5th April 1984 - 19th April 1984.
A joint Wingspan/Ibis and Bristol Ornithological Club tour with 18 people, lead by Gordon Rayner, former club member who lived on Cyprus, and myself.
After the flight from Heathrow to Larnaca we boarded a coach to take us to our hotel in Amathus on the east side of Limassol.
We stopped at one of the lagoons near the airport to see about 30 Slender-billed Gulls.
During the journey west we also saw Swifts, Swallows and Crested Larks.
On an early morning stroll near the hotel we saw 5 Great Tits, a Hooded Crow, a Red-rumped Swallow and a Cyprus Wheatear, a new bird for me.
After breakfast as we assembled by the coach we saw a group of 9 Purple Herons flying overhead.
Our first stop was a short distance east at a place called Moni Beach, a scrubby valley which gently descended to a beach (not sure it exists now as modern maps show the whole area built on).
Here we saw 8 Cyprus Warblers, 30+ Crested Larks, 2 Hooded Crows, 5 Cyprus Wheatears, a Water Pipit, 2 Blackcaps, a Greenfinch, 6 Wheatears, a flock of 25 Short-toed Larks, a Hoopoe, a pair of Ortolan Buntings, a Linnet, a White Wagtail, 4 Fan-tailed Warblers and 2 Bimaculated Larks which unfortunately were only seen well by Gordon, the rest of us watched them flying away.
On the beach there were a pair of superb summer plumaged Greater Sandplovers, a Yellow-legged Gull and 4 Shags.
Our packed lunch was eaten overlooking Yermasoyia Reservoir where we saw 3 Cyprus Wheatears, a Cyprus Warbler, 2 Jackdaws and a Grey Heron.
From there it was only a short drive to Akrounda Creek, where the first species to hold our attention was a bright green Common Tree Frog which crossed the path infront of us. The best area was around a reed-fringed pool where we saw 3 Corn Buntings, a Coot, 3 Moorhens, about 40 Linnets, 2 Kestrels, 3 Blackcaps, a Great Spotted Cuckoo, a Little Grebe, 4 Cyprus Wheatears, 2 Cretzschmar's Buntings a new bird for me, 2 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, a brief view of a Little Crake,
6 Red-rumped Swallows, 7 Swallows, 14 Goldfinches, 3 Cyprus Warblers, 2 Fan-tailed Warblers, 3 Cetti's Warblers and a Chukar. As with a group of this size sometimes not everyone sees everthing, and a few also saw a Collared Flycatcher and a Tree Pipit.
Later in the afternoon we returned to the hotel, where I took some of the group to nearby Amathus Hill where we saw a Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Cyprus Warbler and flight views of a Quail.
Photos: Cyprus Wheatear.
An early morning visit to Amathus Hill where we had good views of 4 Fan-tailed Warblers, and saw a group of 8 Ortolan Buntings, as well as 2 Cyprus Wheatears, 3 Wheatears, 5 Cyprus Warblers, 2 Whitethroats, Crested Larks, 10 Great Tits, 4 Corn Buntings, a Kestrel and down the hill we flushed a Quail and saw a Chukar in flight.
After breakfast we left for the Akrotiri Peninsula, stopping first at Zakaki. In the area near the harbour we saw 4 Cetti's Warblers, 6 Black-headed Wagtails, 13 Wheatears, 2 Fan-tailed Warblers, 2 White Wagtails and 9 Red-throated Pipits.
A short distance further on we parked the vehicles and walked out through the salacornia scrub towards the salt lake, our aim was to see Spectacled Warblers, not easy, but eventually we saw 6 of these secretive warblers. At the lake we saw a Hoopoe, a group of 15 Glossy Ibises and a good selection of waders feeding around the waters edge including 4 Green Sandpipers, 10 Little Stints, 2 Ringed Plovers, 4 Dunlin, 7 Ruff, 10 Kentish Plovers and 9 Greenshank. Sat on the shore were 8 Gull-billed Terns and on the water a flock of 40+ Slender-billed Gulls.
