Cyprus 11 – 18 November 2001 General:
Cheap Last minute holiday for Winter Sun, Stayed at the Pavemar Hotel in Limassol which was full of “gentle” folk enjoying 3-4 week Holidays. Thank goodness I was only there for the Birding.
I Hired a Suzuki Type jeep for the week through my travel company (First Choice) at around £20/Day, which was fairly steep (note – careful about excess if you hire from the street) However I was given a free upgrade to a Mitsubishi Pajero 2.8 Turbo Diesel – which I “enjoyed”. You need 4WD for a lot of the Sites.
It had rained earlier in the day on the 11th but we had continuous Hot and still weather up until the 17th when a strong “northerly” kept the temperatures down though it was still very sunny and hot in sheltered spots. It should be said that the Island at this time was very dry with very little fresh water except in some of the reservoirs even the reed beds were dried out. The Troodos Mountains were cool with a bit more water.
Finding Birds in Cyprus (Gosney, D) (GBP5.00) – From Natural history bookshop, Good for Where only at this time of Year.
The Birds of Cyprus (Flint,Peter R/ E2) (GBP24.00) – From Natural history bookshop, good for Taxonomy and what, Where and When.
Birds of Britain and Europe 1997 Edition – Hienzel, Fitter, And Parslow, Good Field Guide
Birds of Europe – Lars Jonsson, Good Field Guide
The MacMillan Birders Guide to European and Middle Eastern Birds. Indispensable.
Also Ken Tucker’s – December 2000 Trip (see OSME web site trip reports at https://osme.org ) – report which proved to be really useful – Thanks Ken if you read this.
Refer to Literature quoted above for site details/maps, Place names taken from INSIGHT Travel Map of Cyprus
Ladies Mile Beach, As you approach this from Limassol you pass a lorry park next to the tip around here was good for a gentle start into the birding. There is also a gull roost on the pools prior to the beach proper. Driving down the beach (or the road running parallel to it is fun and there are many waders and LBJs to be seen. At the bottom of the beach you enter:
Akrotiri Salt Pans, When I visited here there was little water in the pans and the Flamingos were very distant, generally I found the seaward side of the pans to be disappointing. At the Edge of the Salt Pan is:
Bishop’s Pool, The Nuns at the monastery were obliging if not weary of birders. However the dogs on the farm track were less accommodating and deterred me from accessing the pools (I hate dogs) however continue past the “house” and there is a hole in the fence. Go through this and the orchard and you will end up at the pool – I went on a Saturday and there were farm people around; as I had sneaked in I did not feel comfortable there, and after a quick scan I Left. There wasn’t a great deal there anyway except a Grey Heron and some Pochard.
Akrotiri Reed Bed, Following the tracks into the dry reed bed you can walk out a long way. This was good for the Harrier roost. At this time of year the birds start to appear at 4.15 onwards.
I also had Moustached warbler here – I used this site as an end to most days to watch the roost and then drove back via the Ladies mile beach into Limassol.
Fasouri Reed Bed, again a really dry reed bed, I walked out into the middle of it on one occasion nothing there except one Moustached warbler.
West of Akrotiri, Generally better Irrigated and is much lusher than the east. To get to Pafos, follow the A6 or B6The B6 is much nicer but the A6 (motorway) is quicker – Stopping off in good-looking habitat can be rewarding. Fisherman and few birds including one White Muscovy duck frequented the Germasogeia dam behind Limassol!
Quarry Beach, Wallcreeper, Griffons, Cyrus Warbler, Peregrines etc Very good Place. You Cannot get into Kensington Cliffs at all (unless you have a pass) Head out east from Episkopi and park up on the cliffs to get an Idea of where you are (the road leads to the mineral extraction area) park at the top of the road and walk down. You may be asked some questions when you come back up.
Pafos Airport Site, This Site to the coastal Side of Paphos (pafos) Airport is supposed to be good for Black Francolin, However I arrived about 10.00am and didn’t see a thing except Linnets, Pipits, Woodpigeon etc. Mind you I didn’t try hard. Note-the little coffee shop at the junction of the B6/Airport road serves traditional Turkish Coffee in the old way. Is good.
Aspokremmos Dam, A big area requiring 4WD. I generally found it a quiet place for birds. The water level was very low when I went and the general area was very dry and parched. I tried to find the village of Foinikas from the signposts at Anarita, but I think that they had blocked the road of for quarrying purposes. However I got as far as I could and scanned around the barren dry farmland about One K after the turn off I started scanning all the rocky walls and “kopjes” and after about one hour finally picked up a Female Finsch’s wheatear – I found the bird to have more of an eye-stripe than I anticipated but this is mentioned in Macmillan also the tail cocking and bobbing is diagnostic.
