Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Cyprus 18 - Day 12 (pending)

Confession...I'm feeling the strain! No probs, just difficult to fit everything in sometimes! I want to do justice to each day but can't tonight. We've been doing the boring stuff this evening and it's a 5am start tomorrow as we try Cape Greco 2!

I'll catch up when I can...

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Cyprus 18 - Day 11

No luck with the CASPIAN STONECHAT. I was happy I found the right area (which is half the battle) but didn't see it or much else to be honest. However, on leaving I made it onto the beach to check for the raft of Garganey that had been reported by Tony Reeves. The sea was rough due to the strong wind, which obviously didn't help viewing. Unsurprisingly I didn't see any BUT I did see a distant large Shearwater! It seems Yelkouan is favourite, although Scopoli's also occurs in March...apparently. Anyway, I've seen a Shearwater in Cyprus lol!

Lunch at Costa...for a change. They do a mean apple pie and Latte. Time to check the news...
A Blue-cheeked Bee-eater was seen by visiting birders at Paphos Headland this morning.


My history with this species goes back to 1989...yes I AM that old! New to birding and with a young family I was in Spain when one turned up at Cowden, Yorks (to make it worse!). Every year I (and many others) say...maybe THIS year?

When compiling my wish list for this trip...this was my number one.

We arrived back in Paphos at 2.40. Louse hit the shops and I entered the headland. Without word of a lie I looked up to see a Bee-eater sp floating high above the lighthouse!!!!!!! "Never presume" as the saying goes. BCBE is favourite in March especially when you have an earlier report! Of course it disappeared. Rather frustrating!

I walked around 200 yds scanning every so often. Any dead trees? There's one...

...and there's something GREEN in it!

Obviously a GREAT moment...and one to be savoured. My gamble had paid spades. A LIFER!

The next couple of hours were a bit surreal as I let as many people know as I could. I also managed a few snaps. This one I particularly like, hope you do...

Trip Total 103

Monday, 19 March 2018

Cyprus 18 - Day 11

Slower day today with a slower start. I'm not 21 any more!

I'm keen though so off I went around 9 to spend three hours at Anarita Park just up the road. I met Matt Smith with some clients on the way in. My main targets today were Great Spotted Cuckoo and Lesser Kestrel.

Quiet for the first hour...but t only takes one bird right? Here it is...

Moving VERY quickly in the dazzling a ghost. Another one of my short-list's quite long actually!

The wedge
Then it was gone. I moved into the central area and waited. Maybe a Wheatear? No luck. Just as I was about to set was back!

Right by the car. Pleased I managed...something. Stunner!

I later had a female plus a similar female Hen Harrier. A good passage on the island today. We also spent the afternoon here enjoying the wonderful weather (apologies to folks back home). I found a few Spanish Sparrows (c8)...

I couldn't connect with a GS Cuckoo but around 4 I did see a couple of distant 'Kestrels' that requires further investigation...So, here we go again. Another bird I'm not that familiar with...which is good. Very similar to Kestrel...I'm hoping this is a Lesser. To me...shorter wings with a wider base. It seemed to move/behave differently...

This one shows a pale under wing...

I've really enjoyed learning more about certain species that I'm not that familiar with. A nice change. Happy to be proved always. Different Raptors, Wheatears and ...Yellow Wagtails!!!

My pics have caused a bit of a stir in certain areas. That's's only my opinion.

First we had a Black-headed Wagtail with a Super...cilliaris

Then a Black-headed Wagtail...

Then the mystery bird. I posted this as it was the sharpest...

Granted it looks "dark" but even on this one I'm seeing white above...and below? I sent the image below to Jane Stylianou the Bird Recorder for Cyprus. She concurred that the bird was indeed 'dombrowskii'..

If it's good enough for Jane, it's good enough for me! Anyway after all that, aren't they just SMART BIRDS!!!

Trip Total 101

Breaking News...CASPIAN STONECHAT...Akrotiri Gravel Pits!!! Time for bed.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Cyprus 18 - Day 10

We were  out at 5.25 this morning!

BIG day in the East. I'll make it brief as I'm...knackered! We didn't get to Cape Greco as there was a cycle race and the road was completely blocked!!!

