Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 15 Dec

Alexandrine Parakeet at Gulhane Park Istanbul on 15 Dec

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

On Tuesday I visited the north to get some Turkish Lira prior to the trip to Istanbul.  At Clapsides Beach, 2 Curlew, 4 Grey Plover numerous Dunlins and Kentish Plovers were of interest and at Silver Beach, 4 Golden Plovers were new.  I moved onto the Fresh Water Lake South and watched 304 Cattle Egrets come into roost.  Whilst watching I saw a lone Great White Egret, 8 Cormorants, 2 Grey Wagtails, 4 Night Herons and an adult Armenian Gull washing amongst the Black-headed Gulls but nothing very unusual.

Unseasonal poor weather across the Levant produced a rare event – an un-birdable day, very rare in Cyprus.  In any event I stayed in and packed for the trip to Istanbul.  On Thursday we flew to Istanbul arriving to snow and very cold conditions.  Throughout the visit birds were scarce save for the ubiquitous Yellow-legged* and Black-headed Gulls.  I did see 2 Sandwich Terns patrolling the Bosphorus and Cormorants and Shags were well represented with Starlings sat on the Galata Bridge.  Visiting Topkapi Palace and Gulhane Park, there were the usual common woodland species with a, what appeared to be a mixed breeding colony of Alexandrine* and Ring-necked Parakeets.  I was unaware that Alexandrine Parakeets had a breeding population in the Western Paleactic and although I have seen them elsewhere they did represent a European and WP “tick”, albeit from introduced stock.  The usual Hooded Crows*, House Sparrows* and I was surprised to see Palm (Laughing Doves)* around the city.  However in Gulhane Park, despite searching for a Syrian Woodpecker as I had heard one, I think numbers are reduced probably due to the Parakeet population taking the nest holes.  There were also nest boxes for them in the park, so their expansion will be excessive.  A couple of Common/Steppe Buzzards were over the Palace but generally birding was at a low and unfortunately shopping was at a high.  When you arrive with a 12Kg case and leave with a 17 Kg case, you can work out for yourselves what went on!

Istanbul is a fantastic place and well worth a visit.  I plan to visit again in September to catch some raptor migration across the Bosphorus.

Highlight of the Week:  A mixed colony of Alexandrine* (WP “tick) and Ring-necked Parakeets in Gulhane Park, Istanbul.

Look Forward:  Many species have been pushed south due to the poor weather coming down from the Arctic across the Black Sea, through Turkey and towards the Lavant so something good should turn up.

If you are planning a visit or require more info please feel free to contact me at:

Mark Easterbrook

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