The drive around the back of the Reservoir is good but is easy to get lost in. Stopping at likely places is rewarding, The Pools were excellent with Black Francolin, Wild fowl, Coot, Moorhen, and various warblers.
Polis/Akamas, Generally Quiet but very beautiful, I did not see anything here which I did not see anywhere else nice though and worth visiting even just for Aphrodite’s bath. If you have a 4WD the old coast road is fun 35Km of dirt track and Z bends – again stop off as required.
Larnaca Salt Pans, The Salt Pans with their Flamingos is a must as are the waders there. However Once again the area was generally bone dry and nothing special was seen.
Spiro’s Pools, Dry – no birds except meadow pipits and larks (Possible flock of Calandra Lark – but lost in Sweet Corn.
Larnaca Sewage Works, Best water site that I visited – drive to Spiro’s Pools and it is on your left, you can’t miss it has a hide. I was too early for White-headed duck and There were no Great Black-headed Gulls but Wow there was plenty of other stuff – well worth a couple of visits (which I regret that I didn’t)
Other Places around the Area, I desperately drove around most of this end of the Island looking into the Dams mention on the Maps and in the Literature – All dry and empty of birds, except Achna Dam. Unfortunately I had picked the 15th of November to visit this site near the Green Line – the 15th is the anniversary of the Turkish invasion and not a good time to go near this area, I saw both troops (UN) and “civilians” around the dam and did not think it wise to stay.
General Birding Summary for the Time of my Visit
An enjoyable weeks break but luckily I did not have too high an expectation of vast lists and many lifers, this is possibly the quietest time for birds on Cyprus with Migration and Breeding over and Winter visitors just arriving. It is also very dry with few pools/reservoirs holding water and attracting birds. The Dave Gosney Guide is generally geared up for Migration but is useful for orientation, however if it states a good migrant spot and does not mention other resident or wintering birds it is general not worth going. I would like to re-iterate though it is a lovely Island and the People are fantastic, the infrastructure and ease of movement makes it a sound birding spot at anytime.
CAUTION – A lot of the sites are either near various airports and/or Military areas (Sovereign Bases) Care should be taken. I was questioned three times when I was there – but being ex-military myself I was allowed to continue watching (NO PHOTOGRAPHY – DO NOT TAKE YOUR CAMERA WHEN BIRDING THESE AREAS – at the time of writing 12 Plane spotters are in detention in Greece for photographing aeroplanes).
Monday 12th Akrotiri/Fasouri area
Tuesday 13th – Aspro Dam
Wednesday 14th – Polis and Area
Thursday 15th – Larnaca
Friday 16th – Spiro’s Pools and General
Saturday 17th – Tourist bit
Sunday – Departure
Taxonomic List – From Flint and Stewart
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Two at Aspro Dam Pools, many at Larnaca Sewage pits.
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
One at Larnaca Sewage pits
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis)
Several at Larnaca Sewage pits
European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii)
Common around the rocky parts of the Coast
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Two at Larnaca Sewage pits
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Several at Larnaca Sewage pits, One at Bishops Pool. Also Seen on Germosgeia dam
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)
Many on Salt lakes at Larnaca and Akrotiri. c100 at Larnaca Sewage pits
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Four at Larnaca Sewage pits, two at Akrotiri Salt Pans o the 16th
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Seven at Akrotiri Salt Pans on the 12th, several at Larnaca Sewage pits
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common on all fresh water Sites
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Many (150+) at Larnaca Sewage pits
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Five were at Akrotiri Salt Pans on the 12th and a small number at Larnaca Sewage pits.
Common Teal (Anas crecca)
Common on all fresh water Sites
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Eight at Bishops Pools on the 16th
Ferruginous Pochard (Aythya nyroca)
Six at Larnaca Sewage pits
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Several at Larnaca Sewage pits
Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
One seen over Lady’s mile beach on the 12th
Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus)
Eight seen over Kensington Cliffs on the 14th
Western Marsh-Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Seen Once or twice at Akrotiri Salt Pans
Northern (Hen) Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Up to Four Seen at the Akrotiri roost Site – all ringtails or sub adults. Also One Male seen at Kensington Cliffs on the 14th
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
One seen briefly at Akrotiri on the 12th, Flying near the Bishops Pool Area.
Common (Steppe) Buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus)
One at Akrotiri Salt Pans on the 16th
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Common and Widespread
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus brookei)
Pair at Kensington Cliffs on the 14th – Note Sub Species F.p.brookei.
