CYPRUS - SPRING BIRDING ON APHRODITE'S ISLEMonday 23rd March
Monday 23rd - Monday 30th March 2015
The group met early at Gatwick Airport and once checked in we spent some time relaxing and having breakfast. Our flight to Cyprus took off a few minutes behind schedule and around four and a half hours later we flew in over the west coast of Cyprus before touching down on time.
Whilst the formalities of the minibus hire were being sorted the birding started in earnest with HOODED CROW, BLACK REDSTART, CHIFFCHAFF, WHINCHAT and STONECHAT being seen from the airport carpark.
We loaded up and drove a short distance before making a stop for water and other supplies. Arriving at our guesthouse, we were greeted by Christina and given a cold pineapple drink which went down very well before going to our rooms to unpack and prepare for a walk.
Meeting up at around 4.00pm we took a walk up the lovely Dhiaroz Valley where we found SARDINIAN WARBLER, CHIFFCHAFF and CETTI'S WARBLER in the scrub whilst BARN SWALLOWS flew overhead. A single RED-RUMPED SWALLOW flew south along with several HOUSE MARTINS.
As we wandered along the river we flushed a GREEN SANDPIPER from a small pool and further along a small party of WHITE WAGTAILS and a stunning male BLACK-HEADED WAGTAIL fed on the short turf. COMMON KESTRELS and JACKDAWS showing large white neck collars frequented the riverside cliffs.
A little further along, Steve found our first main target, a stunning male CYPRUS WHEATEAR sitting on a small bush that gave good but distant scope views. We eventually got closer to find two territorial males and a female flitting around an area of scrub. Delighted by this, we carried on and then found some PLOUGH-SHARE SERAPIAS growing, along with BRANCHED BROOMRAPE and ASPARAGUS PEA.
With the light now going, we retraced our steps back towards the accommodation and after a few took the opportunity to scrump some fine oranges which had fallen from trees in a nearby orchard we had some time to get ready for dinner.
After doing the bird list we enjoyed a good dinner of Olives and Bread with Dips, plus a Lentil Soup for starter followed by Grilled Chicken, Chips and Salad for main course and preserved Citrus in sugar for dessert followed by tea or coffee.
We then retired to bed for the evening, whilst outside a CYPRUS SCOPS OWL sang, but he would have to wait for another night!
Tuesday 24th March
We awoke to find clear, bright conditions if not a little chilly in the breeze. After a fine breakfast we loaded up the van whilst several SPANISH SPARROWS sat in the tops of trees. Our journey started with a male MARSH HARRIER quartering over fields near the Asprokremmos Dam, before we arrived at our first port of call which was Paphos Headland. We had only just got out of the van when we found a female COMMON REDSTART, SARDINIAN WARBLER and WHITE WAGTAIL!
Taking a stroll around the perimeter saw us find a cracking male RUPPELL'S WARBLER feeding on the ground where it gave superb views. A lone HOOPOE was seen flying over rough ground and on Paphos Castle we saw two male NORTHERN WHEATEAR.
Further along the path we found two more RUPPELL'S WARBLERS in dense scrub whilst a CORN BUNTING sat nearby singing. The coastal rocks held a few Wheatears which on closer inspection provided us with views of ISABELLINE, NORTHERN and EASTERN BLACK-EARED WHEATEARS sometimes in view at the same time.
Whilst enjoying this Wheatear-fest a male EASTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER flitted up onto a bush right in front of us and fed on insects in the scrub. A look out to sea yielded several YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS and a GREY HERON that came in off the sea.
It wasn't just birds to look at but also butterflies which included SMALL and LARGE WHITES, PAINTED LADY, EUROPEAN SWALLOWTAIL, CLOUDED YELLOW and a blue sp.
HOODED CROWS were always in view and suddenly nine BLACK-WINGED STILTS flew past us heading east which was a bit of a surprise. Just as we were about to start our return journey we watched a male COMMON KESTREL catch a small bird and then rather than eat it, the bird stashed its prey under a boulder. Then it flew past us and again caught a bird and hid it close to a small bush. We walked over to find that it was a male EASTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER and although it is natural for the Kestrels it was still sad to see.
