Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 3 Nov
Booted Eagle at Akhna Dam on 3 Nov
* Indicates that a photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view or click on the link.
Monday and as suggested no time to birdwatch as it was dark when I left work at 1700. I did manage an hour at Akhna Dam, locating the Pipit flock once more. At least 10 Water Pipits were present along with a Meadow and 2 Yellow Wagtails (immatures). The Corn Bunting flock has grown to c30 and the Spanish Sparrow flock is also increasing. I managed to find the mystery Pipit again and photographed it once more. I sent the images to James P Smith of Birdfinders fame and a member of the Israeli rarities committee who was kind enough to spare his time and have a look. He categorically confirmed that it wasn’t a Buff-bellied Pipit and commented furthermore that it was a very pale form of the Middle East race coutelli*. Interestingly, I am imformed that the Birds of Cyprus 1938 detailed a number of skins as the race spinolletta which were later proved to be coutelli, so perhaps they are more commonly occurring in Cyprus than supposed?
On Tuesday afternoon, I stopped searching for Pipits and returned to more normal pastures at Akhna Dam. Nothing much doing but the Black-necked Grebe continues its stay and Bluethroats remain in good numbers. In the same reed bed, a Reed Warbler and a Sedge Warbler were hanging on late into the season and Common Snipes had reduced. An Osprey was present and interestingly, the 29th October last year was the last one I saw for the year at Akhna Dam – remarkable how reliable the timing of migration is? A couple of Marsh Harriers were over the reed beds, with one suffering the indignity of being shot at by a young moron with nothing better to do and just because it was there? In any event it continued without harm. As I searched the far shore of the dam a Common Crane was feeding with Grey Herons and a Red-throated Pipit flew over calling as it did so.
Deb was suffering from JUMBO withdrawal symptoms – signs are becoming temperamental regarding hours spent birding vs hours spent in the house, so we visited JUMBO on Wednesday afternoon and I headed for Oroklini Marsh for an hour where amazingly the Terek Sandpiper was still in residence with a few Redshanks, Snipes, Little Stints and Dunlins. In a water canal next to JUMBO, 2 Temminck’s Stints, a Ringed Plover, 2 Spur-winged Plovers, a Redshank and a Bluethroat were a bit of a surprise. After retrieving Deb from a “spendathon”, we headed to Akhna Dam on the way home where there was about half an hours light remaining. The Common Crane remained as did a Greenshank and a Lapwing. The Reed Warbler is becoming unseasonal and the highlight was finding my first Moustached Warbler of the winter, always a good bird to get in October. Sometimes confused with Sedge Warbler once seen well with its black cap and Wren like jizz, it shouldn’t be mistaken for long.
Thursday was business as usual at Akhna Dam although it did seem very quiet compared with the deluge of birds during early October. Nothing was new, however, the same or a different Osprey was fishing and the same 2 Marsh Harriers hawked the reed beds. A Peregrine did a fly through and the Common Crane remained in situ along with a couple of Greenshanks and a Redshank. Bluethroats were active around the reed beds, but there was little else to write home about.
The 1st of a new month but October was absolutely exceptional; I submitted 1013 records detailing 171 species. My previous best for a month was 149, that’s how good October was! However, back to reality and November will consist of picking up some late migrants and checking in the winter visitors, especially the wildfowl. Visiting the north to get the monthly allotment of Turkish Lira allowed me a visit to the Fresh Water Lake South in Famagusta. 2 Spotted Redshanks was a surprise, Great White Egrets totalled 4, as did Ruffs, however apart from the usual month ticks to be had, nothing much was doing so we went for dinner and enjoyed a cracking mixed kebab.
We rose early on Saturday to travel to Morphou (Guzelyurt) in the north to join the KUSKOR group for a field trip. We met up successfully and headed off to Lefke Dam an area which I was unfamiliar with. When we arrived birds looked fairly sparse, but a pair of perched and then flying adult Bonelli’s Eagles gave crippling views and over the dam, 9 Crag Martins were a surprise. A Song Thrush called and then flew, Sardinian Warblers called and 5 Cormorants, 3 Grey Herons and a Little Grebe were on the dam. A Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard and a Yellow-legged Gull made appearances but we soon moved on to Kalkanli Dam behind the university. This is an excellent site for wildfowl and as we watched the dam, c120 Pochards, c90 Ferruginous Ducks, 6 Pintails, 5 Wigeon, Shovellers, Teal and Mallards were present. A Great White Egret, another 5 Cormorants and a splendid adult male Hen Harrier added to the numbers, with an immature Peregrine also putting in an appearance. A couple of Greenshanks gave themselves away as they called and eventually a female Garganey was seen amongst the Teal, as I left the site I flushed a Black Francolin.
I visited Akhna Dam on Sunday and it proved to be a very enjoyable couple of hours. I managed to photograph another Penduline Tit* and at least 6 Bluethroats were all around the reed beds. 4 unseasonable European Beeaters called and were seen overhead, a Water Pipit flushed and an Osprey* fished the dam. Another black and white raptor appeared and despite a bit of confusion was fairly quickly identified as a pale phase Booted Eagle* catching a thermal and rising, to be joined by an immature Marsh Harrier and White Pelican. Another female type Garganey was seen, a Redshank and Greenshank called and flew from the water’s edge and a Great White Egret sailed by. A Reed Warbler continued amongst the Chiffchaffs and a lone Kingfisher was seen. At Ay Nik in the evening a cracking male Black Redstart was seen. An end to a great week and month!
Highlight of the Week: Moustached Warbler arrival and the heart fluttering Pipit* moment which turned out to be not so exciting and a Booted Eagle (pale phase) at Akhna Dam.
Look Forward: No real expectations of November so I’ll just have to wait and see.
Other Interesting Finds: Your favourite paragraph is back! At Akhna Dam on Sunday, a Wandering Glider or Globe Skimmer, a new Dragonfly for me although impossible to photograph with my camera was seen patrolling high above the water line.
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