We stopped for lunch near Bishop's Pool where we had excellent flight views of a Squacco Heron, later at the pool we met a team of British Army ringers who showed us a Wryneck and Lesser Whitethroat in the hand, also, there were lots of Fan-tailed Warblers, 2 Hoopoes a Common Sandpiper and a Purple Heron.
Driving along the southern side of the salt lake we stopped to look at a flock of 28 Greenshank, also seeing 16 Greater Flamingoes. We continued to Phasouri Reservoir seeing 2 superb male Garganey and 4 females, and 3 Night Herons flew in and landed in a group of willows.
Later, we made an evening visit to Moni Beach where there were 3 Fan-tailed Warblers, 3 Wheatears, a Cyprus Warbler, 2 Tree Pipits and a real surprise, a River Warbler, a scarce bird on Cyprus.
It was a cool morning, bright and sunny, with quite a strong southwesterly wind, at first our early morning visit to Moni Beach seemed quiet, but there were birds moving through and we saw 28 Swifts, 5 Tree Pipits, Crested Larks, 10 Cyprus Warblers, 9 Fan-tailed Warblers, a Blackcap, 11 Short-toed Larks, a Wryneck, a Cyprus Wheatear, a Quail and a Red-rumped Swallow.
After breakfast we went to Phasouri Reedbeds where we saw 4 Squacco Herons, 5 Cetti's Warblers, a Spur-winged Plover, 4 Wood Sandpipers, 2 Little Egrets, 2 Marsh Harriers, a Lapwing, 6 Fan-tailed Warblers, a Nightingale, a Hoopoe, a Green Sandpiper, a Woodchat Shrike and a Whinchat.
Again, we met the Army ringers and a distant shout from one of their team had us hurrying to the beach, here the wind was almost gale force and inky black clouds where coming in from the west. Just as we arrived at the beach 2 Nightjars flew low away from us, in the wave troughs there were 5 Cory's Shearwaters now called Scopoli's Shearwater and new for me, shortly after another 2 Nightjars came in off the sea and flew past us, disappearing inland, then it started to rain, heavily, so we returned to the hotel.
The weather began to clear later in the afternoon so we returned to Moni Beach, where there was an increase in Tree Pipits to 7 and we also saw a Redstart, a Collared Flycatcher, a Whinchat, a Tawny Pipit and a Quail, and, a couple of the group saw a male Semi-collared Flycatcher.
A better day, but still quite windy in exposed areas, our early morning trip to Moni Beach produced 2 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Tree Pipits, 3 Fan-tailed Warblers, a Whitethroat, 7 Cyprus Warblers, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Whinchats, a Quail, 5 Crested Larks, a Redstart, a Wood Warbler, 7 Ortolan Buntings, a Turtle Dove, a Nightingale and a Cyprus Wheatear. On the beach we saw a Common Sandpiper and 2 Little Ringed Plovers.
After breakfast our first stop was Phasouri Reservoir where there were 4 Night Herons, 4 Garganey, a Greenshank, 7 Ruff, 2 Common Sandpipers, a Wood Sandpiper and a Turnstone, which Gordon got very excited by as it's a rarity on Cyprus, also our first Song Thrush of the tour.
We continued to Curium, visiting the beach area first and then the amazing ancient site where we spent the rest of the day. Here we saw lots of Jackdaws and Swallows, 14 Cyprus Wheatears, 8 Cyprus Warblers, 5 Chukars, 3 Black-eared Wheatears, 2 Redstarts, 5 Fan-tailed Warblers, a Whinchat, 3 Ortolan Buntings, 4 Nightingales, a Collared Flycatcher, a Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Alpine Swifts, 3 Tree Pipits, a Quail, 4 Whitethroats, a Hoopoe, 4 Woodchat Shrikes, 3 Griffon Vultures and a Cretzschmar's Bunting.
A few birds eluded us, a distant harrier which was probably a Pallid and a flock of about 48 cranes which were too far away to specifically identify.
Photos: Mosaics at Curium.
Another early morning, as we were about to board the vehicles a group of 8 Squacco Herons flew over, then at Moni Beach we saw another group of 6 Squacco Herons fly over.
