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A Report from

Cyprus in winter, 5-12th January 2003,


Sean Huggins,
London UK

A non-intensive birding week based in Paphos confined to the west of the island, mainly the Paphos area, apart from a mainly non-birding trip to the Troodos mountains and a full day at the pools in Lanarca. I didn't visit any of the famous sites in the Limassol area and would have visited Larnaca more than once had I been staying closer. The sewage pools there are a must, specially for gull watchers, and were one of the two most productive sites, along with the Asprokremnos pools.

I used A Birdwatching Guide to Cyprus (Stagg and Hearl, Arlequin Press 1998) which I found reliable for directions but a bit thin on winter information. Note that Larnaca sewage pools, a fairly new site, is not listed in the book but can easily be found by following the directions for Spiro's pool and looking for the hide.

Stagg and Hearl suggest the dams/reservoirs are attractive to winter wildfowl but I went to three and found few birds.  However, the book does not mention that greater sand plover are regular in winter on the rocks at Paphos headland. I found them by walking from the seaward end of the harbour towards the lighthouse.

I got by with a hired VW Polo and some footwork but a 4x4 would have been useful at a few sites. I was lucky with the weather; it was 20C and sunny all week.

Birdline Cyprus (06 270447) has brief details of the most recent sightings.

Many thanks to Ken Tucker for his winter report, available at   which was very helpful. There seems to be little detailed information on the web or elsewhere about Cyprus away from migration times.

Trip highlights: Finsch's wheatear, Bonelli's eagle, white-headed duck, greater sand plover, red-throated pipit, moustached, spectacled and Cyprus warblers, long-legged buzzard, black francolin. And the flamingos were pretty too. Dips included wallcreeper at Avgas gorge (reported there in November, I didn't have up to date info) and calandra lark at Larnaca.  Many of the larks were distant when I was there.


(English names and taxonomic order as used in Stagg and Hearl)

Little Grebe Tachybaptus rufficollis  A few at Asprokremnos pools and many at Larnaca sewage works.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus  Five Asprokremnos Res 8th, singles Paphos harbour,  a couple of birds each at Evretou and Mavrokolymbos dams.

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis  34 Larnaca sewage works and one airport south pools 10th.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo  Common around Paphos.

Cattle Egret  Bulbulcus ibis  Three Asprokremnos pools 12th, one flying east alongside B6 near airport turn-off  8th.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta  One Larnarca sewage works 10th.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea  Singles Asprokremnos Pools, Evretou dam and Mavrokolymbos dam.

Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia  One Larnaca sewage works 10th.

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber  Many on the Larnaca pools, not counted.

White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons  115 Larnaca sewage works 10th

Shelduck  Tadorna tadorna  30+ on Larnaca pools 10th

Wigeon Anas penelope  Five Asprokremnos Reservoir 8th, many Larnaca sewage works.

Gadwall Anas strepera  Five Larnaca sewage works 10th.

Teal Anas Crecca Three Asprokremnos pools 6th-12th, five on the reservoir there on the 8th, many at Larnaca sewage works.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos  Small numbers at most wetland sites.

Pintail Anas acuta 15 Larnaca airport north pools 10th and many on the sewage works.

Shoveler Anas clypeata  265 on Larnaca airport north and south pools 10th

Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina  One drake Larnaca sewage works 10th.

Pochard Aythya ferina 45 Larnaca sewage works 10th

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula Six Larnaca sewage works 10th

White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala  A fem/imm male Larnaca sewage works 10th

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus  Female types at Asprokremnos pools 8th and Larnaca sewage works 10th

Harrier sp Circus sp  Frustrating views of a small ringtail over the coastal track and large arable field at Larnaca; a juv male hen or juv male pallid.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo  One Larnarca sewage pools 10th

Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus  One Asprokremnos pools throughout and one Mavroklymbos dam 11th.

Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus  One flying west at deserted village of Phinikas 8th; two birds soaring together by Agia Egaterini church near Evretou dam 9th

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus  Very common in wide variety of habitat

Peregrine Falco peregrinus  A male at Asprokremnos pools 7th

Chukar Alectoris chukar  Common and widespread, 25 near Agia Egaterini church 9th

Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus  Three birds calling at Asprokremnos pools 12th; one perched prominently on crest of eastern slope

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus  At least two birds Asprokremnos pools throughout, seen occasionally

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus  Recorded Asprokremnos pools (and probably elsewhere)

Coot Fulica atra  Common on most wetland sites, even the large reservoirs where other wildfowl were very scarce.

