1 Holiday Highlights Cyprus 8-15 April 2015 Guide: Guests: Day 1: Roy Atkins Don Mills, David Johnston, Terry White, Liz Woodford and Bill Shepherd Our flight leaves Gatwick exactly on time and after a pleasant flight arrives in Paphos ten minutes early. Once we have the van sorted out we are soon on our way to our hotel spotting Hooded Crows on the way - our first bird of the trip. There are Barn Swallows in good numbers too - our first of the summer! We are welcomed at the hotel where we settle into our rooms before meeting up again at around 4pm for a short stroll. The grounds of the hotel are full of House Sparrows and the noise of their cheeping is constant. Amongst them we are very pleased to find several Spanish Sparrows. Collared Doves and Hooded Crows are common and we hear a Cetti s Warbler as we walk down the road to the start of the track. We soon find our first Sardinian Warbler - a species we soon realise is very common here. There is a Kestrel above us being chased by Jackdaws and above the slope are a few Common Swifts. Other birds include Greenfinch and Goldfinch, Great Tit and surprising numbers of Corn Buntings and Wood Pigeons. David spots a small butterfly that turns out to be a Paphos Blue, one of only three endemic species on the island, and we find Painted Lady too. We drop down to the stream and follow the track soon adding Blackcap and more Sardinian Warblers then Roy spots our first Cyprus Pied Wheatear. It is singing the buzzy song which sounds rather like some kind of insect and looks fabulous through the scope, a superb male. Further on we are delighted to find a Wryneck and enjoy nice scope views. It flits left in the bush and we realise there is a second bird at the right! Three Whinchats are looking immaculate and we find at least another two Cyprus Wheatears. Terry spots a Long-legged Buzzard perched on the hillside - a beautiful adult bird with a pale head deep rusty coloured belly. When it flies we can appreciated the rather long wings, and we watch it being mobbed by crows and Kestrels. David spots a stunning male Woodchat Shrike and shortly we find a female too. We add nothing new on the return walk - then after a delicious evening meal we run through the checklist before a chat about the coming week and an early night - it was an early start and we are all tired
2 Day 2: Those who wake early and take a walk down to the river add Green Sandpiper to the list, then after breakfast we make a short drive to Asprokremnos Dam. We are hardly out of the van before we start finding interesting birds with a mixed flock of Swallows, House Martins and Red-rumped Swallows passing through as well as few Common Swifts. A Long-legged Buzzard appears overhead, another superb bird in fine plumage. A Little Egret is flying low over the reservoir and there is a Northern Wheatear perched on the dam wall. From the top of the dam we spot a small flock of Garganey then a Purple Heron takes flight from below us and three Grey Herons fly over higher up. Looking in the other direction we spot Chukar, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap and Crested Lark. A Yellow-legged Gull flies in and lands on the water and Liz spots a distant Marsh Harrier that flies right across the reservoir. There is a very impressive passage of swifts and swallows going through and birds are constantly in view but we are delighted when a couple of Alpine Swifts join the flock of Common Swifts and hirundine that are passing through and we enjoy fabulous views as they skim the water to drink! Liz spots a distant Woodchat Shrike and we find Kestrels, two more Long-legged Buzzards, more Red-rumped Swallows and then we walk across the dam to the other side to see if there is anything in the trees here. Close to the far side David spots a Starred Agama, an impressive lizard, on the rocks here and also a Turtle Dove on a low branch down below the dam. Amongst the trees we find Chiffchaffs, lots of Goldfinches, several Great Tits then a brief female Collared Flycatcher which is a nice find. There are at least two Wood Warblers and Pied Flycatchers and we glimpse a Hoopoe. We walk up through the trees and from the top find three Whinchats, Greenfinches and Spanish Sparrows. There are a few Pyramidal Orchids here plus Wild Gladiolus and what are probably Wild Chives plus a host of other very pretty but unidentified flowers. David picks out a Baltic Gull amongst a flock of Yellow-legged Gulls passing over the reservoir, the upper-wings jet black. We walk back to the van where we meet a couple of birdwatchers who tell us news of a Little Crake not too far away so we decide to give it a try and drive down towards the coast. The route passes various fields some of which have recently been cut or ploughed and these are great for birding. In one field we find a pair of Spur-winged Plovers before realising there are also three Stone Curlews in the same field! The next field is full of wagtails and pipits. A large flock of Yellow Wagtails includes mainly Black-headed but there are a few Blue-headed too. Carefully working through them we also find a couple of superciliaris, the hybrid between Black and Blue-headed and we re pleased to pick out two Grey-headed as well. A nice flock of Red-throated Pipits are also here, some of
