Saturday 8th January
Akrotiri Peninsula, starting from Zakaki marsh
Leader: Dan Rhoads
With the appreciable rainfall of recent days, we were expecting to see a lot of waterfowl and wintering birds, hopefully some interesting.
First thing that was obvious at Zakaki: lots and lots of Coot and Black-headed Gulls, supplemented with about a dozen Shoveler and a fair number of Moorhen scattered about. Those who arrived early chatted a bit while casually keeping our eyes open, and were pleased to see a flock of 29 Grey Heron, followed shortly by a Cattle Egret. A bit while later there was also a probable Common Buzzard that we saw at a distance and judged as such from general size and shape, along with a “flick” of the wings that we saw while it soared. And every now and then a Water Rail would venture out from cover to let us have a look. There were also Chiffchaff, some Cetti’s Warblers and a Moustached Warbler about, not to mention the occasional White Wagtail.
After a while we noticed there was an Armenian Gull in with the large flock of Black-headed “Four-eye” Gulls, and four Mallards in the back, hiding. You could only really see the Mallards with a scope, which prompted someone to scan a bit more there, and they noticed a lovely Bluethroat hopping around on some flotsam at the edge of the reeds. Until, of course, the Bluethroat was startled off by a passing Marsh Harrier.
A brief stop-off down at the beginning of Lady’s Mile – by the Oasis Restaurant – led us then into a discussion about Armenian Gulls and its sister subspecies within the “Yellow-legged Gull Complex,” as there were 4 Armenian Gulls with a Caspian Gull. Also off in the distance were two soaring raptors which we thought were again probable Common Buzzards, this time having seen their silhouettes a bit better.
Then we continued on to Phassouri Reedbeds, which this year has a decent amount of water for the first time in years. Unfortunately so does everywhere else, and it remains unattractive to ducks and waders. Still, there were 4-5 Water Pipits there, and 2 Marsh Harriers, along with the Stonechats and Fan-tailed Warblers.
Checking out the Akrotiri salt lake next from the view at Sylvanna Restaurant, we got the usual but wonderful sight of a few thousand Flamingo. There also appeared to be c150 Common Shelduck, although they were barely discernible at that distance which must have been close to a kilometer. Additionally the first arrivals at this spot were treated to a female Blackbird, and others noted 3 Meadow Pipits and there was a Kestrel later on.
Last, at Bishop’s Pool, we noted about 10 Blackbirds as we were pulling in, along with Chaffinches. At the pool itself were the expected waterfowl: Lots of Coots, along with 15-20 Pintail, 5 Wigeon, Shovelers, and Teal. There were fewer Teal than expected, but still several dozen out in the open. Elsewhere in the area were Woodpigeon, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, and Robin. Scanning the surrounding farmland, we noted a flock of Skylark that had taken off, and the Peregrine Falcon that may have set them off. There was a Grey Wagtail back at the pool then too.
With time running down till the birders’ luncheon, a handful of us hustled over to the back of the pool, by the reeds, to see if we could find Ferruginous Duck. When we reached the reeds, we quickly found where the majority of the Teal were hiding. I’d guess it had to have been over a hundred Teal took off in small groups. And in one of those groups, sure enough, we noticed a lone Ferruginous Duck!
TOTAL BIRD SPECIES: 50
Western Marsh Harrier
Common Black-headed Gull