Also there, were Crested Larks, Fan-tailed Warblers, 5 Cyprus Warblers, 7 Blackcaps, 11 Nightingales seeing 4 in view together, 3 Tree Pipits, a Serin, 2 Whitethroats, 2 Whinchats,
2 Ortolan Buntings, a Tawny Pipit, an Eastern Orphean Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher and at last good views of a Semi-collared Flycatcher, a new bird for me.
After breakfast we went to Episkopi, where from the cliffs we had excellent views of 11 Griffon Vultures, some gliding by at eye level, there was a brief appearence of 2 Eleonora's Falcons which flew overhead, another new bird for me, and, a distant sighting of a Peregrine mobbing one of the vultures. We also saw a Black-eared Wheatear, a Cyprus Warbler, 2 Kestrels, House Martins, Rock Doves, a Tree Pipit, a Blackcap and a Nightingale.
We continued to Paramali where the fields were alive with birds and during our walk along the mainly dry creek, with a few pools every so often, we saw a Squacco Heron, a Green Sandpiper, a Wood Sandpiper, a Greenshank, 16 Tree Pipits, a Kestrel, a Hoopoe, 12 Red-rumped Swallows, 1 Black Francolin was glimpsed with 2 more heard and we also heard at least 7 Quails. There were also 5 Blackcaps, a Chukar, 10 Alpine Swifts, 4 Fan-tailed Warblers, a Black-eared Wheatear, a Tawny Pipit, a flock of 30+ Spanish Sparrows, a Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Cetti's Warblers, at least 200 Swifts, 3 Short-toed Larks, 2 Corn Buntings, a Cyprus Warbler, a Whinchat, a Great Spotted Cuckoo, a Sedge Warbler and a flock of
14 Purple Herons flew over.
But, then the rain set in and we retreated to a restaurant on the cliffs at Curium for lunch, from where we saw around 30 Yelkouan Shearwaters over the sea below us, also 6 Alpine Swifts, 3 Cyprus Wheatears, 3 Cretzschmar's Buntings, 2 Woodchat Shrikes and a Blackcap.
Photos: Griffon Vulture.
A much better day, the rain had cleared and it was warm and sunny.
No early morning, but we left reasonably early for Phasouri Reedbeds, with the rain, the marshy areas now had extensive shallow pools and were covered in waders and we saw 14 Black-winged Stilts, 3 Greenshank, 2 Marsh Sandpipers, a Black-tailed Godwit, around 250 Wood Sandpipers, about 120 Ruff, a Snipe, a Common Sandpiper, a Spur-winged Plover, also 16 Garganey and a Shoveler.
On the banks were 15 Glossy Ibises, 20 Little Egrets, 17 Squacco Herons as well as hundreds of wagtails made up of Black-headed, Sykes's, Blue-headed and White, and 7 Red-throated Pipits.
In the reedbeds were 4 Purple Herons, a Kingfisher and lots of warblers calling, of which we saw 14 Cetti's Warblers, 9 Reed Warblers, 3 Great Reed Warblers and a Sedge Warbler, we also met the Army ringers again and they showed us Reed and Great Reed Warbler in the hand.
Feeding over the pools ws a party of 6 Gull-billed Terns and in the wider area sat on posts were Whinchats and 5 Woodchat Shrikes. In the drier, scrubby parts we saw a Hoopoe, 12 Fan-tailed Warblers, Hooded Crows, a Black-eared Wheatear, 7 Wheatears and an Eastern race Subalpine Warbler which has now become a full species and so a new bird for me. Also in this area we found a female Finsch's Wheatear which was an unusually late date for this winter visitor.
Later, we went to nearby Phinikaria Creek seeing a Cyprus Warbler, 2 Quail, 5 Corn Buntings, a Red-rumped Swallow, 3 Fan-tailed Warblers and heard and briefly saw a Scops Owl, now split as Cyprus Scops Owl, and another new bird.
After lunch, back at the hotel, we made a late afternoon visit to Akrounda Creek, where there were 3 Chukars, a Cretzschmar's Bunting, 2 Little Grebes, 10 Tree Pipits, a Pied Flycatcher, an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, 3 Cyprus Warblers, 3 Cyprus Wheatears and we got to grips with a rail that we had seen briefly on our last visit, in fact there were a pair of Little Crakes, which skulked beneath the poolside vegetation, we waited for them to appear and everyone saw them well, also a new bird for me.
