NORTHERN CYPRUS, AUGUST 2006
by Ian McKerchar
With spring birding hols taken up with Hong Kong this year, my usual trip to Northern Cyprus was relegated to August this year, a period I had never visited the island and one I knew little about. The little I did know was that it would be much quieter bird wise than spring and would be very hot, but conversely, the sea would be warm for swimming and the Efes beer taste all the better for it!
We (with my non-birding family) arrived on the 23rd of August, leaving on the 30th and as usual were based in Karsiyaka but with temperatures too hot for birding from about 10ish in the morning, much of the day was spent lazing, swimming, eating, drinking with occasional birding, from Shirley Valentines restaurant in Lapta, positioned right on the coast, surrounded by favourable birding habitat and fortuitously, owned by my mum!
Karsiyaka, 24/08, 06:40-09:00
Clear skies, very hot.
A walk around the olive groves, with now bare, scorched fields.
Above: a section of olive grove, here with more open areas than usual which attracted good numbers of shrikes.
Yellow Wagtail- 2 species over, heading east.
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler- 2+
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler- 1
Masked Shrike- 7+, including 4+ juveniles
Gecitkoy Reservoir, 24/08, 17:40
Still bloody hot!
Green Sandpiper- 5
Common Sandpiper- 1
Above: Roller hunting avidly around the very dry, eastern end of the reservoir
Barred Warbler- 2 immatures
Korucam Burnu, 25/08, 06;20-09:40
Hot, very still and very good visibility.
The Burnu was much different than spring, with fields of beautiful wild flowers now bare earth and scorched grass and avian activity almost apparently non-existent compared with springs continuous and often bewildering activity.
Above: the 'long reeds' with scorched grasses, bare earth and few birds!
Grey Heron- 70+ in a large V formation flying high south
Black-headed Wagtail- 1 over east
Cyprus Pied Wheatear- 7+
Barred Warbler- 2+
Lesser Whitethroat- 1 by the water tank
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler- 6+, a target bird for the trip they offered superb views in bushes around the water tank but I found were impossible to digiscope!
Masked Shrike- 1 adult male in the long reeds
Red-backed Shrike- 1 immature in the long reeds
Above: a nice male Masked Shrike
Shirley Valentines, Lapta, 26/08
Glossy Ibis- 21 in V formation, very high over sea heading west
Great White Egret- 1 over sea heading west
Above: Glossy Ibis migrating out to sea.
Kanlikoy Reservoir, 27/08, 07:20-08:30
Clear, light SE wind, slightly hazy.
The reservoir still had good levels of water in and birds!
Little Grebe- 224, an impressive flock!
Glossy Ibis- 1
Little-ringed Plover- 1 juv
Black-winged Stilt- 37
Above: some Stilts around the shore of the reservoir
Little Stint- 5 juveniles
Spotted Redshank- 1 non-breeding plumaged adult
Black-tailed Godwit- 2 1st winter birds
Common Sandpiper- 3
Green Sandpiper- 22
Wood Sandpiper- 1
Blue-headed Wagtail- 20+ juveniles
Sedge Warbler- 2
Reed Warbler - 3+ (looked like 'scirpaceus')
Willow Warbler- 1 juvenile
Black-headed Bunting- 1 immature
Shirley Valentines, Lapta, 27/08, 17:00-
Glossy Ibis- 2 very close inshore flying west
Little Egret- 111, in two flocks of 58 and 53, flying low west hugging the waves and causing me a swift swim to the rocks to grab my bins!
Caspian Gull- 3 adults, all heading west very close inshore
Eleonora's Falcon- 2 juvs, flew north out to sea (right past me!), interacting briefly close offshore then flying out to sea- fantastic!
St.Hilarion Castle, 27/08
Typically very hot for midday with a very light SW wind.
Situated very high up in the mountains the castle has some of the most impressive views on the island and birding which deserved more attention than I gave it and perhaps preferably during spring and early summer.
Hobby- 1 juvenile hawking insects over the castle.
Cyprus Pied Wheatear- 7+, including 1 very young juvenile still with down
Blue Rock Thrush- 1+ singing!
Blackcap- 2 (a pair)
Orphean Warbler- 2
Spectacled Warbler- 1 immature
Great Tit- 2+
Also, along the mountain road leading west from the castle back towards Lapta which too deserved better coverage:
Alpine Swift- 1
Blue Rock Thrush- 3+
Olivaceous Warbler- lots! Among the pines along the roadside affording superb views but as usual, bugger all digiscoping opportunities.
Willow Warbler- lots!
Korucam Burnu, 28/08, 06:30-10:20
Hot (as if it would be anything else!), very slight SW wind and very good visibility.
Scopoli's Shearwater- 2, both very close inshore heading west at 08:10 and 08:15. Doubtless a longer seawatch would have produced more but I was very content with the views I had of this target species.
