Cyprus Weekly

Birding Highlights for the Week Ending 9 Feb 14

Great Crested Grebes at Akhna Dam

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

It’ll soon be light enough to get to Akhna Dam on a Monday after work but not quite.

On Tuesday I visited the Larnaca area and there appears to have been mass exodus of Wildfowl from the sewage works as numbers were greatly reduced and no Geese were evident.  A drive along Spiro’s Beach revealed 2 fishing and plunge diving Sandwich Terns and a Marsh Harrier over the Airport Fields.  On the South Pool, a Heuglin’s Gull was present amongst the other white headed Gulls and 14 Shelduck were present.  Moving on to the North side of the Salt Lake, the gull roost was looking healthy but other than a Mediterranean Gull there wasn’t much of interest.  As I walked along by the hide a Reed Bunting sat atop a reed but sadly that was the highlight of the day.

An enjoyable couple of hours was spent at Cape Greco on Wednesday where a number of decent birds were seen but not any early migrants.  On route to Ayia Thekla a field near the road revealed the presence of 15 Golden Plovers, a Stone Curlew and 3 Lapwings.  At Ayia Thekla, I quickly located 4 Greater Sand Plovers with Kentish Plovers and a couple of Dunlin.  I moved onto Kermia Beach where not surprisingly a pair of adult Audouin’s Gulls were still in residence and in the sea offshore, drifting east a pair of Great Crested Grebes which is unusual.  A wander around the Cape Greco produced a couple of Linnets and further on a pair of Cyprus Warblers, Spectacled Warbers and Sardinian Warblers.  The male Blue Rock Thrush continued its winter stay as did the female light-throated Finsch’s Wheatear.  A Common Buzzard was at the rubbish tip as I returned to the car.  On the way home I drove around the back of the Ay Nik camp area close to the buffer zone.  The first Fan-tailed Warbler of the month was noisy and a Common Buzzard drifted overhead.  As I searched the edge of the Mesaoria Plain, I sighted a dark falcon that perched on a clod of earth.  I scoped it and the heavy streaking on the breast and small bill with distinct creamy supercillium identified the bird as a fairly large dark female Merlin - a difficult bird to catch up with in Cyprus and one that’s easily missed off year list even though they winter in small numbers.  An early Swallow was on the wires in Vrysoulles as I returned home.

In the afternoon, I drove to the North and at Clapsides Beach a Temminck’s Stint and Redshank were in a muddy channel and a Grey Plover with 15 Golden Plovers was on the rocks.  At Gulserin 136 Greater Flamingos were feeding and 7 Shelducks were present but not much else.  I stopped a the Fresh Water Lake South on the way home  but nothing out of the ordinary was present.  On the 6th Feb, I drove to Akhna Dam in the afternoon and a female Sparrowhawk was chasing a flock of c100 Starlings with 3 Great White Egrets around the dam.  A Cetti’s Warbler gave itself up eventually and 13 Swallow passed over the dam.  I located the Great Crested Grebe* only to find a second bird the Grebes posed perfectly in the setting sun reflection* - I almost got emotional.  On the 7th I wasn’t feeling too special so stayed in and watched the Bucket List – what a great film.  The 8th saw a day out in Nicosia with Deb but on the way home 19 Golden Plovers were in fields at Pervolia.  I eventually located Petounta Point, having not been there before it was a recce for the AOS trip – it looks like a great place for some early morning sea watching and a real migrant trap.  On Sunday I was busy with work so couldn’t get out.

Highlights of the Week:  A female Merlin was a good find.

Look Forward:  The search for early migrants and firsts for the year has commenced.

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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