Thursday, 26 May 2011

CYPRUS Day 1 & Day 2

Day 1: 8th May 2011

We arrived at Paphos at about 9pm, quickly got through passport control, had a long wait to sort out the pre-booked hire car at Avis – this was a nervous wait as I’d forgotten my paper section of my driving licence. Luckily this was not required and we were given a fairly new Opel Zafira. A huge thing like a minibus! We set off in the dark to Pissouri, managing to find the villa with no major issues – by this time it was 11pm. We went to bed full of anticipation as to what the area would look like in daylight!

Day 2: 9th May 2011

We awoke fairly late – at around 7.30am. I went for a brief stroll behind the villa along a scrubby valley. First birds of the trip were House Sparrow and Magpie, quickly followed by Spotted and Collared Flycatcher. Spotted Flycatcher were very obvious – on the top of most bushes. A family of Great Tit and Goldfinch moved through and a couple of Whinchat appeared on top of some bushes and were sat out in view.

Swifts started to appear along the valley, 150+ Alpine’s the main species though Common and Pallid were also present in good numbers. In amongst these were Barn and Red-rumped Swallows and House Martin. A bit further along the valley and a scratchy, scolding call suggested a Sylvia warbler, suddenly a male Cyprus Warbler was on top of the bush in full song. Very good views of this endemic. After enjoying this I headed back to the villa, pausing only for a couple of Turtle Dove. Just on the edge of the villa complex I heard a Hooded Crow alarm calling. I turned to see it mobbing a large dark falcon. A dark-phase Eleonora’s Falcon! This flew nice and low overhead and gave great views. Not bad for a 30 minute walk.

Needless to say I was chuffed whilst having breakfast on the porch. Whilst enjoying my eggs another scratchy call caught my attention, a warbler was mobbing a Magpie. Some careful manoeuvring got me onto some great looks at a male Sardinian Warbler. Back at my eggs two small birds popped out of the crop behind the villa – Fan-tailed Warbler! They chased each other around for a bit before vanishing out of view. As if this wasn’t enough I picked out a Kestrel followed by two very high-up falcons, these in turn dropped low over the villa and were two pale-phase Eleonora’s Falcons.
After breakfast we decided to drive to Lemesos (Limassol). We needed to do a weekly shop to stock the villa. We went via Pissouri Bay (Beach). I’d told Jenny to shout out if she saw any big birds – she said she would let me know if she saw ‘Big Bird’ – or any colourful birds on the wires. No sooner had I said this than we were looking at a stunning Roller sat along the electric wires! It has been a while since I’ve seen European Roller so always nice to get reacquainted. The beach was beautiful and very hot already. The drive to the supermarket was uneventful with just a few Kestrel and Hooded Crows seen.

As we were parked up outside the villa talking to the neighbour a Cyprus Wheatear – an adult male – landed on his roof briefly before dropping out of sight. After lunch we went in search of it with another walk along the valley. Birds were definitely on the move with the Spotted Flycatchers down dramatically and no sign of the two Whinchat, there was however two Wood Warbler, a couple of elusive Golden Oriole – heard but not seen, some Spanish Sparrows, a covey of 8 Chuckar but best of all a flock of 16 European Bee-eater. These showed very well before flying north up the valley and out of sight. A bit further down below the villa a flash of yellow-green alerted me to the presence of Golden Oriole. Four of them flew into a tree and showed well – for orioles at least.

Back at the villa I almost spilt my tea as another Golden Oriole and then a dozen Bee-eater flew low over and then showed well right in front of us. The Bee-eaters being round for a good hour or so.

A late evening walk back along the valley resulted in me finding a good looking area to explore tomorrow along with a family group of Cyprus Warbler, more Spotted Flycatcher, two Golden Oriole showing to 10 feet and two Sardinian Warblers. One right outside the villa at dusk. Not forgetting the two pairs of Cyprus Wheatear too.
All in all a good first day on Cyprus with 32 species recorded.

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