Friday, 17 April 2015

Aston Rowant - 16 April 2015

When we get back from Cyprus there is usually just a chance of catching up with Ring Ouzel, but we found ourselves returning to a fairly heavy inland passage with 58 being seen at one location in Berkshire and over 20 at another in Buckinghamshire. It was a bit of a questions where to head, but just up the M40 at Aston Rowant Linkey Down is probably our nearest regular spring stop off site, so that is where I went, and sat on the grass watching them come out of their roost, eventually seeing 5 adult and one 1st year males and 2 females, plus a female Redstart.

Male Ring Ouzels


Cyprus 8 to 14 April 2015 part 3


8 April
As we enter our third week it seems there is a real risk that we may leave Cyprus without seeing Wood Warbler! The Rollers and European Bee-eaters  are a little later than most other species but we have had very few influxes due to odd weather and we will have to try and get these three birds before we complete our stay here.

We returned to Kouklia today and got 30 new birds and four retraps. We had a few Tree Pipits going through and those that we caught seemed to be fresh in. There was no fat on any of them and some even had 0 muscle score.

Tree Pipit

There were also a few Whinchat but most went the other side of the stream bed and we only caught one.

Whinchat

We were fortunate enough to catch one of the very dark Sardinian Warblers that are sometimes seen at Kouklia.

 


















The abberant female had a chocolate brown body with no pale feathering whatsoever. The other bird, shown for comparison, is a female caught at the same site on 11/04/2015.

We also retrapped two Eastern Olivaceous Warblers 35568 (8/4/2013) and 38137 (17/4/2014). This is odd since we have only ever ringed a few here.

 Retrap Olivaceous Warbler 35568, initially ringed on 8/4/2013

6M Goldfinch with deposits, on bill, from feeding

Totals: 30 (4)

Tree Pipit – 4
Whinchat – 1
Cetti’s Warbler – 2 (1)
Reed Warbler – 3
Eastern Oliveaceous Warbler -0 (2)
Sardinian Warbler – 1
Lesser Whitethroat – 2
Whitethroat – 1
Blackcap – 13 (1)
Chiff-chaff - 1
Goldfinch – 1
Ortolan Bunting – 1


After ringing we had a quick look at Acheleia but despite seeing five Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters on power lines  and some Yellow Wagtails in a newly cut field still failed to see Roller. 

Foraging Yellow Wagtails

At Mandria we got a good look at a couple of Stone Curlew and saw a Hawfinch then returned to our apartment early to get ready for an evening with friends.

9 April
We were due to revisit Adonis hills but due to heavy rain and thunder when the alarm went off at 5.20am, and the subsequent high winds, had to give it a miss. 

 Low cloud over Paphos

All morning we watched the clouds gathering on the hills while walking around Paphos headland where birds seen included Redstarts, Wryneck, Red-throated pipits and a Masked Shrike. 

Masked Shrike

 Wryneck

We looked around Mavrokolympos Dam seeing Cyprus Wheatear and Warbler, Wryneck , a couple of Ruppell’s Warblers and the best view of all being a couple of Bonelli’s Eagles just above our heads.

 Bonelli's Eagle

Cyprus Wheatear
We were glad not to have bothered with the ringing as the wind grew stronger and there was rain and hail. After lunch with some friends we were at Anarita Park when a message came through about a Caspian Plover at Mandria. We saw it just before the light began to fail, also seeing  flocks of Little Egret and Night Heron struggling in the wind along the coast.
 
10 April
The weather was wet first thing, but we decided to head, a little later than normal, to try a ringing session at Adonis Hills, staring around 8am.

 We waited for a shower to go through before setting nets.

Things were very quiet, few birds were caught and there was very little visible movement but we finally got to see Wood Warbler. We packed up at 11am as we could see further showers tracking in from the sea. We appeared to be on their trajectory.

 Wood Warbler

Totals: 4 (1)

Sardinian Warbler - 0 (1)
Blackcap - 1
Wood Warbler - 2
Goldfinch - 1

We went back to Mavrokolympos Dam where we saw two Woodchat Shrike, a female Ruppell's Warbler, three Cyprus Wheatears, a Whinchat and a Common Sandpiper.