3 which have very red throats indeed and the grass is short enough for us to enjoy great views through the scope. We are delighted when a Collared Pratincole flies in and lands nearby a wonderful find! We move on and spend a while trying to make sense of the directions we have been given for the Little Crake - which no longer seem to make sense! We find what we think may be the right area and start searching - in the process flushing two Squacco Herons and at least one Black-crowned Night-Heron. A group of four Purple Herons flies over and we find a few butterflies of interest - Small Copper, Clouded Yellow and Swallowtail. Eventually a guy arrives who knows where the Little Crake has been seen recently and we discover we were in the right area but there seems to be no sign of the bird. We decide to move on but had not gone far when suddenly there are Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters right beside us! We are astonished to see five of them on the wires and the tops of the bushes right by the track. This is a rare bird here and a fabulous find and they seem completely unbothered when we get out and set up scopes for in your face views of these gorgeous birds - what a treat! This is the species that Bill was most keen to see and he is particularly thrilled! After watching the bee-eaters for some time we eventually decide to head round to one last spot before heading back. Mandria is not far away and we arrive to find the area usually frequented by pipits, wheatears and larks is completely devoid of birds! Disappointed we drive slowly along the sea front and are surprised to find a Black-winged Stilt on the shoreline. As we drive we spot a small group of Squacco Herons flying along the shore so we pause to watch them fly by. While doing so Roy scans the sea and is surprised to discover an Arctic Skua flying past - a very good record on Cyprus! As we are watching these birds we can t help noticing a bus full of birdwatchers clearly watching something in a nearby ploughed field so we decide to head over and investigate and this proves to be an excellent decision. They are German and when Roy asks what they are looking at the guy says he doesn t know the English name and starts flicking through the Collins Guide. Expecting it to be a wheatear or a Tawny Pipit or something Roy almost falls over backwards when the guy stops on the plover page and points at Caspian Plover!! We absolutely cannot believe our luck! They have just found it and within minutes the first local birders are arriving as news spreads of this fantastic find!! And what a lovely looking bird it is too - it is a stunning adult male! We soon have scopes on it and watch as it wanders all around the field looking for food. It is amazing how much ground it covers. This is even a new bird for Roy!!
4 We spend a long while just enjoying great views of this bird along with two Stone Curlew in the same field and at least four Wheatear and a Tawny Pipit. What a wonderful way to finish the day - but it is not quite over yet! Driving back to the hotel we are perhaps a mile still to go when suddenly David says there is a Great Spotted Cuckoo perched in the bushes. We stop and jump out soon getting the bird in the scopes and we can t help being impressed by his spotting skills - the bird is by no means obvious. Liz in particular is thrilled as it is one of the birds she was very keen to see on this trip and this really does finish an excellent first full day. Day 3: The forecast is for lots of rain today and so we decide to stick near the coast and head to the Akrotiri area. We are pleasantly surprised that the sun is shining when we set off so we decide to try for Cyprus Warbler on the way. Our first attempt produces just Sardinian Warblers. The habitat looks good but it also starts to rain and so we move on to another spot. This is a spot where Roy has seen them before and we are delighted when a bird pops up into view shortly after our arrival. We try playing a little of the song to coax it out and flies straight in and perches in full view allowing superb views. A second male appears that is even more strikingly marked and we get brief views of a female as well. David is especially pleased as this is the only new bird he is likely to get on this trip! We continue on our way and hit some heavy rain but by the time we arrive at Phassouri Reedbed the rain has just about stopped again. Here there are a few Cattle Egrets and a couple of very contrasting Squacco Herons - it is astonishing to see the difference between winter and breeding plumage with the latter looking so much warmer and brighter. We get brief views of Reed Warbler here and there are at least three Quails calling in one of the fields. There is also a Black Francolin calling and scanning the soils heaps at the back of the fields David suddenly says he has got it! Soon we have the scope set up and get very nice views before it vanishes into the vegetation moments later. We drive on to the new pool in the reedbed that we have been hearing about. It has a reputation for being good for waders and there are plenty here including lots of Wood Sandpipers, several Ruff, a single Spotted Redshank and we are especially pleased to find two Marsh Sandpipers. These delicate waders looks delightful, like tiny Greenshank with thin bills. There are several Little Stint here, a few Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers and a single Spur-winged Plover. A flock of Black-headed Wagtails include a few Blue-heads amongst them and we find a single Red-throated Pipit. Lots of Swallows are flying through and amongst them surprising numbers of Red-rumped Swallows plus a few Sand and House Martins and amongst the Swifts a couple of Alpine Swifts. We also get our best views so far of Zitting Cisticola.
