Wednesday 4 May 2022

Summary - Cyprus March/April 2022 - Charadrius carlsbergensis

Nice to spend a week birding in Cyprus at the end of March (26th) into April (2nd), first trip abroad since the start of the pandemic. Focussed on the Paphos area and Cape Drepanum in the west and a bit of birding in the south centre and south east at Akrotiri and Larnaca/Cape Greco respectively. 

A brief summary for the moment, 120 species seen without too much chasing around, concentrating on seeing day to day changes at several sites. Arrived as the weather had become more Spring like and started to kick off bird migration, I got the impression it was behind schedule. This was apparent as I did not connect with any Flycatchers or Shrikes throughout and only saw Cyprus Wheatears at the end of the week. Weather, dry throughout and mild to warm at the end as the winds switched from a northerly or western bias to a more southerly one. In other words one or two fleeces became should I wear one?

Paphos Area

Slow birding on the Headland but a nice variety of species seen, birding inside and outside the archaeological complex equally as rewarding. Always good to study the 'Flava' Wagtails along the perimeter fence, most Black-headed or Black-headed x, but several smart Grey-headed and Blue-headed examples picked out. Red-throated Pipits starting to get their summer garb and Northern and Isabelline Wheatears seemed ever present.   Always a diverse collection of species at this site, be it a flock of Purple Herons overhead, an adult Mediterranean Gull loafing on what appeased to be a bird-less sea, to Hoopoes flushing from dirt tracks and a Short-eared Owl arriving 'in off'. A humble Tree Sparrow with its gregarious 'domestic' cousins was unusual, a bit of a rare, glad I got a second look!

Red-throated Pipit

Tree and House Sparrows

A few miles east of Paphos checking Mandria's Lark Corner and vicinity added to the trip list, no two visits were the same, a candidate Siberian? Stonechat got my attention, always welcome guidance on id. A few miles inland Asprokremmos Dam was lacking in flycatchers but not in its beauty, and a few miles more, Anarita Park hosted a fine Finsch's Wheatear at the start of the period.

Finsch's Wheatear

Siberian Stonechat?


One visit made, slow for passerine migration at the church, but made up for with a Short-toed Eagle hunting the area that held a fly by Pallid Harrier. Akrotiri Marsh was impressive, more variety and numbers of species at the Lower Hide than the Tower Hide, including the obligatory Spur-winged Plovers, Heron/Egret bonanza with all 3 Egrets present, Bittern, Purple Heron, Spoonbill and Glossy Ibis noted.

Purple Heron

Short-toed Eagle

Larnaca/Cape Greco

More birding done at the latter, but the star of the show at the former.

Cape Greco birdy on 2 visits made only, the penultimate evening and most of the last day. Highlights included fly over (European) Bee-eaters, 'at last they finally arrived' Cyprus Wheatears, Spectacled, Cyprus and Rüppell's Warblers and an in off Pallid Harrier. Tawny Pipits, Short-toed Larks, Wryneck and Nightingale noted, but did the Laughing Dove arrive in off or one of the rapidly increasing local birds having a wander?

Cyprus Wheatear

Larnaca Sewage Works Pools held wild Ruddy Shelducks, large gulls shimmering in the heat haze, a Little Gull that looked like it would be eaten by one of the big ones at any moment, plenty of Teal, Shovelers and a few waders. But, nearby the following day and only a few hours before leaving the island probably the best wader in the world, Caspian Plover, i.e. Charadrius asiaticus carlsbergensis was chilling out with a group of Kentish Plovers. The adult male Pallid Harrier flying in front of, and then hanging over the car around the corner barely got a second glance, surely a birding faux pas!

Caspian Plover

A nice trip and with thanks to birders who helped me both online and in the field, sorry not to catch up with you all, a full trip report to follow.