Sunday 31 January 2016

Cyprus 12 - 28 January 2016 part 3

Friday 22nd and a 5.30am start in order to make the agreed start time for our ringing session with AC and Graham, at Polis. The injury to my knee meant that venturing into the river was unwise and I was limited to remaining at the base while others took care of setting up equipment and net rounds. Only 19 birds were processed, one being a retrapped Moustached Warbler and the only one of the whole visit.

 Moustached Warbler 45401

In the afternoon we reccied Evretou Dam where we found it to be much less promising than when we caught Water and Meadow Pipits in November 2014. We than went to a site for Bonelli’s Eagle but none were found.

Saturday was another unsettled day with the possibility of showers. We spent the morning at Agia Varvara where the modest catch included a wintering Cyprus Warbler.

6F Cyprus Warbler

A midday check around Mandria turned up circa 60 Skylark, around 30 Meadow Pipit, a Red-throated Pipit and a Black Redstart, in addition to the usual Stonechats. Later we tried for Corn Bunting at Xeros Potamos, drawing a blank but making a few captures of birds using a pool hidden within the reeds.

The following Sunday was windier than expected so we spent the time looking for alternative ringing sites. There were a few finch flocks in the Aphrodite Hills and a net, erected briefly was soon affected by the wind after a slight change in direction and only a couple of birds, of other species, were captured. We then found our way to a spot where circa 65 Crag Martin were among the birds seen.

 Crag Martins resting between feeding sorties.

A run along the road around Asprokremnos to Finikas brought us to the abandoned village with its resident Finsche's Wheatear.

Finsche's Wheatear

On Monday, the very cold temperature materialised and there were even touches of frost at Agia Varvara. We found that birds were very slow to get moving and we took down at 10am having failed to reach double figures.
Returning to the track by Paphos Sewage Works brought us a new species, Meadow Pipit, for the trip and over thirty birds.

 Meadow Pipit

 We also had a visit from a couple of officers from the airport Police – but thankfully our story checked out and all was well. We staked out the roost from the Western bank. The large numbers of Linnets do not seem to be catchable, as the actual roost is in citrus trees in a private holding a short distance from the overhead wires where they congregate. Fewer Corn Buntings were present and settled into the reeds from above.

Tuesday was our last day spent in the Paphos  area. We started off at Acheleia, catching very few birds and packed up as showers could be seen approaching across the sea. A run up to Anarita Park provided nothing new for the trip, but we did manage to see both male Finsche’s Wheatear. After lunch we set six nets (two being double panels) along the rough track to the Desalination Plant where another 28 birds were caught. The total included an adult male Bluethroat. We finished up as a pick-up arrived with a few dogs to be exercised. All but one net were already down and despite a Beagle getting itself into the final net there was just one small hole. We didn’t try again for the Corn Bunting roost – maybe another time and on a calm day  as the number of birds present was definitely up on the previous, windier evening. We will reassess the position in March when we visit next.
Wednesday and it’s time to leave Elpiniki where w have been based throughout the visit. We were packed and on the road by 8am and heading towards Limassol. A last minute change of heart and we diverted off the motorway for one last try by the reedbed where the White-breasted Kingfisher has been reported. Amazingly, we had a brief glimpse as the car flushed it from a tree in the basketmaker’s house. We also saw Penduline Tit before moving on to Zakaki Marsh where Dave and Eileen were already in the hide. We had just missed the Pied Kingfisher. We stayed for a while with nothing much to show for the time, but did get a Slender-billed Gull and an Avocet amongst the gulls at the end of Lady’s mile. There were also Little Stint, Redshank and Dunlin further along. We drove along the port perimeter road and found a very obliging Laughing Dove at the port entrance. Next we stopped of at Meneou Pool where there were quite a lot of Flamingo, then called in at the bird hide by Larnaca SewageWorks where we had a run in with some Police who said we may not use cameras, binoculars or telescopes because the whole area was ‘high security’. We chose not to leave quietly, knowing that a field trip had been there a few days before when there was no problem. We provided verbal resistance, followed by photo identification and our Birdlife membership cards, although the officers declined to provide their names and numbers. Chris called the Birdlife office, but the officers didn’t want to speak to them, instead leaving (with their machine gun) and prowling the beach road until we left – after seeing the White-fronted Geese and Black-necked Grebes amongst others. We felt it prudent not to look at the fields adjacent to the airport, rather  to continue on to Oroklini for views of more Flamingo, Teal, Shoveller, Pintail, Red-crested Pochard, three White-headed Duck, Cattle Egret, a Little Egret and Marsh Harriers.
The last day arrived and we spent some more time at Oroklini, checking some extra spots this time and seeing more of the same with increased numbers of Spur-winged plover and Black-winged Stilt and a rather poorly camouflaged Snipe. The salt lake at Larnaca held vast numbers of Greater Flamingoes with many juveniles in sharp black and white contrast to the salmon pink adults. There were also other rather smaller waders.
The ringing resulted in just under 300 birds being recorded with RA and LA gaining some really useful experience of new species Sardinian Warbler, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, White Wagtail, Spanish Sparrow, Cyprus Warbler and Moustached Warbler and much more experience of Cetti’s Warbler.

