TRIP REPORT TUESDAY 5th APRIL 2011
I picked up frequent visitors to Cyprus, Louise and David Rowlands from their Paphos flat and we headed for Cape Drepanum as the first stop on our search for spring migrants. Our intention was to spend the morning at sites in and around Paphos and then head to Troodos. The weather was not expected to be kind to us however and as I had been to Mount Olympus on three days earlier and found low cloud, strong winds and generally unforgiving conditions I had made a contingency plan.
Cape Drepanum is on the west of the island, north of Paphos and on the edge of the Akamas Important Bird Area. It is also known as Agios Georgios after the church there. Opposite lies Yeronissos Island and the first birds we saw were the Yellow-legged Gulls that breed there. Several Western Jackdaws were also seen. Parking in the scrub below the Church we soon picked out Greater Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit, Northern and Isabelline Wheatear present in the low vegetation in considerable numbers. Corn Buntings and at least two male Sardinian Warblers staked their territorial claims from various bushes as a lone Stone Curlew flew up in front of us only to go down again 200m away. White, Blue-headed and Grey-headed Wagtails flitted all over the area and I could see at least one male of the ‘superciliaris’ sub-race. Several wagtails settled in bushes and as we were watching them we found a Wryneck sitting amongst them. A Common Buzzard soared above us and as we returned to the car to move on a male Marsh Harrier flew over the area.
Two male Pallid Harriers were sighted rising high above the Paphos Sewage Works while we tried to locate the Common Nightingale we could hear in the olive trees there. A Lesser Whitethroat was more co-operative and both a Tree Pipit and one of the many Zitting Cisticola ‘zitting’ over the area sat on the wires above us so we could see them through the ‘scope. We added Black-headed Wagtail to the number of Yellow Wagtail races seen. Two Red-rumped Swallow flew above us with the many Common Swift and Barn Swallows. As usual many Hooded Crow and Wood Pigeon were trying to catch our attention, as did resident finches – Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Linnet. Despite efforts the calling Cetti’s Warbler evaded us. Our return route to the main road enabled us to see Sardinian Warbler males again singing from the tops of bushes.
At Mandria we saw Northern and Isabelline Wheatear as well as Greater Short-toed Larks again. Two Shags sat on the offshore rocks. We scanned the ploughed fields while a male Black Francolin called incessantly. We watched a well camouflaged Stone Curlew through the ‘scope as a Bimaculated Lark flew over us. A great change from the numerous Crested Lark also in the area. Moving on to the Asprokremmos Dam, Alpine Swifts and a Long-legged Buzzard greeted us as we drove up to the car park. The wooded area there contained at least three Hoopoes, two male and a female Cyprus Wheatear and a male Ortolan Bunting. A male Common Redstart flew into the pines as we moved forward and I could not relocate it to show Louise and David unfortunately. In the scrub above the Dam we saw Black-eared Wheatear. Corn Buntings were again singing but after much searching in the undergrowth we finally located a male Cyprus Warbler. We joined other birders at the Aspro Pools but the reported Little Crake was determined that none of us would see it! A Common Kingfisher however was more obliging sitting at the edge of the water as was a Masked Shrike sitting watching for prey from a low bush.
As the clouds gathered over Troodos in the distance we headed towards Kidasi. After a few kilometres we stopped to scan the area for birds of prey but the approaching storm seemed to deter them and in fact we only added the ground dwelling Quail and Chukar to our day list. We then made the decision to abandon the idea of going to Troodos and headed for Kensington Cliffs on the edge of the Akrotiri Peninsula.
We avoided the worst of the rain while in the car heading for the Cliffs and on our arrival there the sun was back out. A Nightingale was heard as we got out of the car – confusing me at first but soon becoming obvious. Many hirundines were present – more Alpine Swifts, Common Swift, Barn Swallow and Red-rumped Swallows for us to marvel at. We walked down to the cliff edge and managed to located one of the islands rarest residents – a Griffon Vulture. We were not lucky enough to see one of these magnificent, threatened birds in flight but watched it on a ledge. A Peregrine Falcon was more obliging and flew above us calling. Several Cyprus Wheatears and Cyprus Warblers were calling. A good place to see both the island’s endemic species together at this time of year.
Our last stop on our rearranged itinerary was Phassouri Reed Beds and gave us the chance to see some waterbirds. Moorhen, Coot and Little Grebe have returned to the area now that it again holds water after a few years of very low rainfall. Squacco Heron and Cattle and Little Egret were quickly spotted. The only waders present were Wood Sandpiper and Common Snipe but several newly arrived Reed Warblers picked out flitting in the vast area of reeds. Another Common Kingfisher was perched on the remains of the hide close to the water’s edge. A Woodchat Shrike was a lovely bird to finish our trip on as he rested motionless on reeds close to the road.
Thanks to Louise and David for a good day’s birding and for being prepared to adapt their day out once it became clear that a visit to Troodos was not a good idea in a spring becoming noted for its unsettled weather this year.
Guide: Jane Stylianou
Date: Tuesday, 5th of April, 2011
Species list: 65 Species
Eurasian Collared Dove
Greater Short-toed Lark
Common House Martin
Red-throated Pipit (heard by leader)
‘superciliaris’ Yellow Wagtail race
Common Redstart (seen by leader)
European Reed Warbler