Cyprus, 4-10 April 2007

 

Back to The Somerset Birder

 

Trip Participants:  James & Emma Packer; Andrew & Wendy Slade

 

James Packer

james.packer@somersetbirder.co.uk

http://www.somersetbirder.co.uk

 

Andrew Slade

slades@seaside7.freeserve.co.uk

http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/burnhambirds

 

 

Summary

 

Cyprus is just nice and easy.  In April the birding is easy with a few quality birds, attractive Mediterranean spring scenery, good food and nice weather (sometimes!).  Admittedly, there may be better birding places not too far away in Europe, but if you’re after a hassle-free spring Eastern Mediterranean birding experience you can’t do a lot better.

 

Logistics

 

If you fancy staying in a cramped holiday complex, sleeping on an uncomfortable pull out sofa in the living room, book any one of the zillions of package deals available.

 

We decided we’d had enough of fake holiday representatives long ago. They can stick their welcome meetings (rip-off coach tour sales pitch) where the sun most certainly does not shine!

 

We flew with a tourist charter simply because it was the cheapest and flew at reasonable times from Bristol airport.

 

We booked a pre paid hire car through Easycar that was picked up at the airport and drove straight to the fabulous Villa Kianos, owned and maintained by Theanan Seaview Villas.  We could not recommend these villas highly enough.  Situated minutes from Cape Drepanum they are far enough away from Paphos and Coral Bay to be quiet, excellent birding 30 seconds walk from the villa and private gardens with our own large pool.  With four people this proved cheaper than any package and the quality difference would have been incomparable. Villa Kianos was a huge three bedroom villa and we paid much less than a standard package deal.

 

Our Easycar was a Europcar Kia.  It had 80,000+ miles on the clock and with a knackered gear box.  I’m used to Europcar providing nearly new cars, but not so on Cyprus.  Our theory was that it was a larger car than we’d booked and with all the dents and scratches that were on it they wouldn’t notice any more we added.  It turned out to be OK and we took it off road plenty of times and grounded it several.  If you can afford a proper four-wheel drive I’d seriously recommend it.

 

Birdline Cyprus

 

The number is (357) 26323927.  This is a cheap information service that seems to run on a non-profit basis.  The number works from mobiles within Cyprus and from the UK.  However it relies on information being left (obviously) and information is usually at least 24 hours old.  A number of major rarities were present on the island during our trip that we never knew about, despite phoning this service several times (including Dunn’s Lark, first for Europedoh!).

 

Sites visited

 

You can read about most of these in either Gosney (1995 check) or Stagg & Hearl (2001) but these books are now very out of date and don’t include a couple of sites that you will probably need to know how to find.  The following is a bit of extra information that is generally not in these two books.

 

Cape Drepanum

Also seen written as Cape Drapanum, I’m not sure which is correct.  This is the area around Ayios Yeoryios church, which is signposted from the main road (E714).  We visited this site every morning as we were staying only minutes up the road.  I suspect this site is now better than Paphos headland, not least because you can enter freely and wander where you like.  Some major rarities turn up here, the best we could find was a singing River Warbler.  Anywhere is good for migrants, especially the road past the posh villa that heads back towards Coral Bay direction.

 

Paphos Headland

We only visited once.  The place seemed full of birders’ who moaned about “how it used to be so much better than this … ”.  This was enough for me to leave them to it.  The site now has a fence around it, but you can still sneak in through the broken swing gate on the west side.  Apparently this is tolerated, but it just didn’t feel right, my advice would be to find another site to visit.

 

Baths’ of Aphrodite

Hasn’t changed much from the site guides. 

 

Asprokremnos Dam and Pools

Again, hasn’t changed much from the site guides.  A generally disappointing area this year, with only one small pool that had any water.  Considering the number of birds that were around this small pool, it is a shame that the site cannot be managed for conservation benefit.  I guess we should be glad access is tolerated at all, and the site is not stuffed full of lime sticks and mist nets.