Moving on to Agia Vavara it seemed that there was more about, probably brand new arrivals from the afternoon or birds moving up the valley having made landfall, that morning, at the coast. The list included Woodchat Shrike, Ortolan Bunting,Tree Pipit, Hoopoe, Whinchat, Sedge Warbler, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Little Egret, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and Great Snipe.

We finished the day at a site popular with hirundines and made a pre roost capture.

Totals:16

Swallow - 15
Sardinian Warbler - 1

11 April
The first of our last two ringing sessions at Kouklia. We were not expecting too much as passerine passage has been fairly quiet of late. The first two birds out of the nets were a couple of Swallows, a result of the very low feeding passes made in cooler, if not cloudier weather.

 4M Swallow

Catching went very slowly today and it wasn't long before nearly all nets were catching the wind. As the sun warms the earth, the breeze blows towards the sea until the temperature equalises, during which time (frequently no more than 30 minutes if we're lucky) there is virtually no wind, until the land temperature exceeds that of the sea and the wind blows on shore. 

As we worked, a Savi's Warbler reeled in the close by vegetation. Two Glossy Ibis flew along the coast and we saw our first Turtle Doves, two groups of eight and four birds in off the sea.

By 11am we were taking down with a total of 22 birds captured.


Totals: 20 (2)

Swallow - 2
Whinchat – 2
Cetti’s Warbler – 0 (1)
Great Reed Warbler – 3
Eastern Oliveaceous Warbler - 1
Sardinian Warbler – 2 (1) 
Whitethroat – 1
Blackcap – 7
Ortolan Bunting – 1

A tour around Mandria after lunch turned up another Turtle Dove, two Nightingale, Woodchat Shrike, three Northern Wheatear, some Red-rumped Swallows and two Alpine Swifts. We photographed a Spur-winged Plover in one of the small coastal fields.

 Spur-winged Plover

The Caspian Plover was still in the field where it was first found. 

12 April
The last visit back to Kouklia, with no sign of the passerine passage picking up, so we had another quiet morning, closing around 10.30am. A third of the birds were retraps, all resident breeding birds apart from a Blackcap and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler that had both been processed by us earlier in the month.

 Nightingale
Blackcaps were well represented on the record sheet.

Chris extracts the final bird, a Blackcap of course.

Totals: 12 (6)

Nightingale - 1
Cetti’s Warbler – 0 (1)
Great Reed Warbler – 1 (1) 
Eastern Oliveaceous Warbler - 0 (1)
Sardinian Warbler – 1 (2) 
Blackcap – 7 (1)
Chiffchaff - 1
Great Tit - 1

On trying to start the car we found the battery totally flat and are very grateful to our friend Alan who arrived with jump leads to give up a bump start.  Later that day we rejoined Alan and Lynne at their home for a wonderful meal, but when it was time to leave, although the car had started when we left Emba, the battery needed another charge!

We took a risk and kept the engine running while we took one last run around Agia Varvara. There was a nice range of species.

Rough-legged Buzzard

13 April
The battery was completely dead the following morning so we spent a good deal of time awaiting a representative from the car hire firm with another battery. We were amazed to find that the replacement (I won't say new one) was quite a bit larger than that in the vehicle, even though it was flat - so needed a decent run before turning off the engine. No problem! We were planning to drive to the birding sites at Limassol, so off we went planning to do Phassouri, Akrotiri, Ladies Mile and Zakiki. The lost hours meant that Bishop's Pool had to go by the by.

Having just arrived at Phassouri a text about a Hooded Wheatear had us turning round and heading straight back on the A6 to Paphos. It was no longer at the Odeon where disturbance from holiday makers got too much, but we had good views in the remains of the Frankish fort.  

 5M Hooded Wheatear at Paphos Headland

Otherwise the headland was found to be fairly quiet following a brief check after viewing the Wheatear. We went back to the Akrotiri peninsula and revisited Phassouri, Akrotiri GP, Ladies Mile and Zakkaki Marsh.

 Ladies Mile at dusk

It was all rather quiet apart from 3 Great Snipe on the pool at the start of Akrotiri GP, and a large number  of Short-toed Larks in two groups.