Photos: Ruff in flight.
Reed and Great Reed Warbler.
Today we drove east spending the day in the Larnaca area, firstly stopping at the salt lake where there were 7 Greater Flamingoes, a Kentish Plover and 16 Little Stints.
Then around the other side at Tekke where there was a large mixed flock of House and Spanish Sparrows, a Pied Flycatcher, 2 Cuckoos, a Pintail, 3 Ruff, 3 Kentish Plovers and 7 Spotted Redshank.
After a stop at a nearby cafe at Spiro's Beach we walked around a line of trees near one of the pools seeing a Black-eared Wheatear, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 Nightingales, a Tree Pipit,
a Wood Warbler, a male and 5 female Eastern Subalpine Warblers, an Eastern Orphean Warbler and a Spectacled Warbler, also a very large lizard a Starred Agama.
We continued to the beach where we ate lunch by a small pool watching 2 Kentish Plovers, 2 Temminck's Stints, 5 Dunlin and 20 Little Stints, on a walk around the scrubby edge we saw 5 Calandra Larks, 2 more Spectacled Warblers, a Quail and a Wheatear.
At Spiro's Pools there was another Spectacled Warbler, a Calandra Lark, a Hoopoe, a Redstart, a Marsh Harrier, a Ruff and 10 Little, 8 Lesser Black-backed, 4 Yellow-legged, c20 Black-headed and c70 Slender-billed Gulls.
On the way back we stopped at the salt lake again where there were 24 Ruff and another 43 Slender-billed Gulls.
The day started with a strong, gusty southwesterly wind which dropped by the afternoon, we started in the Kouklia River area, Cetti's Warblers sang from everywhere seeing 8, and, we could contantly hear Black Francolins eventually seeing a male and female. Two Stone Curlews were seen briefly and we had good views of 4 Chukars, also seeing 4 Hoopoes, a Greenshank, 9 Black-winged Stilts, 3 Spanish Sparrows, 2 Little Egrets, 13 Fan-tailed Warblers, 2 Garganey, 3 Ruff, a Snipe, a Purple Heron, 5 Reed Warblers and a Corn Bunting.
A nearby almond grove, sheltered from the wind, was alive with birds and we saw a Nightingale, 20 Tree Pipits, 5 Blackcaps, 11 Wood Warblers, 6 Spotted Flycatchers, a superb male Collared Flycatcher, a Whitethroat, a Pied Flycatcher, a Cyprus Wheatear, a Golden Oriole, a Woodchat Shrike and almost a continual stream of Turtle Doves flying overhead.
Then we drove along several tracks and lanes, seeing 7 Calandra Larks and hearing 4 more Black Francolins until we reached the Ezousa River, there we saw 14 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Wood Sandpipers, a Spur-winged Plover, 2 Common Sandpipers, a Kingfisher, 3 Cyprus Wheatears, 4 Black-headed Wagtails, 4 Black-winged Stilts, a Ruff, 18 Little Stints, a Marsh Sandpiper, a Squacco Heron, 3 Garganey and another Black Francolin.
We continued to Paphos, along the way seeing 3 White-winged Black Terns. Back in Limassol we saw a Nightjar.
The whole day spent in the Troodos Mountains, on the way seeing Swallows and House Martins, 5 Cyprus Wheatears, a Coal Tit, a Chaffinch, 2 Chukars and a Red-rumped Swallow.
On our walk through the mountain pines we had excellent views of 3 male and 2 female Masked Shrikes, a new bird for me, also Chaffinches, 4 Ravens, lots of House Martins, 4 Swifts, 4 Coal Tits, Goldfinches, a Wren with others heard, a Nightingale, 5 Short-toed Treecreepers, a Jay with others heard, 6 Cyprus Wheatears, a Sparrowhawk our only sighting of the trip, 2 Pallid Swifts, a Greenfinch, a Woodlark in full song, Great Tits,
2 Hoopoes and 5 Red-rumped Swallows.
Lunch was taken at a restaurant in the foothills, as we were leaving the surprise of the tour appeared, soaring over a close ridge was an adult Bonelli's Eagle, which gave excellent, prolonged views, a Cyprus first for Gordon, it's a species whose status was uncertain on the island.
