Yesterday, my wife and I made it out for a birdwatching trip with Birdlife Cyprus. That meant an almost 2-hr drive from Nicosia past Petrou Tou Romiou to the Asprokremmos Dam to meet up with the group, before caravanning up the valley some 10km.
Some notes on the birds we saw below the fold:
At the dam, there were a few water birds, including Little Grebes and two or three Great Crested Grebes. They were joined by more than a half dozen Cormorants, some sunbathing, others diving for fish. And then there were a handful of Grey Herons on the reservoir’s edge and/or flying over.
We also saw a Ruddy Shelduck, a couple Teals, and a few Caspian Gulls (subspecies of Herring Gull whose taxonomy is disputed).
After that we drove in a bit of a caravan up the valley, through a few very small villages, stopping briefly at a small marshy pool. Along the way we saw a pair each of Eurasian Kestrels and Long Legged Buzzards, as well as Hooded Crows, Jackdaws, and Magpies. Of the two buzzards that we saw, I actually only saw the one not being mobbed by crows. We got a very nice view of the underside of the soaring bird as it passed overhead.
At the marshy pool, we also saw a large flock of European Goldfinches, joined by some Linnets, Serrins, Greenfinches, Great Tits, and Spanish Sparrows. The goldfinches in particular were bathing and having quite a time.
Finally we made it the rest of the way up the valley to Kidasi for a bit of walking. It was perfect open habitat for buteos, but the sun was not out to generate the thermal updrafts that hawks and buzzards use for soaring, so no luck there. It was also a nice scrub habitat, and the smaller birds who over-winter in such places were present but tough to see.
Among these, we saw quite a few Finsch’s Wheatear, which is the only regular winter resident wheatear species of Cyprus. ‘Regular’ and ‘common’ aren’t the same thing though, so despite the dozen or so Finschs’ that we saw, they were a nice treat for most of the group to see. There were also no shortage of Stonechats, complemented by Whinchats, Black Redstarts, a European Robin or two, a Meadow Pipit, a report of a Thrush Nightingale flying overhead, and a report of a possible Corn Bunting which only our guide got a good look at.
Overall, we had an okay day even with the sun not being out, but we didn’t see any Griffon Vultures, two of which were seen in last year’s birding visit to Kidasi in mid-December. Unfortunately, the best estimate is that there are only 12 vultures currently residing in Cyprus – a very low number from what they once were.