5 We move on and drive round the end of the reedbed and past a flat area where we are hoping to find larks and wheatears - but all seems very quiet. A small flock of Short-toed Larks fly round over the field here but never land. We are very surprised to spot a Bonelli s Eagle circling over the trees some way off, a bird usually more associated with the hills on the island. We work our way over to the small church but it is very quiet here and the best sightings are probably the orchids - there are hundreds of Bug Orchids here and a single Mount Carmel Orchid. A Tree Pipit appears in the bushes and there are lots of Crested Larks around then Don spots a very distant flock of black birds circling above the salt lake. It is impossible to make out what they are but Roy speculates they may be Glossy Ibis. We drive round towards the salt lake and soon find a nice flock of Greater Flamingos and stop to check through them as there has been a report of a black flamingo here a couple of days ago. We have no luck but the flock of black birds appears and dropping down to the lake we realise they are indeed Glossy Ibis. On the wire behind us we suddenly realise there is a Cretzschmar s Bunting! It provides frustrating views facing away from us most of the time before flying. We head down towards Ladies Mile pausing to enjoy very close views of Glossy Ibis and a Greenshank beside the road. We head to the track that runs down the coast and spot a couple of birds in the bushes. The first is a Northern Wheatear but the second is a Wryneck and it is posing beautifully even allowing us to set up scopes on it! A Whinchat appears and then suddenly Liz is brimming over with excitement as scanning the dunes her eyes fix on a Cream-coloured Courser!!!! There was a report of a bird in flight here two days ago and it would be a hard place to search so we are absolutely thrilled to catch up with this bird that we had genuinely not even thought worth searching for! We all enjoy superb scope views before it finally drops down into the dunes and out of sight. Next we walk into the scrub a little way and try playing a little Spectacled Warbler song. At first there is no response and instead we get great views of a pair of Linnets and lots of Crested Larks. Then, as if not really responding to the track being played but just flitting around in a, not at all interested honestly, kind of way, a pair of Spectacled Warblers appear. The male is absolutely superb!! We get another fabulous view of the Wryneck before we drive on making our way slowly along the edge of the pools here checking for waders. We are very pleased to find a flock of nine Slender-billed Gulls at least one of which has a lovely pinkness to the undersides. There are lots of Little Stints here and a few
6 Kentish Plover as well as two Ringed Plovers. A couple of Greenshank are with a flock of Black-winged Stilts and we find two Curlew Sandpipers and a Dunlin. Finally we arrive at Zakaki Pool where the new hide provides a great vantage point over the rather reedy pool here. Within seconds of entering the hide we are astonished when a Baillon s Crakes makes its way across the pool through the reeds right across the width of the pool in front of us!! What a gorgeous little bird and easily identified by the barred rear flanks and mass of white speckling on the back. It vanishes into some reeds and we scan the rest of the pool soon finding a group of three Green Sandpipers, several Moorhens, two Glossy Ibis and a female Shoveler. There are a couple of Black-headed Wagtails, several Reed Warblers then Bill asks what a bird is at the back of the pool on the mud and we are thrilled to realise it is a Little Crake! Two species of crake in the space of a few minutes!! This bird quickly vanishes into the reeds, but over the next few minutes reappears and then a second bird too! Two male Little Crakes just feet apart! We take turns at the scopes and they appear and disappear into the reeds again and again. Shortly Liz spots a female to the right side of the pool and while we watch this very differently coloured bird a second female strides out of the reeds and chases it off! Not long after that a third female appears briefly with the two makes making a total of five Little Crakes and Baillon s!! Just incredible and a fabulous finish to the day! Day 4: We are gathering at the van ready to leave after breakfast when Don spots a Wryneck in one of the trees in the garden!! What a great start to the day. There seem to be even more Spanish Sparrows than ever and we are enjoying these when we notice plenty of Red-rumped Swallows flying high overhead amongst the Swallows and House Martins. It is a short drive to get to Paphos and the headland where we are spending the morning. There have not been many reports of birds from here recently and we are not expecting much - but it is worth visiting to see the Roman Mosaics that the headland is so famous for and it is an excellent place for birds to turn up so you never know! Before we have even walked away from the van we enjoy excellent views of a female Sardinian Warbler, then as we enter a bird flies across in front of us that is almost certainly a Great Reed Warbler, but sadly it vanishes immediately into the bushes and is never seen again! Walking slowly past the bushes and trees we are pleased to find a few birds including Woodchat Shrike, Spotted Flycatcher, a family of Great Tits and then a Lesser Whitethroat - astonishingly our first for the trip. A Hoopoe takes flight ahead of us and lands in view raising its crest. Flocks of Swallows
7 and Red-rumped Swallows are flying through constantly as well as lots of Swifts and we carefully check them for Pallid Swifts but can t find any we are sure about. We have a look at some of the mosaics and being naturalists we can t resist identifying the animals and birds in the mosaics! There are Tigers, Wild Boar, Leopard and we discuss whether the sheepy looking creatures are Ibex or Mouflon or both! There is even a Brown Bear - something David has been looking for since we started finding lots of bee hives. There are ducks and an easily identified Peacock and something that if it was not for the long tail could perhaps be a Wryneck! We walk up towards the lighthouse spotting a Tree Pipit on the way then as we drop back down find some recently cut hay where there are several Black-headed Wagtails and a single bird that may be a form of superciliaris. It has a head pattern reminiscent of a Blue-headed Wagtail but with darker ear coverts and a thin supercillium. There are