A couple of COMMON SANDPIPER frequented the rocky shore as we walked back and a small flock of BLACK-HEADED GULLS flew west.
Returning to the carpark, we took the opportunity for a drink before getting our tickets to enter the Archaeological Park.
Once through the gates we visited the visitor centre, where Birdlife Cyprus had a display showing the birds and wildlife of Cyprus which included a very informative film.
It was then back to the van to pick up lunch which we enjoyed on the seafront in the sunshine.
Afterwards, we went back into the Archaeological site and spent a couple of hours wandering around. Lots of CHIFFCHAFF fed in the avenue of Tamarisks and we also found a cracking male COMMON REDSTART that gave good views. WHITE WAGTAILS, NORTHERN WHEATEARS and a few BLACK REDSTART flitted about the Temple of Dionysus.
A WOODCHAT SHRIKE posed nicely on some Oleander trees, although the numerous FAN-TAILED WARBLER proved a little more difficult to see. A pair of CRESTED LARK were confiding, including one that took a dust bath right in front of us.
We visited the amazing mosaics and afterwards strolled towards the coast and then on towards the lighthouse. Small flocks of LINNET, GOLDFINCH and CORN BUNTING were seen in the rough, grassy fields with a few more RUPPELL'S WARBLERS in the scrub.
Up near the lighthouse, Annette found one of our main targets, CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTINGS feeding on the roman ruins. Two pairs were seen including one male that gave decent scope views. Further down the path towards the Odeon we found a HOOPOE plus EASTERN BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR, BLACK REDSTART, YELLOW WAGTAIL of the race superciliaris and WHITE WAGTAIL all feeding in a small open area.
As we neared the end of our walk we came across a fine ISABELLINE WHEATEAR and yet another male RUPPELL'S WARBLER that flitted along a wall.
With time getting on we left Paphos and drove back towards base, making a stop at Asprokremmos Dam which was bathed in afternoon sunlight. A CHUKAR sat atop a cliff face calling before wandering up the hillside and then Steve located our main target, a superb male CYPRUS WARBLER singing on top of a bare branch. Over the next thirty minutes we found at least three males and a female CYPRUS WARBLER and we all managed to see the relevant ID features.
A male CYPRUS WHEATEAR was also seen in the area along with LESSER WHITETHROAT, COMMON KESTREL and a distant calling BLACK FRANCOLIN that remained hidden.
It was then back to base for a hot shower before meeting to try and see the Cyprus Scops Owl but it didn't even call whilst we were there!
With our stomachs rumbling, we went into the warm for dinner which began with Greek Salad along with Hummous and Tzatziki, followed by Meatballs and Rice with a lovely Coconut Cake for dessert.
We then completed the bird list before heading to bed after what had been a great day!
Wednesday 25th March
The weather proved bright and sunny once again although there was a cool breeze early on. Some of the group met at 7.00am for a look round the local area.
Quite a few BLACKCAPS flitted around the Orange groves opposite the hotel and Lawrence found a COMMON CUCKOO perched up at the back of a nearby field.
SPANISH SPARROWS chirped and the CETTI'S WARBLERS explosive song could be heard. We met another birder who had just seen a Semi-collared Flycatcher but despite a brief search, we could only find SARDINIAN WARBLERS and CHIFFCHAFFS.
It was then time for breakfast and afterwards we drove off for the day and made a brief stop at the supermarket before heading eastwards towards Limassol.
During our journey, we noted COMMON and ALPINE SWIFT flying over the road. We arrived at our first spot of Phassouri Reedbeds to find rather less water than we had hoped for and this only held COOT and MOORHEN!
Walking back along the road we heard a singing male COMMON QUAIL in the adjacent field, but despite a search it remained hidden from view in the Lucerne crop.
Driving along in the van we found another pool and this time with plenty of water and to our delight it held some waders. Up to eight LITTLE RINGED PLOVER fed around the muddy edge and we found BLACK-WINGED STILTS, RUFF, COMMON SNIPE and LITTLE STINT.
Several male YELLOW WAGTAILS were found including BLACK-HEADED and DOMBROWSKI'S race birds. Moving on through the area we spotted a distant MARSH HARRIER, FAN-TAILED WARBLER and a male RUPPELL'S WARBLER.
