TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT
23rd 30th March 2003
Sunday 23rd March Arrival
Cloudy and unsettled, some light rain
An early flight from Heathrow was uneventful and we landed at Larnaca on time, though one bag had decided to take it easy and follow us out the next day! We eventually met up with Hannah who escorted us to our waiting bus and driver, Lena. It had been raining when we landed, but had already dried. Good numbers of Flamingos were on the lagoons beside the runway as we landed and alongside the road as we left the airport. Some Little Stints were also spotted. A fairly rapid transit along the motorway to Paphos produced a few Kestrels and in a little under two hours we arrived at the hotel in good time for dinner.
Monday 24th March Paphos Headland & mosaics
Brisk westerly wind, mainly overcast
With the clocks not yet changed, dawn was well ahead of us. Our pre-breakfast walk at 7am got us just to the end of road, nevertheless providing some nice surprises to start our birding! A flock of some 40 White Wagtails was in the fields opposite and local Greenfinches, House Sparrows and Crested Larks were plentiful. Our first real piece of excitement came with the discovery of a super male Rüppells Warbler in the weeds at the end of the road. A second was also seen, though more briefly, while Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola and Black Redstart began the week as they intended to continue. The gusty force 4-5 Westerly was whipping up the sea, and careful scanning provided distant views of a handful of Corys Shearwaters, while a party of 20 Slender-billed Gulls passed north. Breakfast beckoned, as did the large plates that were reserved for dinner tactics soon developed to ensure a hearty cooked breakfast became the norm!
At 09.00 we were all gathered outside the hotel for our first walk to Paphos Headland. A Grey Plover on the beach was to become a regular during these walks, while several Kingfishers hovered over the tideline and Turnstones rooted through the piles of Posidonia leaves washed up on the rocks (Posidonia is actually a flowering plant and not a seaweed, as often thought). Isabelline and Northern Wheatears, Tawny and Meadow Pipits, Short-toed Larks and Corn Buntings were all present, and destined to become beach regulars. Offshore, 20 Garganey, three Pintail and an adult Mediterranean Gull passed north before we rounded the point. It then became quieter, with just Little Egret and Sandwich Tern being added before we reached the harbour. The walk had been good for our flower list too; huge banks of Crown Daisy and the introduced Bermuda Buttercup (actually a sorrel from South Africa!) brightened the headland and the tideline was covered in the pale lilac hue of Sea Stock. In the harbour, a very obliging Kingfisher entertained, but first we had the matter of lunch, taken at Theos Restaurant.
Our route took us back onto the headland through the rather grand entrance with its ticket booth. The headland is now classified a World Heritage Site for its remarkable mosaics, some of which were enjoyed by several members of the group - the hunting scenes are particularly good! Out in the fields, now well covered in weeds with the cessation of sheep grazing, we found our first Great Tits and a superb male Black-headed Wagtail (Better than any mosaic was one comment!) These were soon surpassed by several Cretzschmars Buntings, one of which posed beautifully in a tamarisk. Stunning point blank views of a male Rüppells Warbler were interrupted by two Hoopoes which posed on a wall. Then we moved on to the little grassy fields at the back, where fig, almond and carob trees revealed a handful of migrants and a dead and rather smelly Large Whip Snake. A Nightingale skulked in the bushes and briefly showed well and five Little Egrets passed north overhead. Two Red-rumped Swallows glided by, but the highlight was a wonderful Hawfinch, which paused all too briefly before continuing north.
Those at the mosaics found Black-eared Wheatears, both pale-throated and dark-throated forms, and at the amphitheatre, there was Black Redstart, another Cretzschmar's Bunting and three species of wheatears. A flock of Short-toed Larks showed well in the sparse vegetation, some birds approaching to within 20 yards. As the whole group came together again, some half hour later, all bar two or three Short-toed Larks had moved on and a party of 20 or so Skylarks shuffled through the low weeds. A superb male Black-eared Wheatear made proper use of the litter bin as a convenient perch! Time was pressing and we strolled back to base with a couple of parties of Black-headed Gulls hurrying north, and finding Cyprus Woodcock Orchid and various other plants on the way.
Tuesday 25th March Asprokremnos Pools and the south coast Mainly sunny & dry, light NE breeze
Temperatures seemed to rise in the sunshine and light NE breeze. Heavy thundery showers missed us though seemed to surround us at times. Our pre-breakfast amble took us up the beach to the Tombs of the Kings. The Grey Plover had been joined by a Common Sandpiper, and Meadow Pipit and Northern Wheatear numbers were a little up on yesterday. In the fenced compound at the Tombs of the Kings, our first real treat was a male Subalpine Warbler, while a few Glossy Ibis passed overhead. Before turning back, we discovered our first Cyprus Wheatear, but rather too distant to really enjoy better would come. After breakfast we had our first meeting with our driver, Costas, and set about wrestling the table into place on the back seat We headed south, via a strangely convoluted route through Paphos and Geroskipou. However, this detour proved fortuitous as we spotted a male Black Francolin right beside the road. The pools at Asprokremnos Dam were our first port of call and we approached quietly with great anticipation. The very wet winter had produced lots of water and there were four pools where in previous years there were only two. Five Purple Herons lifted off as we arrived, but a Masked Shrike was more obliging as it was mobbed by several Chiffchaffs in the flowering Acacia bushes. Indeed, Chiffchaffs ruled the roost here with at least 30 feeding in the bushes. A scattering of waders provided a few highlights, including several Ruff, two Common Snipe, four Green Sandpipers and a super Marsh Sandpiper. Other highlights here included a flight of 13 Garganey, an elusive Robin and several noisy Cyprus Warblers, one of which bore colour rings, indicating some research taking place on the species. Even the drive out was eventful as we stopped for a very obliging Orphean Warbler and a couple of dapper Chukars.
Pushing on eastwards along the south coast, we stopped for coffees near Petra tou Romiou, said to be the birthplace of Aphrodite but we wont go into all that again! Those who investigated the slopes found breeding Cyprus Warblers and a male Rüppells Warbler, as well as a fabulous bank of Turban Buttercups and our first Paphos Blue butterfly. Back on the road, we stopped at a large lay-by near Pissouri and watched two enormous Griffon Vultures glide over, to be followed by a party of Alpine Swifts. Several further Griffons were seen as we passed through the military base, but we didnt stop to view them with binoculars and telescopes! We arrived at Phassouri Reedbed which, again due to the wet winter, was flooded almost to the road. We left Costas to extricate the table and set up the picnic, while we enjoyed the flooded meadows. Two Bitterns were the first to break from cover, being seen by most of the group, while a Purple Heron caught frogs in the shallows and we pondered the plumage variations of the migratory Common or Steppe Buzzards. Five Black-winged Stilts and several Marsh Harriers added to the enjoyment, before we returned to the Eucalypt plantation for plentiful good food and lashings of local wine, making an excellent picnic, both for us and the mosquitos!
Continuing down the road, we scanned the flooded cow fields and found one or two Cattle Egrets and a party of 18 Glossy Ibis, as well as four Black-tailed Godwits and a single Curlew. But the real highlight here was the gathering of some 170 Garganey, many of the males courting the females with their peculiar rattling calls. Retracing our steps, we headed for the southern shore of the Akrotiri Salt Lake. At the viewpoint at the south-west corner, we found a wonderful spread of pink Greater Flamingos before us. Visibility was very good due to the recent rains and we were able to count at least 2,000 Flamingos as well as several Slender-billed Gulls, two Gull-billed Terns, plenty of Pintail and a few Wigeon and Teal. A very obliging male Common Redstart was some compensation for the Common Cranes, 28 of which flew north over Zakaki, but were so far away they might just as well have been on the other side of the island! We suspected they would return to the salt lake once they reached the thunder storms and rain shrouding the distant hills. A stop halfway along the south side for orchids proved a good move, though the delayed spring this year meant there were many still in tight bud. A single Cyprus Orchid was in flower, as were many Long-lipped Tongue-orchids. A detour through the horticultural fields to Bishops Pool saw the discovery of a roost of some 20 Black-crowned Night Herons which posed beautifully in a tall Eucalpyt. Allans run of successful star finds provided a party of three Woodlarks skulking in a field, but they flew off all too soon. On the way out, we had a stark lesson in how Naked Man Orchid got its name! Further on, we drove down Ladys Mile, finding a superb male Kentish Plover, and watching a number of fabulous Slender-billed Gulls, glowing pink in the afternoon sun. Our final stop, at Zakaki Pools, revealed a single Squacco Heron and a rather distant female Montagus Harrier, but best of all was a Gull-billed Tern, which cruised backwards and forwards right beside the bus. Passing by Limassol docks, we rejoined the motorway and returned to Paphos, our final highlight being a party of 18 Glossy Ibis heading north perhaps those we had seen at Phassouri earlier, and a fine example of migration in action.
Wednesday 26th March Akamas Peninsula and Troodos foothills
Windy overnight but sunny and mainly calm all day
The pre-pre-breakfast walkers were up at 6am though most of us gathered at 7 as usual. The strong winds quickly died down and with a cloudless sky, it became quite warm and pleasant. We checked the fields behind the hotel, finding excellent Nightingales and a male Subalpine Warbler showing well in the fig trees. We then walked on to the beach and met up with the early risers, to be told of a nice scattering of Tawny Pipits and Short-toed Larks, along with a Collared Pratincole on the headland. . . . . off we went!! Sure enough, on the bare patch towards the point, there was a rather tired looking bird, sitting quietly in the lee of patches of grass. It moved occasionally, grabbing insects, and we eventually saw it quite well through the telescopes before sizzling bacon beckoned.
Off a little after 9am, we headed west out of Paphos, passing a male Black Francolin sitting up on an oil drum in the middle of a field, enabling everyone to catch up with this species. We then headed north along the wonderfully scenic road to Prodromi, then on to the Baths of Aphrodite and the Akamas Peninsula, the north-western extremity of Cyprus. Here, we spent our time amongst the Carobs and Olives at the caravan site, almost immediately finding some amazingly obliging Sardinian Warblers and several very smart Spanish Sparrows. Our walk along the trail, lined with flowering Persian Cyclamen and fragrant Phoenician Juniper bushes, eventually provided us with a wonderful Wood Warbler and a very smart male Common Redstart, whose white wing panels indicated he was of the eastern race, P. p. samamisicus. Lunch was looming and we returned to the car park, via a Hoopoe, peculiar Friars Cowls and the ice-cream stand, as well as a remarkable Praying Mantis and a fly-through Turtle Dove.
Lunch near Smiyies Chapel was a pleasant affair, amongst olive groves and Calabrian Pines, alive with wild flowers. Two Marsh Harriers drifted north along the main ridge. Our first Wren was ignored (how could we ignore an endemic?!) in favour of an array of orchids, including Green-winged (or Painted), Yellow Bee, Sombre Bee and Dense-flowered. The wine flowed and Costas continued to insist that drinking it would ensure we all had thousands of children! A detour into a flowery meadow to look for Scops Owl wasnt too successful, but we did enjoy a wonderful colony of Giant Orchids before heading into the hills for a view of the Evretou Reservoir. Although rather quiet, there were a few things of interest here, including what appeared to be genuine Rock Doves, a few Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits and Garganey, and three Great Crested Grebes. Taking the road up through Pano Panagia, we arrived at our final port of call, Monoshilakas Picnic Site. Here, a party of at least 10 Hawfinches flew up from the cherry and almond orchard, but decided to stay hidden in the Calabrian Pines. We found the Cyprus endemic race of Coal Tit, and eventually had some views, albeit in silhouette, of one Hawfinch sitting up at the top of a pine. Another excellent day with good birds and good orchids and we headed back to the hotel, where green jelly waited in bountiful supply!
Thursday 27th March Asprokremnos pools, Dhiarisos valley & Mount Olympus
Pleasantly sunny & warm, though Troodos was cloud covered
The pre-pre-breakfast walk was well attended as we set off in search of the Collared Pratincole. To our delight it was still present and the nearby beach also held a party of eight Golden Plover. Five Black-winged Stilts were on the point, but soon headed off north, while the 07.00 team scored with a party of 14 Black-crowned Night Herons similarly heading north. A singing Sedge Warbler had set up territory in a spiny Lyceum bush and a good range of the now expected early morning fare was enjoyed.
A return to Asprokremnos Pools followed breakfast, this time providing ten or more Alpine Swifts raking in to drink from the open water. Cyprus Warblers showed well for some, while others enjoyed a wealth of good plants. From here, we swung up the Dhiarisos Valley, the lower grassy slopes with scattered trees giving way to cooler terraces of vineyards and cherry and almond orchards. Low down, we paused for an obliging Blue Rock Thrush (still there on our return much later) and a Little Owl posing near a small stone bridge. Time for a short stop, and coffees in the little village of Kedares. A little further still, we passed the village of Praitori, where a call of Whats that raptor? resulted in the discovery of a pair of superb adult Bonellis Eagles. Further still, the terrain changed yet again, with the lower limestone slopes giving way to the harder core of the island, producing forests of Calabrian Pine and pale pink studs of the endemic Cyprus Rockcress Arabis purpurea dotted the roadside banks. Our lunch stop in this area provided breath-taking views, both down the valley and up to the snow-covered summit of Mount Olympus (also known as Chionistra and not to be confused with the Mount Olympus!) For those who chose the right direction, four Mouflon were the highlight here (which, incidentally, are not as common as George made out!), while others enjoyed the strange Coal Tits. Lunch was a delight once again, ably laid out by Costas on the versatile and always willing-to-oblige table.
We could see the clouds building over Mount Olympus so, after lunch we continued ever upward, through Pano Platres and Troodos and on toward Mount Olympus, at 1,951m the highest point on the island. The snow, which had still been falling just a couple of days previously when we were birding at Akrotiri, still lay thick on the ground and it was clear we were not going to see the endemic plants of the area. Stopping at the ski lift car park (as far as we could get) we rummaged around and soon found our targets the intriguing endemic subspecies of Crossbill, Jay, Chaffinch and Short-toed Treecreeper that live up here. Several Siskins were also present yet another sign of a late spring and we finished with the obligatory team photos. The very interesting House Sparrows that one of the leaders kept on about didnt draw the enthusiasm of the group, so the return journey started. The big mishap of the day came with a demonstration of the wonderful windmill Costas had fashioned at Asprokremnos from dead twigs. Demonstrating it out of the bus window at 60km per hour was always going to be a mistake I guess its still lying by the road up there somewhere even now! Our journey back was punctuated by a short walk at the Psilo Dendro Trout Farm. Here, amongst stands of the endemic Golden Oak and wonderful Eastern Strawberry Trees we found the islands smallest endemic bird, the Cyprus Wren. Back down near Praitori, brief glimpses of a Great Spotted Cuckoo got us out on the roadside. This proved a fortuitous stop as we had better views of a Hawfinch, further views of one of the Bonellis Eagles, a Goshawk being beaten up by a Kestrel and a very obliging Cyprus Warbler. Excitement was to increase as an attempt to cross the upper Dhiarisos Valley proved too much even for a Cypriot bus driver but he gave it a good go! Turning round gingerly we returned to the tarmac and found time to travel the top road over Asprokremnos Dam. Panoramic views from here revealed six Great Crested Grebes, a pair of posing Black Francolins, a Slender-billed Gull which gave a breath-taking fly-by at the ends of our noses and a party of 40 Glossy Ibises heading north.
Friday 28th March Asprokremnos pools, Nata area, Paphos headland
Sunny & warm, clouding over during pm
Pre-pre-breakfast time again and the walk began with a group of 13 Black-crowned Night Herons heading north. The now familiar dribble of chips, seeps and chisicks flew overhead and were variously enjoyed as Short-toed and Sky Larks, Meadow, Water, Tawny and Red-throated Pipits and Black-headed and White Wagtails or ignored for more interesting Isabelline Wheatears and Cretzschmars Buntings which at least stayed long enough to be seen! The Collared Pratincole was still in residence, as was the Sedge Warbler, while one or two Common Quail were making their presence known. A fly-by Common Cuckoo showed well, while the second group also found a Sparrowhawk, hotly pursued by all of the local Hooded Crows. A Willow Warbler was less obliging as it sang from trees by the lighthouse, but some managed views.
