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Friday, 8 March 2013

Hen Harriers (Cyprus)

 Its always a bonus to see birds of prey in their natural environment,these hen harriers were observed on a recent trip to Cyprus.They have been over wintering for the last 5 months or so in the flat arable farmlands.
 The male Hen harrier must be one of the best looking raptors about with its slate grey plummage and black tips to the wing!
 They were hunting the farmland on the lookout for pipits and skylarks.
 This harrier gave me some quite close views as it searced the meadows.
 I was watching some Wheatear when the Harrier appeared,needless to say the Wheatear didn`t hang around.
 Almost Kestrel like,the Harrier searched for prey amongst the scrub.In 5 mins of watching this bird, I didn`t see it catch anytyhing!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Cyprus revisited

 With it being half term,we took a weeks break to Cyprus,staying in Paphos.My trusty camera came with me again and I managed a few hrs a day out in the countryside.February is usually quiet on the birdfront but it was a bonus to be out in good weather.This over wintering Finsch`s Wheatear was still in the same area as last time,though they usually depart to breed come mid march.
 I was determined to see and photograph Red Throated Pipit,as last time during october, I heard them calling but couldn`t locate any amongst the throngs of skylarks,crested larks and meadow pipits.This time my luck was in and 2 were heard calling and duly photographed.As it was Feb, they have not come into breeding plummage, but their bold stripes made them easily identifiable! 
 They have a striking terracotta pink throat come april/may but I think these individuals were both 1st winter birds.

 It was great to see Northern Wheatear out here.This particular bird was one of several I located by the coast.They were definately fresh in from Africa, as the previous few days they were no where to be seen.Where they are bound for,who knows,but always one of the first migrants to return to British shores!
 Sardinian warbler were quite common all around.I even found a pair nest building in some low scrub!
On my last trip, a bird that I heard regularly,but never saw  was the Black Francolin.A very terrestrial,sedentary,shy and unobtrusive bird.It is about the size of a grey partridge and very vocal.
Its call is highly charachteristic and normally the first sign of its presence.It is a striking looking gamebird, with the male having a black head and breast,seperated with a broad reddish brown neckband.A white cheek stripe is added for good measure.Very difficult to approach, I was 150 yds away when these shots were taken.This finishes my first account of Cyprus and another will be added shortly showing a few Hen Harrier shots.Thanks for looking in!!!!!!!!!