Thursday, 27 November 2014

Broadwater GP - 27 November 2014

We were joined by MRB and Margaret for a few hours on site with just 5 nets open. We arrived to the sound of Redwing calls sounding throughout the site. Of course, we had come with the Lithuanian tape, however all birds had dispersed by the time the first net, suitable for catching Redwing, was up. Although we lost our chance today, we have made a mental note that attempts to net when birds are arriving or leaving the roost could be worthwhile.

The session proved good for Goldcrest in particular.

Male and female juvenile Goldcrests

There were also seven wintering Chiffchaff.


In total we processed a very respectable 29 new birds with seven retraps.

Totals: 29 (7)

Wren - 1 (1)
Dunnock - 1
Chiffchaff - 7
Goldcrest - 9 (2)
Bluetit - 8 (4)
Great Tit - 2
Bullfinch - 1

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Cyprus 5 - 20 November 2014 - part 2

13 November

This was to have been the day when AC joined us for another try for pipits at Evretou Dam, as the wind was forecast to be very low, but he was sadly unable to make it. We still went over to the dam, finding the breeze was slight as expected, and changed the position of our nets so that the ground was a little (although not much) easier under foot. We had some outside disturbance on this morning as a hunter was exercising his pack of several hounds from his vehicle. The dogs ranged far and wide, each wearing a bell so that we seemed surrounded by bonging beagle like gun dogs at times. Thankfully they had been trained to return to the sound of the car’s horn, and were fairly obedient as they were called back when they began, as a group, to take an interest in our pipit nets that had already begun to catch. We were also joined by a farmer on his tractor, ploughing up the patch next to where we were working. He posed no problems but the birds did seem to rather prefer his freshly overturned soil to the area that we’d staked out.

 Meadow Pipit

 Water Pipit

We got 12 pipits, four of which were Water Pipit. Birds seen during the day were a Bonelli’s Eagle, 7 Woodlark and a Bluethroat.

Total: 14
Meadow Pipit – 8
Water Pipit – 4
Stonechat – 2

The afternoon was spent exploring the tracks at the back of Avakas Gorge. We hoped to get close enough to check for Wallcreeper and Rock Sparrow on the cliff faces, but found neither.  We were also unable to find a clear route to walk into the gorge from the Arodes end. The only bird seen of note was a male Blue Rock Thrush.

14 November

After a promising first visit to the Acheleia soakaways, we returned for another go.  A total of 55 birds were processed including Water Rail, Kingfisher and much to our delight three Penduline Tits.


 Penduline Tit adult female

 Penduline Tit adult male

 Penduline Tit juvenile male

 Water Rail

 Male Bluethroat - red-spotted form

 Spanish Sparrow male

Most birds were trapped in the morning although we did go back to see how birds behaved during the evening, getting just 7 to add to the main session and showing that this is a site best worked in the morning.

Total: 52 (3)

Water Rail – 1
Kingfisher – 2
Robin – 3
Bluethroat – 1
Cetti’s Warbler – 1
Blackcap – 14
Chiff-chaff – 19 (3)
Penduline Tit – 3
Spanish Sparrow – 4
Chaffinch – 2
Reed Bunting – 2
Stonechat – 1

Chris made a solo attempt on Wallcreeper at Avakas Gorge that afternoon, since thundery showers expected over the next  couple of days may make conditions in the gorge more difficult for a few days. His enthusiasm was met with success  where the gorge opens out, but the Rock Sparrows seen previously were abscent, which was surprising since them seemed fairly settled and at home in the gorge. Meanwhile Denise took photographs along the river.

 Autumn takes hold in the gorge

 Water snails and their grazing trails on the sandy river bed

 Black Redstart visits for a drink

15 November

We again returned to Acheleia soakaways. It had been forecast for showers after 11, but the thunderstorms from the night before still lingered. We were supposed to be joined by AC, but as the weather in Polis was rather wet he did not venture out, and although we had a couple of brief heavy showers that required the nets to be furled, it was a successful morning with 36 birds processed , all similar species to the two previous days.

