Day 3: 10th May 2011
I woke early at 5.15am in order to be birding in the local area by first light. I started off at 5.30, it was light but it wasn’t till 6am until the sun came up, at which time the bird activity started to kick off. The numerous migrants present yesterday had gone, save a couple of Spotted Flycatcher. There were however at least 8 Golden Orioles which kept me interested!
Moving along the valley behind the villa Cyprus Warblers were numerous and showed really well at times. Several families with fully fledged young were noted. Suddenly the sky was full of Common and Alpine Swift, some sweeping only feet overhead (see below I managed on my mobile - just!)
Chukar calls were ringing out through the valley. At the trail head an old goat pen seemed busy with Goldfinch and Greenfinch feeding in the weedy growth. A male Blackcap appeared behind me and started calling and then singing, sounding slightly different vocally to those singing at home – possibly a different race? A cracking male Spectacled Warbler showed briefly in some scrub but my eyes were drawn to a pair of Kestrel that were calling in alarm, a quick scan and I was looking at a rather impressive ‘lilith’ Little Owl sat out in the open.
Whilst waiting to see if the owl would come a bit closer my eye was drawn to a bird that flew in and landed in a dead tree in front of me, a male Ortolan Bunting. Unfortunately as soon as the bunting clocked me it dropped down and out of view and was gone. While I waited to see if it would come back into view – which it didn’t, a smart dark-phase Eleonora’s Falcon flew low along the valley edge showing very well.
Time was getting on so I started to head back to the villa for breakfast. Nearing the complex the final 50 yards held a single female Serin, male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, a very frustratingly brief view of a male Black-headed Bunting, not helped by the presence of a female Sparrowhawk cruising overhead.
After breakfast we drove along the old B6 road to Paphos Headland just randomly stopping for a photo opportunity. This stop produced a large colony of Jackdaw a single Crested Lark, Kestrel and a few more Eleonora’s Falcons.
We arrived at Kato (Old) Paphos/Paphos Headland mid-morning, c10.30am. By this time the temperature was soaring and the number of ‘tourists’ was high. We walked around the harbour, a bit around the headland and then into the Archaeological site. The latter was very impressive and well worth a visit. Whilst walking around looking at the sights I managed a few Yellow-legged gulls, numerous Crested Lark and Fan-tailed Warblers, a single male Red-footed Falcon, a very showy Kestrel – allowing views down to about 2feet!, a couple of Spotted Flycatcher and rather surprisingly a male Northern Wheatear.
We will go back later in the week and try and get there a bit earlier in the day. The mosaics were all very impressive and the site is well worth a visit in its own right.
Late afternoon around the Pissouri Village Area resulted in 4 more Spotted Flycatcher, another male Blackcap, 4 Golden Oriole and a distant Roller, likely to be the same bird seen yesterday.
An evening walk in the valley behind the villa looked good but light was not on my side. A quick bash through some bushes resulted in more families of Cyprus Warblers, a couple of Cyprus Wheatear, several Turtle Dove but best of all 2 Great Reed Warblers – moving through some thorn scrub.
Back at the villa a flock of 18 Bee-eaters noisily flew through heading north. The final bird of the day went to a Golden Oriole that flew into the window of the neighbouring villa. It sat rather dazed on their pergola for at least 5 minutes before it eventually flew off into some olive trees.
Day 4: 11th May 2011
I woke at 5.45 so decided to spend the first hour or so of light in the valley behind the villa again. It started off fairly quietly with several Spotted Flycatchers noted. A female, then a bit later on, a male Whinchat moved up through. A large warbler shot across the trail, Garden Warbler. The lack of swifts was noticeable but the number of Cyprus Warbler seemed much higher – with lots of fledglings about. A couple of Bee-eater were heard in the distance but not seen. A male Sardinian Warbler sang at close range, followed by another Garden Warbler. A ‘singing’ male Chukar showed well as it stood on top of a hillside.
The walk back to the villa produced a singing Hoopoe, after a while the song stopped and the bird suddenly appeared right in front of me as it flew into a nearby bush briefly before continuing on up through the valley. A couple of Golden Oriole moved north through along with getting on for a dozen Turtle Dove.
A fast warble and a bit of movement caught my attention and turned out to be a pair of Spectacled Warbler, the male showed off spectacularly. While watching these a familiar sound was heard, this time it was close – a single Bee-eater, which showed well before flying towards the village.
We decided to visit Lady’s Mile Beach for some sunbathing. En-route we had a cracking Roller and a very showy Chukar. Lady’s Mile was baking hot. As Jenny sunbathed I checked out a patch of dune scrub which was surprisingly busy, predominantly made up of Crested Lark. Two Greater Short-toed Lark were smart. The dune vegetation contained a few Spotted Flycatcher but pride of place went to the Icterine Warbler that showed very well at very close range. As I continued through the dunes a white rump flash caught my attention, when it landed it was clear I was looking at a cracking Isabelline Wheatear. There was also several Linnet, Goldfinch and Greenfinch present.
By mid-morning we moved across to the archaeological site at Kourion, another fine example of a site. A Fan-tailed Warbler showed well here, as too did several pairs of Cyprus Wheatears, including a bird provisioning a nest underneath a walkway and another with fully fledged young. Lots of interesting butterflies and lizards here too and the views from the top of the site were spectacular.
Back at the villa we decided to have an hour back in the valley beyond Pissouri to see if any new migrants had dropped in.
Three Sardinian Warblers were making a noise at the entrance to the valley and several Alpine Swift were circling overhead. A couple of Spotted Flycatcher were noted but no sign of any other chats or warblers. The main star of the show was a group of 10 Bee-eaters that showed incredibly well, down to about 20feet. It was great to watch birds feed as they gradually moved north. The only thing that got me looking away was the 3 dark-phased Eleonora’s Falcons that shot low overhead giving incredible views.
A change in wind direction was noted in the late afternoon with a thunderstorm breaking out. Hoping for a fall tomorrow...