The rain was pouring down and the clouds looked very ominous as I drove into Paphos to pick up David and Anne from their hotel in central Paphos. I had intended that our first stop would be a walk around the Headland and this did not exactly look practical! Thinking quickly we decided to head for Evretou Dam instead as I had heard of recent sightings of raptors in the area and hopefully the rain would have moved eastwards by the time we got there. That set the tone for the day really with the best made plans having to be changed at times to accommodate the unsettled weather.
On the way to Evretou we passed through several villages and stopped to check the valleys. We had some great views of Serins, Stonechat, Chiffchaffs and heard several Cetti’s Warblers, while the fir tree of a nearby garden harboured a male Sardinian Warbler. As we drove along Chaffinches seemed to fly from every road side tree and orchard highlighting that so many of the birds that winter in Cyprus and delight the locals are actually very common to birders from Northern Europe. Just before we reached the Dam two birds of preys appeared above the ridges to our left. We parked quickly and were treated to two Long-legged Buzzards who glided and floated over the area enabling us to watch them and check on key identification points . One of them kindly landed as well and was watched through the ‘scope. At the Dam itself we were greeted by five Crag Martins flying around but the only bird on the water was a Little Grebe. Several Chukars were calling in the area and David managed to locate one so we could examine it through the ‘scope. More Cetti’s and Sardinian Warblers were heard calling. As darkening clouds approached we returned to the car and headed back into Paphos and along the motorway to Paphos Sewage Works.
Our time here was not as rewarding as it could have been as strong winds were getting up ahead of the rain that was to hamper our birding of the Paphos Plain area. Twelve Cattle Egret were feeding in the Alfalfa fields and roosting on the farmer’s machinery. A Peregrine Falcon flew above us being harassed by a Common Kestrel. There were many Hooded Crows and Wood Pigeons around as usual and Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and White Wagtails flew over the fields dashing down into the crops to feed hidden from our view. As the rain got harder we retreated to the car and headed to Mandria, stopping to check a Common Buzzard sitting on a post, more hardy to the elements than we were!
Driving down to Lark Corner at Mandria we came across 16 Golden Plover sitting in the ploughed fields. The Steppe Grey Shrike that had been in the area since late November decided that the weather was not to its liking and refused to be spotted. We parked and decided to eat our sandwiches until the rain and winds abated. From the car we could see many Skylarks swirling over the fields and Linnets, Greenfinches and Goldfinches settled nearby. I braved the elements to check out the larks and while telling David and Anne about a Red-throated Pipit feeding with the many Meadow Pipits they had picked up on a large raptor with pale black tipped wings. It wasn’t long before we were all following a magnificent male Hen Harrier quartering the area and putting the larks and pipits to flight. We added Shag and two Caspian Gulls to our day’s total as they sat on in the rocks in the sunshine that had now decided to show. As we left the area the Hen Harrier flew to our left, it landed and we watched it eating its prey through the ‘scope.
On to Asprokremmos Dam we continued. In the car park a very smart male Black Redstart showed off for us and a quick drive around the area behind the dam added Corn Bunting and Spanish Sparrows. We walked behind the car park and looked over the Dam where Yellow-legged Gulls and Great Cormorants were seen. I also picked out a Common Kingfisher but unfortunately it flew out of sight before David and Anne could find it. Sardinian Warblers and Stonechat were patrolling the area and yet again probably the most common species was the Chaffinch with many feeding in the conifers around the car park. Now the sun was shining and we decided to head to Kensington Cliffs for a glimpse of a Griffon Vulture and possible Cyprus Warbler.
Fortunately one of the few Griffons now left on Cyprus duly obliged us with a fly past as we stood on the cliffs but although we heard several Cyprus Warblers and saw the tails of others as they disappeared back into the bushes one wouldn’t stay out of cover long enough for us to get our binoculars or scope onto it. We did however train the telescope on the Akrotiri Peninsula and easily picked out the Greater Flamingos on the Salt Lake (thank you Swarovski!) As the light faded I headed to Paphos and left David and Anne back at their hotel.
As a postscript I was then pleased to hear from them that they returned to Mandria the following day and were able to get photos of the Steppe Grey Shrike in more clement weather conditions.
Guide: Jane Stylianou
Date: Monday, January 24, 2011
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