We spent the day checking out sites around Larnaca. The man two were the Sewage works and Oroklini Marsh. The latter was less than relaxing with it being a Sunday...never mind. The highlight was six Ferruginous Ducks albeit distantly...

The Sewage works produced...

BN Grebe 7
Ferruginous Duck m
Pochard 3f
Wigeon m
SW Plover 10
Greenshank 3
Green Sand
Marsh Sand 2
Yellow Wagtail 2 'dombrowski'
Northern Wheatear male
Spectacled Warbler

We left the area slightly early...why? I'd had it! Hence the post this evening.

Trip Total 99

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Cyprus 18 - Day 9

Spent the morning strolling around Paphos headland with the Birdgroup. Nice to meet and chat with some familiar and not so familiar faces. It turned out to be rather quiet but I did manage a trip tic...Black-eared Wheatear...

Distant but still a stunning bird!
Someone also found a chameleon...

Amazing thing!
After the walk Louise joined me and we went for lunch with some of the group. It was good of them to invite us. We ended up in Mandria. After grabbing some chips we headed for the beach picnic area. Plenty of wine flowed (I was on Pepsi zero) and a good time was had by all. We even managed a decent bird in the form of a Sandwich Tern! After saying our goodbyes we headed back through the village. I'd noticed a promising looking dove earlier on a post by the chippy. It was still there...

Spotted Dove
A recent import from Africa.
Late afternoon we went for a walk around Paphos headland. I noticed a small flock of Yellow Wagtails...they had black heads! Yellow and black is a stunning combination, especially in bright sunlight...

Got lucky...

Then I noticed something...different...
Sub species 'superciliaris'
This bird breeds breeds in SE Russia...apparently! They occur annually in Spring in small numbers so I was chuffed to find one...
BIG day out East tomorrow, so there won't be a post until Monday...
Trip Total 92

Friday, 16 March 2018

Cyprus 18 - Day 8

Had to start with just one more image of the star attraction that appeared in front of me yesterday morning...

Chuffed to refind you can imagine!!!

Nata Ford...

...produced a Bonelli's Eagle. Just managed to catch it before it spiralled high...

I eventually managed to see the Red-rumped Swallows coming for mud for their nest...

As we left a Black Francolin appeared in front of us. If  I'd been a few years younger I might have got a better pic than one through the windscreen!

Amazing plumage and much more often heard than seen...close

Had a couple of hours exploring a new site for me. It's one of Colin Richardson's haunts...Marathounta. Superb views over Paphos to the south...

I had fun getting lost several times but I did manage a fleeting glimpse of my first Great Spotted Cuckoo of the trip.

After picking Louise up we headed once again for the Akrotiri peninsular.

After having some fun with some eastern immature gulls and resting Slender-billeds' I headed once again for the gravel pits while Louise enjoyed a well deserved few hours in the Mall. It was quite windy today and when I arrived  couldn't find anything for quite a while. Birding was done using the car as a hide...aka lazy!

Eventually though I found something hunkered down low...

One of two BIMACULATED LARKS present for a fourth day. Very unusual apparently.

We finished off enjoying a wonderful sunset at Akrotiri Marsh...

Really pleased to see a Glossy Ibis on the deck...

 I also added Little Egret (2) and a Spur-winged Plover was also present. Nice finish.

Field trip meeting tomorrow at Paphos Headland tomorrow. Hopefully a few more migrants will have arrived?

Trip Total 85

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Cyprus 18 - Day 7

A quick one tonight after yesterday's excitement!!!

Started back at Mandria. Curious to see if the star attraction remained. I couldn't find it in a half hour scan. A couple of other birders who I didn't recognize were covering the area as well. Nobody looked excited!

I then tried for the lingering Bluethroat in the picnic area. I tried hard but it didn't show.

It was now 9 and I was about to head back. I gave it the old..."last look"... unbelievably it was THERE not 5 yards from the car!!!!!

A few birders in cars were some 30 yds behind me. I turned the car around, drove to them and told them the good news.

