Sunday, 22 April 2012

Cyprus 31 March - 14 April 2012 Week 2

Week 2

Day 8 7 April

The fourth session was back at the Xeros site, but further down towards the sea, a few metres inland of the river out flow in an area of reed and low scrub, using 3 x 60 metre 4 panel nets and 1 x 40 metre 3 panel net.

The species caught were fairly evenly spread with 8 species caught, with the highlights being another Crested Lark, with 20 birds caught in total. One Sardinian Warbler caught had been ringed previously, 28194, details of which are awaited.

Totals (19 new and 1 re-trap) were:

Kingfisher 1
Crested Lark 1
Song Thrush 1
Cetti’s Warbler 2
Reed Warbler 4
Sardinian Warbler 4 (1)
Blackcap 5
Great Tit 1


Sardinian Warbler - very dark headed female, with brood patch

In the afternoon whilst doing some birding at Anartia Park we came across a flock of migrating Ortolans which often are found in the hilly areas. We decided to set up the two 40 3 panel nets in an effort to try and see if we could catch any, but despite the birds remaining in the area and one bouncing out of the net, we failed to catch any, but as a bonus we caught four birds, one of which was a Cyprus Warbler, and two Spectacled Warblers.

Totals (4) were:

Cyprus Warbler 1
Spectacled warbler 2
House Sparrow 1 

 Spectacled Warbler - male


Cyprus Warbler - male

A walk around Paphos Headland in the late afternoon produced a Richard's Pipit and an Eastern Orphean Warbler.

Richard's Pipit - Paphos Headland

Day 9 8 April

Today we again braved the mosquitoes at Akrotiri, only to find that there was still little other than Wheatears about although a couple of Woodchat Shrikes and a Wryneck were seen. We were treated to 30+ Night Heron at Bishops Pool, some Tree Pipits, two Wood Warblers and an Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler. At Ladies Mile there was evidence that Little Stints were going through with circa 60 birds seen.

 Glossy Ibis - Phassouri RB

  Spur-winged Plover - Phassouri RB

Wood Sandpiper - Phassouri RB

 Kentish Plover - Akrotiri GP

 Isabelline Wheatear - Akrotiri GP

The fifth session was in the evening and spent back at the open site we had tried on the now rapidly reducing River Xeros in the hopes of catching Wagtails that might be tempted to use the river bed as a pre-roosting bathing/drinking area. There were plenty in and around the area but catching any was by no means going to be easy with a fairly large area for them to roam around. The first bird caught was a Red-throated Pipit, followed by five flamissiva wagtails of the Black-headed race and a Common Sandpiper. While taking the nets down we were skimmed by some 20 or so Swallows coming in to roost. If only we had been less timely in packing away – still perhaps another day……. There was a small group of Little Egrets present containing one grey bird, which was not a Western Reef Heron, unfortunately.

Totals (7) were:

Common Sandpiper 1
Red-throated Pipit 1
  Syke's Wagtail 1
Black-headed Wagtail 4

Red-throated Pipit

Syke's Wagtail

Common Sandpipier

 Black-headed Wagtail

Day 10 9 April

The Paphos area was still lacking in numbers of birds so the morning was spent walking the gorge at Avgas. A Wallcreeper had been reported from the area where the gorge begins to widen, from before the weekend but we waited until the locals would not be visiting. We walked the whole of the gorge and Chris explored a little further, checking the rock-face beyond where it had been seen. It did seem like looking for a needle in a haystack and the pairs of Jackdaw that were beginning to take up residence did not look like the most tolerant of neighbours. No wonder the Wallcreepers have usually left before April. Needless to say we did not see any Wallcreepers and only saw our first Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. There was also a Wood Warbler along with some Blackcaps.  Later we visited Cape Dreparnum that has been spoilt by more development with access to much of the coast blocked. Some Wagtails had come in and we also saw a Woodchat shrike. Moving on to Mandria we found circa 1000 Wagtails feeding on a cut field and watched as a female Hen Harrier made an attack. Two Bimaculated Larks were found in another field. At Kouklia we had a male Pallid Harrier.

Avgas Gorge

In the evening at the River Xeros we stopped off in the hope of catching the Swallows at pre-roost feeding site. Despite a large number of Swallows present augmented by lesser numbers of Sand Martins, flying fairly low around us we only managed to catch one. Whilst operating we had an interesting visit from a passing local, who was shown our Game Fund Licence to ring (who also enforce unlawful bird trapping), he engaged in conversation and end up telling us he had a bigger net, that we were in the wrong place to catch the Swallows (which were mainly flying low over a nearby filed), that we should go into an orchard in the autumn and set up when they are sleeping and we would catch 100s when they wake up, pointing out the orchard he uses in the autumn! He just did not seem to see any difference in what we were doing and what he does in the autumn. But, he did ask were we being paid to do it. So, is this a route into taking trappers away from taking the birds rather than releasing them?

Total (1) was:

Swallow 1

Day 11 10 April

In the morning a visit to Paphos Headland was notable for the lack of birds. We then went to Anarita Park where we had a female Montagu’s Harrier, Great Spotted cuckoo and up to 18 Ortolan Buntings. At Mandria we had seven Baltic Gulls go by, having missed the morning Heron passage. But amongst 20 odd Little Egrets on the Xeros Potamos was a grey phase bird.

