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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Cyprus/Akrotiri salt marsh

Continuing onto the saltmarsh area,I was surprised to see these gentleman performing their various manoeuvres,none other than our very own  Red Arrows.What a treat I had watching them perform various death defying stunts aganst a brilliant blue sky.For a good half an hour I was given the most amazing spectacle by, without question,the worlds premier aerobatics team in the world.This year 2013, will be their 49th consecutive display season in which they will continue to enthrall and captivate millions of people world wide,real ambassadors for the RAF.
 Based at RAF Scampton Lincolnshire,they are regularly deployed to Akrotiri Cyprus,to brush up on their routine.
 Stunning to watch.I used to travel all over to watch the Red Arrows in my younger days.
                                                   Truly spectacular!
 Anyway back to our avian subjects now,the saltmarsh covers a huge area on the outskirts of Limmasol,a very important staging post for all sorts of birds on their migration.
 Raptors too are regularly seen patrolling the reeds,this little female Merlin was found perched surveying the area.
 Initially I assumed it to be a Kestrel resting up.A real unexpected bonus to the day.It was the only one I saw during the whole week!!

 She only hung around 10/20 secs  before she was away!! Montagues Harrier were never far from view,a good scan around with the glasses usually turned one up!So I`ll end on that for now, with more raptors being portrayed in my next blog, especially one which I was really hoping to see in Cyprus..... I wasn`t to be dissappointed either!!!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Cyprus....Phassouri/Akrotiri marsh

The following day I decided to visit the salt lake and surrounding areas including Phassouri reedbeds.My research had shown me it was a great place to view waders  and herons,in fact late aug/sept it is supposedly one of the best places in the western palearctic to view Demoiselle crane.An early start was called for and I was on the road for 5.00 am to get there for first light.
 At the reedbeds Glossy Ibis were avidly feeding in the soft mud.The water levels were well up for the time of year and it pushed the birds onto the surrounding grass lands.
 A really attractive bird with its green/brown and purple sheen,these were the first ones I`d ever seen so I was enthralled to see them wading in the shallow water.They feed on insects and small frogs and are usually found in small flocks!
 A black crowned night heron gave me a flypast in the half light.A stocky, short billed bird which is active mainly at night.
 Another first for me was the Purple Heron which crept quietly through the reeds.Later I witnessed up to 10 birds migrating north along the coastline,
 Squacco herons were abundant on the marshland, their light buffy brown colouration made them really stand out in the vegitation!
 This one landed in the middle of the road leading away from the marsh.

 Every were around the reedbeds there seemed to be a Squacco resting up or feeding.
 A few waders were to be seen on migration, amongst them was this lovely wood sandpiper.we get good numbers of this little wader through Britain during the Spring!
 Preening and having a good washdown,its important birds keep themselves in tip top condition at this time of year, not only to attract a mate but for their own well being on their long migration from Africa.A sickly weak bird simply wouldn`t be able to make it back!!

So a few more images from day 2 in Cyprus, with a good number of species completely new to me, observed and photographed.Its really a great feeling when you see so many new species in close proximity and always a bonus to get some within camera range.Thanks again for dropping by and a few more of my escapades will be coming up shortly....

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Springtime in Cyprus.

 My annual weeks Spring birding holiday was a return visit to Cyprus.I had already been there twice recently with my familly,but this time I returned alone, armed with my trusty camera and a few lenses.It was going to be early starts before it got to hot and I was looking forward to the challenge!Within an hour of picking up the hire car,I was pointing the lens at this Cyprus Warbler which was proclaiming a territory.
 Endemic to Cyprus,this species winters in Israel/ sudan areas, but returns to breed annually.Not as common as it used to be,it seems the Sardinian Warbler is forcing it out of its natural habitat.Sardinians were in every bit of scrub,so I was made up to watch this bird on my first day.Over the coming week I was lucky to see more than a handfull!
 Golden Orioles were passing through in good numbers,and I stumbled across these at Asprokremnos dam.These shy,restless mobile birds are very difficult to approach on foot,so sitting quietly in the car gave me some good views,
 I came across this fine individual as it flew across the road in front of me and landed within 20 metres from the car.He didn`t stay long but I was happy with the encounter.

Another bird with the same colouration as the Oriole was this Yellow Wagtail species.I`m led to believe it`s of the `feldegg` familly which are synonamous to the Balkans and Turkey,a lovely looking bird with its jet black head,though this was the only one I saw in the whole week!!
 Plenty of swifts were hawking insects in the warm air,amongst them, this Alpine Swift, so easy to pick out from its darker cousins due to its size and pure white belly.I believe when they breed, they pair up for life and I was to witness plenty of these later around the massive Kensington cliff areas,a major stronghold for them! 
So in all,not a bad start to my week with some really good species seen and observed.It was nice to be able to take my time and not have to keep looking at my watch,worrying about meal times etc..oh yes I was certainly going to enjoy my weeks solitude with the camera and I`ll share some more images in my next blog soon!!!!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

An interesting morning on the moor!!

 On my local moor, this Whinchat decided to stop over and make good use of the abundance of flies that were about.He worked the fenceline,continuously dropping into the grass and returning back to the fence with a beak full of flies.
 They don`t breed locally anymore near me,so I often wonder exactly were he will be destined.Maybe some heather clad moor in Scotland or even Bowland were good numbers are present!
 An iconic migrant is the Pied Flycatcher,again this male had dropped into the wood to feed up.Its the first one I`ve seen locally and was a real treat to observe.You never know, a female may appear and they may stop to breed,wishful thinking eh!!
 They take readily to nest boxes, so next year a dozen or so will be going up in anticipation of their arrival!!
 Again the Trough of Bowland is a stronghold for these pretty flycatchers!!!
 With lambing nearly completed,I wasn`t surprised to see this fox hanging around.Billy the farmer has had a disastrous year with the cold weather and unfortunately lost nigh on 100 lambs, so there has been an abundance of food for the fox!
 The return journey back through the wood produced this feeding Roe doe.She was oblivious to me until I clicked my fingers and she then give me a good coat of looking at!!
 She didn`t stay long before heading for the undergrowth!
I nearly stepped on this female pheasant brooding her clutch of eggs amongst the bracken.With spring being so late this year she doesn`t have much cover above her.I quickly backed off as I didn`t want her to leave her nest unattended.There are plenty of crows and magpies in the wood and they`d make short work of her eggs.Lets hope some make it.