On 14 August I visited the Troodos Station and detachment as part of my Troop Commander duties. It necessitated an overnight stop so being a conscientious birder I obviously took my camera and binoculars. The other Captain who was accompanying me said he hadn’t been to Troodos that often and wouldn’t mind a walk around. I replied “I know just the trail, very scenic and about 7 kms” – with birds I thought. He agreed so off we went at about 1400. The walk was steady with several Cyprus Graylings and Eastern Rock Graylings being noted amongst the Holy Blues and Clouded Yellows. House Martins were the most numerous birds and it would appear that the breeding Pallid Swifts had left in the first week in August
As we walked along the Persephone Trail (just SW of Troodos Village I noted the first Coal Tits and Great Tits. As we proceeded a couple of Cyprus Wheatear juveniles became evident. It was not surprising that no Masked Shrikes were seen given the numbers occurring in the lowlands which are obviously leaving the island.
We rounded the bottom of the trail and headed north west and I noted 3 calling Crossbills which were later seen in a tree feeding – 2 females and a male. A calling Spotted Flycatcher soon gave itself up and another was seen further along the track. A female Kestrel was seen hovering and a larger raptor chased a Wood Pigeon. It could only be one of two, a Peregrine Falcon or Goshawk. I was undecided having not really got a good look at it. We continued onwards and I noted a raptor being mobbed by many House Martins. It was a superb male Goshawk. A rare and restricted range resident on Cyprus. The Troodos range and Paphos Forest is the only place you can see them. I was delighted. Rob who was with me also looked through the bins and was suitably impressed and I commented that he didn’t realise how lucky he was (surely a potential AOS recruit, I thought). Anyway, the Goshawk soon rose on thermals as we watched and stooped to the left, diving quickly, as it did another raptor came into view as the Goshawk engaged in aerial combat. The unmistakeable shape of a Peregrine Falcon. An amazing sight. Although I have witnessed many great birding moments and spectacles around the world this was one to rival them. Both rare residents seen together – amazing! I’ve only previously seen Peregrines during the winter in the lowlands on Cyprus. It pays to take a non-birder with you, they always see things that are unbelievable. I usually call them stringers but this evidence suggests it’s just beginners luck. We enjoyed the moment and views until the raptors hurtled out of site. We continued the trail seeing about 16 Jays, an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, several Serins and added a Blackbird to the tally.
A fantastic couple of hours, great surroundings and a birding experience that I will remember forever.
The next morning from my room in the Troodos Station Combined Mess the Goshawk flew around the conifers below me. Having only had 2 views of Goshawks on Cyprus prior to this, I count myself extremely fortunate to have stumbled across one on 2 consecutive days.
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