Little Egret - grey phase

We had another evening session back at River Xeros Potamos, again in the hope of catching Wagtails and Swallows, but this time we approached the swallows from the opposite side adjacent to the field they often feed over. Yet again they were not overly obliging and the catch again was low, despite large numbers still being present. A Merlin was flying through at a pretty fast pace.

Totals (8) were:

Crested Lark 1
Swallow 4
Black-headed Wagtail 1
Zitting Cisticola 1
Sardinian Warbler 1 

Zitting Cisticola  

Day 12 11 April

Today we returned to a morning session at Kouklia river bed, which turned out to be our best day of the two weeks, producing 45 birds, with a good mix of birds, with the highlights being a Wryneck, Bluethroat, Black-eared Wheatear, two Savi’s Warblers, an Eastern Oliveaceous Warbler and three Ruppell’s Warblers. We also saw a Great Reed and Subalpine Warblers.

Totals (42 new and 3 re-trap) were:

Kingfisher 1
Wryneck 1
Crested Lark 1
House Martin 1
Bluethroat 1
Black-eared Wheatear 1
Cetti’s Warbler 1 (3)
Savi’s Warbler 2
Sedge Warbler 3
Eastern Oliveaceous Warbler 1
Sardinian Warbler 1
Ruppell’s Warbler 3
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Whitethroat 1
Blackcap 20
Chiff-chaff 1
Great Tit 1

Black-eared Wheatear, eastern race

Eastern Oliveaceous Warbler


Ruppell's Warbler - male

Afterwards we paid a visit to Timi Forest where we had another Wryneck and the first Pied Flycatcher.

Mid afternoon, we had a try back at the Xeros Potamos river, in a new area on the other side of the river, but this time our targets were some of the many Wood Sandpipers present, along with a few Ruff and other Sandpipers. We had some success and managed to catch two.

Totals (2 new) were:

Wood Sandpiper 2

Wood Sandpiper

Day 13 12 April

After the previous day’s success we returned for another morning session at Kouklia river bed. As we were setting up it was obvious that there had been a fall of Ortolan Buntings with about 30 birds in a small flock moving around the site. The day was slightly less productive than the previous day with 39 birds caught with the highlights being a Ruppell’s Warbler and eight Ortolan Buntings. We also had seven Bee-eaters overhead as we packed up, alas too high up to be able to enjoy the birds at their best.

Totals (32 new and 7 re-traps) were:

Tree Pipit 1
Cetti’s Warbler 0 (3)
Savi’s Warbler 1
Sardinian Warbler 1 (2)
Ruppell’s Warbler 1
Blackcap 14 (2)
Greenfinch 4
House Sparrow 1
Spanish Sparrow 1
Ortolan Bunting 8

Ortolan Bunting - male

 Spanish Sparrow - male

Tree Pipit

Blackcap - male

Greenfinch - male

A visit to Anarita Park produced a female Pallid Harrier and two male and a female Montagu’s Harriers. Timi Forest produced in addition to the Pied, a Collared Flycatcher. A visit to the Xeros Potamos river and Paphos headland produced no new birds.

 Paphos Headland at dusk

Day 14 13 April

Our third morning in succession, back at Kouklia river bed, with today only producing 24 birds. Highlights were two Nightingales and a single Ortolan Bunting. We also had a local re-trap Sardinian Warbler, which was ringed by us in the area previously on 16/4/2010 as a 6M. A couple of Ruppell’s and a Subalpine Warbler were also seen.

Totals (20 new and 4 re-traps) were:

Crested Lark 1
Nightingale 2
Cetti’s Warbler 0 (1)
Sedge Warbler 0 (1)
Sardinian Warbler 0 (1)
Blackcap 15 (1)
Spanish Sparrow 1
Ortolan Bunting 1

 Paphos Blue - Kouklia

Woodchat Shrike - Xeros Potamos river bed

 Squacco Heron - Xeros Potamos river bed

Having got up some enthusiasm from yesterday’s mid afternoon visit back at the Xeros Potamos river we went back for a further attempt for waders, this time trying both sides of the river and managed to catch eight birds in total. Whilst watching the waders come and go from the catching area we found a Collared Praticole roosting on a small sandbar in the middle of the river, a couple of Curlew Sandpipers, an Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler and Redstart.

Totals (8 new) were:

Little Ringed Plover 4 
Wood Sandpiper 4
Little Ringed Plover

 One of the Xeros Potamos flooded areas

Day 15 14 April

A final day morning visit to Paphos Headland was no exceptional but had the feel that something might turn up, it did, but in the form of a female Hooded Wheatear, initially reported as a Kurdistan Wheatear at Akrotiri GP. The headland produced a Lesser Short-toed Lark, seven Black- eared Wheatears, the first Whinchat and a Redstart. On the way to the airport we stopped off at the pools alongside the Ezousa river at Achelia and had excellent views of two adult and one sub adult Little Bitterns flying around together with one male and two female Little Crakes.

 Lighthouse at Paphos headland

The following day, after our departure, two other Hooded Wheatears turned up, with one at Mandria and another on Paphos Headland. There have now been five Hooded Wheatears in Cyprus, so far, this spring !