22 January

Chrysochou (P2)
Cetti's Warbler - 2 (1)
Moustached Warbler - 0 (1)
Sardinian Warbler - 0 (3)
Blackcap - 4 (4)
Chiffchaff - 3 (1)

23 January 

Agia Varvara – 19 (2)
Robin –2
Cetti’s Warbler –  1 (1)
Cyprus Warbler - 1
Sardinian Warbler –7 (1)
Blackcap –6
Chiffchaff –2

Xeros Potamos – 7
Robin – 1
Cetti's Warbler - 2
Blackcap – 2
Chiffchaff –1
Chaffinch - 1

24 January

Aphodite Hills – 2
Robin – 1
Chiffchaff - 1

25 January

Agia Varvara –7
Robin - 2
Cetti’s Warbler –1
Sardinian Warbler – 1
Blackcap – 1
Chiffchaff –2

Paphos Sewage Works –33 (2)
MeadowPipit - 2
Robin – 2 (1)
Bluethroat - 0 (1)
Black Redstart –2
Stonechat - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 4
Blackcap  -5
Chiffchaff –3
Great Tit –3
Chaffinch - 5
Goldfinch -3
Serin - 2
Spanish Sparrow - 1
26  January
Acheleia Reed bed/pools - 12 (2)
Robin - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 0 (1)
Blackcap - 1
Chiffchaff - 8 (1)
Great Tit - 1
Spanish Sparrow - 1

Xeros Potamos Lower Pools– 28
Meadow Pipit - 1
Robin –1
Bluethroat - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 4
Blackcap  - 9
Chiffchaff - 8
Chaffinch - 4


Friday 29 January 2016

Cyprus 12 – 28 January 2016 part 2

Tuesday the 19th was expected to be very windy, but without any rain. We allocated the day to birding further afield and headed to Zakaki Marsh. The water level was high and we failed to find any Bluethroats, but did get brief views of a Spectacled Warbler and a Moustached Warbler, although our friends, Liz and Roger, joining us for the ringing and birding, didn’t get on to the Moustached. The Little Grebes ans Marsh Harriers can always be relied upon to be there.

 Little Grebe at Zakaki Pool

Marsh Harrier

 There was very little at Lady’s Mile although there were some Armenian and Caspian Gulls off the beach. Moving on to Bishop’s Pool we found Ferruggenous Ducks, Little Grebe and Coot.

 Plenty of water at Bishop's Pool

The arable fields revealed a flock of Woodlark, while Greenfinch, Siskin and Serin frequented an orchard of Almond, Carob, Olive and citrus trees. 

The salt lake at Akrotiri held good numbers of Flamingo, albeit they were rather distant. We checked out the gravel pits where birds (with the exception of Stonechats) were keeping out of the wind and mostly out of sight. At Akrotiri Marsh, formerly known as Phassouri Marsh we discovered some rather unsympathetic management that had left large areas of reeds cut and heaped up at the edge of the reed-bed. We checked the water’s edge for Bluethroat without success, also failing to see the White-breasted Kingfisher (which was not totally unexpected) but did locate a single Penduline tit.

Our next stop was Kensington Cliffs where we scoured the rock-face comprehensively, but again without success, for a recently reported Wallcreeper. As the Sun sank below the horizon we only had one Griffon Vulture coming in to roost, although up to 13 have been recorded recently by other observers. Perhaps the harsh wind and recent snowfall in the Troodos had an effect on the birds’ choice of roost.

Kensington Cliffs

The next day was still a bit windy in the morning so we all birded the Headland at Paphos where Black Redstarts flicked amongst the archaeological remnants of habitation. The birds were a little thin on the ground but patches of wild Cyclamen were well worth inspection. 

 Wild Cyclamen

Black Redstart

Once we’d finished inside the fence we ducked outside (as the exit gate was chained) and found Greater Sand Plovers, Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper on the rocks. A large flock of Golden Plover blended perfectly into their surroundings.

