Cyprus Bird watching Tours - BIRD is the WORD Sightings 02/02/16
Today I decided to visit Episkopi/Kallepia, Paphos along the Ezousas River. As ever my target was to get good photos of Bonelli's Eagles close to their territories as I have been doing for the past 3 years. I started off by checking the huge monolith of which Brookei Peregrine Falcons breed and nest on consistently. They were already on site, the male was flying around testing the jackdaw and the female sitting in the nesting crag.
I went on to check the ford with only a Grey Wagtail showing, I searched thoroughly having known a Bittern was reportedly seen by OSME member Chris Lamsdell not long ago. Not surprisingly I didn't see this very reclusive marsh heron. So I continued up the river surrounded by orchards until arriving at a site I consistently get Siskin in the winter. The site didn't disappoint, with 12 seen and probably more around. Last winter I had over 50 feeding on the ground here.
Just a water rail at the iron bridge. I continued up, Blackbird and Song thrush were plenty as well as many finches.
As I approached the Eagles territory I scouted the hill for orchids that had good numbers of meadow pipit in ... when suddenly a very big shadow cast over the car, I quickly looked round to see one of the mighty Bonelli's Eagles soaring across the valley side that I was on merely 10-20 metres away from the car. I fumbled for my camera but sadly it was too late. I had very distant views of the same individual throughout the day. Shortly after I saw my second Sparrowhawk, (first was opposite the picnic site)
There must have been air exercises going on as many helicopters were flying in and out low over the valley, one of them flushed a male Goshawk ... I was very skeptical at first having seen 2 sparrowhawks today, the light was poor but the tail fanned much wider than Sparrowhawk, and despite being a small male it was still quite stocky at the tail end.
I returned to the picnic site only to run into a friend of mine; Peter Evans who I had not seen for a long time (since autumn raptor count at Mandria). We exchanged sightings and had a good catch up and discussed the sheer amount of Long-legged Buzzards seen today, naturally many scouting nesting material and nesting habitats. We also pondered over some very strange nest like constructions in the alder trees. Almost entirely made of Alder seeds. I assumed Siskins were stockpiling, Peter thinks maybe growths in the trees causing many small twigs to catch the falling seed. His theory is probably the most likely to be correct but for me it looked like a bird or other creature had made them as surely they'd all fall in the wind and rain.
As two familiar birders walked past on foot, I told them all that was in the area, lastly pointing to some blackcaps. I thought I'd give the ford one last look and there sitting quite close to the reeds and very easy to miss was the Bittern. I started filming and he performed well. He demonstrated his hunting technique, poking his very long neck neck into holes searching for food. I managed 10 minutes seeing this Bittern in the open which is nothing short of amazing.
So a few blunders but a good day in all :)
5+ Cetti's Warbler
5+ Corn Bunting
4 Song Thrush
1 Goshawk (male, also seen by PJE)
1 Bonelli's Eagle
5+ Long-Legged Buzzard
6+ Common kestrel
2 Peregrine Falcons (on territory)
1 Grey Wagail
2 White Wagtail
1 Water Rail