Saturday 20 April 2019

Vretsia, Nata ford, Asprokremnos reservoir, Anarita and Timi, Cyprus - 20th April 2019

We headed up to Vretsia, not knowing whether the road in would have survived the torrential rains this winter. There were a few undermined areas on roads, marked with rocks to stop drivers taking vehicles onto the unsafe areas but other than that the access road was good. Once in the village one of the main tracks had been blocked with rocks (probably to prevent people driving on to another area where the track is impassible) however we found a work around and put two doubles and two singles up in an area where the sounds of Corn Bunting, Golden Oriole and  Eastern Olivaceous Warbler filled the air.

Going was slow with a few birds chasing about but most sitting tight. We didn't get any Corn Bunting or Golden Oriole. The best bird was a male Masked Shrike.

Masked Shrike

It wasn't long before the clouds began to build and the sound of distant thunder could be heard. By the time the wind was starting to get up (a sure sign that rain will soon follow under heavy skies) all the nets were down again with twelve birds processed.

Total: 12

Sardinian Warbler - 3
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - 4 
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 1
Masked Shrike - 1
Greenfinch - 1

When the rain came is was very heavy.

There was also hail.

We began making out way back towards the coast and went via Nata where the river in flood had torn away so much vegetation from the banks.

Xeros Potomas river 

Here a chance discovery resulted in two Stone Curlew pulli being ringed.

The cryptic colouration provides excellent camouflage.

Stone Curlew chick

Pygmy Skipper

Driving via Asprokremnos reservoir we saw that Finikas is not currently accessible as parts of the road are submerged. 

At Anarita we saw a male Pallid Harrier with what have become the 'usual birds' for this time of year. Finally Timi, and it had become very windy. On the pool we found that four Little Ringed Plovers and two Little Stints had dropped in for a brief rest, but they stayed less than 15 minutes and were soon on their way again.

Little Ringed Plovers and Little Stints

Three Greenshank dropped in as did three Common Sandpipers.

Common Sandpiper

Friday 19 April 2019

Pafos, Cyprus local birding - 19th April 2019

We planned a quieter day today, staying closer to the apartment and checking out potential alternative ringing sites a little closer to home than those we have currently.

Chris had been looking for access points to a couple of potential new sites and these were scouted out in between birding. All three places that seemed possible in that they were far enough from housing and tracks (as required on our permit), and possibly routes that may channel birds on their route over the high ground on their journey to the north, turned out to be unsuitable either due to goats and sheep (grazing spots, like the good bird habitats are being squeezed with the pressures of continuous building), or had signs of imminent building development.

Our birding took us to Timi beach and forest, Pafos sewage works and surrounding fields and Mavrokolympos Dam. Timi had nothing new with Wood Sandpipers, Cattle Egrets and wagtails still present. The field around the sewage works, having a few freshly cut fields attracted hirundines, wagtails and in one case 13 Spur-winged Plover. The dam, again the fullest we've ever seen it had a few Cyprus Warbler and Wheatear as expected. The most unexpected bird was a Barred Warbler, also seen by another birder present. The dragonflies and butterflies seemed rather behind what we'd expected.

Wagtails continue to forage at Timi.

Timi picnic site

Swallowtail butterfly at Mavrokolympos

The reservoir is full to the top of the dam and spilling over.

Ayios Minas and birding around Polis and Everitou Dam, Cyprus - 18th April 2019

Up at five but the drive via Polis and Latchi meant that it had been light a while when we arrived to set up our nets. We could see flycatchers but were slow to get nets up as we've not been there for a long while and the grass was extremely long making the scattered rocks difficult to see and avoid. The five nets went up well and by the time Graham arrived we had a few to process. During the morning we heard Golden Oriole and there were Bee-eaters overhead.

Male Pied Flycatcher

Female Pied Flycatcher

Tree Pipit

Carob and Olive trees Ayias Minhas

Wild Garlic

Totals: 20 (2)

Tree Pipit -1
Nightingale - 1 (1)
Sardinian Warbler - 1 (1)
Whitethroat - 5
Blackcap - 8
Pied Flycatcher - 3
Great Tit - 1

It was windy by 11am with clouds building so we called that a day and drove to the river at Polis to look at some good birding spots. The river was high with very little exposed mud. At the camp site a Wood Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and some Reed Warblers were all we could find. Moving on to Evretou we were astounded by the water level. Never have we seen it this high. So high that the renovated church, normally well above road level, that in itself is a good 20 feet above waterlevel is sitting in the water.

Everitou Dam - we've never seen it as full as this

This last winter has seen the second highest recorded rainfall in Cyprus since records began, surpassed only by the extremely wet period during 1901.

Here there were some interesting plants that we've not really noticed before, a Paphos Blue butterfly and by checking the other side, that involved a lengthy drive now, after Chris thought he'd seen a Bittern, two Squaccos and a Bittern. We finished the day off with a Bonelli's Eagle over the valley.

Pafos Blue

Phlomis lunariifolia

Scabious or Carmel Daisy

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Agia Varvara and birding at Anarita Park and Timi, Cyprus - 17th April 2019

After more rain yesterday and overnight the area was just as muddy as ever. This coupled with mounds of river rocks made for uncomfortable conditions under foot. Chris soon found that his back was suffering as well.

We got five nets up and had just finished the last one when three Golden Oriole were heard and seen. Of course they soon drifted away. One of the nets caught nothing all morning. The others gave us a total of 19 birds, including some retraps from the 15th. It was clear that Whitethroat were moving through today. We saw two Little Crakes in the immediate area of the nets but they just ran under the net. Unfortunately we don't have other means of trapping.

