Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 2 Feb
Spotted Redshank at Oroklini Coast
*Indicates that a photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view.
On the 28th I visited the north to find the usual species at Clapsides beach including a Grey Plover, 5 Ringed Plovers and 14 Kentish Plovers. Gulserin held good numbers of Teal and a couple of Redshanks amongst the Spur-winged Plovers whilst the highlight at Fresh Water Lake South were 2 Great White Egret – not what can be described as an epic start to the week by any stretch of the imagination. On Wednesday, having not been to Akhna Dam for a while a visit was due. No sooner had I put my bins up, I got onto an adult Little Gull*, a new bird for me at the site and my 198th for Akhna Dam. 11 Reed Buntings flushed – somewhat of a record count and on the water I managed a distant shot of a Great Crested Grebe* – a scarce winter visitor. A Water Pipit and male Blackcap were worthy sightings.
In the hope of finding some early migrants I visited the Cape Greco Rubbish Tip area on Thursday. Not the most aesthetically pleasing place you’ll ever visit (and the AOS will), but it does turn up the birds. Last Spring I saw 6 species of Wheatear in a morning! On this occasion it was situation normal with 3 Blue Rock Thrushes, 2 Black Redstarts and several Song Thrushes. 17 Starlings were strange for the site and a Long-legged and Common Buzzard were predictable for the time of year. At Ayia Napa Sewage Works birds were at a minimum, however, my first orchids of the year with the early flowering Fan-lipped* and Giant*, with the rare Caspian Butterfly Orchid, showing leafs.
At Akhna Dam on Friday, a Swallow was hawking the water and the Great Crested Grebe was still present. 3 Wigeon were also still there with 2 Great White Egrets, although to be honest it was a fairly dull affair. When I returned home there was an email from Colin Richardson reporting a Rock Bunting in the north at Five Finger Mountain and a Red-fronted Serin at Anarita Park. I decided to go for the Rock Bunting on Saturday and await news of the Serin for a possible trip on Sunday. Deb went with me to the mountains in the north, a site that I will visit again as it has lots of potential for migrants. After about an hour or so, I could hear a Bunting but I couldn’t find it. Descending the steep slope, I caught site of a bird with white outer tail feathers and as it perched on a bush, I got my scope on it for about 15 seconds. With an unmistakeable head pattern it was a young male Rock Bunting – result, a Cyprus “tick”. 2 Black Redstarts and a male Cyprus Warbler were noted with commoner passerines. We drove along the mountain road towards Esenteppe and at a viewpoint got another couple of year ticks with a Wren and the difficult to find these days, pair of Raven. Driving back to Famagusta, I stopped at Guvercinlik plains and amongst the numerous Skylarks and Crested Larks were 3 Calandras and a flushed Black Francolin female. The Famagusta Wetlands held little of interest so I returned home to negative news of the Red-fronted Serin, so I’d made a good decision with the Rock Buntings.
On Sunday, driving past Akhna Dam 7 Starlings and a ringtail Hen Harrier flew over me. At Oroklini Coast, the first Spotted Redshank* of the year posed for the camera, a Little Egret fed and numerous Black-headed Gulls loafed. Dropping Deb at the dreaded JUMBO, I checked the newly found drain and in it was a revelation, 6 Temminck’s Stints, 6 Little Ringed Plovers – the first for the year, 2 Teal, a Spur-winged Plover, Cattle Egret and a Snipe. I proceeded to Oroklini Marsh where 4 Pintails (3 males) were the highlight. A Bluethroat was present and my first 8 House Martins of the year were amongst good numbers of Swallows. In the Larnaca gull roosts, at least 9 Armenian Gulls, 2 Siberian Gulls, a Baltic Gull and large numbers of Caspian Gulls with 3 Mediterranean Gulls were present with the usual C600 Shelduck. On the edge of the salt lake, waders were well represented with Little Stints, Dunlins, Redshanks, Kentish and Ringed Plovers and a single Sanderling was a good find. A male Peregrine fed on a freshly caught wader and a ghostly male Hen Harrier quartered the cereal fields. At the Sewage Works, 11 Black-necked Grebes were present, 2 in breeding plumage but in windy conditions viewing was difficult. I returned via Akhna Dam where at least 100 Spanish Sparrows roosted and 2 Swallows were present.
Highlights of the Week: A Cyprus tick was a good start to the year with a couple of very scarce wintering Rock Buntings.
Look Forward: With Swallows, House Martins, a couple of waders and Great Spotted Cuckoo being reported, Wheatears must arrive soon.
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