several Red-throated Pipits here too and a single Northern Wheatear plus another Woodchat Shrike. Walking round to some areas of bushes and trees we find more Tree Pipits, another Woodchat and a couple of Whinchats and we are very surprised at the number of Spanish Sparrows. We get good view of Zitting Cisticola but the bushes seem rather quiet so we walk back towards another set of mosaics finding a Northern Wheatear and two Tawny Pipits on the way. Roy spots a flying Black-eared Wheatear which lands in the trees and while we are checking it through the scope a Masked Shrike scares it away! Two great birds in quick succession! We sneak forwards and soon we re enjoying fantastic scope filling views of the Masked Shrike. Well pleased with this we continue on towards the mosaics but don t get far as we find five Tawny Pipits, another Black-eared Wheatear and an Isabelline Wheatear! We enjoy good views of these before having a look at the mosaics one of which is quite spectacular. We are all astonished at the cleverness of the shading and detail in people s faces given the coarseness of the medium being used. We head back to the van and eat lunch sat on the sea wall before a short break for shops and ice cream, then, we head for the hills! We take the road that leads us up to Anarita Park and then start driving round some of the tracks up there. We are soon finding wheatears with three species here - Northern and Cyprus are outnumbered by Black-eared, which seems to be all over the place and in both Black-eared and Black-throated forms. There are several Whinchats and our first Great Spotted Cuckoo flies over. We are thrilled when suddenly two
8 Bonelli s Eagles circle up into view and fly by at close range! They are being mobbed by a Lesser Kestrel which looks tiny in comparison! We spend a while trying to find Rock Thrush though we know none have been reported for a few days so we are not too hopeful. We find two Ortolan Buntings, several Sardinian Warblers, a Whitethroat, several Kestrels and a possible six Lesser Kestrels hunting together on the skyline. We get more flight view of Great Spotted Cuckoo including an immature bird and two adults all in flight being chased by Magpies. There are astonishing numbers of Spanish Sparrows and we find a whole bunch of them collecting nesting material. Driving on we pause to look at a Hoopoe but it is forgotten when a Great Spotted Cuckoo flies straight at us and lands on the wire right beside the van!! It is a fabulous view but we are amazed how tolerant it is staying put while we set up the scope and all get for a look - and to our amazement even stays when a car comes the other way and we all jump back in slamming doors! Even more astonishing we find two more a little further on and they also put on a wonderful show posing for photos very close to the van too! One bird eventually flies straight at us and over towards the hillside to our right and following it we suddenly realise there is a Roller on the wire. It flies behind the hillside so we walk down the road a little way to get more views but it seems to have vanished however walking back towards the van suddenly there is a harrier flying by!! It is in view for seconds but long enough to identify it as a female Pallid Harrier - how frustrating! We drive along the road a short way but discover it leads to a military base we had no idea was there - but in the process we enjoy views of two more Rollers, three Tree Pipits and yet more Great Spotted Cuckoos. We then drive back towards the main road hoping to relocate the harrier but with no luck however we do get some fantastic views of a Hoopoe on the track right in front of the van and then a group of three Lesser Kestrels in the wires right beside the track also providing fabulous chances for photos. Back at the hotel we gather before our evening meal for an attempt to see Scops Owl. They have been calling in the evening and around this time so we wait and then right on time they start calling and we spend a frustrating half hour with neither of two birds settling for long enough to get a scope view. We see them in flight and perched but never get a good look at them and then just as if it knows we have to go to eat both birds suddenly stop calling. We ll have to try again! Day 5: Today we have a longer drive and head east to the Larnaka area. Arriving at the first pools we are pleased to find a lovely flock of Flamingos and lots of
9 Black-winged Stilts plus a Whiskered Tern which is a good find. A single Shelduck is out on the water and there are lots of Swifts flying through and we start checking them for Pallid Swifts. We drive a little further down and in the corner of the pool are four Marsh Sandpipers which look delightful through the scope. There are several Ruff and Black-winged Stilts. In the sueda bushes are Spectacled Warblers and we are amazed as more and more appear until we have six birds in front of us. One bird feeds one of the others and we wonder if it is a family that has already fledged, though it seems early! We keep checking the Swifts that are constantly passing through then suddenly there is a Pallid Swift! It does not hang around but everyone manages to get onto it and we are hopeful there will be more. Liz suddenly shouts that she has found a black bird amongst the flamingos at the back of the pool. We were rather disappointed that the reported black flamingo was not at Akrotiri the other day when we were there so we are delighted to find it has moved here and we have relocated it. It looks astonishingly smart and very elegant all dressed in black - with just the under tail pale coloured. While we are watching them Roy suddenly notices a group of three Red-necked Phalaropes in the foreground! This is another excellent find and though distant you can still make out some of the marking through the scope. While we are watching these a guy arrives asking what we are looking at and while showing interest he then astonishes us by saying that a couple of hours ago he was watching a Turkestan Shrike just up the road!! We immediately pack the scopes into the van and follow him to the spot - but sadly there is no sign despite a good search all around the area. All we get for our trouble is a Nightingale. We drive back and take the road round the lake with the flamingos. We soon find a better vantage point to watch them from. One group of them is displaying, wagging their heads from side to side while standing tall and walking together, and also dipping their heads down one after the other. It is lovely to watch. Meanwhile in the background the flock flies a little way and we see the black flamingo fly with them showing there is no red even in the wings. It is a superbly elegant bird and some of us think it is a shame there is not a species like this - it would be fabulous to see a whole flock of them! We also get much better views of the phalaropes from here too and to our surprise a Wryneck appears in one of the bushes! We seem to be managing at least one per day! This bird fliers but a second appears and shows extremely well at the edge of the bushes. We drive round to the hide overlooking the sewage treatment pool and there are lots of birds here including large numbers of Swallows and Swifts flying back in forth right in front of the hide. In amongst the Swifts we find the occasional Pallid Swift and the light is perfect for seeing the plumage differences. We are