Garden Warbler


Common Bluetail

Total:16 (3)

Sedge Warbler - 3
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - 1 (2)
Sardinian Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 6
Garden Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 2
Great Tit - 0 (1)
Goldfinch - 1
Spanish Sparrow - 1

Once we'd packed up we toured Anarita Park. All seemed rather quiet there and the most interesting birds were a couple of Tawny Pipit and the resident Little Owl that we had not seen until today.

Tawny Pipit

Little Owl

Timi has increasing numbers of Cattle and Little Egret. The wagtails are still around including one Citrine seen today. The Wood Sandpipers continue to feed under the trees that are all dying off due to an ongoing eradication project of non-native species trees. There were a few flycatchers and a Spotted Crake was seen.

Wood Sandpiper

Spotted Crake

Akrotiri and surrounding area birding, Cyprus - 16th April 2019

The weather looked bad around Pafos and we decided to travel over to Zakaki, Akrotiri marsh and gravel pits and Ladies Mile. We arrived at Zakaki just in time for the rain and it was torrential with thunder and lightning too. We sat out the first heavy cloudburst in the car and the second in the hide.

All the Little Crakes and Reed Warblers all looked really wet. A pair of Swallows nesting in the hide continued to fly, reluctant to take shelter 

The crakes had rising water levels to contend with as well as drops from above.

We drove round to Akrotiri Marsh and thankfully the rain stopped. There were around 80 Glossy Ibis on the marsh. Cattle Egrets were living up to their name but the site management left much to be desired with cows in the reserve area.

Glossy Ibis

Cattle Egrets

Sykes's Wagtail

There were also several Collared Pratincole.

Moving on to the gravel pits, we got Red-throated Pipits and our first Little Stint of the visit.

Red-throated Pipit

Little Stint

Chris then managed to locate a Great Snipe.

Great Snipe

Driving on we could see there were small birds in the larger bushes. We found two Wood Warbler, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Spotted, Pied and Collared Flycatchers. As we birded the garden by the church it was clear that the bulk of the fall were flycatchers although there was Nightingale and a Redstart.

Female Pied Flycatcher

Male Collared Flycatcher

We continued to see flycatchers along the roadside towards Ladies Mile and in the bushes on the far side of the pools, even in the garden next to the Lighthouse takeaway and cafe. 

 At Ladies mile there were few small waders. There were however Flamingos, egrets and three Spoonbill. 


One of three Spoonbill

Whinchats were another species that arrived in numbers after the  bad weather.

Female Whinchat.

We were unable to attempt to catch any birds from the fall because the area is part of the sovereign base, and our permit is not valid there. Even if it had been an area for which our permit is valid we need to give advance notice of ringing and there was insufficient time to do this.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Agia Varvara and birding at Timi forest, Cyprus - 15th April 2019

Having lost our main ringing area, we tried a new area of another site where we've ringed before. We were a little worried that being a broad area migrants would be rather too spread out and no migrants would connect with the nets, but we had a good few along with plenty of residents, mainly Cetti's Warblers.

We caught the first Great Reed Warbler of this trip and heard at least two others.

Great Reed Warbler

Eastern Olivaceous Warblers also featured heavily with a late showing of House Martin that began feeding along the water course and were catchable after a quick repositioning of one of the nets.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

House Martin

During the session we saw two Bee-eaters, plus a pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos, also hearing an Ortolan Bunting close by with a Golden Oriole in the orchard across the valley.

Total: 32

House Martin - 9
Cetti's Warbler - 5
Great Reed Warbler - 1
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - 8
Sardinian Warbler - 3
Blackcap - 3
Great Tit - 1
Goldfinch - 2

Four Cattle Egrets at Timi

One of two Tree Pipits

Pied Flycatcher

We had by midday and checked the Baillon's Crake site with no luck. There was a brief shower, although nothing too significant, then we headed to Timi forest. Here there were a lot of Little Egrets, some wagtails including a female Citrine, Cattle Egrets on the rapidly diminishing grassy pool at the entrance, Two Tree Pipits, a Pied Flycatcher, female Little Crake, Robin and a male first summer Peregrine.   

Sunday 14 April 2019

Pafos Headland, Mandria, Timi Forest and Agia Varvara birding, Cyprus - 14th April 2019

On walking the headland this morning, we were both agreed that it looked as though there had not been much of an influx, there were certainly less than on our last visit. After wagtails and Red-throated Pipits in the ruins and a single Starling still present there was not so much in addition other than three Squacco Herons in a tree and a Masked Shrike.

Red-throated Pipit

Northern Wheatear

Swallow with nest material

Crimson Speckled Moth

Yellow Crab Spider

Mandria didn't look all that promising with most fields in the advanced stages of crop growth. Whatever was there would in all probability remain out of sight. There were a couple of plots that had been newly prepared for planting and it was in one of these that a Caspian Plover eventually settled, having been flushed from the sandpit. It was actually our return visit here when we finally saw it, having tried Timi forest in the meanwhile.

Caspian Plover female

At Timi bird numbers appeared to be down on previous days, certainly there was no sign of the Citrine Wagtails. Having seen quad-bike tracks along the still sodden road and recalling the party of holiday makers, having left their hired vehicles on the track and getting a mud covered holiday snap on the beach, we knew what had disturbed so many birds.

A quick look at Agia Varvara failed to reveal the Baillon's Crake, seen fairly regularly over the last few days. We shall try that again tomorrow.