Wednesday 1 May 2024

Birding Cyprus 13 - 20 April 2024 - Summary

Generally warm and sunny weather throughout though cloudy and a few spots of rain towards the end of the trip. Light variable winds but one afternoon was perhaps typically breezy at Akrotiri. Temperatures mid to high 20Cs.

The north west – Despite staying relatively close to the north west corner of Cyprus I tend to be drawn more towards the south coast, the birding hotspots of Paphos and surrounding area then Akrotiri usually get more attention despite their distance from the NW. So, this time deliberately made a couple of visits to Baths of Aphrodite, but whilst it was slow for migrant birds it was still good birding with great scenic views. Pallid Swifts were consistent on both visits showing nicely over the ridge, and early in the trip a noticeable movement of (Barn) Swallows included a few Red-rumped Swallows. Eastern Olivaceous Warbler allowed for study including of their Reed Warbler like song.

A few kms inland and noted Masked ShrikeCyprus Warbler and Cretzschmar’s Bunting on territory near Agios Minas Chapel where a Nightjar “churred” one evening late in the trip. Cyprus Scops Owls called most nights but not with as much strength as found when visiting in March. Driving south from this corner produced Rollers returning to their summer haunts and Bonelli’s Eagle patrolling the area. Laughing Doves now frequently seen if not commonplace here, continuing their spread in this part of the world. Two of the most bizarre sightings occurred in the north west on the first day (Sunday 14 April 2024). Firstly, a Quail was seen crossing the road with about 10 young around midday and then that evening about one hour after sunset a dark shape, like a brown ball was in the middle of a road. It allowed me to stop and investigate. What I thought could have been a hedgehog was in fact a Corncrake. Didn’t think I’d be stood over a Corncrake in the middle of a road, which is usually busy but thankfully not on this occasion, asking it to fly into the neighbouring field! It did so with a bit of encouragement.

Masked Shrike
Bonelli's Eagle

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Paphos and surrounding area – only one visit to Paphos Headland this trip but had nice views of a male Semi-collared Flycatcher seemingly out of place in scrub by the lighthouse. Another gave fleeting glimpses as it annoyed a male Collared Flycatcher in the entrance trees where a female Pied Flycatcher completed the Ficedula set. Nightingale seen and perhaps a late wintering or migrant Robin. Nearby Asprokremmos Dam and Mandria fields offered a variety of species to keep the trip list going. At least 3, probably double that, of male Collared Flycatchers in the pines of the former noted on one visit where a couple of Wood Warblers shone brightly. Asprokremmos Dam always worth a visit as it offers chance of something migrating over. Not much this time but nice to see Purple Heron over and Marsh Harrier, the Dam itself yielded about 50 Yellow-legged Gulls on the water on all visits. The main attraction near to Paphos were the soakways, the ponds at Agia Varvara, in particular the motorway pools. It held quite a lot of Little Crakes usually several seen with 5, 6 and 9 noted on 3 visits. An elusive Baillon’s Crake eventually showed well as did the Great Snipe whose identification caused a bit of a stir as when first present tended to be more in cover than showing at the water’s edge. Pleased to get the following record shots showing some of the identification features. Little Bittern seen on one visit, but Night Herons and Squacco Herons present throughout. Purple Herons seen moving through one evening where early in the trip an Eleonora’s Falcon was hunting over the bottom of the Ezousas valley, allowing for nice continued study of the structure and flight technique. Great Spotted Cuckoo in the Ezousas valley, thought they may be difficult as mid to late April is relatively late in their summer season, and Long-legged Buzzards showed on occasion.

Semi-collared Flycatcher

Baillon's Crake

Great Snipe 
Great Snipe


Troodos – part of one afternoon spent walking the trails around Troodos village square produced all endemic subspecies that make home in this area. All seen apart from (Guillemardi) Crossbill that could be heard flying over. (Cyprus) Coal Tits showed their extensive dark plumage, (Dorothy’s) Short-toed Treecreeper widespread but tricky to locate but nice views of (Cyprus) Jay. Singing Masked Shrike seen by the village square, and the visit also saw a nice drop in temperatures of about 10 degrees compared to earlier that afternoon around Paphos.

(Cyprus) Jay
(Cyprus) Jay

Akrotiri – always could be relied upon to produce good birding. Lady’s Mile held a selection of wading birds. Noteworthy being 3 Red-necked Phalaropes in a variety of plumages (1x winter, 1x moutling to summer plumage and 1x advanced female in its moult) and almost being trod upon by feeding Greater Flamingos, or was it deliberately “slaloming” through their legs? 2 Avocets amongst the commoner Black-winged Stilts, 200 Ruffs and large numbers of Little Stints and the staple for the area, Kentish Plover. Regal looking Slender-billed Gulls had bills that looked almost black in the strong sunlight whilst Little Terns flew over the shallow pools. On one visit 2 Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were on roadside wires nearby by the track to Zakaki Marsh Hide (Friday 19 April 2024). The following day 2 were showing and calling near to Akrotiri Marsh, which itself held a variety of Herons and relatives – Purple, Squacco and Glossy Ibis plus Cattle Egrets, and an array of waders including Marsh Sandpiper, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and Spotted Redshank. Garganey slept at the same pools seemingly oblivious to the presence of the fast feeding migrating waders. A Great Reed Warbler “croaked” its song from out of sight in the reeds near the lower hide on one visit. Heading off peninsula my first visit to the M1 Pools, Akrotiri’s soakways. A variety of birds attracted to such an oasis including feeding hirundines and on a boom what would have made a cracking id photo were of Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper all in a line! Very lucky to catch up with a Citrine Wagtail on one of the rocky pools as it moved in loose association with Black-headed (Yellow) Wagtails through a boulder field (Friday 19 April 2024). Off in the north western corner Eleonora’s Falcons had returned to Episkopi (Kensington) Cliffs and Alpine Swifts put on a nice show there.  If only these Falcons could set up territory at Bempton?

Citrine Wagtail
Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters

Eleonora's Falcon

Cattle Egret

About 120 species seen during the week all at a relatively calm pace. A full trip report to follow plus video compilation.

Many thanks to all who helped me in the field and online, very much appreciated.