Sunday, 13 November 2016

Birding in Cyprus - 10th to 12th November 2016

We're taking a few days off from ringing and will concentrate on birding for the next three days.
We failed to see the Dusky Warbler yesterday, that was reported close to the sewage treatment works in Pafos, and were very surprised to be asked whether there was any possibility of trapping and ringing the bird to confirm the identification. First instincts screamed 'No!', but this species is a first living record for the island, hence the keenness to achieve positive identification. As it happened, we were there a couple of days after most birders on the island had seen it, and in all likelihood, finding it absent, so, the decision was taken for us, the bird was gone and that was that. But, a few days later, it seems it might still be there!

We set off to the Troodos to try for some of the species not often seen anywhere else on the island and eventually managed views of many Coal Tits, several Hawfinch, Siskin, Blackbird, Short-toed Treecreeper, Brambling and Wood Lark, and heard but failed to see Goldcrest. We decided to seek out the picnic site where Jane S had photographed a Yellow-browed Warbler a few days before. The bird was not seen by anyone else - but by some fluke we wandered away from the stream where Jane had seen it and heard it calling from a tree by the children's play area. It gave very close views - if only my camera was better at capturing images of small birds, not in the hand.

Yellow-browed Warbler - Platania picnic site

We didn't find any large finch flocks to check through so headed back early as the Chevrolet had developed a nasty scraping from the offside rear wheel. Having taken it back to the rental company, we found that the brake pad was absent and we had to say goodbye to the 4x4, being given instead a Galaxy people mover. Hmmm, this could cramp our style somewhat! Perhaps we should start doing airport taxi runs instead.

On the 11th we drove to Larnaca via Limassol. We didn't do Akrotiri marsh or gravel pits, going instead straight to Zakaki Marsh. It was clear that there had been no maintenance for some long while (not generally factored into so many projects in Cyprus), only recently receiving attention from a band of volunteers. It was clearly very hard work, and truth be told, there was still much more that needed to be done. While there we enjoyed views of several Water Rail, Moustached Warbler, Penduline Tit, Bluethroat, Reed Bunting and Jack Snipe.

 Moustached Warbler

 Jack Snipe

 Water Rail


After a catch-up with Bill who we have been bumping in to quite regularly in Cyprus for years, we moved on to look for the Steppe Grey Shrike.

Steppe Grey Shrike

Later in the day we checked out the pools at Larnaca and the sewage works. We found yet more areas ploughed and unplanted. We have been noticing many, previously wild areas put to the plough and a local attributes this to EU subsidies for ploughing land (although crops need not be grown).

 Ploughed, but sterile looking field.

One basin of the sewage works was drained. The osprey was still present on the bank of the other, but the works held fewer species than we might have hoped for, no interesting grebes, gulls or terns,


We drove to Oroklini and looked across the lake as the day drew to a close. Sightings included Spur-winged Plover, Temminck's Stints, Water Pipits,  Cattle Egret, Greater Flamingoes and a Great White Egret.

Flamingoes feeding at Oroklini

The 12th also started with a look at Oroklini's marshy areas, providing more views of a lot of the previous day's species, with the addition of at least six Bluethroat, Little Bittern and Jack Snipe.

At Larnaca Salt Lake the birds were all a long way off and we encountered tourists over keen on trying to get close photographs.

 Mud paddling tourists

 When most of the birds walk off.....

it's time to stop walking towards them. Increasingly a problem in Cyprus.


We saw ten Shelduck, single Hen Harrier, plus Little Ringed and Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Dunlin and Redshank, six Stone Curlew, two Water Pipit, Bluethroat and a couple of Spectacled Warblers.

We finished up at Larnaca Sewage works again to find an eagle perched next to the runway.

Two Red-throated Pipits on the sterile field didn't stay long.

There was little else to be seen though the Osprey turned up again, and a Hen Harrier went over, possibly the bird we had seen earlier.