Cyprus Trip Report
10 – 17th May 2004

This was our second spring visit to western Cyprus, the first trip was slightly earlier and although the weather was a bit unreliable there were plenty of birds around. I was hoping that as this visit was a bit further into the migration period I would pick up a few of the migrants I missed first time round. In the event the weather was a lot better, but the birding was not nearly as exciting! There was neither the variety or the numbers of birds that were present before. Nevertheless, some luck and some good ‘gen’ meant I did see three new species and also saw some old favourites.

Saturday 10th April:
On arriving at Paphos Airport (mid-pm) one of first birds we saw was a strange looking wheatear, which turned out to be a pale-throated Pied Wheatear (var. ‘vittata‘). Outside our hotel that evening we saw Common Sandpiper along shoreline plus Cetti’s Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Sardinian Warbler and Linnet all on a scrubby area next to hotel.

Sunday 11th April:
An early morning walk around the scrubby area adjoining the hotel produced several more species including two Chukars, singing Moustached Warbler, three Blackcaps, Serin plus a Kingfisher on rocks along the coast.

Later that morning I visited Paphos headland where I saw a few Black-headed Wagtails plus a Blue-headed Wagtail, Nightingales, Swifts, a Whitethroat, plenty of Crested Larks and Corn Buntings. However, the best bird was a Masked Shrike seen at close quarters catching insects from a small bush. I met a local birder who said that the spring passage had been fairly quiet there had been no reports of any harriers, bee-eaters or flycatchers so far. The numbers of other passerines were also comparatively low.

A late afternoon walk around the headland east of Coral Bay tourist area proved quite rewarding. There were numerous wheatears, mostly Northern but also a few Cyrpus Pied Wheatears and one Isabelline Wheatear in a small quarry. Other birds included Black Francolin, Hoopoe, Short-toed Lark, several Black-headed Wagtails and Cyprus Warbler.

Monday 12th April:
Enthused by yesterday’s evening visit I returned to the Coral Bay headland early morning. There was no sign of the Isabelline Wheatear, but new birds included a female Marsh Harrier, seven Purple Herons flying north and a group of 12 Glossy Ibis which flying over the sea. The latter two species flew out from a thick sea-mist, which eventually reached our stretch of the Cyprus coast at lunchtime. Another 14 Glossy Ibis were seen from the hotel during the afternoon.

An evening visit to Paphos Lighthouse area was fairly fruitless, apart from a Wryneck and a Tawny Pipit in the ruins opposite the bungalow. However, we did meet a couple of other birders who told us there were two Common Cranes and one Demoiselle Crane at Mandria. They also told us about a Long-legged Buzzard nest site between Paphos and Polis.

Tuesday 13th April:
Daytrip along the coast east of Paphos. First stop was Mandria to see the cranes, which we eventually found feeding in a barley field close to the beach. The height of the barley meant that only their necks were visible. Nearby a flock of seven Cattle Egrets and nine Little Egrets sat on some offshore rocks and a Woodlark flew over. A car with French birders turned up searching for a Desert Wheatear that had been seen there the previous day, but they seemed much more excited about the prospect of seeing the Demoiselle Crane!

Further along the old coast road we stopped at the Asprokemmas Dam, the pool just below the dam was dry so we tried the area further south along the dried up river. After a rather bumpy drive under the new motorway we came across some scattered pools that held a variety of waders. Several Ruff and a Wood Sandpiper were feeding in the first pool and further on I added Little-ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper and Greenshank to the list. There were plenty of other wetland species too, including Kingfisher, Little Egrets, a Squacco Heron and Great Reed Warbler. I met another birder who told me he had just been watching a Little Crake on the first pool I had passed. I told him about the Demoiselle Crane at Mandria and he left to search for it. I went back to the car and, as instructed, drove right up to the first pool but didn’t see the Little Crake.

We then drove to the ancient Roman site of Curium where I saw Alpine Swift and several Cyprus Pied Wheatears. On the way back to the hotel we stopped off briefly at the pools near the Asprokemmos Dam again and this time I did manage to see the Little Crake.

Wednesday 14th April:
A day-trip to the Akamas Peninsular produced Rock Partridge, another new bird for me. Four were heard calling form the rocky slopes along the coastal track, but despite their size they were surprisingly difficult to see. After some searching I eventually spotted one on a rock in the shade of a pine tree. It was surprisingly quiet around the caravan site near Aphrodite’s Pool, with very few passerines. But I did see Bonelli’s Warbler, Northern Wheatear and two Hoopoes there. Nearby a Scops Owl was calling intermittently and a singing Olivaceous Warbler was present around Aphrodite’s Pool.

Friday 15th April:
This morning I made a trip to Theletra to find the Long-legged Buzzard site. A pair was reported to be breeding in a gorge next to the old abandoned village, west of the Paphos to Polis road. Whilst searching for the right viewpoint I saw and heard a Great-spotted Cuckoo. Another birder arrived and directed me to the right gorge, where we watched for sometime but only saw a Kestrel. We decided it was probably worth driving down to the bottom of the gorge and looking back up. After several fruitless minutes the other birder had to leave, but I decided to stay a bit longer. Then miraculously the rusty coloured ‘intermediate’ female appeared over the hill carrying prey. I watched for a few minutes as she landed near the mouth of the gorge and started to tear at her prey.

Saturday 16th April: An early morning visit to Paphos headland proved disappointing once again.

©Chris Gregory.