Our last stop was at the Caledonian Waterfalls where there were 9 Cyprus Wheatears, 4 Cyprus Warblers, a Grey Heron, 2 Red-rumped Swallows, a Common Sandpiper and 2 Cretzschmar's Buntings.
Overnight rain persisted into the morning, after breakfast it started to clear and we made our way to Akrotiri Salt Lake. Our aim was to find Dead Sea Sparrows, we walked around the lake margins, then in a group of juniper bushes we found a number of their distinctively constructed nests and a bit further on saw
2 pairs of Dead Sea Sparrows, one pair nest building, a new bird for me.
On the lake we saw c70 Ruff, c40 Wood Sandpipers, 8 Greater Flamingoes, 26 Black-winged Stilts, 2 Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, a Curlew, 9 Garganey and lots of gulls including Slender-billed and 8 Gull-billed Terns. Around the edge 4 Little Ringed Plovers, a Squacco Heron, a Little Egret and we saw a flock of 20 Purple Herons take flight; also seen were 9 Black-headed Wagtails, a Red-throated Pipit and a Marsh Harrier.
We continued to Phasouri Reedbeds where we watched a summer plumaged Whiskered Tern as it dipped over nearby pools, also seeing a Semi-collared Flycatcher, 24 Little Egrets, a Chiffchaff, a Great Reed Warbler, a Marsh Harrier, a Wryneck, 10 Black-headed Wagtails, 10 Squacco Herons, 58 Glossy Ibises, c25 Wood Sandpipers, a Nightingale, 12 Short-toed Larks, 8 Ruff, 2 Black-eared Wheatears, 4 Whinchats, a Cetti's Warbler, a Garganey, a Common Sandpiper and another Purple Heron.
Then it started to rain again so we returned to the hotel, later a few of us had a walk in Amathus Valley seeing a male Ruppell's Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, 3 Cyprus Warblers, 3 Cyprus Wheatears, a Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Ortolan Buntings and a Wood Warbler.
An early visit to Amathus Valley where we saw 3 Fan-tailed Warblers, 3 Tree Pipits, 2 Red-rumped Swallows, 3 Whitethroats, the male Ruppell's Warbler again, 12 Cyprus Warblers, 5 Cyprus Wheatears, 3 Nightingales, a Corn Bunting, Crested Larks, 6 Ortolan Buntings, 2 Collared Flycatchers, a Cuckoo and a Spanish Sparrow. Back at the hotel we saw a flock of 14 Little Egrets fly over.
After breakfast we went to Phinikaria Valley, an open valley with a small stream, full of birds and flowers. Here we saw lots of Corn Buntings, Fan-tailed Warblers, a Raven, 4 Blackcaps,
7 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, 6 Tree Pipits, 3 Cetti's Warblers, 5 Quail, a Whinchat, a Woodchat Shrike, 4 Cyprus Wheatears, 2 Red-rumped Swallows, a Cyprus Warbler, a Great Reed Warbler, 2 Reed Warblers, 2 Alpine Swifts, 20 Swifts, a Nightingale, 2 Collared Flycatchers, 2 Semi-collared Flycatchers, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Cretzschmar's Bunting.
We returned to the hotel from where we saw a flock of 18 Glossy Ibises and 4 Common Terns flying over the sea.
Later we went to Moni Beach where we saw another Common Tern, a Woodchat Shrike, 11 Tawny Pipits, 2 Cyprus Wheatears, 2 Fan-tailed Warblers, 9 Cyprus Warblers, 2 Tree Pipits, a Whinchat and 2 Nightingales.
Lastly, we visited Amathus Valley again, where we saw a family group of a female and 5 juvenile Cyprus Warblers, a Blackcap, 2 Eastern Subalpine Warblers, 2 Pallid Swifts and heard two Scops Owls, over the sea we watched two large flocks of cranes migrating east, but too distant to identify.