10 amazed to find a group of five baby Swallows on the wire fence in front of us being fed by the adults - this seems remarkably early! Scanning the water and the embankment we find several Teal, a couple of Shoveler, a few Garganey, lots of Black-headed and smaller numbers of Blue-headed Wagtails, lots of Black-winged Stilts, several Spur-winged Plovers but best of all at least eight Collared Pratincoles. Some keep flying by right on front of the hide allowing us the most wonderful views - they are just superb! We find two Ferruginous Ducks, a single Marsh Sandpiper, some Ruff and a stunning, breeding plumage Black-necked Grebe. We continue on our way along the coast and pause here and there to check for birds on the pools we are passing but there are remarkably few. We find a couple of Wood Sandpipers and a flock of Greenshank plus a few Kentish Plovers on the beach then right at the far end more Greenshank, around twenty in all, and a nice flock of Garganey. A flock of flamingos flies over looking very skinny in flight! As we drive back we pause when Don spots a male Black Francolin walking across the salt marsh. It vanishes into some low bushes where it starts jumping in the air and flapping its wings and suddenly we realise there is a second male in there. One then chases the other across the sand between the salt marsh bushes allowing us fantastic views of this normally so secretive bird! Next we drive round to the road that passes Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque - considered by many as either the third or fourth holiest place for Muslims in the world. This mosque was built on the site of the grave of the prophet Muhammad's wet nurse, Umm Haram. The mosque looks rather beautiful, the shapely building surrounded by palm trees on a promontory of land jutting out into the salt lake. The water levels of the salt lake are astonishingly high and there is no visible mud anywhere for waders and surprisingly no ducks or anything out on the water - the quietest we have ever seen this site in all the trips we have run here. We drive round past the mosque then along the road to where Roy has seen nesting Little Owl in the past. There are no signs at the old site but David spots one in another bit of bank also riddled with holes. We enjoy lovely scope views of the owl but see little else of note here. With a bit of spare time we decide to dash to Oroklini to see what we can find and it does not take too long to get there. A new hide is now overlooking the marsh here and we find Shoveler, Coots and Moorhens, several Cattle Egrets and a single Little Egret, surprising numbers of Little Grebe and a few Garganey and Spur-winged Plovers. We decide to try from the other hide and as we drive off four Gull-billed Terns fly over the van!!
11 From the other hide we find lots of Little Stints, a Marsh Sandpiper, some Ruff and a single Common Snipe. We are surprised to find a couple of Wood Warblers in the bushes. Some of the Coots and Mallards already have chicks! With nothing else of interest we finally run out of time and head back to the hotel where after a break we gather outside to hunt for the elusive Scops Owl. At about 7:45pm two birds start calling almost simultaneously. One is in the garden and Roy finds it but at the same time Don finds a more distant bird - but frustratingly neither stays for long enough to get a scope on them. One flies to a tree the other side of the road and we get good flight views but when they finally stop calling and we head in to our evening meal we have still not managed a good view yet! Day 6: With glorious weather we decide to head into the hills today and enjoy a day in the Troodos mountains. We set off after breakfast and have hardly gone any distance when Liz spots both Roller and Great Spotted Cuckoo from the van - but it is impossible to stop. We make our first stop at a pleasant area overlooking a stream and some trees and almost immediately find an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. It is singing in the trees and bushes here and while it proves rather elusive at first, eventually we get fantastic views even through the telescope. Don brilliantly spots a Long-legged Buzzard high overhead and the sun is shining right through the orange tail making it glow! A pair of Bonelli s Eagles show very well indeed over the slope the other side of the valley and a Wood Warbler appears briefly in the trees. We try dropping down to the stream to check the trees here as they can be good for flycatchers but it is very quiet and all we find of note are a couple of Speckled Woods. We drive on and make occasional stops at places along the way but all seems very quiet. At one spot we find some nice orchids - Naked Man, Woodcock and Mammose Orchids all in one small area. At another spot we hear a singing Serin and can t find it until it flies from the tree and away. We find our first Chaffinch of the trip and our first Cyprus race Coal Tit and get a chance to see the astonishing amount of black on the chest of these birds. Our lunch spot, while having a fabulous view, is equally quiet, with more Coal Tits and nothing more. Finally we arrive at Troodos where of course the big priority is buying nuts and Greek Delight from the stalls here!! There is a fabulous selection and we can t resist and it is all delicious. Then we take a walk through the trees and after ignoring lots of Coal Tits and Chaffinches eventually find one of our target birds - a Crossbill. This is another species with an endemic Cyprus race and though green with a pale yellowish rump this may well still be a male as they don't become red here! The bill is noticeably chunky which is a feature of birds here.