 

Anarita Park

This is a site you will read about or hear mentioned.  First things, it is not a park.  It is an area of rocky hillside in the middle of nowhere.  Directions are difficult, but  try this:  Turn off the main B6 road east of Paphos towards Agia Varvara.  This road passes underneath the motorway.  At this point clock the distance and drive exactly 3km north.  There will be an unassuming dirt track on the right hand side.  Take this and drive as far as you can.  Eventually the road descends into a valley. At this point it looks dodgy to take a car further and you can see a large goat pen on the hillside opposite.  This is the area where most birders find the specialties.  Admittedly we didn’t, but that was our bad luck.

 

Paphos Sewage Works

From Acheleia take the road towards the coast that is just to the left of the large Keo sign.  This road goes close to the airport and you can see the airport traffic tower on your left.  Follow the road that bends sharply to the right.  The sewage works are over the fence on your left.  On the road down check out the bizarre hut with the grotesque plastic models hung outside.  A scene straight from Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

 

Phassouri reedbeds

This site is good for such a tiny visible patch of open water.  It seems a shame that not more is done for conservation at this site, but I understand that the place has only just been stopped from being drained altogether. A couple of hides and some reed management could do wonders.  It’s much the same as in the site guides.

 

Akrotiri Lake and Ladies Mile

Being honest, this whole place is a total dump.  It does get good birds, but we didn’t find it an attractive place to go birding.  Almost unchanged from the site guides.

 

Bird List

 

Teal Anas crecca

            One at the Asprokremmos Dam on the 8th.

 

Garganey Anas querquedula

            Seven where seen at Phassouri Reedbeds on 6th. Passage birds included 20 north at Cape Drepanum on 7th and 2 north here on 9th.

 

Shoveler Anas clypeata

            There were seven at Phassouri Reedbed on 6th.

 

Pochard Aythya farina

            One Phassouri Reedbed on the 6th

 

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca

            There were eleven at Phassouri Reedbed on 6th.

 

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

            A single at Phassouri reedbeds on the 6th.

 

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

            2 at the Asprokremmos Dam on 5th and 5 at Phassouri Reedbeds on the 6th.

 

Scapoli’s Shearwater Caleonectris scapoli

            One flew north past Carol Bay on the 11th.

 

Yelkouan Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan

            Two singles north past Cape Drepanum (9th) and Coral Bay (11th).

 

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

            9 flew north at Coral Bay on the 10th.

 

Night Heron Nyciticorax nyciticorax

            There was one at the Asprokremmos Dam on the 5th and 8th with 3 there on the 11th. One flew in off the sea at Paphos Headland on 8th and two flew north at Lempa on 10th.

 

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

            One flew north at Coral Bay on the 8th.

 

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

            The only sighting was of two at Phassouri Reedbed on 6th.

 

Little Egret Egretta garzeltta

            A single was seen at the Baths of Aphrodites on the 7th,and six were at Cape Drepanum on the 9th.

 

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

            7 north, Cape Drepanum on the 7th, and 6 north at Coral Bay on the 8th.

 

Purple Heron  Ardea purpurea

            Passage noted on two days, with 40 north on the 7th, and 16 north on the 11th at Coral Bay.

 

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

            1 north, Cape Drepanum, and 5 north at Coral Bay on the 7th; 11 north, Coral Bay on the 8th.

 

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber

            There were 100 on Akitiri Salt Lake on the 6th.

 

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus

            Singles were seen at Cape Drepanum (6th); Phassouri Reedbed (6th); Akirtiri Salt Lake (6th); Avkas Gorge (10th); and Carol Bay (10th).

 

Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus

            A single at Coral Bay on th 9th and 10th.

 

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo

            A single at the Asprokremmos Dam on 5th.

 

Osprey Pandion haliaetus

            Two flew north at Cape Drepanum on the 6th.

