Posted by: Dan | March 22, 2009

Migration in Full Swing

Yesterday was really just an awesome day for me, going out birdwatching again with Stavros. Sure, we kinda ‘ditched’ the rest of the BirdLife Cyprus fieldtrip in Cape Greco, but I’m sure they had a great day birding too.

For starters, we went looking for a bird that had been reported along Mazatos beach on Friday and photographed quite well. (It was probably exhausted from being blown so far off course in its migration, meaning that it was too tired to be wary of people carrying their telephoto cameras.) Looking at the pictures, everyone seems to think that it was a Lesser Sand Plover, which has never been seen before in Cyprus. Despite the consensus that it looks like a Lesser Sand Plover though, it would have to be such an extreme vagrant that experts of this species abroad are being contacted for their opinion (It still could be just a rather odd Greater Sand Plover, which isn’t so unheard of).

Alas for me, the bird had moved on. It really wasn’t the right habitat for a Sand Plover to stick around for more than a few hours of recovery anyway.

We then went to Meniou to look for, and find, a Eurasian Dotterel. Also a vagrant, but not unheard of, it was a nice bird to see. Dotterels are apparently rather tame, and this one especially so, allowing for a very good and long look at it through the bins.

And then we were off for Cape Greco, where the incoming migrants are concentrated into a relatively small area (this happens at geographical features such as capes, peninsulas, and isthmuses).

And #*&$!!!! They were EVERYWHERE.

We first got out of the car on the edge of a field dotted with shrubs and small trees, and within a minute Stavros (being the quicker and more knowledgeable birder than I) said, “Look, a Cretzschmar’s Bunting. And over in that tree, a Ruppell’s Warbler! And over there, a Subalpine Warbler! And a Blue Rock Thrush just flew past. Oh, don’t miss that Lesser Whitethroat! No, pay attention to the Subalpine, they’ll all be gone within 2-3 weeks, and most people miss them every year!” All within moments of each other. It seemed that every shrub or tree had one of these warblers flitting about in the dense branches, with buntings, wheatears, and thrush visible more openly. The Nightingale singing unseen nearby just completed the picture.

All of those were ‘life-birds’ for me, meaning that I’d never seen these species before. Yes, I was in Cyprus last Spring, but I had been rather preoccupied by ‘life’ and not gotten out birding around then. So I was very much the proverbial ‘kid in a candy store’, overwhelmed by birds that were wholly new and fascinating to me. I almost couldn’t choose which way to look; they were all over the place and I could only look at one at a time.

And within the next 10 minutes, I’d also seen Orphean Warbler, Common Redstart. And later I’d seen some other tough birds to find. In total, I saw 14 new ‘life-birds’, bringing my total close to 400 (I’m still learning!).

What a fantastic day that was for me.

Total species seen/heard: 49

Grey Heron
Marsh Harrier
Black-winged Stilt
Little Ringed Plover
Golden Plover
Little Stint
Green Sandpiper
Common Swift
Pallid Swift
Calandra Lark
Greater Short-toed Lark
Crested Lark
Barn Swallow
House Martin
Tawny Pipit
Tree Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
Black-headed Wagtail
White Wagtail
Isabelline Wheatear
Northern Wheatear
Black-eared Wheatear
Blue Rock Thrush
Song Thrush
Subalpine Warbler
Ruppell’s Warbler
Orphean Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Collared Flycatcher
Woodchat Shrike
Masked Shrike
House Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow
Cretzschmar’s Bunting



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