Friday 2 February 2018

Cyprus - 27th to 31st January 2018

27th January

We took a drive to the Pafos forest today, thinking how low the wind was and how good a day oit would have been for ringing, but that was not possible due to issues between Birdlife Cyprus and the Game Fund resulting in no permit to ring - yet.

On the way we noticed good numbers of birds feeding in the fields around Agios Dimitrianos. A sizeable Chaffinch flock, some 250 or so, were also accompanied by a Brambling, a Hawfinch and a few Goldfinch. Woodlark, Corn Bunting, Blackcap, Song Thrush and Black Redstart were seen in the general area.

Kannaviou Dam

We reached Kannaviou Dam where there were not a great deal of birds to be seen, just Cormorant, Grey Heron, Long-legged Buzzard and Mallards. 

As we headed through the forest the road was strewn with rocks brought down by the strong rains of late and we were unsure whether we'd need to turn back at some stage as water run off was cutting furrows in the track and eating away at the edge of the road. Corners were especially bad.

A rare chance to photograph Clouded Yellow - more often seen on the wing

Male Siskin

We continued along the single track road, wondering what it must be like in the summer with vehicles passing both ways. It seemed to take too long reaching the picnic site at Agia where Siskin are sometimes seen in the trees above the picnic tables, but eventully we reached it, and found a flock of 26. While there a Goshawk was seen overhead.

Goshawk - record shot

Moving on to Stravos tis Psokas we found a further flock of 15 Siskin also seeing Coal Tit, Blackcap, Robin (3), Hawfinch and hearing Wren and Blackbird.

28th January

Headed towards Limassol and checked out the area around Paramali. It showed a lot of promise for spring migration and we must have a look at the fields and whatever they may hold when we're over again in a couple of months.

Paramali Beach


Driving on past the Western Sovereign Base at about 9:30am coincided with six Griffon Vultures leaving Kensington Cliffs.

Three of six Griffon Vultures

We went to the hide at Zakaki Marsh where there was little to see. No sign of any Bluethroats, Penduline Tits or larger birds dropping into the clear water hidden behind the reeds. Two Moustached Warblers were heard tacking out of sight and ocassionally sang in the bright sunshine.

Moving on to Lady's mile the Med gull was again present, as well as a Common Gull and a Heuglin's Gull.

Mediterranean Gull with Black-headed Gulls

Common Gull

Heuglin's Gull 

Being a Sunday the beach was very busy. We stopped off at Bishop's Pool but the gates were locked, with no means of access. Next stop was the Akrotiri gravel pits, lots of shallow pools, plenty of Greenfinch and more Woodlark with not much else besides Stonechats. There was no sign of an Isabeline Wheatear recently reported from the track next to the beach.

Crown Anemone

Giant Orchid with bizarrely 'man-shaped' flowers

Taking a look at the recently renamed Akrotiri Marsh, it was looking very good after the heavy rains. The argument for surrounding the area with scaffolding, to corral animals, appeared mute as most animals were still tetherred, with a lot of them outside the barrier. We went to the hide wondering why they had opted to put a divider in the centre preventing an all around view. Such a shame, a real missed opportunity. There are no seats out to the right with only seating for six (less if viewers have a lot of photography paraphenalia) to the left. Again, not much to see.

We finished the day at the beach at Episcopi, memorable as this was the site where both out boys received multiple bee stings from bees trapped in the waves in the 1990s. There was no one in the sea today but several people stayed to watch the sunset.

Sunset at Episcopi

29th January

Today we took a run up to the Troodos. Reports said it was only suitable for cars with snow chains or 4x4 but actually it was fine. We worked around all the usual picnic sites towards Plantania and the Botanical Gardens. We saw a lot of Chaffinch and Greenfinch with Siskin, Hawfinch and Crossbill too.



We heard several Treecreeper. This individual was travelling with a sizable flock of finches.

Short-toed Treecreeper


In addition to the snow, some areas of usually dry dry had become shallow mountain pools.

The air was cool, even before reaching the snowline. but the temperature only fell to 3 degrees at its lowest. There was no sign of any Redwing or Fieldfare as we have seen in previous years, and only managed one Mistle Thrush, but Hawfinch, in small numbers, were seen at several locations.

The Hawfinch tended to keep their distance when feeding on the ground

Opposite the scout hut is a track leading to some plastic tanks where fish are farmed. At an altitude of some 1400m, Kingfisher was the least expected record.

30th January

We started off with a walk around the headland, nothing special and pretty much the same birds as last time. It was a very pleasant walk in the bright sunshine.

Paphos Lighthouse

Oxalis pes-caprae

Crested Lark

Sardinian Warblers

Today was the first day that we saw small lizards drawn out by the sun

Spectacular Hibiscus flower in the headland car park

Next stop Asprokremnos mast. Without the rain the cattle slurry heaps were devoid of birds - a very quiet detour indeed. We had a look over the dam seeing two Great Crested Grebes with all the usual field birds and, a driver who was regretting taking his chosen route. Chris sometimes thinks he 'pushes it' with the hire car but this really was on another level. 

'He didn't want to do that!'


We had another Hen Harrier then drove to Anarita Park where we found the Finsch's Wheater and a Cyprus Warbler.

Finsch's Wheatear - strange that the females never seem to be found 
wintering on Cyprus, so, do they go somewhere else?

31st January

Beautiful weather but it's time to leave and the morning was spent on various chores. We got out at about 12:30pm and looked around the desalination plant on our way to Mandria. Chris saw a Reed Bunting in the regenerating reeds and a Bluethroat popped up to scold us - we hadn't even been looking for it. If the permit can get sorted out this could be quite good for two panel nets. The area doesn't seem to hold any water 'though. Probably a case of the stream being diverted to a reservoir further upstream.


At Mandria there were hundreds of Skylark spread across four separate fields, so another e-birder entry that will warn that the count is excessively high. We got some nice views of Kestrel, always around but sometimes disregarded in the search for something less usual, Hen Harrier and Buzzard.
All too soon it was time to eat and return to the airport.

Kestrel sentinal - keeping an eye on what's going on
 under the clearest of skies

Hen Harrier

A Buzzard attracts attention from the Hooded Crows

This has to rank as our worst ever ringing trip abroad. When we thought it was just a matter of getting the permit signed the weather was difficult and we only got two sessions in before receiving advice that there were serious complications with obtaining the licence. A list of new stipulations have come out from the Game Fund including advising police (tried that in past years and no-one would take it) and being able to prove you have done so when asked, advising the Game Fund 48 hours beforehand, ringing no closer than 100m to a house or 50m to a track (and Cyprus is covered with them), providing googlemaps with netting area marked and a full list of all present. We applied for the licences in October 2017 but this trip has still been a waste. We have fallen foul of island politics somehow mixed up with changes to the hunting enforcement. We tried the soverign base environmental department about ringing in their area and haven't even heard back from them. In truth, it's not looking good for the spring when we are due back to monitor the migration.