12 Just as we decide to move on a Short-toed Treecreeper calls from the trees - another bird with a Cyprus race. We soon locate it and enjoy excellent views of two birds. We enjoy more good views of Coal Tits but the only other species with a Cyprus race, the Jay, remains surprisingly elusive. In the end we give up as there are more chances at Kykkos Monastery. A short drive on a very windy road gets us there then we take time out to be tourists and have a look round - and what an astonishing place it is. There is a small yet incredibly ornate church and a small room full of astonishing Reliquiae and other articles of religious importance. The shear amount of gold in the church is remarkable as are the frescoes on the walls and ceiling. These continue all around the rest of the monastery building and we take a look round the corridors and walkways and marvel at the paintings depicting just about ever bible story we can think of! Some folk finish before others and find a Jay a little down the road! We set off back as it is a long drive and the roads are exceptionally windy. We take it slow enjoying the scenery as we go as there are wonderful views and eventually we arrive at a spot where Roy saw a pair of Masked Shrikes on territory last year. We pause for a look and even before we get out of the van we have spotted them! For the next twenty minutes we enjoy great views of both male and female while a Common Cuckoo calls nearby. The rest of the journey is quiet except for a nice sighting of two Ortolan Buntings. After a break we meet up to have yet another attempt at seeing the Scops Owl. We decide to try from the garden this time and hope that like the last two nights it might fly in from behind us into the big tree. We are not sure whether it is the wind but they seem later arriving tonight and not long before we are due in for dinner it flies in over our heads and away across the road where we manage to find it in the low tree over there and at last a few people get a scope view. Another starts calling behind us and we are pleased when we locate it in a tree with no leaves. It is a silhouette but still a good view as you can make out the shape and some of the markings. When this too disappears we decide to call it a day and head for our evening meal. Day 7: Most people are up early for a walk this morning and this is fortuitous as a little way down the track Roy finds a male Semi-collared Flycatcher! This is a great find though it is difficult to get a good view as it tends to drop to the ground, pick up an insect, then fly back into the foliage. But patience pays off as eventually it lands on an exposed perch providing excellent views and sometimes it spends a little longer on the ground also providing a good opportunity. There is a female Pied Flycatcher nearby and also Blackcaps, Nightingale and Sardinian Warbler.
13 After this great start we enjoy breakfast then head out to Paphos Headland as there was news from yesterday of a Hooded Wheatear here!! On arrival at the spot where it was seen we find a small group of birdwatchers who don t look as happy as we would have hoped and soon learn there is no sign of the bird today. We feel we really should help with the search though and who knows, there might be something else here, so we spend a while birding the area. We find many of the same birds as were here the other day including Woodchat Shrike, Whinchat, Red-throated Pipit and a host of Yellow Wagtails of different flavours. A Wryneck flies past which is great as that keeps our tally of a Wryneck every day!! There seem to be a lot more Wheatears around, almost all Northern Wheatear, but we do find a single Isabelline and the Masked Shrike is still in exactly the same tree! There are a few Lesser Whitethroats, at least two Tawny Pipits and a Nightingale. Eventually we give up the search and decide to try somewhere else and head round to Paphos sewage treatment works. There are loads of Yellow Wagtails here but frustratingly the grass is too deep and when they land and they just vanish! We spot a single Collared Pratincole and two Stone Curlew and Bill brilliantly spots a harrier circling high overhead. A careful check identifies it as a female Pallid Harrier but is cruises away rapidly and is all too brief. We continue on our way soon arriving at Mandria. In the first ploughed field we find a Tawny Pipit plus two Northern and an Isabelline Wheatear. We drive on and scan the area where there are normally plenty of larks and find just a Hoopoe and a couple of Lesser Whitethroats in a pile of branches. We drive slowly to the picnic area and have lunch here watching two Lesser Whitethroats and a Reed Warbler in the bushes beside us. A Shag is on the rocks just offshore and we are amazed to see a flock of 22 Grey Herons fly in off the sea, then a flock of 25 Little Egrets and finally a flock of 15 Purple Herons! We drive slowly round pausing at one small tree which has another two Lesser Whitethroats and a surprisingly showy Nightingale that keeps dropping to the ground and hopping about right out in the open. We arrive at the field where the Caspian Plover was and scan the bare soil finding plenty more Northern Wheatears, another Tawny Pipit and a few wagtails then suddenly Dave says he has the Caspian Plover!! It has not been reported on Birdline for two days so we were assuming it had gone. We let the island bird recorder know and she expresses equal surprise. We are not sure what to do next but decide in the end to head up into the hills and re-visit Anarita Park, mainly in the hope of another harrier. We soon arrive to find that a whole lot more Lesser Kestrels have arrived since our last visit.
