Cyprus Bird Watching Tours - BIRD is the WORD - 3 Day Tour; Paphos, Akrotiri, Troodos and Larnaca 14, 15+16th/03/2018
Starting out in Paphos we headed for the Sewage works and got the usual Spur-winged Lapwing and Cattle Egret, a few Hoopoes were still in the area allowing very close views and photo opportunities but no surprises.
They were a Black-headed Wagtail and a "Superciliaris" race which we managed to view for only a minute before they was scared off by the large group of Greenfinch that are still in the area. I scouted the coast for possible shorebirds, but there was quite a few fisherman near the water that would have scared anything off. As we were checking the European Shags on the rocks we observed something quite peculiar. A young bird (from last year) harassed one of the adults
and looked as though there was going to be a squabble, but the adult actually fed the youngster. Definitely not a young bird from this year as it is too early, so a very strange thing to see. We checked the Picnic area and surroundings to see more Greater Short-toed Lark and Isabelline Wheatear and then moved on. We had a quick run around Timi beach but there was little there aside a few skylark in the air, flushed by dog walkers.
Then on to Anarita park which was currently holding military exercizes of which we were told by other birders that there was immense disturbance in the area prior to our arrival ... and then I heard news of a Caspian Plover being discovered at Mandria near the picnic site where we just was ... so it must have just come in off the sea. We managed to get a Cetti's Warbler out in the open very close to the car which was great but brief as it always is with this shy species.
Inside the quarry we had a male and female (Dark throated) finsch's wheatear sitting together, which is possibly the first time I have ever seen that happen. A male Blue Rock Thrush posed high on the rocks only allowing its face to be seen for a very lengthy period. A pair of adult Bonelli's Eagles flew over low which was amazing to see, an area they usually hunt in though I haven't seen them there much at all this year. We moved round to the shrubs where we located male and female Cyprus Warbler with great views. There was many Paphos Blue Butterflies on the wing still. Heading to the peak of the site we was treated to some incredibly low flying Alpine Swift and Common Swift with an early Pallid Swift coming down close also. We also had a pair
of Lesser Kestrel fly over.
After lunch we moved on to Anarita Masts which had quite a few Red-throated Pipit still around. Also there was quite a few Vagrant Emperor dragonflies feeding in the open areas.
Our final stop for the day was to be at Minthis Hills to see if any Cretzschmar's bunting were on territory already but sadly we ran out of time and so used the remaining time at Nata Ford (now a bridge) where we saw Little Ringed Plover on territory already, and some Red-rumped Swallows coming down for some clay for their nests. Further down the river we managed quite a few Eurasian Stone Curlew, mostly flight views and some distant scoped views ... they did fly very
close to us at one point though. Black Francolins were heard in the area but not seen, and no sign of the Great Spotted Cuckoos that are usually present. We stopped at Episkopi Monolith on the way back but no Peregrines were on the rock, though we did see one very high before the monolith. A Verbascum Levanticum was just coming into flower on the rock which was nice to see. A fantastic first day with a Rarity totaling 57 species.
On the water were two Squacco herons providing great views and a Little Egret. Little Grebe and Coot were chasing each other and Penduline Tit were heard in the reeds but again not located. There wasn't much round the other side aside another male black francolin which we scoped.
We checked some of the bushes in the area for migrant warblers, but the best we could find was two Common Stonechats.
We continued on to Lady's Mile, seeing a Marsh Harrier on the way. We had to drive past military exercizes on the salt flats which was quite exciting. A small party of Kentish Plover were scurrying around a pair of gunners who were prone, though we thought it best not to stop. At Ladies mile we managed to see plenty of Isabelline Wheatear and a few northern and a few Hoopoes. There was a lot of Linnet and Greenfinch flying around. A group of waders were behind the shrubland, mainly ruff but with little stint and kentish plover. Later on we had a pair of Curlew here. By the port we looked through the gulls to see Armenian, Caspian, Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Slender-billed Gull. A Black-winged Stilt and Spur-winged Lapwing were also here. A flock of herons were distant out at sea but coming closer, we waited around until they were close enough to identify, which turned out to be Grey Herons .... no luck with any early Purples.
Zakaki Marsh was dreadful with only a Grey Wagtail about so we moved on quickly wasting no time. Though we did find an Epaulet Skimmer Dragonfly and also a Slender Skimmer which is possibly the first record of the year.
