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Saturday, 27 April 2019

Mid March in Cyprus 2019

Having returned from Cyprus recently,I thought that I,d post a few images from my Spring trip there.I was fortunate to be out there for a full 3 weeks this time, and decided to go mid March.Birds were being reported widely, so I was hoping to cash in on a few warbler species this time!A lifer for me was this Eastern Bonellis warbler, of which there were many!


Its pale underparts definitely stood out ,amongst the many Chiffchaffs that were present!

A truly stunning little warbler with its dark wing patches.Never still and characteristics all to its self!

The only Eastern Orphean Warbler I was to encounter, suddenly appeared atop a small bush and gave me a good 5 minute runaround before I obtained a few images.

Again this was a lifer for me and having missed one the previous day on Paphos headland, was a very pleasing find!

Common Rockthrush.This one was found in Anarita Park and drew many an observer.It stayed for a couple of days and gave pleasing views.Actually,although brightly coloured, it was sometimes very difficult to locate amongst the many thorny stems and bushes!

A few are usually reported in the park every Spring passing through to their breeding grounds!

Another first for me on the island!!

Subalpine Warbler were beginning to be reported in the last few days and I was keen to catch up with this colourful species.

I chanced upon this one whilst out with a friend that lives on the island,a keen birder himself, this one was around the crop fields of Mandria and gave prolonged views!

A quite diminutive warbler, never still and constantly keeping within cover.Sometimes it would disappear for 5 mins, then reappear 20 yds away!!

Another first too.I was really clocking up the new species that I encountered.I have been to Cyprus many times before around Springtime,and week by week new species come in at different times.Thanks for looking in on the blog and I will post more images shortly!!!

Friday, 20 April 2018

Cyprus 5

A 4.30 meet up with Albert and we were on our way up to the Troodos mountains and Mt Olympus.Albert had told me about a track through the woods, near to a Cypriot army base, where a wagon had left tyre tracks in the soft clay over the winter period.This had then filled up with water and provided the local birds with a readymade drinking and bathing area.A welcome retreat for them to cool off.Albert was going to set up his hide adjacent to the track, and I was going to use the car as my hide, with a blind covering the window!Arriving before first light, we were both in position by 6.15am.Anticipation was great, as Albert mentioned that sooner or later, the birds would be going about their daily routine.The Crossbill is a bird of the pines and I was hopeful of encountering this rather stocky bird with its peculiar bill.True to form after about an hours wait,I could hear the chip, chip,chip call as 3 females and a juvenile dropped into the trees at the side.They were ever so cautious, weighing up any particular signs of danger.It seemed like an age ,before 1 decided that it was safe to drop down onto the pool, accompanied by a Chaffinch! 
 They would descend from the top branches very cautiously, before committing themselves to a drink.

 This female was only 6  metres away from my position, but as always in woodland, the light was all over the place!

 A Serin called from within the canopy, before it too decided to make its way to the pool!
 Short toed treecreeper was a first for me, talk about camouflage against the tree bark..amazing!
 Another bird that I was hoping to see was Hawfinch,it wasn't long before one dropped in to drink!
 Female Crossbill,I was hoping for a crimson coloured male, but it wasn't to be.Have to save that one for a future trip!!

 With all the kernels from the pine cones consumed, they have to supplement the diet with copious amounts of water!

 Tentatively quenching its thirst.Maybe 10 seconds of drinking and they were back in the treetops.They never seemed to stay on the ground long!
 It was just a shame that the light couldn't,t get through the treetops, but I suppose this kept the water quite cool for the birds!

 It's not often that you encounter a Treecreeper on the ground but the draw of water brings them down!He never seemed to be away from the pool!
 Siskin were amongst the species  seen.It was like a mini oasis, a proper watering hole.
 A male Hawfinch visited maybe 6 times whilst we were there.Something was always going on at the pool!
 Two Jays hung around for an age before deciding to drink.They were extra cautious and extremely shy and would take flight at the slightest movement.It took a good few attempts before they were confident to drink!They differ from our birds by having a reddish forehead, striped black moustache, bright blue feathers which are also also striped with black!
 The Jay is one of the 4 endemic birds native to Cyprus too, along with the Coal Tit and Treecreeper,the 4th one is Scops Owl!
 Coal Tit,different to our species!
A Short Toed Treecreeper ascends the tree trunk, looking for insects and spiders!
It seemed strange to see one on the Ground,but like the rest of the birds it must take on water!A surprise visit was made by this Woodlark below,I didn't think for one minute that I would see one of these up Mt Olympus!
So this is what it all the fuss was about,2 small tyre tracks left by an army truck, which captured some of the winter rains.Unfortunately it drys up very quickly with the  heat,so the birds will have to find another source of water to quench their thirst and bathe.Albert tells me he usually brings with him a 35 litre barrel of water to supplement the stocks..every little helps I suppose.The large rocks in the pool are purposely left there to deter vehicles from driving through it, a very good ploy!Possibly this was one of my best days out in Cyprus,a good selection of birds to photograph and the great company of Albert too.He really does go out of his way too make sure you are catered for.Albert spent 5 hrs sat on a little plastic chair in his hide.Giving me the comfort of his car to obtain my images.He wouldn't, have it any other way though,a true friend indeed. Albert if you do read this...thank you so much for an enjoyable morning in the Troodos,oh and I,ll add...he isn't a guide, just a great photographer/video maker who always goes the extra mile, to make sure you enjoy the moment!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Cyprus 4

The next day, found me heading to Akrotiri ,as I had heard of a report of a Bimaculated Lark there.A chap that I had met earlier in the week, had given me some directions to its whereabouts.Not being familiar with the area, it would take some locating.The only information I had to go off was the general area and that it was hanging around with some short toed larks, we would see!!I dropped in to Phassouri reedbeds,by the newly built hides for a half an hour.It was quiet really, save for a few Garganey and the odd Squacco Heron.A Black Francolin was calling noisily in the distances I went to check it out!!  Usually only heard and difficult to see, but this one was oblivious to my presence!They often hide away in the long grass and dense cover!

A Bimaculated Lark had been hanging around with a small flock of Short Toed Larks on the Peninsular,I was lucky to come across it after a good search!

It kept away from the pipits, which made it harder to find!

This male Northern Wheatear was chasing insects among the Spring flowers!
The small church on the peninsular is always worth a visit, its usually a magnet for migrants, with its surrounding vegetation being the main draw.However todays visit was really quiet due to the strong prevailing winds!
Many a passing migrant has stopped and refuelled at this sacred place!

Onto Ladies mile where I came across these two Slender Billed Gulls.Earlier a few Baltic Gulls had given a brief flypast.Apparently there was a Pallas' gull in the vicinity,but I never chanced upon it!

A drake Garganey was present at Phassouri,earlier in the day, without doubt my favourite duck.It was accompanied by 2 females.So Yes I had had a very interesting day at Akrotiri,with the Bimaculated Lark being the highlight I suppose.Tomorrow I had planned to meet up with Albert Stoecker for a day out in to the Troodos mountains, to see if we could find some of the islands endemic species!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Cyprus 3

Daihatsu Terios,the car I usually opt for when in Cyprus!
Anarita Park is one of my favourite places to spend time with the camera.It has many tracks and unmade roads, which means a decent 4 wheel drive vehicle is a necessity

Blue Rock Thrush,there is usually an odd one that returns to its favourite rock within the park.

Always distant, they are quite a nervous type bird, and are usually away with any movement!

The trouble is getting close enough to gain a decent image.After a 25 min wait he showed quite well.

Another Pallid Harrier showed up, this ringtail didn't hang around though.With territory to go to they don't stop long!

Isabelline Wheatear.

Not 100% sure, but I think this could be a Tawny Pipit.My birding skills are nowhere near what I'd like, but I'm learning all the time.

You could spend hrs within the Anarita area, searching its many tracks and gullies.I think it is many peoples preferred birding place, due to its closeness to Paphos.Sightings of many different species on migration abound and raptors are usually present in good numbers.Towards the end of April ,Red Footed Falcons favour it as a stopover, they perch on the electricity wires, with Lesser and Common Kestrel, scanning the floor beneath them for insects and lizards!