Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 8 Dec
Female Little Bustard at Geri (Buffer Zone) on 4 Dec
* Indicates that a photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view.
As is the norm there was no possibility of birding on Monday although going to lunch a Great Tit was present in the camp area. On the morning of the 3rd, a Black Redstart was present near to the accommodation blocks. On Tuesday afternoon which was pretty miserable and windy, I visited Akhna Dam. Water Pipits seem to have declined in numbers and the Buff-bellied Pipit was nowhere to be seen. In the fields a single Red-throated Pipit, complete with red throat was amongst c60 Corn Buntings but there wasn’t much of interest. At the dam, the now regular female Hen Harrier spooked what waders were present which included 5 Redshanks, 1 Greenshank and a Dunlin. Good numbers of Spur-winged Plovers are wintering and a single Teal flushed from the water’s edge. Meadow Pipits and Wood Larks were well represented and a male Black Francolin flew in and quickly hid in the undergrowth. On the way home at Vrysoulles, no Barn Owl but a Little Owl was present in the regular roost. I received an email late on Tuesday informing me that there was a Little Bustard in the buffer zone near a town called Geri – south of Nicosia, but no more details. It had been found by a local naturalist and photographer, George Chris.
On Wednesday at work, I received an email from Colin Richardson, informing me that access had been arranged to see the Bustard and where I had to be and at what time. As soon as I’d finished work I drove to the “twitch” – with 3 of us there that’s as big as it gets in Cyprus for the 3rd record of Little Bustard. As we drove to the area a female Hen Harrier flew over the fields, whilst several Larks and Stonechats were also present. Suddenly there was the Little Bustard*, a female not 10 yards from the car. Feeding actively and very tame, we edged closer taking some great shots and looking at its cryptic plumage in detail – a fantastic bird for Cyprus. I fear for its well being, as it is so tame and seemingly having no fear, I would have thought that the likelihood of it being shot is high. As we left the area we saw a male Finsch’s Wheatear and Black Redstart. On the way home I stopped at Larnaca Sewage Works – shame to miss an opportunity and as it’s the first visit of the month, caught up with some good species for the monthly checklist. 3 Gadwalls was a good count, 5 immature Greater Flamingos were feeding and 3 Black-necked Grebes were predictable. Shellducks have increased to 76 and Greater White-fronted Geese have reached 12. Waders represented were 1 Ruff, 5 Redshanks and 4 Little Stints. A single adult Mediterranean Gull loafed with c700 Black-heads, but generally it was all rather predictable. Spiro’s Pool held 136 Golden Plovers and the Airport fields another 31 and an adult male Peregrine Falcon. On Spiro’s Beach, 1 adult Ringed Plover and 4 Kentish Plovers was at that was available. Still, a great day out with superb views of the Little Bustard which were the best I’ve ever had anywhere in the world.
Thursday was the promotion board results and as I was unsuccessful, I got drunk anyway. On Friday, I took Deb to Nicosia before proceeding to Troodos for the station Christmas Ball. In Ledra Street, Nicosia a Grey Wagtail called and flew above me which was unexpected. The weather was horrendous in the mountains and with visibility down to about 5 metres, no birding was done. A patch of clear weather on Saturday morning allowed me to catch up with most of the mountain endemics an in the village of Omodos, several Sardinian Warblers and Serins showed periodically. A single Grey Wagtail was at the Caledonian Falls Trout Farm but with the cloud cover coming down once more that was it for the day.
On Sunday, returning home I stopped at Oroklini Marsh where a large group of Lapwings had gathered along with a single Starling. At the nearby Dolphin Rocks, a single Caspian Gull joined c170 Black-headed Gulls and 3 Sandwich Terns. Continuing the coastal theme, at Dhekelia Power Staition, at least 13 Shags had gathered. I dropped Deb at home and returned to Akhna Dam where it was very quiet, however I re-found the Asian (japonicus) Buff-bellied Pipit* and got a bit of a ropey photo for recording purposes.
Highlight of the Week: The 3rd record of Little Bustard for Cyprus, showing down to 5 metres.
Look Forward: Christmas is upon us but next weekend we are off to Istanbul to celebrate Deb’s Birthday, so birding highlights may be a bit sparse.
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