We found Common and Little Ringed Plover here as well as a few large groups of Ruff, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, a possible temminck's stint though I was too slow to get the scope on it before it flew away and a stunning water pipit provided great scoped views for a decent amount of time. A few yellow wagtails and Short-toed larks flew over as well as a decent flock of Common Snipe overhead. We briefly managed a Merlin in flight moving very quickly towards Lady's Mile.
Unfortunately we couldn't get to the water flow because of the dampness of the ground and so continued to Bishop's Pool to eat our lunch. We did see a pair of Broad Scarlet Dragonflies on the way, a Tiger Beetle Species, a Marbled Orb Weaver Spider and more Mosquitoes than we'd have liked.
for long periods of time to snap some amazing photos and superb views. A scarce migrant in Cyprus.
We then finished up at Kensington Cliffs where a pair of Griffon Vultures put on a some good flight display. Unfortunately the area they were landing in was conceiled from our view point but we had fantastic flight views. A small group of
cormorants flew over head here. Some endemic Veined Sainfoin was in flower here providing its lovely aroma.
Driving back on the motorway we was treated to a rare occurrence of a second plumaged Bonelli's Eagle swooping down a few times over a group of feral pigeons on a farm hutch near the Aphrodite's Rock area. Sadly there was no stopping here
or any sign of an entrance to the area ... though we was close enough to see clearly with the naked eye. A fantastic end to a fantastic days guiding seeing a total of 80 species!
On the way up to the mountains we was treated to a pair of Bonelli's Eagles flying low over the Diarizos Valley, a good start. The abundance of Rock cress (Arabis Purpurea) on the way up was pleasant to see. Arriving at Platres we went looking for early nightingales setting up territory. We was unsuccessful, it didn't seem like any had arrived yet. We got a lovely male Serin singing away in a tree above us and there was Wren singing closer to the water flow. There was plenty of our Endemic Aphrodite's Spurge growing here and an Arum species not yet in flower. Quite a few
Eastern Festoon (Endemic Sub-species) Butterflies flying around here was a surprise to me as I didn't realize their range extended to this high altitude.
Coming back out of this area a Collared Flycatcher flew into a tree not far away but was well concealed. I walked down for a closer view but flushed it into another tree higher up which was even harder to see into. We got flight views of the bird which had to do. Usually Collared flycatchers are much later than Pied and Semi-collareds in Cyprus, I would have thought Semi-collared but saw the "full collar" on the bird in flight.
Moving down to the picnic sites we came across Dorothy's Short-toed Treecreepers (a target species) which provided good views, though mainly in the shade. A small party of Siskin showed well coming down for water. We found a few cyprus crocus' though they were at the end of their cycle. There was another Hawfinch around but only seen in flight. We saw a few Blackbirds but most species seemed short in numbers and we unfortunately did not manage to locate any Crossbill or Jays.
We did find the Dutchman's Pipe vine (eastern festoons host plant) and also some Buttercups (Ranunculus cadmicus cyprius ... an endemic sub-species).
We had a walk around the Botanical Gardens, Anna wanted to see some violets and so was quite impressed with the Viola species.
Arriving at Menou we stopped infront of the Greater Flamingos and had lunch. A small group of Little Stint flew along the water towards the airport with a larger wader among them. A Greater Sand Plover had been reported there the day prior and it could well have been that, sadly we was unable to locate the area they landed.
Heading towards the Sewage Pools hide there was a fall of warblers. Eastern Sub-alpine, Chiffchaff and Ruppell's Warbler were everywhere in the low shrubs and acacia. A few Spectacled Warblers briefly showed also. A Tree pipit briefly landed in some nearby shrub calling on take off.
There wasn't much on the water and the winds had picked up making it uncomfortable. A quick browse through provided a Yellow Wagtail (feldegg), Spur-winged Lapwing, Mallard, Black-necked Grebes in summer plumage, Little Grebe, some Pochard, Common Teal and Northern Shoveler. There was probably more around though we decided to move on due to the windy conditions.
Moving on to the salt lake we manage to spot a small group of Black-crowned Night Heron along the coast that looked as though they would land in the trees, but turned out to be just fighting the wind.
Black-crowned night heron
Western Marsh harrier
Eurasian Stone curlew
Common Ringed plover
Little ringed plover
Common Wood pigeon
Eurasian Collared dove
Greater short-toed lark
Common house martin
East Mediterranean winter wren (h)
Eurasian reed warbler
Eastern Subalpine warbler
Blue rock thrush
Bluethroat (red spotted and white spotted)
Western Black redstart
Dorothy's (Short-toed) treecreeper
Eurasian penduline tit (h)