Cyprus Bird Watching Tours - BIRD is the WORD - 6 Day Tour - Upper Paphos, Lower Paphos, Akrotiri, Troodos, Larnaca, Paphos Forrest. 15-17th + 20-22nd/05/2019
On the first day we concentrated on the upper Paphos sites. We started at a Bonelli's Eagle site where I had taken Allen before, this time we had much better and closer views of Bonelli's Eagles perched and in flight.
Next we headed up to Evretou Dam seeing Long-legged Buzzard in flight on the way.
Evretou water levels were incredibly high, as we approached the shallow end a baby black whip snake crossed the road infront of us, Allen not being too keen on snakes was not so happy and the irony being we were to see many more during our tours.
European Bee-eaters flew over head as we approached the water as well as many Common and Pallid Swift, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow and House Martin. At first there didn't seem to be much life around on the water, then we got on some Wood Sandpipers and Common Sandpipers on the waters edge and later some Little Stints. Squacco Heron emerged from the waters edge as well as a few Grey heron. In the distance we could see Little Egret and went in closer to see more of the furthest area we could get to. To our surprise a Eurasian Bittern was standing next to the Little Egret and then slowly retreated into the vegetation offering views from time to time. An unusual bird to see at this time of year. The only waterfowl we managed was a pari of Mallard and a Moorhen. We then ate our lunch in the Evretou quarry overlooking a pair of Rollers and shared the area with near adult Large Whip Snake meters from where we was sitting. The Samaras Valley was unfortunately off limits due to a rock slide on the track so our chances of Golden oriole, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Black-headed Bunting and Goshawk for the day diminished.
We finished the day with 46 species.
Even further down river we had many Spur-winged lapwings and also flushed a Purple Heron. Maybe the oddest sighting was a Northern Shoveler on the river bank extremely close which flew a few circles around us and landed again with a Peregrine Falcon sitting on a pylon nearby watching.
On to the Sewage Works we had a female Black-headed Bunting sitting on the wires, possibly just in off the sea. A group of European Bee-eater were here on the wires and also many Turtle Doves.
Many of the lower sites were devoid of life after so we headed to a few other higher sites after a quick visit to Agia Varvara where we had great photo opportunities with some young Zitting Cisticola.
At the Rabbit Shed pools there were more ruff and also Black-winged Stilt and Spur-winged lapwing seemingly annoyed at our presence probably indicating nesting in the area, so we didn't stick around. Great Spotted Cuckoo called from the distance and a Sedge Warbler sung nearby from a bush. Many Common swift were buzzing our heads here coming down for water with a few pallid Swift among them.
Moving onto the Gravel Pits we had great views and photo opportunities of a Black Francolin on the road, here we also got some Spotted Flycatchers, a female Red-backed Shrike and a late Whinchat plus many Sardinian Warblers and Zitting Cisticolas.
Next we headed to Ladies Mile where we had great views and photo opportunities of a pair of Broad-billed Sandpiper, many Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stints. The non migrating Black-headed gull was still present along with a few Yellow-legged Gulls and also many Little terns were still around of which I imagine many will nest this year due to the high water levels.
We then headed to the square where we had phenomenal views of Common and pallid Swift at their nesting chalet. We even got views of them perched which is not something you see every day!
Our next stop was Livadi tou Passia picnic site. We had a Dorothy's Treecreeper in a tree right next to us but was proving very difficult to get a clear view. Cyprus Coal tits sounded but unbelievably we also didn't managed to actually see one which is very peculiar, something that I have not experienced before on my previous visits to the mountains of this highly populous species. The Crossbills were also no-where to be seen or heard even at almyrolivado.
We moved down to the Botanical Garden where previous years Blue Rock Thrush have held territory of which I had seen a male some weeks back. Also they were vacant from the site and no Crag martin were feeding in the area like they usually do also. By this point I was starting to think the luck just wasn't on our side today, as can happen from time to time.
We got lengthy views of Wren and great views of Cretzschmar's bunting on the return journey, plus a Roller in flight over the diarizos river and a Chukar in the road with many chicks and also a goat herder with about a thousand goats crossing the road. We even scared a Blunt-nosed Viper off of the road on foot, where it likely would have been run over.
Approaching the Sewage Pool hide we had some Spectacled warbler and a pair of Red-backed shrike at the entrance along with the many usual Crested Lark and a distant flock of Glossy Ibis up high. Black Francolin were calling but we didn't see any.
On the water there was a lot of Mallard with ducklings, and many Spur-winged Lapwing around the waters edge. At the pools further down a pair of Spur-winged Lapwings were with two chicks and another pair of Red-backed Shrikes were showing well.
Our last stop was Oroklini which held little at the first hide aside Little Grebe, Moorhen and Coot all with chicks plus a few Ferruginous Duck. Due to road works we had to take a major detour to get to the second hide where we had great views of Laughing Dove and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler sitting infront of the hide, and two female Red-crested Pochard in the distance and a Black Francolin also showing from afar.
We then ventured all the way to Kannaviou Dam via the Monastery. Allen spotted a Black-headed Bunting on the way.
At the entrance to the Dam we had a pair of Serin come quite close to us on the fence and the whole dam wall was full of Cyprus Wheatear.
As we left the site I noticed a large raptor sitting in a nearby shrub. A Long-legged Buzzard, showing incredibly well and allowing Allen to snap some shots. We then entered the Samara valley seeing many Spanish Sparrows nesting and also quite a few Masked Shrikes. We took a stroll along the road and saw a few Turtle Doves, as we watched Spanish Sparrows nesting in a Pine tree suddenly loads of them shot out and a male Eurasian Sparrowhawk landed in the tree that we was standing under and then flew out.. seemingly without a catch. Breeding Sparrowhawk numbers are incredibly low in Cyprus and this was a treat to see. We also saw a few Cyprus Jays here.
We then moved up into Panagia to a picnic site in hope of getting views of Cyprus Coal Tit and Dorothy's Treecreeper ... when I got a txt through from my mate Tony about two Terek Sandpipers at Akrotiri Salt Lake, a Cyprus Rarity. Allen said "forget the Coal tits, lets go", and so we did. We had a glimpse of Cretzschmar's Bunting and Linnet on the drive back to the motorway and a Stone Curlew that flew over the road.
We arrived at the Salt Lake after a fair drive and both of the Terek Sandpipers were sitting on a small island accompanied by a sickly looking Greenshank. We stood next to Tony's car and observed them for a decent amount of time, of which they flew up and did a few circles and back again before eventually flying off north.
Full species list:
Chukar Partridge (a.c.cypriotes)
European Shag (p.a.desmarestii)
Peregrine Falcon (f.p.brookei)
Western Marsh Harrier
Eurasian Stone Curlew (only seen by guide)
Common Ringed Plover
Great Spotted Cuckoo
(h)Eurasian Golden Oriole
Eurasian Jay (g.g.glaszneri)
(h)Coal Tit (p.a.cypriotes)
Great Tit (p.m.aphrodite)
Crested Lark (g.c.cypriaca)
Eurasian Reed-warbler (a.s.fuscus)
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Eurasian Wren (t.t.cypriotes)
Dorothy's (Short-toed) Treecreeper (c.b.dorothae)
European Greenfinch (c.c.muehlei)
Other wildlife of note:
Large Whip Snake
Eastern Montpellier Snake
Sling-tailed Agama Lizard
Schreiber's fring-fingered Lizard
Cyprus Water Frog
Poppy of Troy
Syrian Swallowtail Butterfly
Hermit (ssp larnacana)
Common Blue-tail Damselfly