 

Lesser Kestrel Faloc naumanni

            One flew north at Cape Drepanum on 7th.

 

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

            Very common. You couldn’t look towards the sky without seeing at least one Kestrel.

 

Eleanora’s Falcon Falco eleonorae

            One over the villa on 9th was an early migrant.

 

Peregrine Falco peregrinus

            Single at Cape Drepanum on 7th.

 

Quail

            Three records: Singles at Cape Drepanum on the 5th and 8th, and 2 on Paphos Headland on the 8th.

 

Chukar Alectoris chukar

            Seen in ones and twos throughout our stay at various places.

 

Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus

            Plenty of birds were heard calling, but generally difficult to see. Good views were had at Cape Drepanum, Coral Bay and Phassouri reedbed.

 

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 

            The only records were on the 6th, when we saw 30 at Phassouri reedbed, and 11 at Akrotiri Salt Lake.

 

Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus

            One was seen flying north along the coast at Cape Drepanum on 5th.

 

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

            Two were seen at Phassouri Reedbed on 6th.

 

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus

            5 Akitiri Salt Lake on the 6th.

 

Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus

            Six at Paphos Sewage Works on the 8th and 11th.

 

Little Stint Calidris minuta

            There was a single at Phassouri Reedbed on the 6th, and 25 at Akitiri Salt Lake on the same day.

 

Ruff Philomachus pugnax

            12 Akitiri Salt Lake on the 6th.

 

Snipe Gallinago gallinago

            Eight were at Phassouri Reedbed on 6th.

 

Great Snipe

            One gave excellent views amongst the Common Snipe at Phassouri Reedbed on 6th.

 

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

            One Paphos Headland on the 8th.

 

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola

            20 were at Phassouri reedbed on 6th.

 

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

            One was at the Asprokremmos Dam on 5th.

 

Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis

            Common around the coast. 150 were seen on the colony at Cape Drepanum.

 

Baltic Gull Larus fuscuc fuscus

            3 Akitiri Salt Lake on the 6th.

 

Black-headed Gull Larus ridbundus

            3 Akitiri Salt Lake on the 6th.

 

Slender-billed Gull Larus genei

            Four flew north past Cape Drepanum on the 9th.

 

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis

            Two flew north past Cape Drepanum on the 9th.

 

Rock Dove Columba livia

            20 at Cape Drepanum all week.

 

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur

            3 at Coral Bay on the 10th, with 10 here the next day.

 

Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius

            There were 2 at the Asprokremmos Dam on 5th; 1 Symiges Valley on 7th; and 1 at Cape Drepanim on 9th.

 

Barn Owl Tyto alba

            One in the evening of 4th near Pegia.

 

Scops Owl Otus scops

            Always calling outside the villa at night, and a single calling at the Baths of Aphrodite’s on the 7th.

 

Little Owl Athene noctua

            One at the Asprokremmos Dam on 5th.

 

Common Swift  Apus apus

            Seen in generally small numbers throughout our stay.

 

Alpine Swift Apus melba

            2 were at the Asprokremmos Dam on 5th, 6 flew north over the villa on 8th, and a single at Paphos Headland on 10th.

 

Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

            1, Coral Bay on 5th; 2 Paphos Harbour on 8th; 1, Cape Drepanum on 9th; and 3 Paphos harbour on 10th.

 

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis

            The female put in regular displays for us at Paphos Harbour/Headland on the 8th and 10th.

 

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus

            Six flew north at the Bath of Aphrodites on the 7th.

 

European Bee-eater Merops aplaster

            One north Cape Drepanum on the 7th.

 

Roller Coracias garrulous

            There were two at the Asprokremmos Dam on 5th; and one around the Villa on 9th.

 

Hoopoe Upupa epops

            Seen regularly throughout, with one or two at the Villa, Coral Bay, Asprokremmos Dam, and Arinita Park.

