Saturday 27 December 2014

Wraysbury GP - 26 December 2014

We went out for a few hours this morning for some fresh air and a little exercise,and decided that a try for thrushes at Wraysbury was the order of the day.

On arrival there were plenty of thrushes about, but the vast majority were Fieldfare. We only put up three doubles and used the Lithuanian tape for Redwings.  We got a decent spread of species although the total number of birds was very modest.



 Green Woodpecker


Totals: 9 (4)

Green Woodpecker - 1
Wren - 0 (1)
Robin - 2
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Blackbird - 1
Songthrush - 0 (1)
Redwing - 2
Goldcrest- 1
Long-tailed Tit - 1 (1)
Goldfinch - 1

Sunday 14 December 2014

Broadwater GP - 13 December 2014

We haven't been getting out much of late. Winter weather and someone recovering from pleurisy just don't mix well. Still, today we arranged to meet MRB and Margaret for an early morning try for Redwings. We know the birds roost here but failed miserably at a dusk attempt so have now gone for the 6.30am start. The nets went up well and the very first calls were not heard until the main nets were erected. It was extremely cold with the first haw frost of the winter.

I can't recall the last time this happened to equipment, if ever!

The first round was disappointing with only one Redwing in the net.

The first Redwing was a juvenile bird.

Subsequent rounds brought a few Goldcrests, a Bullfinch and a slow trickle of Redwings as well as a few retraps, including a Treecreeper with the usual selection of tits.
 Adult Redwing with rufous hue to tips and edge of greater and median coverts.

The temperature hovered around zero degrees until well after 9.00am and the increased frquency of net rounds (to minimise the time that birds spent in nets) was appreciated by those ringers wearing wellingtons (for the sake of our toes!)

 Juvenile male Bullfinch

 Another adult bird with heavier markings on breast than previously photographed individuals.

 By the time we got the last Redwing there was still frost on the ground despite some much welcomed winter sunshine.

Additional sightings included Little Egret, Red Kite, Grey Wagtail with 3 Goosanders on the lake. Nets down by 11.45am and on to the Crewroom Cafe at the aerodrome.

Totals: 24 (6)

Wren - 1
Robin - 0 (1)
Songthrush - 1
Redwing - 8
Goldcrest - 5
Blue Tit - 4 (3)
Great Tit - 2 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Treecreeper - 0 (1)
Bullfinch - 1

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.