14 Whereas last time we saw perhaps six birds we can now see fifteen at a time! They seem to be everywhere and are close too, allowing excellent views and in the end we think there must be at least 30 birds. We find Black-eared Wheatears, Tree Pipits, Whinchats, Cyprus Wheatear, Great Spotted Cuckoos and Woodchat Shrike. Driving on we stop to chat to a guy we met this morning and he tells us there is a male Red-footed Falcon here! This is great news and shortly it appears, hovering over the slopes a little way off. At about the same time we also spot a ringtail harrier but this one is even more frustrating as it vanishes before we can even identify it! We get distant views of Bonelli s Eagle - a species we are doing very well for this year. We decide to drive round to get a better view of the Red-footed Falcon - and wow is that successful!! We have it hovering at eye level and perched on bushes nearby where, through the scope, it is completely filling the picture! It is absolutely beautiful and in perfect condition - a stunning male. We are astonished at the number of Lesser Kestrels and at one point you can see fifteen in a single binocular view - perhaps 30 is an underestimate! We find three Rollers here and enjoy fantastic views of them including two in one bush top looking beautiful in the sun. We get more views of Great Spotted Cuckoo then further on find another Black-eared Wheatear and an Ortolan Bunting. We finally head back down out of the park and make for the scrubby slopes below Asprokremnos Dam. Here there are still breeding Cyprus Warblers and we arrive to find one singing! It does not take very long for Roy to find it and set up the scope allowing everyone another chance to enjoy good views of this special bird. Overhead are lots of Swifts passing through and there are a few Alpine Swifts in amongst them plus Red-rumped Swallows too. We also take a look at the Jackdaws to see the pale collar marking at the base of the grey nape. We get fabulous views of a Chukar on the way back out. On the way back to the hotel we make a short detour to scan some fields and slopes for any harriers. It always was a long shot and it is no big surprise we don t find any but it is a lovely view and a nice finish. After a break we gather for our evening meal and then make a final run through the checklist before our traditional round up of the tour in which each person tells us their bird of the trip a favourite place and a magic moment. Considering there are only six of us it is interesting that six species get a mention. This is partly because some people came with a particular species they were very keen to see and they saw them! For Terry this was Roller, for David, Cyprus Warbler and for Bill, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - but Bill could not resist also mentioning Cream-coloured Courser so he snuck in a second species this way! The other
15 two species getting a mention are Baillon s Crake and two votes for Caspian Plover - a wonderful surprise bird. Everyone is also split over favourite places with a wide variety of places chosen from the new pool and Zakaki Pool at Akrotiri to Paphos Headland and the Troodos Mountains - but it is Anarita Park that scores the highest with a huge two votes! Magic moments include the first Woodchat Shrike which was such a perfect one, today's stunning views of Red-footed Falcon and with two votes a-piece the Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters and the Cream-coloured Courser - and no surprise Liz chose this as it must have been a wonderful moment when her eyes first lighted upon this beautiful bird. One thing for sure - it has been a hugely successful and enjoyable holiday with plenty of fabulous birds! Day 8: We start the day with a walk down the valley to see if the Semi-collared Flycatcher is around. As we walk out of the hotel grounds a Marsh Harrier flies over, which is a nice start. Pausing at the tree we spend some time watching to see if there is any sign of life and after fifteen minutes with not a sign of any birds in the tree we go and look closer and find nothing there. We guess it must have gone but check nearby trees anyway then walk down the valley. It is remarkably quiet and all we see are a few Sardinian Warblers and four Little Egrets. We are surprised by just how quiet it is and find nothing else of note so start back towards the hotel finding Terry stood beside the tree where the flycatcher was. At first we think he is joking when he says he saw it a few minutes ago! Apparently it flew in then back out again and vanished. After a few more minutes we are out of time but at least Terry saw it. After breakfast we decide to follow up news from yesterday that the Eleanora s Falcons have arrived!! It is the time of year when the first birds sometimes appear and apparently there were six at Kensington Cliffs yesterday and there is just enough time to have a try. We are soon on our way and less than half an hour later we arrive at the spot and find our way down to the cliff top. It is warm and sunny as we start scanning but we start to wonder whether they are not here as after some time there seems to be no sign. Liz brilliantly spots a bird perched on the rocks and we check it out identifying it as a Peregrine! There are lots of Jackdaws, several Alpine Swifts, House Martins and a Sardinian Warbler singing in the bushes - then suddenly there is an Eleanora s Falcon! It flies out from a hidden part of the cliff face, swings round and vanishes where it came from!! It is a good view but far too brief. We locate a second very distant bird on the cliff face but it looks nothing through the scope. After a while we get a brief but good view of a singing Cyprus Warbler, then we enjoy absolutely incredible views of Griffon Vultures as they cruise round just off the cliff and low over our heads.