Chukar (Alectoris chukar cypriotes)
Common and widespread – found in variable habitat
Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus)
One seen and heard in the scrubby area around the pools at Aspro Dam 13th and 17th
Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Four on the pools at Aspro Dam on the 13th and 17th. Also a few at Larnaca Sewage pits
Common Coot (Fulica atra)
Present at most fresh water sites
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Three at Larnaca Sewage pits
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Eighty plus on the pools besides Ladies Mile Beach on the 12th also a few at Larnaca Salt Pans on the 15th
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Six seen at Akrotiri Salt Pans on the 17th
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
3 at Larnaca Sewage pits, and two at pools by the Tip at the start of Ladies Mile Beach on the 17th
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Forty + at the Larnaca Salt Pans
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Eighty + at the Larnaca Salt Pans, Also 4 at Larnaca Sewage pits
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Two at Larnaca Sewage pits
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
Often seen around the Coast. Highest count was 10 around the Fishing Boats at Quarry Beach on the 15th.
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans)
Two Definite birds at Pissouri on the 15th, Otherwise uncertain status due to next species and Siberian Gull
Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus)
One Definite Adult in Non-Breeding Plumage at Larnaca Sewage pits, See Heinzel, Fitter and Parslow (1997 edition)
Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Common around Built up coastal areas.
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
One along Limassol Waterfront on the 12th
Rock Dove (Columba livia gaddi)
Some “purer” specimens to be seen around Aspro Dam.
Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
Many at Pathos airport site on the 13th, fairly common in the forested areas.
Eurasian Collared-dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Mostly seen on the eastern edge of Limosol, often seen in and around smaller villages.
Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis cantarella)
Not that Common, but a few seen around ploughed fields on the coast.
Wood Lark (Lullula arborea pallida)
Common bird of higher ground and wooded areas. Seemed especially common around Episkopi and Kourin Stadium.
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata cypriaca)
Common and Widespread.
Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)
Two at pools by the Tip at the start of Ladies Mile Beach on the 17th
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Common on Coastal areas.
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Common and Widespread
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Two were found in the car park area of the Caledonian falls
Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes cypriotyes)
Two seen at Caledonian Falls.
Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
Two were seen at the Caledonian Falls.
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Very Common and widespread.
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros gibraltariensis)
Common around any rocky areas.
Common Stonechat (Saxicola torquata rubicola)
Common and Widespread. A few Siberian Stonechat (S.t. maura)
Finsch’s Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii)
One seen at “foinikas” on dry stonewalls after much searching.
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula)
A few seen around the agricultural lands on the coast but more common in the mountains.
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
One or two seen at Akrotiri Salt Pans, this species is supposed to be a common winter visitor but I think that I was a bit early.
Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti)
One heard at Akrotiri reed beds, one was also seen by the Eucalyptus trees by the “Fasouri turn” of Akrotiri.
Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola) (Cisticola juncidis)
Common in suitable habitat.
Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon)
One at Fasouri, and One at Akrotiri Salt Pans, both on the 17th.
Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata)
Fairly Common bird, which was seen most days.
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
Common in Scrubby or coastal areas.
Cyprus Warbler (Sylvia melanothorax)
Common in scrubby or coastal areas, however can be confused with the above species, as call and Jizz are similar.
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
I saw this bird at a number of spots ranging from low land scrub to High forests. Also one “tristis” was seen at the pools at Aspro dam.
Coal Tit (Parus ater cypriotes)
Common in the mountains
Note – Endemic Sub Species
Great Tit (Parus major aphrodites)
Two near Aphrodites rock (appropriately enough) and Akrotiri Salt pans, fairly common in the woods
Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria)
One seen at Quarry Beach – Near the bottom looking up – needs work and time.
Short-toed Tree-creeper (Certhia brachydactyla dorotheae)
One seen at Caledonian Falls
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius glaszneri)
Common in the Mountains
Note Endemic Sub Species
Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)
Common bird – Less frequent on the coast
Eurasian Jackdaw (Corvus monedula soemmerringii)
Common around Cliffs, large flocks at Pissouri and Lakki
Hooded Crow (Corvus corone sardonius)
Common in all areas
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common at lower levels – large flocks often seen.
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus biblicus)
Common around Farmland and Small Villages,
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Common to Abundant at most sites except for those drier ones.
European Serin (Serinus serinus)
One small Flock seen up near Troodos, and I heard a flock as I was Driving up the side of the Aspro Dam.
European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
A few pairs around Akrotiri Salt Pans, plus a few in other spots around the Island, but nowhere common.
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis niediecki)
Probably The Most Common bird on the Island – Seen everywhere.
Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
I saw most of them in the Mountains where flocks of 10 to 20 birds were not uncommon.
Eurasian Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
Fairly common on suitable habitat. Large flocks at Pafos airport site.
Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra guillemardi)
On Female was seen flying over and calling at the Caledonian Falls.
Note Endemic Sub Species
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
A Flock of 20 were seen around Fasouri reed beds.
Corn Bunting (Emberiza Calandra)
One Bird heard Calling – But I can’t exactly remember where?
The Island seems good for Butterflies, however I did not take a guide but the species that I did identify were: