Week Ending 26 Aug 12
* A photo of the species is included please visit Flickr site to view
http://www.flickr.com/photos/birder639/ ... 727280178/
With a deluge of migrants last week and some good fortune the Cyprus total for the year since June 11th now stands at 114. Considering, during my last tour which started in Jul 97, I bagged 117 species by the end of the year, it’s going pretty well. It must be said that I was a bit of a novice at that time and probably missed more than I saw – some would say “little has changed”. The weather appears to have cooled with some westerly and northerly winds that will aid migration. Westerly’s are always welcomed as it drives the migrants down my side of the island and away from Paphos which is regarded as “birding central”, a misconception that I am attempting to address.
Monday morning and as I ate my cornflakes, I heard and then saw a European Beeater over the woods at the back of the house – a good start to the week! The traditional evening visit to Akhna Dam produced a reduced number of usual waders, 6 Glossy Ibis, 5 Grey Heron, 1 Night Heron, a brief Great Reed Warbler, a Reed Warbler (see other interesting finds) and the now shy Little Crake remained present. An increase in the number of Yellow Wagtails was noted albeit many females and juveniles not revealing their race. There was however a splendid male of the feldegg (black-headed) sub species present.
A real dilemma this Tuesday, a Broad-billed Sandpiper has been seen at Zakazi Marsh, Limassol on the edge of Akrotiri Salt Lake, yesterday and the best chance at this end of the island is Akhna Dam, Larnaca Sewage Works or Oroklini Marsh I guess – decisions, decisions. Deb has made Tavas (a local Cypriot stew/casserole containing pork, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cumin, and nutmeg cooked in chicken stock, in the slow cooker), which makes my decision slightly easier as dinner is sorted. Should the trip to Cyprus come to fruition, we’ll be eating a lot of this. For those of a vegetarian persuasion, Cyprus is probably not the best place as it’s rather meat heavy. Larnaca Sewage Works was fairly disappointing with nothing significant being present except for the malodorous smell that I’ve come to love.
We then pushed onto Oriklini Marsh. As I drove up, I noticed a large number of small waders mostly Little Stints and Little Ringed Plovers. However, there under a dead bush in the marsh, a dark wader jumped out at me. I knew instinctively what it was and so spent the next 20 minutes or so watching and attempting to photograph a cracking adult Broad-billed Sandpiper*. The photos weren’t the best, so remembering my fieldcraft with a combination of the monkey run and leopard crawl (oh, how the Cypriots must have laughed), I got into a position to secure some very good photographs of this scarce spring and autumn migrant. An Avocet was also present along with 7 Little Egrets, a Teal, 3 Garganey and the normal numbers of Mallards, Stilts etc.
Onward to Akhna Dam and as I entered 10 Wood Sandpipers flushed and 3 species of Shrike were obviously noticeable perched on dead snags that used to be in the water, as the levels have reduced significantly in the increased summer heat. I then heard a call that I recognised as a Citrine Wagtail. It took me about half an hour of driving around tracking the flock of 30 or so Yellow Wagtails until I confirmed my initial ID. I managed to photograph the female/non breeding male Citrine Wagtail*. This species used to be under-recorded in the autumn unless it was a breeding male because of confusion with juvenile/female Yellow Wagtails, however the call is quite different, being a longer deep more drawn out version; (a dreeeepppp rather than a shreepp if you get my meaning – but it’s all very subjective?). In any event it was in the bag. As I tracked the Wagtails a Hoopoe flew and a Kingfisher was seen but little else of any note. Dinner and a beer (KEO – again lots of this to be drunk for the visitor to Cypurs) were great which rounded off a very enjoyable afternoon.
Early Wednesday morning, same routine but a flock of about 20 European Beeaters in the wood behind the house and this afternoon the first of the twice weekly visits to Ayia Napa Sewage Works and the Cape Greco area. Ayia Napa Football Pitches held 5 Lesser Grey Shrike, 1 Red-backed Shrike, 2 Isablelline Wheatears and a Northern Wheatear. Perhaps the biggest surprised were 3 Black Francolins (1 female and a male) feeding in the open on one of the football pitches.
I progressed to the sewage works noting a juvenile Red-backed Shrike and Roller. There had obviously been a significant fall of Sylvia warblers including 1 juvenile Barred Warbler, 2 juvenile Orphean Warblers and at least 15 Lesser Whitethroats interspersed with Spectacled Warblers that seemed to be everywhere. Also present was a lone Willow Warbler. As I left the site at least 9 migrant Pallid Swifts hawked the lagoons and a Hobby shot straight through on route to the sea via Cape Greco.
Thursday afternoon and again uncertainty prevailed. With migrants everywhere it was difficult to decide on a location – you can’t be everywhere at once! Again I speculated and decided on Oroklini Marsh. With an unprecedented movement of White Storks at Akrotiri Salt Lake (2000 – 2800), I thought maybe other species had also moved. At the Marsh, the Broad-billed Sandpiper was still present along with a good number of Little Stints. I scoped the lake noting an influx of Northern Shovellers, Teal and Garganey. As I panned a movement in the reeds proved to be a female Little Crake and a large grey wader in the water was obviously the first Spotted Redshank of the autumn. Thirteen Little Egrets (a good site count) were present which were obvious migrants, along with 2 Grey Heron and a preening, and my first Purple Heron during this tour.
At Ay Nik over my quarter a male Peregrine flew very fast south east heading for Cape Greco and the Beeaters continued to hunt over the woods at the back of the house. Friday and I’m thinking of having a day off from the migrant hunt. Right, enough of those crazy thoughts; I have the readers and my Cyprus list to consider. Akhna Dam held the same variety of species although a Dunlin was the first for the sight this autumn.
The weekend is here again and lots of sites to visit and not enough time to do it all properly. I can’t go more than an hour away as I’m the Duty Field Officer, so that rules out Aktotiri Salt Lake to look for roosting Demoiselle Cranes. It’s the issue with work, it does get in the way of meaningful ornithology, In any event an early morning round of Ayia Napa Sewage Works was productive with three new birds for the list. The first a total and unexpected surprise was a Corncrake flushed from underfoot and the otherd a little later was a cracking male Cretzchmar’s Bunting and four Whitethroats which appear to have had a bit of an influx. Ayia Napa Football Pitches held good numbers of Lesser Grey Shrike, Isabelline Wheatears* and Yellow Wagtails with a record thirteen Hoopoes. As a bonus I managed to photograph male and female Black Francolins.* Ayia Thekla held one Greater Sand Plover and a Common Sandpiper.
It’s Sunday and as committed followers realise – it’s Sewage Works Day (hooorahhh). But no, I decided on another visit to Ayia Napa Sewage Works as it appears to be the migrant hotspot. Today was Blackcap day, at least seven males and two females and I also flushed a male Redstart. Eastern Orphean Warblers continue to pass although it appears that the main passage has already occurred. A migrant Spotted Flycatcher was also of note.
Later that morning I assisted a Birdlife Cyprus field trip to Akhna Dam and Oroklini Marsh. Although nothing spectacular was found two Great Reed Warblers continued as did a Glossy Ibis and the now usual species. At Oroklini, the Broad-billed Sandpiper remained in situ, along with a Spotted Redshank. At Akhna Dam in the evening Deb and I were very fortunate in being able to photograph a very confiding Wryneck* - the best views I’ve ever had I think! I also found and photographed another Citrine Wagtail*, this time a 1st winter individual.
The week ended with a flurry and bird of the week was definitely the Broad-billed Sandpiper although a showy Wryneck was also exceptional. The Corncrake was a Cyprus “tick” and it’s always nice to see a Cretzchmar’s Bunting.
Other interesting finds: For those that are interested (especially the purists and ringers (stringers), look up Marsh Warbler vs Reed Warbler vs Caspian Reed Warbler (fuscus) – a real head scratcher!
Look Forward: A bank holiday Monday and some leave coming up. It must be Akrotiri and the salt lake for Demoiselle Crane and raptor migration.
If you are planning a visit or require more info please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eye ring, bill and whiter primary tips in that order?
In the hand is one thing but I would be completely pushed in the field unless it was very still and then some!
Have the good burgers of Cyprus accepted the fuscus?
Photos have got to be a great advert for the Coolpix.
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