you are planning a visit or require more info please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org