 Cetti's Warbler retrap 36224

 Fan-tailed Warbler

Total: 30 (6)

Kingfisher – 0 (2)
Robin – 1
Bluethroat – 2
Cetti’s Warbler – 4 (1)
Fan-tailed Warbler – 1
Moustached Warbler – 1
Blackcap – 3 (1)
Chiff-chaff – 16 (1)
Great Tit – 1
Reed Bunting – 1 (1)

As the early afternoon weather was looking likely to be more wet than the morning we just had a run around one or two places, before getting back to the house early, with the only things seen of any note being a Long-legged Buzzard and female/immature Hen Harrier at Minthis Hills.

16 November

Being a Sunday and a hunting day we headed to Paphos Forest where there is no hunting allowed.

 Kannaviou Dam

 Paphos Forest

We went via Kannaviou Dam where there were lots of feeding finches at the start of the day. Once we got onto the track circumnavigating the dam, we didn’t see too many birds but on stopping there were plenty of birds to be heard once we entered the forest.
We set a couple of nets at Agia picnic site where we could hear Hawfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper and Coal Tit. We only caught two birds, a Robin and a Goldcrest.



Another try at a different location proved fruitless and there was no obvious site suitable for ringing at the forest station. By about 2pm we had completed the Paphos forest circuit and were disappointed to find that the finches had disappeared from their earlier foraging spot at the dam.

Total: 2

Robin – 1
Goldcrest - 1

An attempt to ring at Anarita Park failed as the goats and sheep were too close to the area that we use so we checked out Ayia Vavara where we found a Lapwing, Snipe and Green Sandpiper on the pools, eight Woodlark and quite a few passerines that seemed convinced that the several hunters who were about, were out to get them. At any rate, they wasted no time in diving into cover. Part of this area looked suitable for further investigation in the spring, if the river is flowing.

17 November

An early start at Acheliea soakaways where AC had agreed to join us. During setting up we saw the juvenile Night Heron as it departed its night time roost and a couple of Peregrines overhead. Later the Great White Egret and Garganey dropped in. The morning was quite productive with 50 birds captured, mainly Chiffchaff but also good numbers of Blackcap. While ringing, we were treated to views of Grey Wagtail and a juvenile Common Rosefinch dropped into a bush about 15 feet from us, then sitting on top of nearby reeds giving good views, before disappearing southwards.

Common Rosefinch juvenile (record shot) 

Reed Warbler juvenile

 The Reed Warbler showed strong growth bars across primaries, 
secondaries, tertials, greater and median coverts. 

Later in the morning a Black Kite was seen overhead, as was a stunning male Hen Harrier.

Total:   46 (4)

Kingfisher – 0 (1)
Robin – 1
Bluethroat - 1
Cetti’s Warbler – 2
Moustached Warbler – 2
Reed Warbler – 1
Sardinian Warbler - 2
Blackcap – 12
Chiff-chaff – 24 (3)
Chaffinch – 1

After an extended coffee break with AC we later dropped in again at Anartia Park and set up just a couple of nets, one by the pool in the quarry and the other in the stream bed. Although near a juvenileRed-backed Shrike that seemed to resemble the one seen a few days earlier at the Acheleia Soakaways, it managed to elude us.

Juvenile Red-backed Shrike

We managed a single Robin at the pool and three other birds at the other net, one of which was a Wood Lark, one of nine in the area.

Wood Lark

At least one male Finsch’s Wheatear was still present in the quarry area.

Total: 3 (1)

Wood Lark -1
Robin – 0 (1)
Sardinian Warbler – 2

18 November

Our last chance to visit the Troodos. We left early and arrived before 8am. This was our first visit on a non-hunting day and it made such a difference. We drove along long stretches of road without seeing another vehicle. The sound of silence was very intense, only broken by the occasional sound from a Chaffinch or Blackbird in the vegetation  nearby.  We started off at the Almirolivado picnic site but had hardly made any progress along the path towards the Giant Juniper when five birds, clearly buntings, flew up in the direction of where the car was parked. It was quite difficult to locate them, but one Pine Bunting male remained in a treetop long enough for a record shot, in addition to another seen in a Pine tree.