After breakfast, we again headed for the Asprokremnos Pools, but it was somewhat on the quiet side. Some 20+ Chiffchaffs fed in the Acacias and the strange Quacky Duck was still present perhaps the product of an unfortunate liaison between a Mallard and Muscovy Duck seeming the most likely reason for its existence. Driving back out, we were halted by the appearance of a magnificent Long-legged Buzzard which put on a super display as it hovered over the scrubby slopes nearby. Time waits for no man and it was coffee break time yet again. A little shop at Anarita obliged for those who were thirsty, while others pondered on a Reed Warbler singing from a weed patch and studied the local lizards. The area also provided two roadside Cyprus Wheatears. Recharged with coffee and well stocked with oranges, we continued to Nata and dropped into the pretty little valley of the Xeros Potamos (does this really mean No Hippos?!). Interest here began with two Little Owls perched beside the road and calling Quails, a wonderful backdrop to the exploration of the area and enjoyment of the amazing Lax-flowered Orchids. Lunch time yet again! Then a wander up the lane provided one of the trip highlights as several Great Spotted Cuckoos flew around, one eventually landing nearby and giving excellent views.
It had been a successful day; so successful in fact, that we had nothing new to look for! The best option seemed to be to give Paphos Headland an afternoon visit, so we headed back to the hotel to freshen up before walking the beach again. The first little gem to hop into view on the headland was a female Subalpine Warbler consorting with a Lesser Whitethroat. Walking on to the little bare patch gave further views of the Collared Pratincole, before some of us cut across the rank grass to check out the trees on the south side. At this moment, the Pratincole took off, did a circuit and flew off over the group. Those who headed back were lucky enough to find a Spur-winged Plover at the far end of the quarry, but for the rest of us, things were quiet but for a Nightingale and a busy party of Spanish Sparrows and Greenfinches. Three Hoopoes were a fine sight and a nice array of commoner migrants was enjoyed before we all strolled back to base, laying bets on whether green jelly would be available once again.
Saturday 29th March Cape Drepanum, Avagas Gorge & Paphos Headland
Sunny & warm, some cloud
The early walk this morning seemed to provide evidence of a small influx of new birds. A few Common Swifts, six Little Egrets, three Red-throated Pipits and 14 Glossy Ibis were among the birds heading north and a check of the trees in Mikes favourite corner revealed two Wrynecks although views were near-subliminal! A Quail flipped out of cover and scuttled away, no doubt happy that we had telescopes and not guns and the Sedge Warbler was now seemingly resident in his little bush. Little Ringed Plover and Black-winged Stilt were on the beach. Breakfast successfully negotiated, we headed north, past the sweeping arc of Coral Bay, stopping briefly for photos at the sea-caves and out to Cape Drepanum. With migration somewhat quiet, we didnt have high hopes, but a real treat was the appearance of four Purple Herons, disturbed from their overnight roost spot among the rocks and which flapped off slowly to the north. Isabelline Wheatears and Skylarks fed on the short turf and Sardinian Warblers apparently collecting food for young showed that their gradual spread from their toehold on the Akamas Peninsula was continuing. The yellow legs of Yellow-legged Gulls could finally be enjoyed here too, with a number of birds on the breeding colony on Geronisos Island, where Rock Doves also still survive though we were far more surprised to see a pair of Chukars fly out across the sea to the island. The advance party made it as far as the trees to the south, enjoying views (at last!) of a very obliging Cettis Warbler. Those behind found some just as obliging Red-throated Pipits, eventually enjoyed by all as they sat and preened in low bushes in the middle of a wheat field. Here too were some 40+ Black-headed Wagtails and a party of 100+ Spanish Sparrows. Coffee beckoned once again and was taken at the taverna overlooking the bay. We then continued to the seaward end of the Avakas Gorge and took a stroll up the dirt track, while Costas table waited forlornly for lunch. A Little Owl sheltering from the midday sun was a nice find and both Cyprus and Black-eared Wheatears posed for us. A male Blue Rock Thrush was found while others were enjoying the endemic Cyprus Gladioli growing by the path. Four Purple Herons passed by, perhaps those from Cape Drepanum, and a Jack Snipe was flushed unexpectedly from the stream but disappeared into the large thicket and couldnt be relocated. George appeared with another excellent picnic lunch, wine was poured and we relaxed, surrounded by perky Sardinian Warblers and a single male Rüppells Warbler. Another round of group photos were in order, this time ensuring that Doreen didnt sneak off without permission!
We then returned to the hotel to allow everyone to pack, chill out or, for those with a more casual approach to the art of clothes folding, to walk the headland again. Although it was a little quiet, there were still good rewards. Compensation for most of us missing yesterdays Spur-winged Plover came in the form of a very obliging Wryneck and at least four Black-eared Wheatears. These included the first female and a very sandy first-summer male which could almost be passed off as a Desert Wheatear well, it was worth a try! A quick check to confirm that the Collared Pratincole was still present despite apparently flying off yesterday, and we began the return walk, highlighted by a female Blue Rock Thrush which was beating the life out of an unfortunate lizard.
The evening finished with a change to our regular meal at the hotel. With George and Deborah arriving to whisk us away to Kathikas for an evening meze and lashings of wine! After the meal, those that wished made the short walk to the local church, where a pair of Scops Owls gave excellent views. We were also entertained by the activities of the local drunks, staggering out of the bar and driving off, or staggering out of taxis and into the bar!
Sunday 30th March Asprokremnos pools, Larnaca saltlake & departure
Cloudless, sunny & warm
Some of us still managed to find time to visit the headland again, although there was less time as the clocks went forward overnight. Our final breakfast was enjoyed and the bus packed (although it was sad not to see the table for one last time!). Sad also to have to say goodbye to James and Doreen, who were staying for a second week lucky people! Lena had returned for the airport run and we were soon boarded and heading for the Asprokremnos Pools. Things were still rather quiet here, but we took time for a final enjoyment of Garganey, Alpine Swift and the local Cyprus Warblers. On the road again, we took to the motorway and made our way past Limassol and onward to Larnaka. Down at the Tekki Mosque we stopped for coffee and more of that unusual yellow Seven Up, and also found a couple of Black-crowned Night Herons. Blackcaps abounded in the bushes and stands of Giant Fennel, while the salt lake was alive with Greater Flamingos and Slender-billed Gulls. We took lunch in the picnic area, just about saving enough sandwiches for John after his determined walk from the mosque. Across the road, Slender-billed Gulls gave excellent views of their peculiar seek and dive hunting methods, while the far shore held Kentish Plover and several Stone-curlews. A single Redshank flew over and a good number of Pintail and Shoveler were still around, though mostly rather distant. Time and British Airways wait for no man and we continued to the airport and were soon winging our way west.
One final drama unfolded on our arrival at Heathrow, when smoke was spotted coming from the undercarraige as we landed. We waited just off the runway as the fire brigade arrived and checked us out, it turned out to be excess grease burning off the brakes.
This list generally follows the English names and order suggested by Wells, M.G. in World Bird Species Checklist. Optional names are enclosed in [ ] and alternates separated by /.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Up to four regularly at Asprokremnos Dam Pools, though often hidden in the bulrushes.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Three on Evretou Reservoir on 26th and six at Asprokremnos Reservoir on 27th.
Corys Shearwater Calonectris diomedea
Blowy weather the first morning gave us the chance to find a handful of these birds off Paphos before breakfast on 24th. If we had known they would be the last, we may have tried a bit harder!
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Surprisingly common with up to five on four dates. Highest count of five on 25th involved three on Bishops Pool and two in Limassol Docks. Most others were off Paphos Headland, but also singles at Coral Bay and both Evretou and Asprokremnos Reservoirs
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Small numbers on three dates. At least 10 in the Akrotiri area on 25th, five at Evretou on 26th and one at Asprokremnos on 27th.
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
A good day on 25th, when five at Asprokremnos Dam and at least 10 scattered around Akrotiri Peninsula. Also singles at Asprokremnos on 27th and 28th and four north on 29th, seen at both Cape Drepanon and Avakas Gorge.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
At least five in the cow field at Phassouri Reedbed on 25th.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
A good scattering of birds with small numbers daily. At least 10 were around Akrotiri on 25th, mostly at Zakaki Pools, while small parties were regularly noted passing Paphos or the Asprokremnos area.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Just a single bird recorded at Zakaki Pools on 25th.
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Fabulous views of some 20 birds roosting at Bishops Pool on 25th. Also 14 north at Paphos on 27th, 13 north there on 28th (and one at Asprokremnos Pools the same day) and two at Tekki Mosque on 30th.
Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris
A surprise find. Most people managed to see at least one of the two birds that flushed from cover at Phassouri Reedbed on 25th.
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
Always notoriously difficult to estimate numbers of this species. Some 1000+ at Larnaka Salt Lake on 23rd and 30th and c.2000 at Akrotiri Salt Lake on 25th. Some nice displaying from the latter.
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
A good year for this species. On 25th, four north and one south off Paphos, 18 at Phassouri and 18 over the main road near Paphos. On 27th, a flock of around 40 heading north off Paphos (seen from Asprokremnos Dam) and a flock of 14 flew north at Paphos Headland pre-breakfast on 29th.
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Only at Larnaka Salt Lake, where 14 on 30th.
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
Still a scattering around with some 12 birds on a pool along the south side of Akrotiri Salt Lake on 25th.
Eurasian/Common Teal Anas crecca
Some 15 birds at Phassouri Reedbed on 25th.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
A pair at Larnaca Airport as we arrived, a single bird at Phassouri on 25th and three at Evretou Reservoir on 26th.
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Three flew north off Paphos on 24th, three at Phassouri Reedbed and c. 50 at Akrotiri on 25th, and at least 80 at Larnaka Salt Lake on 30th.
Garganey Anas querquedula
An excellent year with birds noted almost daily. A flock of 20+ flew north off Paphos on 24th and regular sightings at Asprokremnos Pools began with 13 on 25th, falling to three by the weeks end. In addition there were 10 at Evretou on 26th and, best of all, a count of at least 170 at Phassouri Reedbed on 25th.
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Seemingly always rather distant. At least three males at Akrotiri Salt Lake on 25th and some 30+ at Larnaka Salt Lake on 30th.
Tufted Duck Aythya ferina
A male flew north off Paphos pre-breakfast on 28th.
[Eurasian] Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
Two flew over the road and had us jumping out quickly north of Cape Aspro on 25th, with a further five seen closer to their breeding site near Episkopi later the same day.
Montagus Harrier Circus pygargus
A nice 1st-summer female patrolling the salt steppe at Zakaki Pools on 25th.
[Eurasian] Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Small numbers on five dates, although often referring to what appeared to be the same one or two local birds. Some cracking adult males in the Asprokremnos Dam area and a max day count of eight on 25th, mostly in the Akrotiri area.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
One seen by some pre-breakfast heading north over the hotel on 28th. The same or another (a female) seen by others at the headland on 29th. On both occasions, the local Hooded Crows took great interest in the birds!
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
Good, if a little distant, views of a female being mobbed by a Kestrel near Praitori in the Dhiarisos Valley on 27th. This species is scarce and a very irregular visitor to Cyprus, so represents one of the best finds of the trip.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus
At least four seen on the Akrotiri Peninsula on 25th, mostly around Phassouri. This seems to be a regular site for the species and, given its scarcity as a spring migrant through the island, it seems likely that these birds arrive as autumn migrants and spend the winter here. All birds appeared to be first-winter individuals. Migratory eastern birds are often referred to as Steppe Buzzard.
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
Wonderful views of a surprise bird hunting the rocky slopes close to Asprokremnos Dam on 28th. The pale head and tail and dark belly all showed superbly.
Bonellis Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus
A pair near Praitori in the Dhiarisos Valley on 27th, with one seen again later in the day near the same location.
Common/Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Refreshingly common, especially in the Paphos plain, and seen in good numbers daily.
Chukar Alectoris chukar cypriotes
One to two seen almost daily with a higher day total of 10 on 27th. Pairs seen well on several occasions in the Asprokremnos Dam and Diarizos Valley areas. Strangely, a pair were watched flying out over the sea to Geronisos Island on 29th. Despite the scientific name, this form is not confined to Cyprus, but also occurs in southern Turkey, Crete and some of the Aegean Islands.
Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus
Heard calling daily and seen almost as often. Although mostly skulking, males often call from prominent perches in early morning and roadside birds at Coral Bay and at Geroskipou were seen well. Also good views on occasion on Paphos Headland, including a very obliging female. Another female was seen at Asprokremnos Dam.
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix
Seemed to be just arriving with none until 28th when two seen on Paphos Headland and one at Nata (and others calling). Also calling and one seen on Paphos Headland on 29th.
Common Crane Grus grus
A party of around 28 birds were seen distantly, flying north over Ladys Mile towards Limassol on 25th. Unfortunately, we were at Akrotiri at the time!!
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
At least six at Bishop's Pool on 25th and up to 12 at Asprokremnos Dam Pools throughout the week. Also small numbers at Evretou Reservoir.
Eurasian/Common Coot Fulica atra
Up to 20 present at Asprokremnos Dam Pools and a good scattering at the Akrotiri Peninsula and Larnaka Salt Lake.
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Around 10 birds in the Akrotiri area on 25th, singles at Evretou on 26th and Paphos Headland on 29th and five at Paphos Headland on 27th, which soon flew off north.
Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus saharae
Eight at Larnaka Salt Lake on 30th were sheltering from the mid-day sun.
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola
An excellent find. One appeared on Paphos Headland on 26th and was still present on 30th. The tail streamers reaching the tip of the wing was a good feature to confirm the identification, along with the amount of red at the base of the bill and, of course, the rusty underwing in flight.
Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus
A great bonus for only two of the group to catch sight of one that spent the day on Paphos Headland on 28th.
European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria
At Paphos Headland, eight on 27th, four on 28th, two on 29th and eight on 30th. Its possible that the same eight birds remained throughout the period, perhaps sometimes further along the beach than we could venture before breakfast.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
A single bird remained on the beach between our hotel and Paphos Headland from at least 24th to 30th.
Little [Ringed] Plover Charadrius dubius
One on Paphos Beach on 24th, another (or the same?) there on 29th and one at Larnaka Salt Lake on 30th.
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
A wonderful male along Ladys Mile on 25th and some half dozen at Larnaka Salt Lake on 30th.
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Four at Phassouri Reedbed and one at Akrotiri Salt Lake on 25th and three at Evretou Reservoir on 26th.
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
One at Phassouri Reedbed on 25th showed a very long bill and was probably of the eastern race N.a.orientalis.
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
One at Paphos Headland on 24th and one at Larnaka Salt Lake on 24th.
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
A little stunner! Great views of one with Ruff at Asprokremnos Pools on 25th.
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Remarkably very scarce. Just one heard passing north (but not seen!) at Cape Drepanum on 29th.
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Common at first with day counts of 15 on 25th and 10 on 26th, mostly at Asprokremnos Pools and around Akrotiri. After that, numbers dropped, with just one on 27th and two on 30th.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Up to two daily on Paphos beach.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
A party of seven on the weed-covered rocks at Paphos on 24th, with five remaining to the weeks end.
Little Stint Calidris minuta
Several were spotted alongside the road as we left the airport on 23rd.
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Two at Asprokremnos Pools on 25th and singletons at Evretou on 26th and near Asprokremnos Pools (in flight) on 27th.
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus
One was flushed from the stream at the entrance to Avakas Gorge before lunch on 29th. As is usual for the species, however, it tucked out of sight and couldnt be relocated.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax
A good scattering of birds with some 200+ around the Akrotiri area on 25th and 40+ at Larnaka on 30th. Elsewhere, a dozen or so at Asprokremnos Pools and above the dam on various dates and a similar number at Evretou.
Yellow-legged Gull Larus [cachinnans] michahellis
Small numbers seen daily. All birds seen well enough were of this, the Mediterranean form which breeds at a few sites around Cyprus, notably Geronisos Island.
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus fuscus
A single adult passed over Zakaki Pools on 25th. This black-backed form has been put forward as a split, to be called Baltic Gull. However, others consider the reasoning to be tenuous to say the least and it is likely to remain a form of Lesser Black-back.
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus
An adult flew north off Paphos Headland on 24th.
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
A small passage with 15 south at Paphos Headland on 24th and some 50 birds feeding at Ladys Mile on 25th. Also two at Larnaka Salt Lake on 30th, courtesy of Roger.
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei
An outstanding year for this, one of the Worlds smartest gulls. Six north off Paphos on 24th, some 40+ around Akrotiri on 25th, one at Asprokremnos Reservoir on 27th, three north and one south off Paphos on 28th and at least 150 at Larnaka Salt Lake on 30th. The distinctive feeding behaviour was much enjoyed at Larnaka.
