Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 1 Dec

Buff-bellied Pipit at Akhna Dam 24 Nov

* Indicates that a photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view.

Where has the year gone?  I can’t believe it’s December already!  Anyway, with the beginning of the week came 2 independent confirmations that the bird I photographed on 24 November at Akhna Dam was indeed a Buff-bellied Pipit* of the Ssp Japonicus (Asian Buff-bellied Pipit), although not split from the North American form rubescens it is very obviously different. With 2 previously reported this year, one in March and probably the same bird as I saw earlier in the month; perhaps they’ve always been present but remained undetected?  Having looked for the bird in several Middle East countries the most recent being Israel in 2011 with Tim Cowley, I was delighted to catch up with it.  Submitted to the sub-rarities committee, we await the outcome.  As is the norm, no birding was undertaken on Monday due to the early evenings drawing in; it is now scarcely bird-able by 1610.

On Tuesday, a Christmas visit to JUMBO.  With Oroklini now flooded again, the prospects are good.  However, on arrival there was work taking place on behalf of Birdlife Cyprus to regenerate the area and make it more of a reserve.  When completed it looks like it will be a good site for birds, although accessing and viewing may be difficult so not so good for birders.  So not much was seen but Water and Meadow Pipits were around in good numbers, 9 Teal, a group of Spur-winged Plovers and a Grey Heron.  At the man made channel next to JUMBO, 7 Little Ringed Plovers, 4 Little Stints and 4 Spur-winged Plovers were present.

Wednesday presented an opportunity to get to Akhna Dam which was extremely quiet, although a female Hen Harrier flushed good numbers of Corn Buntings as I entered the site.  I did however managed to locate and photograph the Buff-bellied Pipit* once more amongst Water and Meadow Pipits.  As I watched, I caught site of a Water Rail briefly, which then flew to another reed bed where 2 Bluethroats were located.  As I left the site, I paused to look at the waders which consisted of 5 Redshanks and 2 Redshanks amongst the 30 or so Spur-winged Plovers.

On Wednesday afternoon I visited Akhna Dam to see what was new.  A Black-winged Stilt was new, a Water Rail was seen as I watched and photographed the Buff-bellied Pipit* again amongst the Meadow* and Water Pipits*.  2 Greenshanks were noisy as several Corn Buntings and a Red-throated Pipit passed overhead and a female Hen Harrier was nice to see.  On Thursday, Christmas decorating of the Mess took precedence and you can imagine how delighted I was that this activity had stopped me from birding?

On Friday afternoon, I met Colin Richardson and 3 other birders from Paphos who were interested in seeing the Buff-bellied Pipit.  After some time we located the bird once more feeding amongst the other Pipits so all were delighted with the result.  Whilst watching we added Starlings, Wood Larks, Greenshanks and a Great White Egret and the star of the day and a year tick for me a female Merlin did a fly through.  With Marsh and Hen Harriers putting in appearances, the last bird of the day was a surprised Moustached Warbler.  Saturday was fairly dull where only a Redshank and a Black Redstart were seen at Silver Beach prior to having the “Movember” growth removed by Mehmet.

At Dhekelia Fire Station on 1st Dec, 10 Stone Curlews were roosting with a Black Redstart close by.  At Akhna Dam later in the afternoon, many Pipits were still present but I couldn’t find the Buff-bellied on this occasion.  A single Greenshank and Great White Egret were still active and a newly arrived Dunlin was also on the lagoons.  With the wind blowing “a hooley”, there was little chance of much else but a cracking male Hen Harrier followed by a female and a female Marsh Harrier were a consolation.

Highlight of the Week:  Confirmation of the Buff-bellied Pipit* sighting.

Look Forward:  A trip to Troodos next weekend for the Xmas Ball could bring anything and hopefully a Brambling.

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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