 Pine Bunting

We relocated to the Livadi tou Pashia picnic site further up the hill and found a flock of some 15 birds, the bulk of which, somehow remained tantalisingly just out of sight. Whilst here, we got on to two definite Yellowhammers, and at another area one female Pine Bunting, and one bird that appeared to be a Yellowhammer/Pine Bunting hybrid.

Having obtained the necessary permission, and since we had the place to ourselves, we then put up two nets close to one of the recentlyformed pools in the area that had formed with the recent rain, and settled down to wait. There were only three birds after about five hours but they were all worth the wait. I did my first Hawfinch, Chris processed a Coal Tit and I then had a Short-toed Treecreeper.

 Female Hawfinch

Both the Treecreeper and Coal Tit are Cypriot endemic subspecies, bringing the grand ringing total to 252 birds on the last of our ringing days.

 Coal Tit

 Short-toed Treecreeper

Totals : 3

Coal Tit - 1
Short-toed Treecreeper -1
Hawfinch - 1

19 November

The plan for this day was to travel East from Paphos to Larnaca, visiting some key sites on the way. The first place visited was Bishop's Pool. We have heard a few horror stories about the state of the water in the pool since more water is to be used to irrigate surrounding fields. We noticed that some of the pumping equipment has been renewed but the water level wasn't bad. This may have been due to recent rain, but the Little Grebes and a small group of mixed hirundines seemed happy enough.

 Bishop's Pool

 Gecko on pool wall

We also took a walk around the surrounding fields and wild areas, finding Mistle Thrush and Fieldfare.

 Mistle Thrush and Fieldfare

Orange groves

Uncultivated land

Narcissus Obsoletus

After a look around the new environmental centre we drove on across the sand, via Lady's Mile to Zakaki Marsh where the Striated Heron was still present. The main marsh hosted a Temminck's Stint, Little Egrets, Water Pipits, Grey Heron and Marsh Harrier.

 Striated Heron

Many gulls were congregating at the eastern end of Lady's Mile. Armenian gulls were present among the melee, along with a single Sandwich Tern.

There was time for a look at Germasogia dam. The water level was very low, together with the number of birds, apart from 20 Cormorants.

 Germasogia dam

20 November

We had stayed in Larnaca overnight and started the last day of the visit at the salt lake. Flamingo numbers had risen significantly since we had been there on the 5th of the month. Shelduck had increased to 15, three Temminck's Stints were at the viaduct end of the lake, 11 Spur-winged Plovers were on the drier land next to the viaduct, and passerines seen were three Water Pipits, a Red-backed Shrike and four Reed Buntings.

 Greater Flamingoes

Even in November, plants around the salt lake were coming into flower.

Capparis Spinosa

Moving on to Oriklini Marsh there were good numbers of Spur-winged Plover, with 58 present along with, 17 Lapwings, and  single Marsh Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank, plus a Water Pipit.

Oriklini Marsh

At Meneou Pools we had 127 Golden Plover and we ended the day at Larnaca sewage works where there were eight White-fronted Geese, a Black-necked Grebe and three Mediterreanean Gulls to be seen before returning the hire car and getting the flight home.

Larnaca sewage works

We thank the Game Fund for their support through the issuing of the approrpiate licence to ring birds, and assistance provided by their local officers, and to Birdlife Cyprus for providing the necessary rings and the assistance of AC.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Cyprus 5 – 20 November 2014 – part 1

5 November

We arrived on the 4th and stayed at Larnaca overnight so we could do some birding in the area before heading over towards Paphos. It is light just before 6am and very dark by 5.30pm, so early starts are the order of the day. First port of call was Larnaca Salt Lake which had a small group of Greater Flamingos present, plus a single late White Stork, a single Willow Warbler and winter visitors in the form of Water Pipits, numerous invisible Robins, Bluethroat, Stonechats, Moustached Warbler and Reed Bunting. 

 Greater Flamingoes

We then dropped into the Sewage Works lagoons which held four Black-necked Grebes, and single Shelduck and Pochard. We headed over to Limassol next,  Zakaki Marsh where we saw the main reason for dropping by, the Green-backed (Straited) Heron, plus Spotted Crake, Water Pipits, Blue-headed Wagtail, and a single Penduline Tit.  