Shag- 3 immatures
Glossy Ibis-57 west at 07:13
109 heading west in one flock at 07:14
Little Egret- 8 west at 06:55
24, heading west at 10:25 with large Purple Heron flock
Purple Heron- 133, in 1 flock heading west at 10:25 very close inshore, circling quite low over the sea occasionally
Above: migrating Purple Heron flock with Little Egrets amixed, out to sea.
Garganey- 79 heading west with a flock of 109 Glossy Ibis
152 heading west out to sea 07:14, keeping very close to the water in a large V formation
34 heading west 08:47, close inshore hugging the sea
Lesser Kestrel- 1 female, affording good views by the long reeds
Greater Sand Plover- 1 adult on a small rocky section of the extreme cape, an area I have previously ignored, to my loss no doubt!
Above: Greater Sand Plover on the cape (with darkish legs)
Grey Plover- 2 breeding plumaged birds flew over high west, calling at 07:55 and 08:05
Dunlin- 1 adult over high NW, calling
Caspian Gull- 1 adult west at 08:43
'Baltic' Lesser Black backed Gull- 1 3rd winter fuscus west at 08:44
Common Tern- 34 west 08:46
Sandwich Tern- 2 west 08:53
Rock Dove- 8 came in from the east and dropped on to the small sea cliffs on the northern edge of the cape
Blue-headed Wagtail- 3 over SE
Crested Lark- 22 around the long reeds
Northern Wheatear- 1 female
Spectacled Warbler- 1 male
Lesser Grey Shrike- 1 adult in the long reeds
Masked Shrike- 1 juvenile by the water tank
Golden Oriole- 1 male flew from large fig tree by the water tank and into nearby bushes
Chaffinch- 1 juvenile flew into trees in the long reeds briefly, panting heavily and wing opening desperately to loose some heat!
Shirley Valentines, 28/08, 18:40
Purple Heron- 53 in 1 flock out to sea heading east
Korucam Burnu, 29/08, 06:30
Hot again, with a strong SW to W wind and very good visibility.
Above: seawatching from the extreme tip of the cape at Korucam Burnu
Scopoli's Shearwater- 14+ in a 30 minute seawatch, some quite close inshore
Black Francolin- 1 female/immature near the water tank
Above: female or immature Black Francolin
Greater Sand Plover- 1 until 07:05, a different bird than yesterdays but at the same spot, how I wish I'd checked this at previous visits!
Above: a different Greater Sand Plover on the cape (with pale legs)
Willow Warbler- 1 long reeds
Orphean Warbler- 1 water tank
Spotted Flycatcher- 1 water tank
Red-backed Shrike- 1 male in the long reeds
Above: male Red-backed Shrike in the long reeds
Shirley Valentines, 29/08, 11:00
Oh yes, very hot, with a moderate W to NW wind.
Above: Hooded Crow, a common bird throughout Northern Cyprus with a liking for the rocky shore around Shirley Valentines
Above: Cyprus Pied Wheatear, another fairly common bird
Cormorant- 8 juveniles heading W at 14:55
Garganey- 743 in 16 flocks throughout the day, with many probably missed through me not paying attention due to swimming (sea and pool, despite having bins reasonably close to hand) and drinking Efes beer! The flocks, all heading west, hugging the waves, consisted of:
38 @ 11:10
41 @ 11:24
43 @ 11:38
53 @ 11:45
62 @ 11:55
113 @ 12:41
81 @ 13:12
28 @ 13:34
42 @ 13:56
14 @ 14:12
5 @ 14:53
12 @ 15:20
38 @ 16:10
55 @ 16:46
63 @ 17:52 (which were farther out to sea but still hugging the waves)
55 @ 17: 56 (after which I gave up looking!)
'Baltic' Lesser Black-backed Gull- 3, 3rd winter fuscus W at 11:30, 13:12 and 17:40
Common Tern- 3 1st winters W at 12:50
Turtle Dove- 2 together west over the coast 15:13
Lesser Grey Shrike- 1 on wires opposite the restaurant car park
Karsiyaka, 30/08, 07:45
Crag Martin- 1 flying quite high over the village
Olivaceous Warbler- 12+
Red-backed Shrike- 3+ juveniles
Masked Shrike- 7+ juveniles
Above: juvenile Red-backed Shrike
Above: juvenile Masked Shrike
The Hut Restaurant, Lapta, 30/08, 10:50-12:30
For our last morning on the island we stopped for breakfast at The Hut in Lapta, situated right on the coast with a great view. All species noted below were flying west.
Grey Heron- 22 at 11:57
Little Egret- 17 at 11:44
Glossy Ibis- 13, with a flock of 12 at 11:15 and a single bird very close, flying over the restaurant 12:20
Caspian Gull- 5, comprising 3 adults, 1 3rd winter and a single 1st winter, coming almost directly above the restaurant and giving superb prolonged views
And so ended another trip to this beautiful part of Cyprus, one in which, yet again, I encountered no other birders- heaven!
Above: looking to the west from Shirley Valentines restaurant, the sea to your right, at another beautiful sunset!
Ian Mckerchar, Greater Manchester