Spent the day guiding Simon Wheeler around the popular sites at Akrotiri. Simon is relatively new to birding so I thought seeing as many birds as possible today would ensure his new found hobby evolves. He said he particularly likes the raptors, and nearing peak raptor migration ... he was in for a treat.
We started at Phassouri Marsh, encountering countless Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Sand Martin and European Bee-Eaters at the entrance with a lonely Turtle Dove sitting on a tree above the Bee-Eaters ... a very nice welcoming to the area.
In a tree next to the farm shack was a cheeky Golden Oriole in a tree which didn't stick around for long after noticing us.
We searched a little while for crakes only to come across Moorhen and Yellow Wagtails.
Moving round to the main pool there were many whinchats darting around and red-backed shrikes spread across the marsh. Not much at the pool aside a sedge warbler, cetti's warbler and Eurasian reed warbler. In the open though a Willow Warbler pretty much had the territory to himself/herself. A water rail was heard.
Overhead there were Common Kestrels and a Hobby flew past and plenty of Goldfinch darting around. 3 Pipit types flew over head calling, unfortunately I couldn't get on them quick enough with the bins to be able to identify them...but I suspect red-throated Pipit from the calls.
A drive round the back of the Marsh produced some Marsh Harriers showing well, one perched.
Heading onto the gravel pits, we accidentally flushed a Hoopoe. We had a look at the lake for the Red Knot that had been present for some time, unfortunately it seems to have moved on (later on we came back and checked the other pools in the area but sadly couldn't find it).
We saw a brief sprinkling of raptors flying over, possibly one's that had roosted on the Salt Lake over night. This included Honey Buzzards, A Black Kite and a few Marsh Harriers.
We then set off to Lady's Mile which produced the usual.
We then cut through to the Salt Lake which was filled with Grey Herons and sadly not a Flamingo in sight... although there was a Spoonbill failing to blend in with the Grey Herons and many Eleonora's Falcon overhead. Through the scope the only wader aside Kentish plover that I could find was a Juvenile Ruff looking very lonely on the salt flats. The calls of Spectacled Warblers and a Water Rail came from the Zakaki Outflow. We was just about to leave when I noticed almost concealed behind the reeds was a puddle with two Pintail.
I decided Bishops Pool was in order as I had some great sighting last time I was there (roughly 1 week ago). Sadly the life wasn't that great so it wasn't worth waiting around although watching a Marsh Harrier hunting was a great experience as always.
We then decided to head back to the Gravel Pits which produced large numbers of various raptors; Pallid, Montagu's and Marsh Harriers, 4 Ospreys, Honey Buzzard, a few Steppe Buzzard, Black Kites and the star of the day a rare Juvenile Egyptian Vulture (0-1 reported annually in Cyprus).
After getting some lunch and witnessing the biggest Honey Buzzard Kettle of the day (75+) over the salt lake we stopped at the Phassouri Bee-farm with eagles in mind ... we pulled up and already 2 juvenile Bonelli's Eagles were overhead accompanied by 2 Honey Buzzard (if only birding could always be that easy).
On the Motorway back to Paphos we even managed to bag a Long-Legged Buzzard near Pissouri
So a fantastic day in all.
Species seen and heard:
Eurasian Reed Warbler
Egyptian Vulture (juv)
150+ Honey Buzzard
Corn Bunting (Minthis Hills)