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
Two at Akrotiri Salt Lake and one at Zakaki Pools, all on 25th. The latter a real stunner as it patrolled right beside the bus.
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
One to four on six dates, all passing north off Paphos Headland.
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Feral birds widespread and common more or less throughout. Birds appearing to be genuine wild individuals of the form livia were noted at Evretou Reservoir and Geronisos Island.
[Common] Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
Small numbers daily, but very local and most regularly seen around Acheleia, just south of Paphos. In addition, some 40+ flew past Evretou Reservoir on 26th and may have involved migrants.
European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Just a single bird at Baths of Aphrodite on 26th.
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Small numbers in towns and villages daily.
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
A single rather elusive bird in the Dhiarisos Valley near Praitori on 27th and four - one of which showed magnificently - in the Xeros Potamos Valley near Nata on 28th. Another seen briefly from the bus on 30th. Both adults and ginger-winged first-summer birds were seen.
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Singles at Phassouri Reedbed on 25th, Paphos Headland on 28th and Avakas Gorge on 29th.
Eurasian Scops Owl Otus scops cyprius
Heard from the hotel at Paphos by some in the middle of the night on 26th. A pair at Kathikas, one of which showed very well (with both calling) on the evening of 29th. Comparison of the call of Cyprus birds with that on the CD reveals a clear difference between these and European birds, although the response of the local birds shows they clearly identify each other. There is a suggestion that the endemic resident Cyprus population may represent a separate species.
Little Owl Athene noctua lilith
One on the roadside in the lower Diarizos Valley on 27th, two at Nata on 28th and one at Avakas Gorge on 29th. The local form shows a number of subtle differences to UK birds, most noticeable in the field being the larger white spots on the upper parts.
Alpine Swift Apus melba
Recorded on six dates with a maximum day count of 15+ on 25th, when stormy weather halted migrants, or brought birds down from higher ground. Best views came at Asprokremnos Pools where chittering parties came down to drink.
Common Swift Apus apus
Recorded daily in small numbers, mostly in single figures. Bad weather on 25th forced birds lower, however, when 50+ were logged in the Akrotiri area.
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Mostly seen on the Paphos beaches, where numbers gradually fell from five on 24th (including one in the harbour) to the last sighting of one on 27th.
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
Small numbers on five dates with up to four at Paphos Headland. Scattered singles elsewhere, including Akamas Peninsula and Larnaka (where two on 30th).
Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
At least one, possibly two, on Paphos Headland on 29th before breakfast. Later the same day, one showed extremely well in the same area, perching in the open on dead stems and feeding on the ground.
Wood Lark Lullula arborea
A nice discovery of three crouching in a small field beside Bishops Pool on 25th. Perhaps local migrants from the small breeding population in the Troodos range, or possibly longer-distance migrants, since a Hungarian-ringed bird has been found in Cyprus in the past.
[Greater] Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
Small numbers passing by the Kissos Hotel and at Paphos Headland with a highest count of 35 at Paphos Headland on 27th. Racially, a problematic species to sort out, but many birds appeared rather grey and well-marked and were perhaps of the highly migratory Central Asian form C.b.longipennis. The buffier birds with dapper, white underparts were most likely C.b.artemisiana (from Turkey), or perhaps nominate brachydactyla, which breeds in Europe east to the Balkans. The intergrade zones between the various forms are large and many birds are probably not assignable to race.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata cypriaca
Common throughout and recorded daily. Often very tame and approachable, much to the photographers delight. The near-endemic form cypriaca is said to also occur on Rhodes and Karpathos.
[Eurasian/Common] Sky Lark Alauda arvensis
On Paphos Headland, 15 on 24th, two on 26th and one on 29th. Also four at Cape Drepanum on 29th. All were rather heavily and darkly streaked and were probably migratory birds from Europe of the form A.a.arvensis.
[European] Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Six or so at wetland sites scattered around the Akrotiri Peninsula on 25th.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Common and widespread. Recorded daily with some reasonable influxes, particularly at Phassouri on 25th when bad weather in the hills dropped birds down to the coast. Local birds were already on territory and in song.
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
A small scattering with up to six on six dates. Maximum count of six at Paphos Headland on 28th and 29th.
[Common] House Martin Delichon urbica
Widespread but numbers still small. Occasional movements through Paphos Headland but no major influxes.
Blue-headed Wagtail Motacilla flava flava
Two of this, the nominate form of Yellow Wagtail, flew over Paphos Headland. The various Yellow Wagtail forms are being much studied at present and certain splits look likely in the near future. In particular, the distinctive Black-headed Wagtail with its buzzy call and subtly different build has already been split by some as a distinct species, see below.
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla [flava] feldegg
Some wonderful views of birds which were drifting through in small numbers daily, with a day maximum of 30+ on 24th (Paphos) and 29th (Cape Drepanon).
White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba
Small numbers seen on most days with highest counts early in the week when parties of up to 40 birds were around Paphos.
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
At Paphos Headland, two to five daily from 24th, with often some lovely close views. Favoured the shorter grass areas, particularly along the fence line on the seaward side.
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
Small numbers at Paphos Headland daily with a maximum day count of 10+ on 25th.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Two seen by Allan in the Eucalypt grove at Phassouri on 25th.
Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus
Heard calling regularly at Paphos Headland but the severe change in habitat there seemed to deter landing. Also heard over Phassouri Reedbed on 25th. Finally enjoyed at Cape Drepanon where five flew up from a wheat field and settled in low bushes.
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta coutellii
One to two almost daily flying north over Paphos Headland, but hard to get to grips with, except for three seen on the bare patch by the fence on the morning of 28th (and even these left pretty smartish!).
Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus
Late coming in this year, but luckily we spotted a migrant at Asprokremnos Pools on 25th, being mobbed by a number of Chiffchaffs in the flowering Acacia trees.
[Winter] Wren Troglodytes troglodytes cypriotes
Several heard around Troodos and Pano Platres and one finally seen very well at the latter site on 27th. Also one heard at Smiyies Ridge on 26th. The form on Cyprus is a near-endemic, also occurring in Crete, Rhodes and the Levant. This form varies little from those in the UK, but the bill (as with several southern forms) is markedly longer hope you noticed!
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
A nice roadside male in the lower Diarizos Valley on 27th, another male at Avakas Gorge on 29th and a female at Paphos Headland, also on 29th.
Common Blackbird Turdus merula
Just a single bird which was seen by a few as it flew across the road in the hills near Pano Platres on 27th.
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
A few late wintering birds still present with Paphos Headland holding two or three birds throughout the week and a max of four on 29th. Also one at Smiyies Ridge on 26th.
European Robin Erithacus rubecula
A few winterers still present, with singles at Asprokremnos Pools on 25th and 28th and three around the Baths of Aphrodite/ Smiyies Ridge area on 26th.
Common/Rufous Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
Small numbers noted daily with maximum of five on 26th. Some fabulous views of pre-breakfast birds at Paphos.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
A scattering of migrants passing through, with Paphos Headland holding six on 24th, dropping to four by the weeks end.
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
One at Akrotiri on 25th and three at Baths of Aphrodite on 26th. One of the latter birds showed a large, clear, white wing panel, indicating it was of the eastern race P.p.samamisicus which breeds from southern Turkey east to the Crimea, Caucasus and Iran.
Common Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
Still a good number of wintering birds around when we arrived with maximum day count of 20+ on 24th, but this had dwindled to two on 28th and none thereafter. Most birds were at Paphos Headland or the Asprokremnos Dam area. Most birds appeared to be pretty typical of the widespread European form S.r.rubicola. However, some with paler rumps tended towards intergrades with more easterly forms and were perhaps typical of birds from Turkey or the Black Sea area.
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Sightings at Paphos Headland produced a peak of 12+ on 24th, falling to two on 26th and 27th, then increasing a little with six on 29th. Also a couple at Cape Drepanon on 29th. Although differences are clinal, one bird at least on 24th was remarkably pale on the upperparts and presumably of the southern form O.o.libanotica which can sometimes be confused with Black-eared Wheatear.
Cyprus Wheatear Oenanthe cypriaca
Singles noted on 25th at Tombs of the Kings and Asprokremnos Dam. Up to two were regularly along the beach after that, followed by a maximum day count of five on 29th. Some singing birds revealed their peculiar buzzy song at Asprokremnos Dam and Avakas Gorge.
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica melanoleuca
After two at Paphos Headland on 24th, there was a clear influx on 29th when a male was seen at Avakas Gorge and three males (including a sandy 1st-year bird) and a female were at Paphos Headland. Keep a close eye on your lists, as these eastern birds may soon be split from the western ones you may have seen in Spain.
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina
Noted regularly around Paphos Headland with a maximum day count of five there on 24th and 29th. Also two at Cape Drepanon on 29th.
Zitting Cisticola / Fan-tailed Warbler Cisticola juncidis
Common in the lowland river valleys and recorded daily, although difficult to get a look at. Noticeably far more common at Paphos Headland now (where previously rather scarce). This is no doubt due to the big change in vegetation that has occurred there one species to benefit from the taller, lusher growth. Fortunately, the Paphos birds also seem to be rather easy to see and several pairs were clearly feeding young in the nest already. Wonderfully and rather appropriately the local form is the race C.j.neurotica!!
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti
Widespread and common, even bursting our ear-drums as high as the Praitori area in the upper Diarizos Valley. One or two seen here and there, most notably by most of the group at Cape Drepanon.
Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon
After a little searching, one was found at Asprokremnos Pools on 28th. The obvious dark cap and overall rufous tones indicated it was of the form A.m.melanopogon. This form breeds from Western Europe to Western Turkey.
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
One spent three days, from 27th to 29th, in a single bush on Paphos Headland.
[Eurasian] Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Up to five at Asprokremnos Pools from 25th to 30th and one in a weedy field at Anarita on 28th. Those seen showed an array of variation in plumage colour, typical of the intergrades that occur in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. However, at least one bird (at the Moustached Warbler spot at Asprokremnos) showed a lack of rufous tones and noticeable pale corners to the outer tail feathers, features typical of the eastern form A.s.fuscus. There has been some talk of splitting this form, but the evidence seems very tenuous.
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Just a single bird, singing by the lighthouse at Paphos Headland on 28th.
Common/Eurasian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita abietinus
Plentiful early in the week, with numbers falling away slowly. Maximum count of 60+ on 25th, falling to 10 by 30th. Most birds were seen around Paphos Headland and in the flowering Acacias at Asprokremnos Pools. These eastern birds are much more olive-brown, less green than ours.
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Great views of this smart species when one was found in the trees at Baths of Aphrodite on 26th.
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
After four on 24th, we found birds daily from 26th with a noticeable increase by 29th when 12 were logged. Most birds seen around the trees at Paphos Headland.
Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Three at Paphos Headland on 24th but none after that. At least one bird showed the grey upperparts of the race S.c.icterops.
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
Small numbers recorded daily, especially at Paphos Headland. Day counts fell from four on 24th to just one on 27th. There was then a noticeable influx with at least eight on 28th then 15 on 29th.
Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis crassirostris
A single bird by the dirt track as we left Asprokremnos Pools on 25th showed the heavy, droopy bill typical of this eastern form.
Rüppell's Warbler Sylvia rueppelli
Surely one of the stars of the trip with some fabulous views. Some 10 birds around Paphos Headland on 24th indicated a good influx. Numbers then steadily fell with one to two on most days thereafter, mostly around Paphos but also at Baths of Aphrodite, Avakas Gorge and Asprokremnos Pools. All were males but for one bird at Paphos Headland.
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala melanocephala
A recent colonist and gradually spreading from the Akamas Peninsula. Some excellent close views. At least 10 birds seen on 26th around Smiyies Ridge and Baths of Aphrodite and at least 15 around Cape Drepanum and Avakas Gorge. Two birds thought to be this species were also seen near Cape Aspro, but it is possible that they were migrants rather than breeding birds.
Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax
Small numbers recorded almost daily with some showy singing males seen at a number of locations. Best views came from the population of breeding birds at the Asprokremnos Pools, where one bird wearing colour rings was seen.
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans albistriata
Single males at Tombs of the Kings and Phassouri on 25th, a male at Paphos Headland on 26th and a female at Paphos Headland on 28th. These eastern birds have far less rufous on the underparts than western birds.
Coal Tit Parus ater cypriotes
Common in the Pano Platres/Troodos area with some excellent views in the higher pine forests. About time this one was split!!
Great Tit Parus major aphrodite
Widespread and seen in small numbers daily. The race concerned is very variable, with some individuals almost white below.
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla dorotheae
Wonderful views of two birds by the ski station on Mount Olympus and another lower down by the Psilo Dendro Trout Farm, all on 27th. An endemic subspecies which seems to have a shorter song than European birds but clearly recognised the tape.
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius glaszneri
At least three in the pines above Troodos, one of which showed very well. An endemic form which, although close in appearance to UK birds, is very unlike birds in neighbouring countries, where the atricapilla group (with black caps) occurs.
Black-billed/Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
Scattered throughout with particularly high numbers in the Diarizos Valley and similar habitats elsewhere. Commonest host of the Great Spotted Cuckoo. Anyone who believes the lie that Magpies are responsible for the crash in songbird populations must wonder how any other birds exist at all in Cyprus!!
Western/Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula soemmerringii
Localised but often very common. Large numbers in Dhiarisos Valley and at Baths of Aphrodite and smaller numbers elsewhere. This eastern form shows a much paler grey nape than ours and can look very smart in bright Mediterranean sunshine.
Hooded Crow Corvus corone sardonius
Widespread and recorded in good numbers daily. The race sardonius is much paler than the Hooded Crows of Northern Europe.
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra
Small numbers recorded daily in arable areas along the coast and in the Dhiarisos Valley. A dramatic increase in numbers at Paphos Headland, presumably because of the habitat change there.
Cretzschmar's Bunting Emberiza caesia
A nice run of birds with up at least 10 at Paphos Headland on 24th, then daily from 26th with a maximum of 10 on 28th. Most were migrants on the headland, but others were seen at Asprokremnos Pools and, presumably breeding birds, in the pines in the higher Dhiarisos Valley (where we stopped for lunch). A great little bird.
Common/European Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs syriaca
A scattering of birds in the higher pine forests, at Monoshilakas and from Pano Platres upwards. The males are rather paler pink below than our birds. A handful of sightings at the coast may have involved migrant birds from further north.
European Serin Serinus serinus
Almost a leader-only bird with only brief glimpses of fly-overs. Singles on 23rd and 25th (near Akrotiri) and five or so on 27th, from our lunch stop upwards to Pano Platres.
European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris aurantiiventris
Widespread in small numbers and particularly noticeable around Paphos Headland. The vivid yellow males are quite stunning!
Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus
c.10 showed quite well near the ski station at Mount Olympus on 27th.
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis niediecki
Widespread in small numbers.
Common Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Scattered pairs recorded almost daily throughout without highest day counts of 12+ on 28th.
Common/Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra guillemardi
A female and one or two juveniles showed quite well by the ski station at Mount Olympus on 27th. This form is heavier-billed than English birds and looks more like Scottish Crossbills. The larger bill is an adaptation to the larger cones of Black Pine, which is its main diet.
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
A very good year. One on Paphos Headland on 24th, at least 10 at Monoshilakas picnic site (but elusive) on 26th and one near Praitori in the Dhiarisos Valley on 27th.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus biblicus
Refreshingly abundant, fostering memories of times when they occurred in Britain! The local race is very similar to ours, but tends to be a shade paler. One bird with the foraging party at the Mount Olympus ski station showed characteristics of being a hybrid, presumably between House and Spanish Sparrow.
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
Rather more scarce than in previous years and more confined to agricultural areas than House Sparrows. Thus, any further loss of farmland could be a problem for this species. Nevertheless, some wonderful views of birds outside our hotel, at Baths of Aphrodite and at Cape Drepanum.
Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus
A rat seen climbing through the reeds at Asprokremnos Pools on 28th was thought to be this species.
Mouflon Ovis orientalis ophion
An endemic subspecies. Four males seen at our picnic stop in the upper Dhiarisos Valley above Agios Nikolaos by only two of us on 27th. In the 1930s, this population declined to just 15 individuals. Protection of the whole of Paphos Forest resulted in a steady increase and by the 1960s at least 200 were present. This still remains a threatened species here.
AMPHIBIANS & REPTILES:
Unfortunately, the European field guides do not cover Cyprus and some sightings were left unidentified. However, subsequent research has allowed the following to be identified:
Savignyis Tree Frog Hyla savignyi
Marsh Frog Rana ridibunda
Agama Laudakia stellio
Cyprus Wall Lizard Lacerta troodica
Snake-eyed Lizard Ophisops elegans
Large Whip Snake Malpolon monspessulanus (dead)
The European field guides do not cover Cyprus but, again, subsequent research has provided useful information. Most importantly, neither Brimstone nor Powdered Brimstone occur on the island. This left a question mark over the bright yellow Gonepteryx butterflies we saw several times. It would appear that these are actually a yellow colour form of the female Cleopatra, which is far more common in the east than the west of the species range. The following species were positively identified:
Swallowtail Papilio machaon
Eastern Festoon Zerynthia cerisyi
Large White Pieris brassicae
Small White Artogeia rapae
Eastern Dappled White Euchloe ausonia
Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines
Clouded Yellow Colias crocea
Cleopatra Gonepteryx cleopatra
Painted Lady Cynthia cardui
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
Cyprus Meadow Brown Maniola cypricola
Wall Brown Lasiommata megera
Paphos Blue Glaucopsyche paphos
Although many plants were late in appearance due to cool weather and therefore not found (while those at Troodos, including many endemics, were under snow!!), we nevertheless identified some 300 species. With this in mind, we have included the plants as a simple list, using a code to identify the site where it was seen. Those without a code were generally common and widespread. As there was greatest interest in the orchids and their identity and taxonomy difficult we have included them separately in annotated format. If anyone has any pictures they have taken which they have problems identifying, we would be more than happy to try and sort them out if you wish (famous last words!). A handful of species remain to be identified, but these are mostly little green jobs and we thought it better to get the report out rather than keep it hanging on while the remaining few are sorted out.
Dense-flowered Orchid Neotinea maculata
A small colony under Calabrian Pines at Smiyies Ridge
Syrian Orchid Orchis syriaca
Scattered small colonies, notably at Akrotiri, south of the salt lake and at Smiyies Ridge.
Holy Orchid Orchis sancta
Good numbers on the south side of Akrotiri Salt Lake, but still in bud.
Naked Man Orchid Orchis italica
Some quite extensive colonies seen, often from a moving bus! Studied best at Bishops Pool.
Lax-flowered Orchid Orchis laxiflora
A wonderful colony of this vibrantly-coloured orchid in the wet ground by the Xeros Potamos River.
Small Yellow Bee Orchid Ophrys sicula
Scattered plants at Smiyies Ridge near the chapel. This is an eastern form of Yellow Ophrys O. lutea which has been split into a number of species.
Funereal Bee Orchid Ophrys funerea
A single plant flowering by the muddy puddle under Calabrian Pines at Smiyies Ridge. Another split species, formerly considered a form of Sombre Bee Orchid O. fusca (which is what we called it at the time).
Cyprus Woodcock Orchid Ophrys lapethica
Yes, its another split!! Rather widespread in small numbers. First seen at Paphos Headland with others elsewhere, notably at Asprokremnos Pools and in the meadows at Smiyies Ridge. This species differs from Woodcock Orchid mostly in the much paler colour of the sepals. An endemic species.
Cyprus Orchid Ophrys kotschyi
One of the stars of the trip. This was the species in full flower on the south side of Akrotiri Salt Lake, which most of us photographed. A Cyprus endemic.
Giant Orchid Barlia robertiana
Quite common with small numbers seen at a number of sites. First seen near Bishops Pool and the best colony was a field full at Smiyies Ridge some higher than Denise (well, nearly!!).
Long-lipped Tongue Orchid Serapias vomeracea
A number of Serapias species grow on Cyprus, with many being very difficult to tell apart unless critically examined. This was the only species we positively located, but it was certainly plentiful, particularly on damper ground in valley bottoms.
MAIN PLANT LIST:
ADP - Asprokremnos Dam Pools PB - Paphos Beach
AG - Avakas Gorge PH - Paphos Headland
Akr - Akrotiri PP - Pano Platres
BoA - Baths of Aphrodite PR - Phassouri Reedbed
C - Cultivated SR - Smiyies Ridge
CD - Cape Drepanum Tr - Troodos area
Ked - Kedares UDV - Upper Dhiarisos Valley
Kiss - Kissos Hotel area XP - Xeros Potamos Valley
Mon - Monoshilakas
Maidenhair Fern Adiantum capillus-veneris SR
Bracken Pteridium aquilinum
Calabrian Pine Pinus brutia
Black Pine Pinus nigra pallasiana Tr
Cyprus Cedar Cedrus brevifolia E Tr
Italian Cypress Cupressus sempervirens
Phoenician Juniper Juniperus phoenicea
Norfolk Island Pine Araucaria heterophylla C
Joint Pine Ephedra fragilis campylopoda PH
Kermes Oak Quercus coccifera Mon
Golden Oak Quercus alnifolia E PP
Oriental Alder Alnus orientalis PP
White Poplar Populus alba
Black Poplar Populus nigra afghanica
White Mulberry Morus alba C
Fig Ficus carica
Indian Rubber Tree Ficus elastica C
Roman Nettle Urtica pilulifera PH
Pellitory-of-the-wall Parietaria judaica
Emex Emex spinosa PH
Sea Beet Beta vulgaris maritima PH
Shrubby Saltwort Salicornia fruticosa Akr
Nettle-leaved Goosefoot Chenopodium murale
Shrubby Seablite Suaeda vera Akr
Prickly Saltwort Salsola kali PB
Red Hottentot Fig Mesembryanthemum acinaciformis C
Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum PB
Common Chickweed Stellaria media
Sticky Mouse-ear Cerastium glomeratum
Annual Pearlwort Sagina apetala
Paronychia macrosepala PH
Four-leaved Allseed Polycarpon tetraphyllum PH
Lesser Sand Spurrey Spergularia marina ??
Bay Laurel Laurus nobilis C
Crown Anemone Anemone coronaria SR
Pheasant-eye Adonis annua SR
Love-in-a-mist Nigella damascena
Corn Buttercup Ranunculus arvensis XP
Celery-leaved Buttercup Ranunculus sceleratus SR
Lesser Celandine Ranunculus ficaria
Turban Buttercup Ranunculus asiaticus
Violet Larkspur Delphinium peregrinum CD
Common Poppy Papaver rhoeas
Yellow Horned-poppy Glaucium flavum PB
Ramping Fumitory Fumaria capreolata Kiss
Common Fumitory Fumaria officinalis Kiss
Small-flowered Fumitory Fumaria parviflora Kiss
Cyprus Rockcress Arabis purpurea (=cypria) E UDV
Eastern Sea Stock Matthiola tricuspidata PB
Alysum strigosum UDV
Sweet Alison Lobularia maritima
Shepherd's Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris
London Rocket Sisymbrium irio
Biscutella Biscutella didyma
White Mustard Sinapis alba
Hoary Mustard Hirschfeldia incana
Spanish Mustard Erucaria hispanica Kiss
Oriental Mignonette Reseda orientalis PH
Oriental Plane Platanus orientalis
Spiny Burnet Sarcopoterium spinosum ADP
Azarole Crataegus azarolus UDV
Wild Cherry Prunus avium PP
Almond Prunus dulcis
Peach Prunus persica
Bramble Rubus sanctus
Japanese Loquat Eriobotrya japonica C
Bottlebrush Callistemon citrinus C
River Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis PR
Eucalyptus gomphocarpus PR
Pomegranate Punica granatum C
Common Ivy Hedera helix PP
Small-headed Blue Eryngo Eryngium creticum PH
Alexanders Smyrnium olusatrum
Shepherd's-needle Scandix pecten-veneris
