Posted by: Dan | December 7, 2010

Grey Hypocolios

Hypocolios ambelinus, ©Stavros Christodoulides

Grey Hypocolios
Hypocolios ambelinus
Credit: Stavros Christodoulides
Taken: 05/12/2010, Cape Greco park

This is one of those rare gems that birders drive for miles and miles to see. Last Friday (03/12/10), members of BirdLife Cyprus began hearing of a report of a Hypocolios that had been seen in Cape Greco. A very select group of people knew what this was, but the majority of birders here said, “A what?,” and scrambled for our field guides. You see this bird is so completely unheard of here, that few of us had even heard of it before – and we know our birds as well as anyone! The above photo is by Stavros Christodoulides, but Christodoulos Makris has another very nice picture of the Hypocolios on TrekNature.

Grey Hypocolios’ are normally resident in Iraq and Iran, as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan, and winter along the Arabian coasts of the Persian and Red Seas. They are uncommon vagrants in Bahrain and several other Persian Gulf states, and are an accidental in Israel, Turkey and Egypt. This was the first ever record of one in Cyprus, and in fact as I understand it for Europe even.

This was a very distinctive bird, reminiscent of the Waxwing family which it is sometimes grouped with. Interestingly, I thought its behavior was downright shrike-like, as it preferred to perch on the tops of bushes and was very visible wherever it was.

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