By now the wind had got up so we headed round to the small chapel at Agios Georgios where we hope there would be a few migrants. In the small garden opposite the chapel we found up to four CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTINGS plus lots of CHIFFCHAFF and COMMON REDSTARTS.
A few LESSER WHITETHROAT fed in the prickly bushes and a male BLACKBIRD flew past. It wasn't just birds that we found but BUG ORCHID, TASSEL HYACINTH, STICK-INSECT GRASSHOPPER and a PIGMY SKIPPER BUTTERFLY.
Just as we were about to leave, a Dutch birder came to tell us that he had just seen a pair of Blue Rock Thrush nearby so we followed his directions and there on a rock was a superb male BLUE ROCK THRUSH! Two more CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTINGS were seen on the rocks which were quite likely birds we had seen earlier, plus up to four BLACK REDSTARTS flitted around the boulders.
We made a brief stop overlooking the Salt Lake where around 150 GREATER FLAMINGO could be seen in the strong heat haze. It was then time for lunch which we had in the shade of the trees next to the Monastery of the Cats before heading back to a site for migrants and flowers along the road.
A PURPLE HERON flew past and landed briefly in the shallow pool as we drove along the road and after parking up, we wandered over the fields noting TURBAN BUTTERCUP, a LARGE WHIP SNAKE which moved rapidly from bush to bush. We took a wander up the track where good numbers of CHIFFCHAFF fed along a fence and suddenly Annette saw a bird with lots of white on, flit out and back from a bush and when we relocated it, the bird turned out to be a fine male SEMI-COLLARED FLYCATCHER!
After brief views it promptly disappeared and despite a search it could not be relocated. Further along the track we found NORTHERN and EASTERN BLACK-EARED WHEATEARS and in a nearby field we could hear a BLACK FRANCOLIN singing, but again despite a thorough search involving lots of mosquito bites it did not show.
We came across another birder who showed us examples of BUG ORCHID and BEE ORCHID before we drove along Lady’s Mile Beach, although the strong wind coming off the sea made birding very difficult. A male KENTISH PLOVER fed on insects close to us and further up we found a good flock of BLACK-WINGED STILTS plus a cracking MARSH SANDPIPER amongst five GREENSHANK and a couple of RUFF.
Across the road a small number of gulls consisted of 8 SLENDER-BILLED and around 7 BLACK-HEADED GULLS whilst two BALTIC GULLS flew south and a few GREY HERONS flew east into the strong headwind.
A brief look at Zakaki Pool was quite useless due to the wind but we did see a couple of COMMON SNIPE, MALLARD, LITTLE GREBE and a brief REED WARBLER.
We tried another area and discovered around 75 LITTLE STINT plus 25 KENTISH PLOVER feeding and as we drove over the salt lake area we found a fine ISABELLINE WHEATEAR.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to base where we had some time to get ready before meeting for dinner. We enjoyed the usual Dips and Salad served with Grilled Halloumi and Bacon followed by a Cannellini Bean Stew with Fruit Salad for dessert.
Thursday 26th March
Our usual early morning walk saw us flush a WRYNECK from the path in front and then it landed in the bush where we had brief views before it flew off. A COMMON NIGHTINGALE sang from the orange groves and several BLACKCAP and a FAN-TAILED WARBLER were seen.
We crossed the road and flushed another WRYNECK which went deep into a bush and never came out. A female HAWFINCH fed in an Almond Tree and CETTI'S WARBLERS sang from the very dense Papyrus.
As we headed back to the hotel, we caught a glimpse of the COMMON NIGHTINGALE in a bush and Steve spotted a raptor flying through the valley which on closer inspection proved to be a LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD.
It was then back for breakfast which we very much enjoyed as usual and then headed off to the supermarket to pick up some additional rations before retracing our steps past the hotel and up towards the Troodos Mountains.
During our journey we picked out several RED-RUMPED SWALLOWS which were flying around and perching on wires. We made a stop to stretch our legs and found COAL TIT of the Cypriot race with the large, dark throat patch, plus a male and female MASKED SHRIKE perched on top of bushes in a nearby field. Large patches of the endemic CYPRUS ROCK-CRESS were seen as well as a few stalks of EASTERN SALSIFY.
Eventually we wound our way up through the many villages and arrived in Troodos to find reasonably warm conditions. A few PALLID SWIFTS zipped over and below the pines we discovered CYPRUS CROCUS. Taking a side road off we soon bumped into COAL TITS plus two JAYS of the subspecies glazeri and a SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER of the Cypriot race Dorothea.
A HOOPOE fed adjacent to the snow which seemed slightly out of place plus a female HAWFINCH sat motionless in a pine. Mark spotted a SISKIN but the bird soon disappeared from view and a female SPARROWHAWK circled overhead.
We wandered around checking out the area but unfortunately, couldn't find any Common Crossbills. After a coffee in a cafe we headed out of the high hills and made a stop for lunch amongst the pines. A male SERIN sang from above and a male SARDINIAN WARBLER took food into a nest which was close by.
Once rested we carried on south, making a stop to see NAKED MAN ORCHID close to the road plus a vast multitude of wildflowers.
Eventually we reached the Paphos road and headed up to Anarita Park once we had found the right road! The road was bumpy to say the least and on reaching our destination we got out of the van and a fellow birder informed us that he had seen a male Rock Thrush just up the road we had come from.
Quickly we arrived and soon were watching a cracking male ROCK THRUSH and then Mark discovered another one in the Olive groves!
We enjoyed good views of these brightly coloured males, which were a new bird for several of the group and eventually they both flew off.
Driving back along the tracks we found a female CYPRUS WHEATEAR plus a few CORN BUNTINGS and MEADOW PIPITS close to the road. As we got out of the van we could hear an absolute cacophony of SPANISH SPARROWS calling from some large brambles which must have numbered several hundred birds, it was an amazing sound!
Annette spotted a female HEN HARRIER which flew quickly below the ridge and other species included another four CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTINGS feeding on rocks plus CHUKAR, CETTI'S WARBLER, CHIFFCHAFF, LESSER WHITETHROAT and BLACKCAP.
Just as we were driving away we could hear a calling GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO that flew past us and landed on a rock giving excellent views. Further along the track we found two more including a bird that appeared to have a damaged leg. This bird just sat on the track in front of us whilst another bird that looked like a first-summer bird hopped around looking for caterpillars.
Eventually they flew off so we made our last stop of the day at Nata Ford where Steve got slightly excited with a dark game bird flying across the field. This turned out to be a CHUKAR that looked sooty coloured and not the expected and hoped for Black Francolin.
Down at the ford, Sally found a STONE CURLEW on the river-bed that was cryptically camouflaged plus we saw GREEN SANDPIPER, LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and CRESTED LARKS whilst COMMON QUAIL and BLACK FRANCOLIN called in the background.
With time getting on we headed back to base and eventually got to see a pair of CYPRUS SCOPS OWLS in the Eucalyptus trees in the garden. Although silhouetted, it was great to see this tiny owl after hearing it every day so far.
It was great to get back and have a shower before dinner and boy, were we peckish tonight! After our usual starter we had Pork and Jacket Potato with Veg, followed by Ice cream. Sally had a candle in hers as it was her birthday! After completing the bird-list we retired for the night after what had been a tiring day.
Friday 27th March
The day dawned bright and sunny but by the time we convened for our pre-breakfast walk it had clouded over. A THRUSH NIGHTINGALE gave brief snatches of song from the Orange grove opposite and the usual BLACKCAPS and SPANISH SPARROWS were seen. A small party of SERINS sat atop a tree and a male CYPRUS WARBLER sang from a dense bush.
We crossed the road and wandered a little way along the track and Mark noticed a black and white flycatcher sitting low in an Orange tree. Unfortunately it was flushed by a BLACKCAP and flew over to a dense area of trees. It was seen briefly again but not enough to identify it fully!
After breakfast we headed eastward to visit the area around Larnaca Airport. Our first port of call was Meneou Pools which held quite a few GREATER FLAMINGO plus eight MARSH SANDPIPERS, RUFF, BLACK-WINGED STILTS and four LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS. Brian then discovered a wonderful male RED-NECKED PHALAROPE spinning around out on the lake which is a good bird for Cyprus.
