A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Cyprus Birding Trip Report - Day 3 (Thursday 5th April 2018)

With our alarms jolting us awake at an ungodly hour early in the morning, bleary eyed and groggy we gathered our gear and made the journey over to the eastern side of the island, arriving at our first destination of the Cape Greco headland just after first light.
Cape Greco, Cyprus
The stunning blue waters of Cape Greco headland
Jutting out in to the Mediterranean Sea and holding the title of the most easterly point of Greek Cyprus (also the closest point to the migration mecca of Israel), Cape Greco is a migrant hotspot, well known for its impressive falls of migrant birds and rarities during the spring months. The coastal scrub that adorns the hillside holds many short staying passage migrants, and it was here that we were hoping to connect with the Ruppell’s Warblers that had so far eluded us during the trip – especially as counts of up to 18 males had been logged here just a couple of weeks prior.
Cape Greco, Cyprus
Agioi Anargyroi chapel - Cape Greco, Cyprus
Agioi Anargyroi chapel - Cape Greco, Cyprus
The picturesque Agioi Anargyroi Chapel
Parking up beside Agioi Anargyroi chapel, we set to work exploring the nearby scrub, a pair of Cyprus Warblers giving away their location with their constant harsh chakking calls as several Chiffchaffs flitted through the gorse below. 
Cyprus Warbler - Cape Greco, Cyprus
Cyprus Warbler
The scratchy song of a male Sardinian Warbler filled the air and it wasn’t long before we had our first Masked Shrike of the trip, an impressive adult perched on one of the small pines, making several sallying flights out for small insect and reptile prey.
Masked Shrike - Cape Greco, Cyprus
Masked Shrike - Having only seen a juvenile previously (at Spurn in Yorkshire) it was nice to finally connect with an adult bird
Walking up the slope to the viewpoint at the top of the hill resulted in an all too brief perched Cretzchmar’s Bunting before it flushed out of sight, while almost every other bush seemed to hold a skulking Nightingale or Lesser Whitethroat lurking unobtrusively within.

Sadly however, after a few hours spent searching we drew a blank on the Ruppell’s front once more, and after a quick stop at the chapel we headed across to the fields next to the sea, a single female Cyprus Pied Wheatear at close range all we could unearth for our efforts.
Cape Greco, Cyprus
Cape Greco, Cyprus
Acquiring some intel from local birders at the Cape Greco Visitor Centre that the nearby pines had held some interesting migrants that morning, we decided to give it a shot, hoping to relocate the Semi-collared Flycatcher and female Ruppell’s that someone else had seen there that morning.

Sadly, despite us and another birder looking, the pines were hopelessly deserted by the time we’d got there, and after an intense search only a handful of Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and a female Cyprus Warbler were all we unearthed (as well as a new hatred for pines). The adjoining scrubland revealed a pair of nesting Spectacled Warblers that we left in peace, while a familiar bubbling call directly overhead revealed a flock of Bee-eaters making landfall fresh in off the sea (sadly no Blue-cheeked amongst them).
Cape Greco, Cyprus
Cape Greco, Cyprus
Cape Greco, Cyprus
With Cape Greco itself being unusually quiet, we cut our losses and headed over to the next site of the day, Ayia Napa Sewage Works. Again, with a depressing pattern emerging, what is normally billed as a great site for migrants was exceptionally quiet during our visit, with just the usual Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers feeding amongst the pollen. Thankfully, our journey to the eastern side of Cyprus hadn’t been in vain, as a single Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler flitting in the willows at the side of the track salvaged what had been an entirely unsuccessful morning up until this point, the green-tinted tertials and silky white underparts differing from the assorted Chiffchaffs. 
Ayia Napa Sewage Works, Cyprus
At this point the road became decidedly more and more potholed, and it was with careful navigation that Alex manoeuvred the hire car to the end of the track unscathed. Rather less fortunate was the fact we had come to an abrupt dead end, the only route leading back to the exit road passing through the private and gated water treatment works. With a staff member having spotted us and denied all entry, we were forced to make a return drive the way we came, navigating the deep pot holes and steep water channels once more, stopping to scope several Ferruginous Ducks and Black-necked Grebes bobbing on the sewage works pools.
Ayia Napa Sewage Works, Cyprus
The gravel track surrounding the sewage works
With the afternoon pressing on we headed to our final site of the day – Oroklini Lake, a fantastic reserve just north of Larnaca. Before we’d even arrived several Spur-winged Plovers showed off at the side of the road (Oroklini Lake is a hotspot for this species), while several egrets powered overhead. Checking out the hide overlooking one of the pools revealed several more Spur-winged Plovers roosting in the reeds, while a small handful of Black-winged Stilts gingerly picked their way through the mud.
Oroklini Lake, Cyprus
Oroklini Lake, Cyprus
Scanning the water soon resulted in several new ducks for the trip with Red-crested Pochard, Garganey, Pintail, Teal and Shoveler all in attendance, while a distant Black Francolin belted out its rasping call behind us. Scanning the fields, Alex somehow managed to pick it out, stood on a low stone wall in the distance and enabling the briefest of record shots! 
Black Francolin - Oroklini Lake, Cyprus
Black Fancolin - a distant and blurry record shot!!
With the Francolin staying put and looking like it was next to the main road, we headed off in that direction in an attempt to secure better views, but upon reaching the field in question it appeared to have gone, just a lone Chukar roaming through the stubble as consolation. 
Chukar - Oroklini Lake, Cyprus
Chukar
Xrisosotiros Akanthous - Oroklini, Cyprus
Xrisosotiros Akanthous church near Oroklini
Xrisosotiros Akanthous - Oroklini, Cyprus
A pair of extremely showy Spur-winged Plovers right next to the road also gave our cameras a workout providing our best views of the trip, but with no further birds of note from the second hide we decided to make the long journey back to Paphos, just one new bird to show for our excursion. 
Spur-winged Plover - Oroklini Lake, Cyprus
Spur-winged Plover
Spur-winged Plover - Oroklini Lake, Cyprus
Never the less the Eastern Bonelli’s transpired to be the only individual we saw all trip, and despite the lack of our target birds during our visit, Cape Greco headland has huge potential to reveal some truly great birds given persistent coverage during peak migration times.
Cape Greco, Cyprus

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