14 April
Our last day in Cyprus spent at Larnaca. We returned to Oroklini Marsh where there was a sizeable flock of Cattle Egret, some Little Egrets and two Little Crakes.


 A Marsh Harrier was persistent at bothering the waders but made no serious attempts to feed.  There seemed few passerines about although a Wood Warbler and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler were seen in the Tamarisks lining he marsh. We left the salt lake since it was still very full of water and the flamingos had mostly moved on and the pools across the road from the salt lake had no small waders. 

Kiti Dam

  Glossy Ibis

At Kiti dam we found plenty of Glossy Ibis and a smattering of other waders including two Temminck’s Stints. There were also Hoopoes, Whinchats, a Wryneck and Nightingale.

It was very disappointing to find a freshly dead Turtle Dove at the water's edge.

Moving on, the pools at Meneou now held a lot of Greater Flamingoes including the melanistic individual that made Cyprus national news while at Akrotiri, and had previously been seen in Isreal.

Melanistic Flamingo at Meneou Pools

There was no sign of the Red-necked Phalaropes. The sewage works at Larnaca was very full, much more water than when we first arrived and although little was there on our first try, one last look turned up a Collared Pratincole and 14 Gull-billed Terms flying through.  Before looking at Spiro’s Pool we went along the beach to check out the arable fields, and as it turned out, find four Dotterel.

It was no mean feat to find the four Dotterel. Two are in shot and near invisible.

This is a good number and we got a few record shots before we, and a facebook friend of CL’s that he’d never before met in person, were asked to stop looking at the airport!

This bought our spring visit, to Cyprus, to a close. We intend to continue our ringing visits as no other ringing takes place in the Paphos district. We have made annual visits since 2009 with an additional winter trip in 2014. From time to time we are joined by others and any ringer interested in accompanying us should contact us.

Many thanks to AC, ringing officer for Cyprus, for inviting us to his Polis sites and ensuring that we had any rings we might need.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Cyprus 1 to 7 April 2015 part 2



1 April
We started the day with a walk around the Paphos headland. We didn’t expect there to be much around as the previous night hadn’t been too great, but it seemed that birds had followed the weather front over and as we walked through the excavations to the sound of Nightingale song, there was no doubt that there had been a fall.

 Paphos Headland

We worked our way around the site seeing lots of Wheatears, Lesser Whitethroat, with Red-throated Pipits still arriving. In addition we saw at least three Wrynecks, a female Ruppell’s Warbler, two male and a female Subalpine Warblers, plus a few Crtzmars and Ortolan Buntings. There was a report of a Cinereous Bunting from earlier in the morning but we had no luck finding that.

Hoopoe

After a very pleasant walk, we grabbed some light refreshment at a local coffee bar on the seafront. It was very busy there as it was a Cypriot Bank holiday for independence day. We then took a drive to Timi beach, an excellent spot for flycatchers and wheatears but it was quite quiet. We had an hour or so before our meal time, so we returned to the desalination plant access road. Conditions were difficult due to strong wind, but from a single net between the citrus trees we caught a few Blackcaps, including two re-traps, one from last Friday, having gained weight to an impressive 26g with a fat score 7 from a weight of 22.9 and a fat score 4. We were also astonished to recapture a bird, 38013, that was ringed at the desalination plant on 7th April 2014. This shows surprising site fidelity of a spring migrant.

Totals: 5 (2)

Blackcap – 5 (2)

After some food we returned to what we call the Lower Pools, although there are no pools this year and ringed for the last hour of the day. There were only 12 birds, but 4 5M Whinchats were worth the effort.

 5M Whinchat


Totals: 12

Whinchat – 4
Cetti’s Warbler – 1
Sardinian Warbler – 1
Whitethroat – 2
Blackcap – 3
Chiff-chaff - 1

2 April
Back to another of our previous sites today, Adonis Falls/Mavrokolmpos Hills, but the sunshine that was forecast failed to materialise and the catch suffered as a result. The birds just weren’t around in the numbers needed for a good catch. We got three Greenfinch, that were the first for us this year.
There was another Ruppell’s Warbler and a Whitethroat amongst the few birds caught.

Whitethroat

While we tried our best to get a decent catch, we had a Great Spotted Cuckoo and Black-eared Wheatear flying about. A Semi-collared Flycatcher was relatively faithful to a couple of twiggy trees but shot off the minute we moved the net. There were a few Eastern Bonelli’s about but not in the numbers that we’ve seen in earlier years and no Wood Warblers at all, although that was on a later date so there’s still hope.

Greenfinch Male

We then tried at a spot we have been monitoring for Cyprus Warbler, noted that their numbers seemed good and managed to catch one.

Totals: 11

Cyprus Warbler – 1
Sardinian Warbler – 1
Ruppell’s Warbler – 1
Whitethroat – 1
Blackcap -3
Greenfinch - 3

After lunch we went up to Anarita Park where it seemed the Wheatears were waiting for us. There was also 8 Lesser Kestrels present.

Wheatears

By using a couple of double nets we got another Isabelline and the first Black-eared Wheatear for this year. 

 Isabelline Wheatear

5M Black-eared Wheatear

We had no luck with Buntings or the Tawny Pipits but there was one Spectacled Warbler.

 Spectacled Warbler

Totals: 4

Spectacled Warbler – 1
Whitethroat – 1
Isabilline Wheatear – 1
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear – 1

3 April
Another start at Kouklia. On arriving we heard a number of Eastern Olivaceous Warblers that were fresh in but these managed to evade our nets. Again, the catch was modest, but we were pleased to catch our first Eastern Bonelli’s of the year and our first Hoopoe captured on Cyprus. We had another Blackcap that we ringed last spring too.

 Eastern Bonelli's Warbler

Wryneck

Hoopoe

While breakfasting on pastries from Papantoniou bakeries we heard the unmistakeable call of Common Crane and glimpsed then as they flew up. We also located them after our ringing session. They are probably the two reported from Mandria on the 29th March and not reported since.

Common Cranes

It does make you wonder where two birds of that size could have hidden for five days!

 Common Blues

Clouded Yellow

Totals: 16 (3)

Wryneck -1
Hoopoe- 1
Cetti’s Warbler - 2 (1)
Reed Warbler – 1
Sardinian Warbler - 1 (1)
Blackcap – 6 (1)
Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler -1
Chiff-chaff- 3

We drove around the local area before and after lunch but it seemed to have gone quiet again, apart from a male Montagu’s Harrier at Agia Vavara.

Cattle Egret

We finished off with a check of Timi beach but our only new species for the trip there was a Pied Flycatcher. There were hardly any Wheatears and very little else.

4 April
Today we arranged to meet AC to work one of his Polis sites.

P2 - Wellingtons esential
 
It was just as well since the wind was far too strong on our stretch of coastline. We put our usual five nets up and waited to see what the day would bring. There were a few Reed Warblers and our first Great Reed Warbler of the year.

Great Reed Warbler - age 4

We caught one particularly weighty Blackcap, tipping the scales in excess of 27grams.

Does my bum look big in this?

It wasn’t as busy as we hoped but we almost made it to thirty, including a pair of Spanish Sparrows.

Spanish Sparrow Mr & Mrs

While at the site we discovered the reason why stones may often be found with dates and initials on them in streams and riverbeds. These are proof that the area has been treated with pellets to reduce the number of mosquitoes, and so was solved the riddle of the stones.


Total: 25 (2)

 Tree Pipit – 1
Cetti’s Warbler – 0 (1)
Savi’s Warbler – 1
Reed Warbler – 6
Great Reed Warbler – 1
Sardinian Warbler -0 (1)
Lesser Whitethroat – 2
Blackcap – 6
Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler – 1
Willow Warbler – 1
Chiff-chaff – 3
Spanish Sparrow – 2
Serin - 1

Later that afternoon we drove to Evretou Dam where the level had risen so much that several tracks and the place where we usually parked were completely submerged. No chance of trying for pipits here as we had done in November of last year.

Evretou - full to the brim

We continued our drive, eventually reaching Nata Ford where we tried netting the adjacent track but only got three birds. 

Total: 3

Sardinian Warbler – 2
Blackcap -1

At the end of the day with less cloud than for some many recent days, there was actually a reasonable sunset.