Then Steve found a first-winter LITTLE GULL plus SLENDER-BILLED and AUDOUIN'S GULL out on the lake. Just as we were thinking of leaving, a small mixed flock of GLOSSY IBIS and GARGANEY flew past and over the airport.
From here we drove slowly to the sewage pools but didn't get very far, as in a field being harrowed by a tractor were large numbers of passerines. Up to 50 SHORT-TOED LARK, 25 RED-THROATED PIPITS, BLACK-HEADED WAGTAILS and the odd superciliaris wagtail fed on insects disturbed by the tractor.
After watching these for quite a while we turned our attention to a single STONE CURLEW plus around 75 RUFF feeding on stubble. Several SPUR-WINGED LAPWING flew over as well as PALLID and COMMON SWIFTS, two GREAT WHITE EGRETS, SAND MARTIN, SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS.
The black plastic lined pools at first glance seemed devoid of birds, but after a look with binoculars they yielded up to 15 SPUR-WINGED LAPWING and TEAL plus singles of GARGANEY and SHOVELER. Using the hide to overlook the fields proved successful as we finally managed to catch up with a BLACK FRANCOLIN that sat right in the middle of the field calling and then perched beautifully on a fence!
Delighted by this we started to walk back when David found a summer plumaged WATER PIPIT wandering around with the other passerines. Back at the van we had brief views of a pair of SPECTACLED WARBLERS that appeared to be feeding young nearby.
It was then off to find lunch and Steve found a lovely spot with tables and chairs with some shelter from the odd spot of rain that had started to fall. We made ourselves comfortable but then three guys came over to tell us we were in a military area - whoops!
We retreated back to the van for our lunch and whilst tucking in had views of several passing SANDWICH TERNS. Trying a couple of other areas nearby seemed a good idea but they were very quiet bird-wise due to building work going on at the Desalination plant.
Another stop at Meneou Pools saw us find a smart adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL plus a few SLENDER-BILLED GULLS. We took a brief look at the salt lake but this just held good numbers of GREATER FLAMINGO plus a BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR in the fields.
With some time spare we drove back to Limassol for another visit to Zakaki Pool. It was quite breezy here but this didn't matter after Mark and Marilyn found a male LITTLE CRAKE then Lawrence found a female LITTLE CRAKE in the reed-beds. Although elusive at times we all managed to get reasonable views of these secretive birds as they crept around the reed-bed.
Other birds seen included BLACK-HEADED WAGTAIL, SEDGE WARBLER, REED WARBLER and a couple of GREEN SANDPIPER.
It was then time to head back to base where we had a little time before meeting to try and see the Scops Owl. On cue, it started calling and with some effort we found it perched on a nearby bush allowing the silhouette to be easily seen.
Dinner was great with Vegetable Soup to start followed by Pasta for main course and Greek Yoghurt and Honey for dessert.
Saturday 28th March
We awoke to find it raining steadily and on looking out of the window we were delighted to see a flock of 13 RED-RUMPED SWALLOWS sitting on wires outside the hotel.
It was a surprise when Jill, Lawrence, Marilyn and Mark turned up for the pre-breakfast walk! A brief look across the road produced a WRYNECK perched in a fig tree plus BLACKCAP.
With the rain falling steadily we abandoned our walk and headed back for a short while before breakfast.
After breakfast, we changed our plans and drove the short distance down to the fields at Mandria. With rain still pouring we began to see lots of NORTHERN WHEATEARS on the beach and nearby were around 50 SHORT-TOED LARKS feeding on seaweed.
Out to sea flocks of GARGANEY flew past and during our time at this site we reckoned on seeing over 600! Amongst them were some TEAL and SHOVELER thrown in for good measure.
A first-winter SHAG of the Mediterranean race desmarestii sat on offshore rocks, along with a couple of SLENDER-BILLED GULLS that flew off when another small group flew past.
Quite a large flock of CORN BUNTINGS frequented a weedy field and were sent scattering when a superb adult male PALLID HARRIER came flying through the flock!