Two of four Greater Sandplovers

 Common Sandpiper

 Hooded Crow on the shoreline

After some lunch in Paphos, we returned to a track where we knew birds would come to bathe and drink from the puddles. The track was by the side of the sewage works, a site most attractive to birds, and after all our efforts just to see Bluethroat, actually captured one in the net.

 Aged 5 Bluethroat

 Female Serin

Thursday’s forecast was for showers in the morning. We agreed to see what was happening at 6am and decide whether it was worth trying to get a few hours in. There was rain when the alarm rang, but it seemed to lighten quite quickly and we set off for Agia Varvara at around 7am. With hind sight, I may have been better off staying in bed. We had only got two nets up when a very minor slip onto an extremely sharp piece of rock left me (Denise) with blood pouring from my left shin. We actually spent a couple of hours there (applying pressure and expecting the bleeding to stop), catching a few birds, but the rain started again, nets came down and we had to go back to the apartment to pick up my EHIC (Eurpoean Health Insurance Card) before attending  Paphos A&E. The blood worked wonders and I was booked in, charged 10 Euros, assessed, bandaged, x-rayed twice and sent away within 35 minutes. This seems like an appropriate time to stress the importance of applying for and carrying the EHIC when in the EU. The simplest of things can turn into a cause to get medical treatment.

Later that day we took a run out to some upland areas but failed to find much of interest. In the afternoon we tried down by Paphos Sewage Works but nets took a while to get up by which time many birds failed to return.

19 January 

No ringing

20 January
Paphos Sewage Works –31

Robin – 2
Bluethroat – 1
Sardinian Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 5
Chiffchaff –6
Great Tit –2
Serin –1
Chaffinch –6
Goldfinch - 2
Spanish Sparrow - 4

21 January

Agia Varvara –7
Cetti’s Warbler –1
Sardinian Warbler –2
Blackcap – 1
Chiffchaff –3

Paphos Sewage Works –9

Robin –1
Sardinian Warbler - 0 (1)
Blackcap  -2
Chiffchaff –4
Spanish Sparrow - 1

Monday 18 January 2016

Cyprus 12 – 28 January 2016 part 1

The first day, Wednesday, started with a morning of ringing at Acheleia with most species being Cetti’s Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap to a total of 20 birds. A swift sweep of a few of our birding haunts proved that there is very little running water anywhere and produced Long-legged Buzzard, Finsches Wheatear, Golden Plover, Little Owl, Stone Curlew and Red-throated Pipit among others.

 Acheleia - completely dry water tanks.

 Finsches Wheatear male at Anarita Park

 Long-legged Buzzard - Anarita Park

Little Owl - Anarita Park

Golden Plovers at Mandria

Thursday was poor with just 4 birds from the Xeros Potomos reed-bed by the desalination plant. Again, the area was very dry and we packed up early and drove towards the Episkopi area, stopping off on the road to the Arminou Dam where water was flowing. We took our opportunity and netted 8 Chiffchaffs. On our way back at Episkopi Ezousa river saw a Bittern, which was watched consuming a rather large frog.

 Cetti's Warbler - Xeros Potomos reed-bed

 Song Thrush - Xeros Potomos reed-bed

 Arminou - a pool on the track to the dam

 Bittern at Episkopi

GreyWagtail - at Episkopi

A return to the Acheleia area on Friday, a little way from where nets were set on the first day provided 19 captures, including Spanish Sparrow and a Cetti’s Warbler re-trap that Chris first ringed on 11 November 2014, but a return the following day brought only two birds. Further exploration of the area was confirming that birds were attracted to water trapped as puddles on the road, this being our best chance of capturing reasonable numbers of birds. However, the puddles were drying up fast and some chances were lost as pools had dried completely when we returned to put up nets. 

Female Stonechat - Acheleia

On Saturday a return to Acheleia was rather disappointing with only 4 birds. But, we got good numbers of Chiffchaff and few other species on some pools in the road down to the desalination plant in the afternoon. We also noticed and watched large numbers of Corn Bunting at their pre-roost behaviour; perhaps a new opportunity for us to try over the next couple of weeks.

 Sardinian Warbler

Male Stonechat

A try at Agia Varvara on Sunday was another low return day, with only six. Late afternoon the last couple of hours was spent at Paphos Sewage Works with a couple of double panels over puddles and a strategically placed backstop to intercept birds flying up as we went to extract  that proved most successful, with Serin and Black Redstart on the record sheet.

 5M Serin

 Chris keeping a note of proceedings.

 Two doubles by the Sewage Works

 Age 5 Black Redstart

The next day, Monday, was forecast for very strong winds and heavy intermittent downpours so we took the day off and stayed out of the weather.

