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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Cyprus in winter, 5-12th January 2003,
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 http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/cyprus/cyp2/Cyprus-report.htm 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