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula  Three Larnaca airport north pools/salt lake 10th

Kentish Plover Charadrius  alexandrinus  At least 20 airport north pools/salt lake 10th

Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii  Five of the western race columbinus on the headland rocks just south of Paphos lighthouse 6th and 8th

Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria  A flock seen several days on Paphos headland rocks; highest count 60 on the 6th.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola  One Paphos headland rocks 6th and 11th

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus  One Phinikas 8th, one or two others seen while travelling.

Little Stint Calidris minuta  Many  Larnaca  airport north pools/salt lake/sewage works 10th

Dunlin Calidris alpina  Many  Larnaca airport north pools/salt lake 10th

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus  One Larnaca airport north pools 10th

Common Redshank Tringa totanus  About 30 Larnaca airport north pools/salt lake

Turnstone Arenaria interpres  Two Paphos headland rocks  6th-11th

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus  A first-winter bearing an alloy ring Paphos headland 6th

Little Gull Larus minutus  At least 12 Larnaca sewage works 10th; four Paphos harbour and headland 6th-11th

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus  Widespread; 30 Paphos headland 8th

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus One of the nominate race fuscus Larnaca sewage works 10th

Siberian Gull Larus heuglini A large (Caspian-sized) gull with a mantle colour similar to graellsii (or a touch darker) on Larnaca airport south pools on 10th may have been this species.

Caspian Gull L. cachinnans cachinnans: The most common large white-headed gull. Several hundred on the Larnaca pools and seen at most coastal sites. A flock of 500 large gulls at Mandria were mostly Caspian`

Yellow-legged Gull L.c.michahellis: Widespread but in much smaller numbers than Caspian

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis  Two in Paphos headland area all week

Rock Dove Columba livia  Common and widespread, including a variety of domestic forms

Woodpigeon Columba palumbus  Fairly common around wooded areas

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocta Small numbers around residential areas

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis  Singles Paphos harbour, Evretou dam, Asprokremnos pools

Crested Lark Galerida cristata  Common and widespread

Woodlark  Lullula  arborea  Six Asprokremnos pools 11th

Skylark Alauda arvensis Common and widespread

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis  Small numbers in several lowland areas

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus  A flock of more than 20 pipits on the shore of Larnaca salt lake just NW of Tekke Mosque on 10th was mostly this species. A minimum of 15 birds. Only one in full adult winter plumage but several showing traces of dull red around the head.

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea  One Asprokremnos pools 7th and 12th

White Wagtail: Motacilla alba Common and widespread

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes  One heard from car in Troodos mountains

Robin Erithacus rubecula  Odd ones at several sites

Bluethroat  Luscinia svecica  A male at Asprokremnos pools 7th and 11th

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochuros  Common in rocky places and around ruins

Stonechat  Saxicola torquata  Very common and widespread

Finsch's Wheatear Oenanthe finschii  One male Phinikas 8th

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos  One Phinikas village 8th

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti Very common and widespread

Zitting Cisticola (Fan-tailed Warbler) Cisticola juncidis  Very common in dry, open areas

Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon  Several birds Asprokremnos pools all week

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata  Common around the pools at Larnaca, especially near the sewage works. Also two or three birds, including singers, at Asprokremnos pools

Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax Very common and widespread. Even recorded in built-up areas

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla One Agia Egaterini church 9th, one Agios Neophytos monastery 11th, two Asprokremnos pools 12th

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita  Common, especially at Asprokremnos pools. A couple of birds gave the soft piping call associated with the form  tristis but were not seen or not seen well. A bird  seen well at the pools on the 12th appeared to be a tristis type on both call and plumage

Goldcrest Regulus regulus  One heard in Troodos mountains area 7th

Coal Tit Parus ater cypriotes Many of the endemic race Troodos mountains area 7th

Great Tit Parus major aphrodites   Common and widespread

Jay Garrulus glandarius glaszneri  One of the endemic race Kikkou monastery 7th

Magpie Pica pica  Common and widespread

Jackdaw Corvus monedula  Common, several hundred in the Avgas gorge 9th

Hooded Crow Corvus cornix  Very common and widespread

House Sparrow Passer domesticus  Common and widespread

Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis  More localised than the above species but flocks Paphos headland and Agia Egaterini church at least

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs  Very small numbers at a few sites

Serin Serinus serinus  A few Paphos headland and Agia Egaterini church (including singing male). Heard Troodos area.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris  Common and widespread

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis The most common and widespread finch

Siskin Carduelis spinus  Recorded Troodos area

Linnet Carduelis cannabina  Widespread in small numbers

Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra  Several singing birds Paphos headland and Agia Egaterini church

Sean Huggins
London E14

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