Birding On Cyprus

Reading the latest newsletter, my recent holiday in Cyprus might be of interest to members.

My wife and I were based in Paphos - not far from the airport - on a bridge holiday in November.

During the days we did some birding, especially for two and half days with a local guide, Jane Stylianou. She is English, married to a Greek banker and works for Bird-Life.

The weather was brilliant, as hot as a best British summer, most days and no rain. Whilst the timing was not good for birding, as migration had virtually finished, it was really surprising how many species we saw - over 80 - including many lifers for me. Late migrants included one Spotted Flycatcher in Paphos forest, a single Northern Wheatear and a wonderful view of a Great Reed Warbler catching dragonflies from its perch on the edge of a reedbed.

For me unusual species included a Little Crake we watched for a quarter hour pottering in front of the hide, a Moustached warbler picking off insects from the surface of a pond, 5 Spur-winged Lapwings standing on the edge of a very smelly pond at the sewage works, a couple of endemic Cyprus Warblers, a Long-legged Buzzard mobbing a pair of circling Bonelli’s Eagles, 500+ Greater Flamingos on the Akrotiri salt lake, a pair of tiny Penduline Tits clambering on the edge of a reedbed, an excellent view of a female Bearded Reedling picking off insects from a pond surface from its perch on a twig, wonderful views of 2 Little Owls perched on rocks (including one very pale Lilith subspecies), a male Finch’s Wheatear, and 4 Greater Sand Plovers on the rocks at Paphos headland along with some 20 Golden Plovers spangling in the sunlight.

Firsts for me too were Armenian and Caspian Gulls among a collection of Yellow-legged and Black-headed on the Lady’s Mile ponds. To identify those you need an expert! Apparently, they breed on lakes in Asia, but clearly prefer the weather in Cyprus during the winter.

Whilst the birding was not generally hazardous, one memorable moment I shall never forget was being charged at full tilt by a bull (which Jane said was a cow - with horns!) that suddenly emerged from its lair in the reedbed. I stood petrified, trying to decide what to do! Fortunately, it pulled up six feet short. It turned out to be tethered! But it really shook me up. Jane said I could wait by the car if I did not want to venture further into the reedbeds, but I was very circumspect around the rest of several tethered bulls.

For members who might be thinking of Cyprus for a holiday in the winter months, I can thoroughly recommend Jane as a guide who knows all the best birding spots.

PETER M

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Moustached Warbler - Lower Ezousas Pond

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Corn Bunting - Asprokremmos radio mast near the dam

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Water Rail - Lower Ezousas Pond

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Hooded Crow - Paphos Archeological Park

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