Saturday, 28 May 2011

CYPRUS: Day 5 & Day 6

Day 5: 12th May 2011

I woke at 5.30am and made my way into the valley behind the villa. It felt much colder than the previous few days. The first bird recorded was a Bee-eater, and this would be the theme of the day with over 140 birds recorded at all coastal locations visited during the day.

The valley contained far fewer birds this morning (with the exception of 22 Bee-eaters) with only 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 female Blackcap, 2 Turtle Dove and a sprinkling of Hirundines. Two dark-phase Eleonora’s Falcons showed incredibly well as they shot across the cliffs. I managed to connect with the ‘lilith’ Little Owl again and this time got good views down to 20m – a very distinctive bird, very pale.

We decided to have a walk around the Kouris Dam today which turned out to be a bit more difficult than planned due to some rubbish signposting around the reservoir (and some new roads not being on my map). The scenery was quite impressive but the highlight was a single adult male Cretzschmar’s Bunting that was feeding in some weedy growth along the edge of a road to the south of the dam wall. The sound of Cetti’s Warblers rang out all around the area.

We then moved on to Kolossi Castle – again quite a smart building in very good condition for its age, looking like it was built to far higher standards than most current builds in the country! A dozen Bee-eaters were feeding in the fields next to the castle while we had lunch just as a shower started to hit.

After lunch we decided to head back to the villa via the Akrotiri Area along the Lady’s Mile route. We stopped at Zakaki Marsh and along Lady’s Mile and added a whole host of new ‘Cyprus Birds’ due to this being the first suitable habitat for them that we’d come across. Highlights included 70 Bee-eater, 8 Ferruginous Duck – including adults and young, 3 Black-winged Stilt, Wood Sandpiper, 5 Temminck’s Stint, Squacco Heron and Cattle and Little Egrets. A single pale-phase (immature-looking) Eleonora’s Falcon was sat on the salt-pan, presumably dropped by the heavy shower that moved through. A single Golden Oriole was also seen here.

We called in briefly to check out Curium Beach where we were treated to another good show by a pale-phase Eleonora’s Falcon, and another flock of 30 Bee-eater with 2 more at nearby Avdimou.

Bee-eater (taken later in week by Mike Bowman)

An evening walk behind the villa was still quiet in regards to migrants – a huge thunderstorm passed through, a Calandra Lark flew over and a flock of c. 50 Pallid Swift came screaming into the valley. Four Golden Orioles were feeding in the valley and showed very well to close range with a pair of Sardinian Warbler also showing well. The second last bird of the day was a pair of Eleonora’s Falcons that showed phenomenally well, a single pale-phased and a single dark-phased bird that were unbelievably close before flying towards the cliffs.

The final bird of the day rather fittingly was a group of 5 Bee-eater that were feeding up. A really good day for this species and very enjoyable to witness.

Day 6: 13th May 2011

I woke slightly later today, not getting started till 6.30am. There were very few migrants around with a single female Blackcap, Garden Warbler and a male Spectacled Warbler and 3 Bee-eaters. A fly-through pale-phase Eleonora’s Falcon was smart. A couple of huge Agama Lizards fighting in the undergrowth flushed several Quail out into view which was slightly unexpected but appreciated!

We decided to head up into the Trodos Mountain for the day so set off around 9.30am. We headed north along some minor roads, as we neared the village of Kissousa an adult Great Spotted Cuckoo flew across the road, along with 4 Bee-eaters and a large flock of Alpine Swift.

As we drove through Pano Platres I noticed an adult Masked Shrike sat on the electric wires, unfortunately I couldn’t stop so had to hope for more later!

We started out on the Atalante Trail – after putting a few extra layers on (the temperature was a barmy 4oC). The familiar sound of Chaffinch greeted us in the car park. The song of the endemic sub species of Coal Tit was ringing out and sounded totally different to those in the UK – and when seen looked totally different too. A couple of Eastern Olivaceous Warbler showed well along with a couple of endemic sub-species of Jay. We then found a couple of Masked Shrike, one showed exceptionally well, allowing views down to about 4feet! A familiar sound and a flash of black then brown alerted me to the presence of a pair of Blackbirds. A large flock of about 50 Crossbills showed incredibly well as they fed on dropped pine cones with a couple of flashy male Serins performing well in the treetops.

Endemic sub-species of Jay (photo Mike Bowman from visit later in the week)

Serin(photo Mike Bowman from visit later in the week)

After lunch we headed onto the Caledonian Falls Nature Trail which was full of the endemic sub-species of Wren which eventually showed well after a while. A couple of Nightingale were heard singing and a couple of the endemic sub-species of Short-toed Treecreeper were heard but unfortunately were not seen. More Coal Tit and Jays were also seen.

The Trodos was an incredible area full of endemic plants. The trails were good and leaflets provided showed the different plants as we walked around which proved a useful identification tool. We will be going back next week so will hopefully try and connect with the Short-toed Treecreeper on that visit.

Driving back to the villa we took the B616 road through the Trodos Foothills and on through the Diarizas Valley – this was a very smart valley scenically and contained some great birds including a cracking adult male Masked Shrike, several Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Nightingale and Cetti’s Warblers. A very showy pair of Cretzschmar’s Buntings showed very well down to 15 feet – my best ever views of the species to date. I also added Corn Bunting to the country list and had a pair of Roller sat on wires at close range.

Back in Pissouri and a flock of about 30 Bee-eater were moving north around the villa but soon departed.

In the valley in the evening a single Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and Cetti’s Warbler were new in, as was (in all likelihood) 3 Spotted Flycatcher, a Garden Warbler, single Bee-eater and 4 Golden Oriole. A male Sparrowhawk was causing a fair bit of commotion amongst the Cyprus Warblers and Cyprus Wheatears.

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