Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 17 Nov
Osprey at Akhna Dam in Nov
With photographic opportunities being very limited this week - a species at Akhna Dam that's always worth a photoshoot.
Monday and bad light stopped play as usual. On Tuesday, avoiding the monthly shop, I had arranged to meet Colin Richardson at Akhna Dam at about 1430. Meeting successfully, the White Pelican was still hanging around and 6 Starlings flew overhead. The dam was alive with Pipits, mainly Water and 3 Redshanks and a Greenshank were present. At least 4 Bluethroats were seen, 10 Song Thrush flew overhead and perhaps the surprise of the day was 2 very late Swallows. As we left, a Marsh Harrier hawked the reed beds and at Dhekelia 40 Stone Curlews were present at the roost.
On Wednesday I ate breakfast as a Sardinian Warbler passed through the trees, a Chaffinch flew in and a Song Thrush flew over the house. I departed for Troodos at about 0730. Stopping at Giant Juniper picnic site, Song Thrushes were evident along with the usual mountain suspects but 4 Crossbills flying over was a good count. A Mistle Thrush, my first of the winter flew over, however, with hunters everywhere, blasting everything, I’m not sure how long it will last – this really is a despicable, sick nation! In the village at Troodos, a Wren sang in the open, a Coal Tit was less obvious, several Blackbirds flushed and Chaffinches were obvious. At Prodromos Dam in the afternoon, more of the same but a Grey Wagtail was an addition to the monthly tally.
On Thursday I returned to Ay Nik. At Larnaca Sewage Works, 8 Black-winged Stilt remained, 2 immature Greater Flamingos looked lost and a male Cyprus Warbler was unusual for the site. On the lagoons, gull numbers are growing but with nothing unusual, 3 Black-necked Grebes were present and a pair of Gadwalls were new. The dried out Spiro’s Pool now holds 12 Golden Plovers and a Black Redstart was present by the sewage works offices. Oroklini had a fair collection of smaller waders with mainly Dunlins and Little Stints being present however the Terek Sandpiper appears to have gone. 12 Lapwings was a good count prior to departing the area. At Dolphin rocks, conveniently near the KFC, 4 Sandwhich Terns were amongst the Black-headed Gulls and a Common Sandpiper – the only one for the month so far flew in. At Akhna Dam in the evening the immature White Pelican was still there and the highlight was a male and female Marsh Harrier and a cracking adult male Hen Harrier. Bluethroats numbered 4, Water Pipits are declining in numbers although good numbers of Red-throated Pipits remain in the fields. A Great White Egret had returned to the site and a Little Owl was in its usual roost as I left.
On Friday, I ventured over the north, but as Movember progresses, there was no need for the barbers. At Clapsides Beach, 2 Curlews were present along with an adult Audouin’s Gull, Grey Plover and numerous Kentish Plovers and Dunlins. Fresh Water Lake South held 3 Great White Egrets a couple of Kingfishers, a Spoonbill and the Cattle Egret roost numbered c250. A Grey Wagtail called and as dusk drew in, 6 Night Herons took to the sky. As I drove away from the site a Little Owl perched on a telegraph wire in front of me.
On Saturday the monthly jaunt to Ayia Thekla revealed 7 Greater Sand Plovers and 16 Kentish Plovers whilst at Ayia Napa Football Pithces, 19 Meadow Pipits and 1 Woodlarks fed actively on the grass.. The female dark throated Finsch’s Wheatear remained to the east of the football pitches and at the sewage works 126 Little Grebes was a good count. A male Black Redstart and my first Spectacled Warbler of the month were overshadowed by the large number of very vocal Sardinian Warblers. 20+ Chiffchaffs were in bushes on the approach road but there was little else of interest. As I approached Cape Greco, a Wheatear flew across in front of me which proved to be a late female Northern, I was hoping for something rarer. Male Blue Rock Thrushes numbered 3, Black Redstarts 5 with numerous Spectacled and Sardinians under the Army Camp. Another female Finsch’s Wheatear was present and a Peregrine was mobbed by a pair of Kestrels.
On Sunday to avoid the mass shooting, I went to the Larnaca Sewage Works area – next the airport, shooting is forbidden – which is good for the birds. 3 Shelducks were on the lagoons, Black-necked Grebes totalled 7, a Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and 6 Ruffs were on the lagoons along with the long staying Bar-tailed Godwit. A Sanderling was also present and a Marsh Harrier and then a Hen Harrier flushed everything. I flushed 2 Black Francolins as I drove away and Skylarks numbered 30+. At the dry Spiro’s Pool, 43 Golden Plovers were present along with a male Sardinian Warbler. I returned via Oroklini Marsh and a chance drive around the drainage channels revealed that remarkably the Terek Sandpiper, which was thought to have gone was still present into its 6th week. A single Shellduck and 5 Teals were in the channels along with commoner waders. I stopped at Dolphin Rocks on the way home to find c80 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Sandwich Tern and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls – my first for the winter period. Akhna Dam was fairly quiet with 2 Great White Egrets, the immature White Pelican and a female Hen Harrier. I was however shown a picture of an Asian Buff-bellied Pipit taken at the site 2 hours previously, however, no Water Pipits were present when I checked – I knew they must be here!
* Indicates that a photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view.
Highlight of the Week: In a fairly dull week a Mistle Thrush and late Swallows were good finds although the re-finding of the Terek Sandpiper at Oroklini was a good record..
Look Forward: Cold weather (relatively speaking of course), winter visitors and some long awaited rain I think. With the news of the japonicas Buff-bellied Pipit confirmed – some more grilling of Pipits no doubt.
Other Interesting Finds: Although I have seen this species before in the Canaries, it was the first Crimson Spotted Moth* that I’ve see in Cyprus.
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