Sunday, 6 November 2016

Cyprus November 4th - 5th 2016

We arrived late on the 3rd and drove the length of the southern coast from Larnaca to Pafos, seeing nothing but the road in our headlights. When we went out on the 4th to have a look around before doing any sessions, it became very clear that it had been a very long, dry summer, and the temperatures at about 20 degrees and the beautiful, clear sky with sunshine seemed to indicate that all is well as summer lingers on. But for us, there has been a major change to being in Cyprus. It was our usual routine to meet up with Alan Crabtree, the ringing officer, on our first day to catch up, restock rings and often arrange some joint ringing days. He passed away in September and it just doesn't seem the same without him. Last time we saw him he was considering a pulli ringing project on Spur-winged Plovers, possibly with colour rings. We never imagined that he may not be around when we next visited.

November 4

We have always worked the Pafos area as no-one else rings here, this is where our house is and Alan was very happy for us to cover some different habitat, ringing species that appear on the Cyprus ringed list less frequently. So, we checked out Achelea, Anarita Park and  Agia Varvara in the Pafos area, all very dry with no flowing water despite heavy rain in the night a few days ago, before shooting off to Evretou dam and some Polis sites on our way to get a few more rings from a ringer who also dips in and out of Cypriot ringing and is holding the stock until firm arrangements are made and a new ringing officer appointed.

Evretou was extremely low, but full of wagtails and pipits. Polis had suffered a fire in the reedbed and again the riverbed was completely dry. There were some birds around including a Reed Warbler that Chris saw, as well as a few Blackcaps, Chaffinches and Serins. The rides needed some maintenance but nothing too major.

Next day, we decided to try a cut alfalfa field for our first morning out since there had been birds there on the previous day and we know how quickly such fields lose their allure. We put up 5 nets, including one through the weedy margins where Willow Warblers had been seen. Catching was quite slow but we captured birds broadly representative of what was present. We were particularly pleased with Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, Willow Warbler and Sky Lark. A Laughing Dove was also seen.

Red-throated Pipit, not always as their name describes.

Heavily marked on the back with pale lines on back.

Undertail coverts.

 Age 3 Water Pipit.

Water Pipit – differentiated from Rock Pipit by brown rather
 than grey cast to colouring and black legs.

Possibly only the second Skylark ringed in Cyprus.

Willow Warbler.

Total- 17

Sky Lark - 1
Water Pipit -1
Red-throated Pipit - 2
Meadow Pipit - 10
Stonechat -1
Sardinian Warbler – 1
Willow Warbler - 1

After a midday break we had a look around Mandria, Xeros Potamos, the desalination plant and Kouklia. There were a few promising options (although as usual, there is no potential for large number catches here) and a Hen Harrier quartering the fields was an added bonus. At the end of the day we tried a couple of nets where some birds had found a little water and another eight birds were processed with Water Rail, Jack Snipe and Bluethroat seen.

3 male Linnet
Total – 8

White Wagtail – 1
Red-throated Pipit – 1
Stonechat - 1
Chiffchaff – 2
Linnet – 2
Serin - 1