A second trip to the Troodos Mountains, on the way up we saw 2 Masked Shrikes, a Golden Oriole, 3+ Cyprus Wheatears and 6+ Red-rumped Swallows.
It was cold and dank at our destination, we set off on a different track than previously, this one still had small patches of snow along it, however, we did see 3 male Masked Shrikes, had excellent views of a pair of Serins, also seeing Chaffinches and Coal Tits, a Chukar, 6 Wrens, 4 Cyprus Wheatears, 5 Short-toed Treecreepers, 3 Ravens, a Cuckoo, a Jay, a Turtle Dove, 2 Woodlarks, 2 Nightingales and a Hoopoe.
Then we drove to Mount Olympus, at 6,401 feet it's the highest point in Cyprus, it was a pity it was so dull, but we could just make out the Turkish coast to the north, on our brief stop we saw another Masked Shrike, a Golden Oriole and 5 Ravens.
After lunch we descended and by the time we reached Dhoros it was warm and sunny, in this area of orchards and fields we saw 11 Cyprus Wheatears, 3 Cyprus Warblers, 5 Cetti's Warblers, 4 Wood Warblers, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Cuckoo, 2 Golden Orioles with good, prolonged views of a male, a Pied Flycatcher, a Collared Flycatcher, 2 Tree Pipits, 2 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, 2 Turtle Doves, a Chukar, 3 Corn Buntings, a Little Owl and sat on a nearby bush a male Black-headed Bunting, then close, good views of a Cretzschmar's Bunting and a falcon flying near us giving excellent views was a female Red-footed Falcon.
Not an early start, with our first stop at Phasouri Reservoir where we had good views of 8 Night Herons sat in the willows, also a Kingfisher, a Little Grebe and a Wood Warbler.
We headed towards Curium, but after a few miles stopped to see a Roller perched on a fence; we continued to the Stadium where there were 2 Cretzschmar's Buntings, a Turtle Dove, 3 Alpine Swifts and 4 Spanish Sparrows.
A short distance away was the Temple of Apollo where we saw 3 more Cretzschmar's Buntings, 4 Cyprus Wheatears, 2 Wheatears, a Kestrel, a Blackcap, 6 Tree Pipits, 6 Whinchats and a Cyprus Warbler, all while looking around the ancient remains.
Along the road we stopped at Episkopi cliffs and nearby Quarry Beach, seeing 10 Griffon Vultures, 10 Alpine Swifts, 2 Kestrels, a Cyprus Wheatear, 2 Peregrines, Rock Doves, lots of House Martins, 2 Red-rumped Swallows, 3 Cyprus Warblers, a Woodchat Shrike, a Chukar and a Shag.
We returned to the hotel for lunch, in the afternoon the hotel manager kindly offered to show us the village he came from. This ment returning to the mountains, but by a different route, the scenery on the way was stunning and the village of Akapnou was situated in a lush valley surrounded by peaks. Unfortunately a village in decline where most of the young people had left to work in the cities or coastal resorts, it was an unspoilt traditional place and the local people made us very welcome. Looking around the village and nearby fields there was lots of Giant Fennel and in the Olive Trees we found several Starred Agamas, also seeing 3 Nightingales, 4 Turtle Doves, 3 Golden Orioles, 4 Cyprus Wheatears, a Tree Pipit, lots of Swallows and we heard and then saw a group of 9 Bee-eaters which circled overhead then landed in a nearby tree.
On the drive back we counted 6 Turtle Doves, 18 Cyprus Wheatears and a Hoopoe.
Photos: Griffon Vulture.
Giant Fennel at Akapnou.
Our last day in Cyprus, the return flight to the UK was not until early evening, so a free day, with some of the group making a last visit to Phasouri Reedbeds, where we saw 2 Spur-winged Plovers, 27 Glossy Ibises, 15 Little Egrets, c40 Wood Sandpipers, a Marsh Sandpiper, a Marsh Harrier, a White Wagtail, 2 Black-headed Wagtails, 2 Whinchats and a Squacco Heron, as well as lots of commoner species.