13 January 

Acheleia - 20
Cetti’s Warbler - 4
Sardinian Warbler - 5
Blackcap - 5
Chiffchaff – 5
Great Tit – 1

14 January
Xeros Potamos Reedbed – 4
Robin – 1
Song Thrush – 1
Cetti’s Warbler –  2

Arminou Dam – 8
Chiffchaff – 8

15 January

Acheleia – 18 (1)
Robin – 1
Stonechat – 1
Cetti’s Warbler –  0 (1)
Sardinian Warbler – 4
Blackcap – 2
Chiffchaff – 8
Spanish Sparrow - 2

16 January

Acheleia – 1 (1)
Stonechat – 1
Cetti’s Warbler – 0 (1)

Xeros Potamos – 27
Robin – 1
Blackcap – 2
Chiffchaff – 21
Serin – 1
Chaffinch - 1
Goldfinch – 1

17 January

Agia Varvara – 6
Cetti’s Warbler – 3
Sardinian Warbler – 1
Blackcap – 1
Chiffchaff – 1

Paphos Sewage Works – 25
White Wagtail – 2
Robin – 2
Black Redstart – 1
Blackcap  - 4
Chiffchaff – 8
Great Tit – 1
Serin – 2
Chaffinch – 3
Goldfinch - 2

Monday 11 January 2016

River Thames, Windsor - 11 January 2016

The river was particularly high after a lot of rain and this made it tough going, for Mute Swans, on the river.

 More Swans than usual were out on the banks.

Swimming against the current was clearly an effort.

We got a good few BTO rings and five regulars with Darvics - although K2U had somehow managed to loose its metal ring.

K2U minus the metal ring

We managed to get some 15 ring numbers photographed and more still were read with binoculars, totalling 38 in all.

 Some early pair bonding

After checking out the swans on the Thames we went on to Staines Moor where we got Short-eared Owl, Little Egret and Water Pipit between the showers.

Friday 8 January 2016

Stanwell Moor GP - 8 January 2016

A quality first session of the year at Stanwell, where despite the rising water level we captured three Cetti's Warblers and a Firecrest within our catch of 15 birds.

 The second Firecrest for the site and the first for 2016.

 Cetti's Warbler Z761905 a 5M


Increased water levels resulted in a three panel net being used at the lake end of the ride.

The planes were taking off towards the site, but at least the wind direction meant that flights tracked along the motorway, taking them a little further away, rather than across the lake.

Blackbird, 6F, with asymmetrically retained feather on one wing only. Feather P1 was recorded as retained, however the photograph seems to show more contrast not visible when the bird was processed.

Totals: 10 (5)

Wren - 1
Blackbird - 1
Robin - 0 (1)
Cetti's Warbler - 1 (2)
Goldcrest - 5 (2)
Firecrest - 1
Great Tit - 1

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Titchfield Haven- 6 January 2016

The day started well as we travelled down via Eastleigh Sewage Works, hoping for a view of the Yellow Browed Warbler. We had only waited about five minutes before it was heard by us both, then viewed working through a close by Ivy plant - before it shot across the road and out of sight. We took a brief walk down the footpath where no less that nine Chiffchaff were present on the periphery of the works. On returning to the car some eight or ten people had gathered, waiting for a glimpse, but we left them to it and moved on at 8.45am.

After breakfast we went on to Titchfield Haven where a Mediterranean Gull loafed on the groyns with the Black-headed Gulls andTurnstones delicately picked their way along the tide line before we had even entered the reserve.

Our first birds of note here were the Penduline Tits. They were feeding on seed heads a short distance from the path. We went into the hide to try for a better look. The shots were achieved inspite of the NGBs present, as excitable (and noisy) as seven year olds with ADHD and off their Ritalin, leaping about in order to get the optimum shots without a care for other hide users!

There were plenty of Cetti's Warblers and Water Rail to be heard in the water-logged undergrowth but these went mostly unseen.

The reserve also has several fine examples of interesting fungi. These are not my forte and there is every possibility that I may have misidentified these by my best attempt from internet research is as follows

 Jelly Ear

Hairy Curtain Crust 

The Gorse shrubs are already flowering.  

 Along the shallow edges of the Meon Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon were joined by Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit and Snipe.

Just some of the 40 or so Snipe secreted along the banks of the river.

We didn't manage to find any Bearded Tits, but Reed Bunting and Stonechat were both seen perching in the reeds.

Reed Bunting
Male Stonechat

A large flock of Brent Geese frequent an area close to the reserve.

Sun over the Isle of Wight

The Sun was already low in the sky by 3.20pm, time to set off home again.