 

Wryneck Jynx torquilla

            We saw three singles at the Villa, Avkas Gorge, and Agios Georios.

 

Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla

            We saw several small flocks, the largest of which were 14 at Cape Drepanum; and 25 at the Asprokremmos Dam.

 

Crested Lark Galerida cristata

            Common throughout, often singing from telegraph wires. The biggest flock was 40 at Cape Drepanum on the 10th.

 

Sand Martin Riparia riparia

            5 north, Cape Drepanum on the 7th; and 30 north here on the 9th.

 

Swallow Hihrundo rustica

            Very common. There was a small passage north on each morning at Cape Drepanum, the highest counts were 200 north in 1 ½ hours on 6th and 100 north on 7th.

 

House Martin Delichon urbicum

            Small numbers seen throughout our trip. 3 at Tomb of the Kings on 5th; 15 Cape Drepanum on 6th; 15 north, Cape Drepanum on 7th and 20 north, Coral Bay on 7th.

 

Red-rumped Swallow Cecrposis daurica

            Seen regularly, especially at Cape Drepanum where there appeared to be a small passage of birds north, 50 on 7th, 20 on the 9th were the largest counts.

 

Blue-headed Wagtail Motacilla flava

            Up to 50 daily at Cape Drepanum.

           

Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla flava feldegg

            Very common on the coast. Recorded daily at Cape Drepanum with between 30 and 50 being seen, except for the 7th whenat least a 1000 were either grounded or moving north. Other counts include 2, Phassouri Reedbed on 6th, and 45 on Paphos Headland on 9th.

 

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris

            2, Coral Bay on 5th; 1, Cape Drepanum on 6th; 1, Akortiri Salt Lake on 6th; and 2, Cape Drepanum on 7th.

 

Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis

            Small numbers on passage. 5 Arinita Park on 5th; 15, Cape Drepanum on 6th; 15 north, Cape Drepanum on 7th; 4 north, Coral Bay on 8th; 10+ north, Cape Drepanum on 9th.

 

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus

            2-6+ at Cape Drepanum between the 5th-7th. At least 4 on Paphos Headland on the 8th.

 

Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos

            Very common. Maximum counts were at least 10 at Cape Drepanum and Coral Bay on the 7th and 9th respectively.

 

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros

            A male was at the Asprokremmos Dam on the 5th.

 

Common Redstart Phoenicurus  phoenicurus

            There was 1 around the villa on the 5th; 1 at The tomb of the kings on the 5th; and 2 at Cape Drepanum on the 7th.

 

Whinchat Saxocola rubetra

            Several on the coast, 2 at Coral Bay on the 5th with 1 here on the 7th, and 3 at Cape Drepanum on the 7th and another on the 9th.

 

Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina

            Several singles were seen at Cape Drepanum (5th), Phassouri Reedbed (6th) and Paphos Headland (8th).

 

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

            2 at Sea Caves on 4th. 1 at Cape Drepanum, 3 at Sea Caves, and 2 at Tomb of the Kings on 5th. 1 at Cape Drepanum on 6th. 1 at the Villa on 7th. 1 at Cape Drepanum on 8th.

 

Cyprus Wheatear

            Seen throughout our stay in small numbers, especially in rocky areas.

 

Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica

            Small numbers were seen regularly around the coast. 1, Temple of the Kings on 5th; 1 at Cape Drepanum on 6th; 2 Phassouri Reedbed on 6th; 1 at Cape Drepanum on 7th; 7 at Coral Bay on 7th; 1 at Cape Drepanum on 10th and 1 at Paphos Headland on 10th.

 

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius

            There was a pair at Arinita Park on the 5th.

 

Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti

            A male was at Cape Drepanum on the 5th.

 

Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis

            Small numbers were seen all along the coast.

 

River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis

            A singing male was at Cape Drepanum on the 6th.

 

Savi’s Warlber Locustella luscinioides

            Singing males at Coral Bay on 5th and 10th; Cape Drepanum on 7th and 9th.