Then a brief visit to Phassouri Reed-bred, which produced seven Water Pipits, and two of, Bluethroat, Moustached Warbler, and Reed Bunting, as well as a single Lesser Whitethroat. Our final port of call as we headed west was Kensington Cliffs where at dusk coming into roost we saw eight Griffon Vultures, and also present were five Eleonora’s Falcon s, a Peregrine, more invisible Robins, everywhere and a single Blue Rock Thrush.

Griffon Vultures at Kensington Cliffs

6 November

We had to head over to Polis to collect the rings and on the way dropped into the Evretou Dam where we found, at the shallow end, a mixed flock of Pipits consisting of Meadow, Red-throated and Water, plus a Long-legged Buzzard, a Black-headed Wagtail, and a male Finsche's Wheatear.

Evretou Dam

 After collecting the rings we went over to Paphos Headland were we saw four Greater Sand-plovers, seven Woodlark , two Blue-headed Wagtails and two Tawny Pipits, sixteen Black Redstarts,  three Lesser Whitethroat , and a single Whitethroat.

 Greater Sandplover at Paphos Headland

7 November 2014

We headed back to Evretou Dam to give the collection of pipits some attention and were pleasantly surprised to find that the wind was very light indeed. Unfortunately, the soil beneath the thick carpet of green vegetation, that attracted the pipits and wagtails, was rather  difficult to work with, being sticky and cracked into deep fissures due to heat from above while kept moist from the stream that flowed to the dam underground. As expected, we didn’t get a lot of birds but of the six pipits, three were Meadow and three Water Pipit. We didn’t manage to get any of the Red-throated Pipits present. While there we had a small group of Wood Lark pass through, two Long-legged Buzzards spiralling above the ridge and a Bonelli’s Eagle that drew a strong reaction from the many Jackdaws in the vicinity.

Water Pipit

 Common Stonechat male

Total : 8

Water Pipit - 3
Meadow Pipit - 3
Stonechat – 1
Sardinian Warbler – 1

After a midday coffee with AC, a walk up the  Avakas Gorge failed to produce any Wallcreeper, but a single Blue Rock Thrush, eleven Rock Sparrow and a solitary Goldcrest were seen by CL who persevered to the farthest point, with again numerous mainly invisible Robins present.

Avakas Gorge 

8 November

Our second ringing visit was to the reeds at the bottom of the Xeros Potomas river by the desalination plant. We were not anticipating a big catch, but we only managed to equal yesterday’s 8, though we did catch one of our expected species, a Moustached Warbler, although the Great Reed Warbler was unexpected.

Moustached Warbler

 Great Reed Warbler

 Sardinian Warbler female

Total : 8

Robin – 1
Moustached Warbler – 1
Great Reed Warbler - 1
Sardinian Warbler – 2
Chiff-chaff - 2

We then made a visit of one or two local sites to see what was looking good, or not. Cyprus in early winter has a Western European feel, with many winter visitors we expect in the UK, though the exception really is the Wallcreeper and Finsche's Wheatear, with the odd winter vagrant from Turkey such as Rock Sparrow, Red-fronted Serin and Rock Bunting. And, though whilst in winter Sky Lark, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Dunnock, Robin, Ring Ouzel, Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Goldcrest, Brambling,  and Siskin, are present, quite a few can be difficult to see or need a visit to the Troodos, and an available drinking pool! During our local site visits we had around 80 Sky Lark a Mandaria, a Wheatear at Kouklia, Asprkremnos Dam apart from a very low water level and few birds, did have a single Great Crested Grebe, and our final visit to Anarita Park enticed us to put up the nets again. We managed nine birds this time, though the session did produce Denise’s first Serin and Corn Bunting! Also a Quail flew in and landed 5 feet from the net and immediately disappear into a bramble clump, and it was not even a shooting day!