16 Time passes and we wonder if we ll get another view then suddenly one appears and it is flying straight towards us! It flies right over our heads even circling round above us briefly before cruising away back to the cliffs then veering off inland - it is a stunning bird!! The definition of elegance this bird is slim and fast and all dark - a real treat! Shortly a second bird appears and this one is a pale phase bird with rufous belly and pale face. Shortly both return and we get incredible views as they chase each other above the cliffs. It is a wonderful way to finish the trip and we are grinning from ear to ear as we walk back to the van - it really doesn t get much better than that and as we drive back to the hotel we discuss whether we want to change our magic moment or 'species of the trip' Back at the hotel we have time to pack and shower before gathering for lunch but there is a rather exciting moment when suddenly there is a rumbling and shaking of the hotel and we realise we are experiencing an earthquake!! It continues for a surprisingly long time - or so it feels (though probably only twenty second or so) and checking up later on the internet it was apparently a 5.6 on the Richter scale. We enjoy a very relaxed lunch in the shade by the hotel then time has finally gone and we head to the airport and our flight home.
17 Birds Little Grebe Black-necked Grebe Shag Night Heron Cattle Egret Squacco Heron Little Egret Grey Heron Purple Heron Glossy Ibis Greater Flamingo Shelduck Mallard Garganey Teal Shoveler Griffon Vulture Bonelli's Eagle Marsh Harrier Pallid Harrier Long-legged Buzzard Kestrel Lesser Kestrel Red-footed Falcon Eleanora's Falcon Peregrine Chukar Black Francolin Quail (h) Little Crake Baillon's Crake Moorhen Coot Stone-curlew Collared Pratincole Black-winged Stilt Cream-coloured Courser Spur-winged Plover Caspian Plover Little Ringed Plover Ringed Plover Kentish Plover Marsh Sandpiper Greenshank Spotted Redshank Green Sandpiper Wood Sandpiper Common Sandpiper Curlew Sandpiper Dunlin Little Stint Ruff Red-necked Phalarope Common Snipe Arctic Skua Yellow-legged Gull Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gull Slender-billed Gull Black-headed Gull Gull-billed Tern Whiskered Tern Feral Pigeon Wood Pigeon Collared Dove Turtle Dove Great Spotted Cuckoo Cuckoo Scops Owl (endemic subsp) Alpine Swift Common Swift Pallid Swift Hoopoe Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Roller Wryneck Short-toed Lark Crested Lark Barn Swallow Red-rumped Swallow House Martin Sand Martin Tawny Pipit Tree Pipit Red-throated Pipit Yellow Wagtail - Blue-headed race Motacilla flava flava Yellow Wagtail - Grey-headed race M f thunbergi Yellow Wagtail - M f supercilliaris race Yellow Wagtail - Black-headed race Motacilla feldegg White Wagtail Nightingale Common Redstart
18 Whinchat Isabelline Wheatear Northern Wheatear Cyprus Wheatear Black-eared Wheatear Blackbird (h) Zitting Cisticola Cetti's Warbler Reed Warbler Sedge Warbler Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Blackcap Lesser Whitethroat Common Whitethroat Spectacled Warbler Sardinian Warbler Cyprus Warbler Chiffchaff Wood Warbler Spotted Flycatcher Collared Flycatcher Semi-collared Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Coal Tit (endemic ssp) Great Tit Short-toed Treecreeper (endemic ssp) Woodchat Shrike Masked Shrike Jay (endemic ssp) Magpie Jackdaw Hooded Crow House Sparrow Spanish Sparrow Chaffinch Serin Greenfinch Goldfinch Linnet Crossbill (endemic ssp) Corn Bunting Ortolan Bunting Cretzschmar's Bunting Plus a Black Flamingo! Reptiles and Amphibians Starred Agama (endemic ssp) Snake-eyed Lizard Spiny-footed Lizard Cyprus Whip Snake Cyprus Marsh Frog (recently split sp) Butterflies Swallowtail Large White Small White Clouded Yellow Paphos Blue Painted Lady Red Admiral Cyprus Grayling Speckled Wood Wall Brown Peacock Common Blue Small Copper Eastern Dappled White Selected Plant list Nos. refer to Mediterranean Wild Flowers, (Grey- Wilson & Blamey) where they are found in this book Cedar of Lebanon Cedrus libanii 10 Cyprus Rock-cress Arabis cypria (syn. A.purpurea) 323 Hoary Stock Matthiola incana 327 Asparagus Pea Tetragonolobus purpureus 682 Blue-leaved Wattle Acacia cyanophylla 439 Bermuda Buttercup Oxalis pes-caprae 735 Sage-leaved Cistus Cistus salvifolius 965 Tamarisk Tamarix tetrandra 1021 Giant Fennel Ferula communis 1141 Scarlet Pimpernel (blue and red forms) Anagallis arvensis 1198 Winged Sea-lavender Limonium sinuatum 1220 Narrow-leaved Bugloss Echium angustifolium 1382 Cyprus Thyme Thymus integer Crown Daisy Chrysanthemum coronarium 1895 Eastern Salsify Tragopogon sinuatus 2058 Common Asphodel Asphodelus aestivus 2089 Field Gladiolus Gladiolus italicus 2307
19 Orchids Bug Orchid Orchis coriophora 2405 Naked Man Orchid Orchis italica 2409 Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis 2447 Giant Orchid Barlia robertiana 2446 Mammose Orchid Ophrys mammosa 2428d Woodcock Orchid Ophrys scolopax 2436 Long-lipped Tongue-orchid Serapias laxiflora 2450b