3 Tawny Pipits together were very nice indeed.

Late morning we headed for Nata Ford. Matt Smith had kindly informed me that a pair of Red-rumped Swallows were already nest building here.

They only showed by the river to collect mud on three occasions but it was worth the trip. Thanks Matt.

Late afternoon saw us around Agia Vavara. Nothing significant seen including the hoped for Great Spotted Cuckoo

I'll stick a few pics on tomorrow as we've been out to the pub! This is a holiday after all...

Birds added
Tree Pipit
Green Sandpiper

Trip Total 81

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Cyprus 18 - Day 6

Down the headland again for the first 3 hours. It felt "quiet" and it turned out that way. Highlights being...

Ruppell's Warbler

Isabelline Wheatear
Black-headed Wagtail - fly over
Fan-tailed Warbler (again old school!)
Not the best but worth showing. They don't hang about!
Back for Louise and off to Costa. That is the default move when staying local!

While she was ordering I checked the information you do...
Male CASPIAN PLOVER currently in the grassy area next to the picnic site at Mandria

Well I never!!! Louise arrived and could tell from my face something was afoot! She must have broke the record for drinking a black coffee (I'm a lucky boy). We left around 11 and arrived some 30 minutes later. It was a Cyprus twitch! We pulled up and June Neal gave us the great news that the bird was still present. Where though? I started to scan into the distance but I needn't have bothered as it was feeding some 20 yds away!!!

This was rather closer than last years birds at Lake Paralimni. If you were following then you may remember? The next hour was spent enjoying yet another iconic species by the beach at 20C. Nice!
It was also an opportunity to reacquaint my self with Birders from last year and to introduce Louise to them.

You know I hate death by photograph BUT tonight ladies and gentlemen I'm going to make an exception. This bird needs special treatment, I hope you agree?

The initial..."get a pic in case it flies off"...

Then with patience, something a bit better...

After yesterdays Bimaculated Larks this was almost too good to be true! A dream bird walking around feeding some 230 yds away and totally unconcerned by the admiring group. When dreams come true!

Later I found my first Tawny Pipit of the trip...

I tried for the Bluethroat by the picnic area but no joy there.  then I tried to get a decent image of the Greater Sand Plovers (3) on the beach (all these species were within 200 yds of each other!!!)

One of several Isabelline Wheatears appeared by us...

There was only one star today though. We went back and just watched the bird from the car for the last 45 minutes. We were rewarded when it walked towards the car. Definitely a bird to savour...


Trip Total 78

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Cyprus 18 - Day 5

Full day around Limassol as promised.

First couple of hours were spent at the north end of Ladies Mile and Akrotiri Salt Lake. I'm getting slightly worried over my liking for certain "Gulls" The elegance of a Slender-billed can't be denied...

18 present on the first pool along Ladies Mile.

The Salt Lake failed to produce the wildly optimistic Demoiselle Crane sighting!

After a Costa at the Mall it was time for a twitch. We headed for Akrotiri Gravel Pits. Fortunately I had excellent directions from Jane Stylianou and Tony Reeves which enabled me to be very confident of being in the right area. We drove the pebbles for around 200 yds before noticing a small flock of Larks feeding. A couple were obviously bigger. It took some time but eventually I managed an image I was hoping for...

Bimaculated Lark
It was great to see this difficult species so well. Five Greater Short-toed Larks were also seen. We stooped off at the much improved Phasouri (Akrotiri) reedbed. It was great to see the habitat improvement here

After another Costa (tremendous apple pie!) we headed North of Limassol to Kouris Dam. I'd seen a report of Red-rumped Swallows here. No sign of any but the site is spectacular...

We were just leaving when a dark, slim bird shot past the front of the car and down the dam. Fortunately I managed to re-locate it. A Blue Rock Thrush. As I was watching it a Wheatear came into view. Another Finsch's? No, this time it was a Cyprus. Unfortunately it kept to the bottom of the dam but I did manage a record shot...

The last hour was spent at Zakaki Marsh. The view was disappointing...

Almost completely overgrown now with obviously limited viewing!! I still managed to sneak a Moustached Warbler but no sign of any Crakes or Penduline Tits.

A great day...

Trip Total 71