Sunset over Paphos


5 April
This morning was put aside to work the headland but there was much less around than our last visit. The only really interesting birds present were three blue-cheeked Bee-eaters.

Oneof three Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters

From there we went to Anarita Park. It was the first, real classic bright sunshine and mild breeze day that we’d had since we arrived. The number of birds around seemed to have really dropped off. While we scouted out the area we saw a Montagu’s Harrier male and a few nectaring butterflies.


We tried a regular area at Anarita Hills for Spectacled Warbler and managed to capture a young male.

 
5M Spectacled Warbler

Totals: 2

Spectacled Warbler – 1
Sardinian Warbler – 1

After dinner we went to the lower pools but again there seemed few birds about, so we took a quick run to Kouklia to see whether there was much using the river in the evening – in short no not much so we ended up at Acheleia where a field of 100+ wagtails were near to the reeds where they’ve roosted before.  A net was put up but although some 20 or so birds came in only three were captured. 

 5M Black-headed Wagtail

We did, however, see a Gannet pass westwards out at sea. There was a Little Crake in the seaward-side pool.

Totals: 5

Reed Warbler – 2
Black-headed Wagtail – 3

Sunset from Acheleia beach
6 April
Another visit to Kouklia, and though not especially busy we did manage a reasonable 31 birds, including the first Eastern Oliveaceous and Eastern Orphean Warblers of the trip. A male Ruppell’s Warbler was seen, as was one of the Cranes again as it flew over by D.

 5M Orphean Warbler

 Eastern Oliveaceous Warbler

Kingfisher 6F

Male Blackcap with a heavy dusting of pollen

Total: 27 (4)

Kingfisher – 1
Wryneck -1
Nightingale – 1
Cetti’s Warbler – 0 (2)
Reed Warbler – 3
Great Reed Warbler – 1
Eastern Oliveaceous Warbler -1
Sardinian Warbler – 2
Lesser Whitethroat – 2
Whitethroat – 1
Blackcap – 11 (2)
Eastern Orphean Warbler – 1
Great Tit – 1
Goldfinch – 1

 Black Francolin at Mandria

Before dinner we had a drive around Mandria with nothing of exceptional note seen, and after dinner still fairly quiet we returned to our Spectacled Warbler site with limited success of one bird. 

 Great Spotted Cuckoo at Anarita Park

We had two male Montagu’s Harriers, one of which was quartering around us whilst we were working the Spectacle area. This is rather akin to doing Dartford Warblers at home, wandering around placing a single double panel at various spots and seeing what happens, minus the Harrier.

Total: 1

Spectacled Warbler - 1


7 April
A birding day along the coast at Limassol starting with Zakaki. The most exciting thing during this visit was probably an impromptu demonstration by the heavy goods vehicle drivers at the port. There was much honking of horns some 50 or so lorries drove around the port access road, but whatever the problem it was solved in ten minutes or so. The disturbance didn’t seem to bother the wildlife too much as two Little Crakes came out on the far bank. There was also a Gargany, Ferrugenous Duck, Purple Heron and Marsh Harrier.

Gargany drake

Moving on to Ladies Mile and the area towards the salt lake there were few passerines around, but waders in the pools. Along with the Kentish Plovers and Little Stints were Black-Winged Stilts, Ruff and four Sanderling.

Little Stint

We were surprised to see a largish bird fly across in front of us as we neared the end of the beach road. On closer inspection it was a Cream Coloured Courser, a bird that we have only seen a few times on Cyprus since 1993.

Cream Coloured Courser at Ladies Mile

At Bishop’s Pool we started off with a Collared Flycatcher but the wild area held little and the usual species at the pool were only swelled by some Great Reed Warblers and seven Purple Herons.

Three of seven Purple Herons

The gravel pits were also quiet but a Collared Pratincole was present at the new pool by the old rabbit hutches.

Collared Pratincole

At Phassouri the reed bed the areas of open water were very restricted and the habitat just isn’t what it used to be. There was little here except the first Starling of the trip, a female Little Crake, a Little Egret, some Snipe and a few Wheatear.

Northern Wheatear