We reached a harvested potato field that had held a Bimaculated Lark the previous evening, but there was no sign today, just a few SHORT-TOED LARKS, CORN BUNTINGS and WHITE WAGTAILS.
Retracing our steps along the coastal road saw us discover a pair of TAWNY PIPITS close to the van and four GULL-BILLED TERNS which flew east just offshore. Then just as things were quietening down, Annette found a roosting SHORT-EARED OWL in an area of scrub that eventually caught the attention of a passing HOODED CROW which made it move to another spot on the bank.
Making a last drive back along the track we once again saw the SHORT-EARED OWL plus three LITTLE EGRETS and a CATTLE EGRET that flew in onto an offshore rock to roost.
Whilst making a brief facilities stop we had excellent views again of the male PALLID HARRIER as it circled with a COMMON KESTREL.
With the rain now stopped we headed northwards up to the Akamas Peninsula where the sun was just starting to appear. A brief stop was made to look at a LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD that was hunting over a nearby hillside before we attempted to drive up a very muddy track and almost got stuck in the clay-like mud.
After turning the van round we stopped to see a larger raptor mobbing the LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD which turned out to be an adult BONELLI'S EAGLE! The eagle drifted off so we took the opportunity to move onwards to our lunch stop in the hills.
As soon as we parked, a male COMMON REDSTART perched on picnic tables and SERINS and CYPRUS WHEATEARS were seen in and around the car-park. After lunch we took a stroll down the track where we found many species of Orchid.
PAPHOS BLUE BUTTERFLIES flitted around the Genista bushes and further along the track we had brief views of a couple of MASKED SHRIKES in a field below us. Reaching the small chapel at Agios Minas we found a large mixed group of CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP and LESSER WHITETHROATS feeding in a flowering tree.
Steve and a few others headed back to bring the van down whilst the remainder stayed on seats in the shade.
When we came down, the others had found a fine male SEMI-COLLARED FLYCATCHER in pines which showed well. At a small pond we found SAVIGNY'S TREE FROG plus a teneral COMMON DARTER.
We then left the area but didn't get far as a couple more COMMON REDSTARTS and CYPRUS WHEATEARS were seen in a ploughed field.
It was then back home towards base and we hoped to revisit the fields at Mandria but with the light going, we made a brief stop at Asprokremmos Dam where we watched a female HEN HARRIER hunting over the fields.
Back at the hotel we had time for a shower and to complete the bird-list before our usual dinner of Greek Salad and Dips followed by Roast Chicken and then Chocolate Cake for dessert.
Sunday 29th March
We awoke earlier than usual due to the fact that the clocks had gone forward one hour and with no official pre-breakfast walk we met at 7.30am for breakfast. Brian had taken a brief walk and had heard and briefly seen the THRUSH NIGHTINGALE in the bushes opposite the hotel so afterwards we took a walk over but only succeeded in hearing it. A female MARSH HARRIER flew through as did two GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOOS.
After our usual supermarket stop we revisited the Akrotiri area in the hope of catching up with a few missing species. The water levels at Phassouri reedbeds was a little higher than our previous visit and almost immediately we found two SQUACCO HERONS in a small pool plus LITTLE EGRETS, SPUR-WINGED LAPWINGS, WOOD SANDPIPER and LITTLE GREBE, MOORHEN and COOT.
Two FERRUGINOUS DUCKS flew over and behind the reeds as did a single PURPLE HERON. A distant PEREGRINE was spotted circling over and a first-year SPOONBILL flew over several times before landing in a pool.
We carried on along the road and stopped suddenly when a couple of the group spotted a calling BLACK FRANCOLIN but despite a good look it must have run away.
The wet pools nearby held BLACK-WINGED STILTS, RUFF, LITTLE STINTS and a lone MARSH SANDPIPER. A MASKED SHRIKE perched in the bushes close to us and then Lawrence said that he had a couple of warblers in the same bushes which on closer inspection turned out to be EASTERN ORPHEAN WARBLERS!
Moving along the track we then found another EASTERN ORPHEAN WARBLER perched in a bush where it gave some good views. Whilst watching this we could see a bird singing atop of a small bush which proved to be a male BLUETHROAT. It then chased or was chased by another bird and wasn't seen again. A male SPECTACLED WARBLER did a brief display flight and lots of NORTHERN WHEATEARS were seen.
The weather now was getting pretty hot so we drove slowly through the area noting more MASKED and WOODCHAT SHRIKES, EASTERN BLACK-EARED WHEATEARS and the odd CHIFFCHAFF were seen.
We headed for the shelter at Agios Georgios where COMMON REDSTART and another EASTERN ORPHEAN WARBLER was seen before we had lunch under the shade of the Eucalyptus trees.
Leaving the church we drove along the main road towards the Lady’s Mile and stopped when a PEREGRINE was seen mobbing a COMMON BUZZARD close to the road. Afterwards we visited Bishops Pool which held a small number of FERRUGINOUS DUCKS, four GREEN SANDPIPER, CHIFFCHAFFS and a male TEAL amongst others. By now, the sky looked quite dark and there were several rumbles of thunder so we made a hasty retreat back to the van.
As we drove along Lady’s Mile the heavens opened and it was pretty heavy rain for a short while. A single KENTISH PLOVER was seen on the shoreline and further on we found a small flock of MARSH SANDPIPERS, RUFF, GREENSHANK and BLACK-WINGED STILTS. Around the corner, a flock of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS flew past including two birds that were covered in oil which was sad to see.
The hide at Zakaki Pool was our next destination and once again it was pretty breezy inside, although this was soon forgotten when a SQUACCO HERON showed well in front of us plus seven FERRUGINOUS DUCKS out on the open water. Once again we watched up to three LITTLE CRAKES frequenting the reedy edges but totally unexpected was the male CITRINE WAGTAIL that flew in briefly before heading off again.
With the weather now clearing we headed along the old road towards Paphos and stopped in Episkopi for a walk down to Kensington Cliffs. A clump of CYPRUS GLADIOLI was seen growing nearby and PYRAMIDAL and BRANCHED BROOMRAPE was also seen. Down towards the cliff edge we had good but brief views of an EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER and over the cliffs we noted ROCK DOVE, CORMORANT, ALPINE and PALLID SWIFTS but best of all were two GRIFFON VULTURES that drifted over westwards.
With some time remaining we popped down to Paphos sewage works where up to 10 SPUR-WINGED LAPWINGS were seen plus another SHORT-EARED OWL flying over fields to the north. Other species seen here included a couple of HOOPOE plus two CATTLE EGRETS that fed in an Alfalfa field. Unfortunately we ran out of time so headed back to base for a hot shower and to meet for dinner.
We tucked into dips and Greek Salad for starter and then Lamb with Jacket Potato followed by Ice cream for dessert.
Monday 30th March
Our last day of the tour started off grey and wet so we met for a slightly later breakfast to enable us to pack our bags. Marilyn and Mark had a few minutes outside before meeting and had found a MASKED SHRIKE opposite the hotel. Just after breakfast when we were back in our rooms there was a shout of PALLID HARRIER as a male floated down the valley to the north until lost to view. Afterwards we had a wander down the road where the THRUSH NIGHTINGALE was singing intermittently and the usual suspects of SARDINIAN WARBLER, CHIFFCHAFF, FAN-TAILED WARBLER and a GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO flew over plus the added bonus of a pair of PALLID HARRIERS which moved north along the ridge.
The path was rather muddy due to the heavy overnight rain so we didn’t get too far but a nice surprise was a female SEMI-COLLARED FLYCATCHER perched in a tree - if only the males were so obliging!
Opting to wander up the road we watched a singing male SEDGE WARBLER plus a few SARDINIAN WARBLERS. We then decided to return to the hotel and drive down to the dam at Asprokremmos as we had some spare time available.
Down at the dam we watched four CRESTED LARKS, two male CYPRUS WARBLERS including one that showed quite well plus CHUKAR, MARSH HARRIER, CORMORANT and 13 PURPLE HERONS which flew north.
We then returned to the hotel to load up our bags and say goodbye to Christina after what had been a fantastic tour with lots and lots of birding highlights, good laughs, great weather and good company!