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare
Giant Fennel Ferulago communis
Eastern Tordylium Tordylium aegyptiacum CD
Wild Carrot Daucus carota
Pseudorlaya Pseudorlaya pumila
Eastern Strawberry Tree Arbutus andrachne PP
Scarlet Pimpernel Anagallis arvensis
Blue Pimpernel Anagallis foemina
Persian Sowbread Cyclamen persicum PH
Cape Leadwort Plumbago capensis C
Winged Sea Lavender Limonium sinuatum PB
Jasmine Jasminum mesnyi C
Olive Olea europaea
Oleander Nerium oleander
Greater Periwinkle Vinca major
Cleavers Galium aparine
Valantia Valantia hispida PH
Madder Rubia tinctorum
Field Madder Sherardia arvensis
Eastern Dodder Cuscuta palaestina AG
Mallow-leaved Bindweed Convolvulus althaeoides
Field Bindweed Convolvulus arvensis
Small Blue Bindweed Convolvulus siculus CD
Lithodora hispidula SR
Narrow-leaved Bugloss Echium angustifolium PH
Undulate Anchusa Anchusa undulata
Eastern Anchusa Anchusa aegyptiaca PH
Chaste Tree Vitex agnus-castus
Lantana Lantana camara C
Prasium Prasium majus ADP
White Horehound Marrubium vulgare
Blotched Dead-nettle Lamium moschatum
Henbit Dead-nettle Lamium amplexicaule
Sage Salvia officinalis AG
Wild Clary Salvia verbenaca
Lycium schweinfurthii PH
White Henbane Hyoscyamus albus Ked
Withania Withania somnifera PH
Mandrake Mandragora autumnalis PH
Shrub Tobacco Nicotiana glauca Akr
Wavy Mullein Verbascum sinuatum PH
Lesser Snapdragon Misopates orontium ADP
Cymbalaria-leaved Speedwell Veronica cymbalaria Ked
Blue Water Speedwell Veronica anagallis-aquatica SR
Brooklime Veronica beccabunga SR
Egyptian Broomrape Orobanche aegyptiaca Kiss
Ngaio Myoporum laetum CD
Cape Honeysuckle Tecomaria capensis Kiss
Buck's-horn Plantain Plantago coronopus PH
Sea Plantain Plantago maritima
Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata
Haresfoot Plantain Plantago lagopus PB
Branched Plantain Plantago afra
Valerianella discoidea CD
Carmel Daisy Scabiosa prolifera ADP
Southern Daisy Bellis sylvestris SR
Evax Evax eriosphaera PH
Phagnalon Phagnalon rupstre
Woody Fleabane Dittrichia viscosa
Pallenis Pallenis spinosa
Judas Tree Cercis siliquastrum C
Carob Ceratonia siliqua
Bauhinia Bauhinia variegata C
Blue-leaved Wattle Acacia cyanophylla C
Bean Trefoil Anagyris foetida
Hairy Thorny Broom Calycotome villosa
Spanish Broom Spartium junceum
Hairy Yellow Vetchling Vicia hybrida XP
Lathyrus cicera ADP
Annual Yellow Vetchling Lathyrus annuus XP
Lathyrus ochrus XP
Yellow Vetchling Lathyrus aphaca
Wild Pea Pisum sativum XP
Sticky Yellow Restharrow Ononis viscosa XP
Small Melilot Melilotus indicus XP
Black Medick Medicago lupulina XP
Sea Medick Medicago marina PB
Toothed Medick Medicago polymorpha
Spotted Medick Medicago arabica
Edible Lotus Lotus edulis PB
Lotus collinus CD
Hop Trefoil Trifolium campestre
Reversed Clover Trifolium resupinatum
Woolly Clover Trifolium tomentosum
Star Clover Trifolium stellatum
Rough Clover Trifolium scabrum
Shield Clover Trifolium clypeatum
Asparagus Pea Tetragonolobus purpureus XP
Scorpiurus Scorpiurus muricatus
Hymenocarpus Hymenocarpus circinnatus PB
Cockscomb Sainfoin Onobrychis caput-galli
Procumbent Yellow-sorrel Oxalis corniculata
Bermuda Buttercup Oxalis pes-caprae
Tuberous Cranesbill Geranium tuberosum XP
Dove's-foot Cranesbill Geranium molle
Round-leaved Cranesbill Geranium rotundifolium
Small-flowered Cranesbill Geranium pusillum
Cut-leaved Cranesbill Geranium dissectum
Little Robin Geranium purpureum
Mallow-leaved Storksbill Erodium malacoides
Long-beaked Storksbill Erodium gruinum ADP
Common Storksbill Erodium cicutarium
Fagonia Fagonia cretica ADP
Pale Flax Linum bienne
Sun Spurge Euphorbia helioscopia
Petty Spurge Euphorbia peplus
Annual Mercury Mercurialis annua
Castor Oil Plant Ricinus communis C
Lemon Citrus limon C
Orange Citrus sinensis C
Indian Bead Tree Melia azedarach C
Shrubby Milkwort Polygala myrtifolia C
Walnut Juglans regia
Acer obtusifolium PP
Turpentine Tree Pistacia terebinthus
Mastic Tree Pistacia lentiscus
Californian Pepper Tree Schinus molle C
Zizyphus lotus PH
Grape Vitis vinifera C
Common Mallow Malva sylvestris
Small Tree Mallow Lavatera cretica
Pink Rock-rose Cistus creticus
Sage-leaved Rock-rose Cistus salvifolius
Southern Rock-rose Helianthemum syriacum CD
Tamarisk Tamarix tetrandra
Hairy Sea-heath Frankenia hirsuta
Squirting Cucumber Ecballium elaterium
Prickly Pear Opuntia ficus-indica C
Common Myrtle Myrtus communis
Yellow Sea Aster Asteriscus aquaticus PB
Anthemis tricolor E
Rayless Chamomile Anthemis rigida PB
Scentless Mayweed Tripleurospermum inodorum
Scented Mayweed Matricaria recutita
Crown Daisy Chrysanthemum coronarium
Field Marigold Calendula arvensis
Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis C
Groundsel Senecio vulgaris
Senecio leucanthemifolius UDV
Cardopatium Cardopatium corymbosum PH
Spiny Globe-thistle Echinops spinosissimus
Carduus argentatus PH
Carduus pycnocephalus PH
Syrian Thistle Notobasis syriaca
Shrubby Ptilostemon Ptilostemon chamaepeuce cyprius E UDV
Cardoon Cynara cardunculus
Milk Thistle Silybum marianum PR
Red Star-thistle Centaurea calcitrapa
Centaurea aegialophila PB
Taraxacum aphrogenes E UDV
Tuberous Hawkbit Leontodon tuberosus ADP
Eastern Salsify Tragopogon sinuatus
Smooth Sow-thistle Sonchus oleraceus
Posidonia Posidonia oceanica PB
Hollow-leaved Asphodel Asphodelus fistulosus PH
Common Asphodel Asphodelus aestivus
Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem Gagea juliae E Mon
Sea Squill Urginea maritima PH
Star-of-Bethlehem Ornithogalum pedicellare XP
Bellevalia nivalis SR
Common Smilax Smilax aspera SR
Naples Garlic Allium neopolitanum
Barbary Nut Gynandiris sisyrinchium
Field Gladiolus Gladiolus italicus
Cyprus Gladiolus Gladiolus triphyllus E AG
Canary Palm Phoenix canariensis C
Washingtonia Washingtonia filifera C
Friar's Cowl Arisarum vulgare BoA
Southern Bulrush Typha domingensis ADP
Sea Rush Juncus maritimus PB
Sharp Rush Juncus acutus PR
Sea Club-rush Bolboschoenus maritimus Akr
Large Quaking-grass Briza maxima
Rough Dogstail Cynosurus echinatus ADP
Cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata
Perennial Rye-grass Lolium perenne
Annual Meadow-grass Poa annua
Wild-oat Avena sterilis
Canary-grass Phalaris canariensis ADP
Haresfoot Grass Lagurus ovatus
Crested Hair-grass Koeleria cristata XP
Great Brome Bromus diandrus
Compact Brome Bromus madritensis
Barren Brome Bromus sterilis
Wall Barley Hordeum murinum
Giant Reed Arundo donax
Common Reed Phragmites australis
Bermuda Grass Cynodon dactylon
We hope you all enjoyed the trip and have returned home with your own special memories. It is always fascinating to see migration in action, with flocks of birds such as Night Herons and Glossy Ibis moving north along the coast, and waves of larks and wheatears appearing or disappearing overnight. The Collared Pratincole was in an obviously exhausted state, but was also recovering well over the five days we watched him. As always, no-one saw everything that we recorded, but thats birding.
Well done to all of you who made this trip the success it was, and our special thanks to George and Deborah and the team at Kalliopi Travel & Tours, and to Costas and Lena who drove us during the week. Mike and I look forward to seeing you again in the not-too-distant future. One final comment - Road Closed means just that!!
Keith Grant & Mike Crewe, April 2003