 Corn Bunting

Total : 9
Robin – 2
Common Stonechat – 1
Sardinian Warbler – 2
Chiff-chaff – 2
Serin – 1
Corn Bunting – 1

9 November

Today was a run up to Troodos to look for some of those less than easy to see winter visitors, unfortunately being a Sunday it was also a hunting day (the other being a Wednesday). Around Troodos village we found a single Mistle Thrush, plus Short-toed Treecreeper and the endemic species of Jay and Coal Tit. We then paid a visit to the Troodos Botanical Gardens which is located at the site of an old Asbestos mine, we had a Water Pipit, which was slightly odd considering the location, more a summer location than winter, and four Hawfinch coming into drink at the pools by the small lake. On the way back we visited a couple of the picnic sites, and one, Livadi tou Pashia had a medium size wet area at the start of the entrance track that was bring birds down to drink and after a while sat there we saw fourteen Blackbirds, a single Ring Ouzel, six Song Thrush, three Mistle Thrush, three Fieldfare, a single Redwing, five Hawfinch and four endemic race Common Crossbills. At the Kampos tou Livadiou Picnic site we had a flock of around 60 Fieldfare.

 Asbestos quarry disused buildings


10 November

We returned to Anarita Park and did an am session, that also turned into a return pm as we found a small area of water in the old quarry. Sixteen birds were processed in the morning and a further six in the late afternoon.  In addition to the birds processed we also saw four Wood Lark, two male Fincsches Wheatears and a male Blue Rock Thrush.

 Black Redstart juvenile male

 Serin male

Total : 20 (2)
Robin - 2
Black Redstart – 1
Common Stonechat – 4 (1)
Sardinian Warbler – 3 (1)
Great Tit – 1
Serin - 1
Goldfinch – 7
Greenfinch – 1

11 November

We were going to ring at the Achelia reeds by the sea, but when we got there it was not really suitable and stopping at the nearby soakways the area seemed about the best we had found so far, so we set up, slightly later than wished for, but we processed 39 birds, making it worthwhile and an area to visit again for sure. In addition to the processed birds we also saw a couple of Bluethroats, Great Reed Warbler, Penduline Tit, Red-backed Shrike (which seemed to have a deformed bill, not hooked and looked slightly elongated) and Reed Bunting.

Willow Warbler


Total: 39
Robin - 2
Dunnock -1
Bluethroat - 1
Cetti’s Warbler – 5
Moustached Warbler – 2
Blackcap - 7
Chiff-chaff – 17
Willow Warbler - 1
Goldfinch – 3

Before going back late pm to Anarita Park to give the quarry pools another try, with a different set up, we dropped by Mandria, which was quiet with around 120 Sky Lark and a single Wheatear, though two juvenile Bonelli’s Eagles on the outskirts of the village was good.
Anarita Park quarry puddles proved to be another non-event, and on that basis we will leave them to the birds, slightly topped up from our two visits. One of the male Finsche’s Wheatears was feeding within the quarry whilst we sat there for a couple of hours.

Finsche's Wheatear

Total: 2
Goldfinch -2

12 November

We decided to make a return visit to the puddle at Livadi tou Pashia picnic site in the Troodos as the day after our last visit, as well as a few Yellowhammers, it also had a Pine Bunting coming down to drink or bathe. When we arrived three local photographers were there, with the front nearside wheel of their 4x4 almost in the puddle. I commented they will not get anything coming down if they are that close, so they moved back by about 2 metres, and partly blocked our view of the puddle area near the juniper which was the birds’ main route down to the pool. So we had to drive through and park up on the other side, further away than the photographers, but still closer than we would have been. For some reason two of the photographers spent some time walking around, and get in and out of the vehicle, and even when in the vehicle were not overly quite, so though a few birds came down, very few did and aby late morning we had a period of over an hour and a half with nothing coming down at all. At 1pm they gave up and left and we moved back further up the track, and it was not long before the number of birds coming to the puddle resumed and though it never got as busy as Sunday , the number of birds visiting did improve, with in the end one Water Pipit, Song and Mistle Thrush, two Blackbirds, Crossbill, and a male Siskin and up to nine Hawfinch, plus the local Coal Tits and Chaffinches. In a way a bit of a disappointing day through the lack of birds using the pool and so much time spent sat in the car, and a missed chance to at least have potentially have got to see Yellowhammer in Cyprus, although the Pine Bunting was really too much to expect to have seen.

 Still too close, even after moving back at our request.

The view from our vehicle after they left, and we re-positioneed to a
position further back and the birds started to return back to the pool


Cypriots go in for picnicking in a BIG way.
Some sites accommodate 1600+ people!