 

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

            2, Cape Drepanum (6th); 5+, Phassouri Reedbed (6th); 3, Cape Drepanum (7th); 6+, Cape Drepanum (9th); 1, Aspro Dam (11th)

 

Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus

            There were 3 at Cape Drepanum on the 7th and 1 at Avkas Gorge on the 10th.

 

Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus

            One at Cape Drepanum on the 9th.

 

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais pallida

            Singles at Cape Drepanum (6th); Symies Valley (7th); and 3+ at Avkas Gorge (10th).

 

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla

            A very common bird with up to 50 at Coral bay on the 10th and at 1000 in the citrus groves at Avkas Gorge on the 10th.

 

Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca

            Up to five were seen most days at Coral Bay and Cape Drepanum. There were at least 30 at Avkas Gorge on the 10th.

           

Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris

            Two singles were seen at the villa on the 7th and Coral Bay on the 10th.

 

Whitethroat Sylvia communis

            We saw a total of 8 birds along the coast during our stay.

 

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata

            There was a male at Arinita Park on the 5th, and a pair at Phassouri Reedbeds on the 6th.

 

Rüppell’s Warbler Sylvia rueppelli

            Seen on two dates, a pair were around our villa at Coral Bay on the 6th and 7th. There were also two seen at Cape Drepanum on the 6th and 7th.

 

Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax

            A pair around the Villa was seen carrying food throughout our stay, there was at least one male at Cape Drepanum, and four males at the Asprokremmos Dam.

 

Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans

            Three singles were seen at the villa (7th), Paphos Headland (8th) and Avkas Gorge (10th).

 

Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala

            Seen daily. Very common around our Villa/Sea caves area and at Cape Drepanum, at least 15-30 at each.

 

Wood Warbler Phyloscopus sibilatrix

            One in the Avkas Gorge on the 10th.

 

Chiffchaff Phyloscopus collybita

            One Cape Drepanum on the 9th.

 

Willow Warbler Phyloscopus trochilus

            One in the Avkas Gorge on the 10th.

 

Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis

            There were two at Symies Valley on the 7th and a female around the villa on the 7th.

 

Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca

            Singles were seen a Symies Valley on the 7th and Coral bay on the 9th.

 

Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata

            A single male was seen in the Symies Valley on the 7th.

 

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator

            Seen regularly throughout our stay. 1, Arinita Park on 5th; 1, Coral Bay on 5th; 1 Cape Drepanum on 6th; 2, Phassouri Reedbeds on 6th; 1 Coral Bay on 7th and 3 Cape Drepanum on 9th.

 

Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus

            The only sightings were of a pair at the Baths of Aphrodite’s and a male on the journey home from here on the 7th.

 

Hooded Crow Corvus cornix

            A very common bird seen throughout our stay.

 

Spannish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis

            There were flocks at both Coral Bay and Cape Drepanum seen daily with up to 200 birds at each site.

 

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

            One at the Aspro Dam on the 8th.

 

Serin Serinus serinus

            One in the Symies valley on the 7th.

.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

            Three were at the tomb of the kings on the 5th.

 

Linnet Carduelis cannabina

            Two records: 5 at Asprokremmos Dam on 5th; and 2 at The tomb of the kings on 5th.

 

Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana

            Seen at Cape Drepanum on two dates, with 3 here on 6th and 2 on 9th. Two were seen at Asprokremmos Dam on 8th and 11th.

 

Cretzschmar’s Bunting Emberiza caesia

            A few single were seen in dry rocky places. 1 Temple of the Kings on 5th; 1 at Cape Drepanum on 7th; and 1 at Paphos Headland on 10th.

 

Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra

            Fairly common. 20 at Arinita Park on 5th; 9 at Cape Drepanum on 7th; 4 at Cape Drepanum on 8th; and 6 Cape Drepanum on 9th.

 

 

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