Saturday, March 1, 2014

Pafos, Cyprus - 1st to 8th March 2014

Highlights from a surprisingly fruitful week-long trip to Pafos, Cyprus.  This was a classic non-birding trip, ie. pack your bins and hope that something interesting turns up.  Due to ill health, the main aim was to rehabilitate and so all the sightings were made around the locality.

Staying at the four star Kefalos Beach Village conveniently located between the Archealogical Park and the harbour provided the perfect opportunity to explore the headland.

2nd March

Dull and overcast, discovering later that this was due to a threatening sandstorm further inland.  Next to the hotel was a bare patch of land, a set-aside safeguarded for future development perhaps but for the time being, an area that produced some early migrants.  

Desert Wheatear

This stunning male DESERT WHEATEAR (a lifer) was the first bird seen on the trip having been brought down by the storm.  To have this by the hotel was a real surprise as was the supporting cast of a couple of Northern Wheatear, a Little Ringed Plover, a calling 'Yellow Wagtail', at least ten White Wagtail, and six Crested Lark.  A walk along the coastal path that links the Tomb of the Kings and the Harbour was to become my morning routine.  Due to the inland storm, there was more quality in the form of a Short-Eared Owl that flew in off the sea being mobbed by Hooded Crows, my first ever ISABELLINE WHEATEAR, three singing Corn Bunting, a single Zitting Cisticola, Little Egret, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Hoopoe, and Common Stonechat that were abundant along the path.


3rd March

By the hotel, two Northern Wheatear (male and female), at least ten Spanish Sparrow, and two Black Redstart were noted  Two House Martin flew through.

The coastal walk produced my first GREATER SAND PLOVER with two adults, one in winter and one in summer plumage.  The birds were hidden within the rocks so there was much satisfaction in finding them.

Greater Sand Plover

A trip to the Archaeological Park for the ruins and mosaics also held a good number of birds.  At least six Northern Wheatear (four males) and five Black Redstart were present, with a skulking Reed Warbler in the scrub, a dozen Spanish Sparrow, and a first summer male Eastern Black Eared Wheatear that appeared amongst the ruin.  A Greater Short-Toed Lark fed alongside the resident Crested Lark.  Along the foreshore a Common Sandpiper, and an Isabelline Wheatear were probably new in.

First summer male Eastern Black-Eared Wheatear

Greater Short-Toed Lark

Isabelline Wheatear

4th March

Settling down now into a routine, the morning walk produced a Hoopoe at the patch, with a single Meadow Pipit, four Skylark, two Black Redstart, a female Nothern Wheatear, and a male Sardinian Warbler.

A tourist trip to St. Pauls Pillar, there was an impressive number of around 40 Chiffchaff all busy feeding in a small area of woodland.  There were no other warblers with them, but two Black Redstart were present.

Christian Basilica

5th March

The morning started with four female Northern Wheatear on the Tomb of the Kings site viewed from the the coast path where there were three Black Redstart, two Sardinian Warbler, and two Meadow Pipit.

A walk in the opposite direction towards the Harbour returned a migrant Whimbrel and a Common Sandpiper on the rocky headland.

Petra-tou-Romeiu or Aphrodite's Rock as it is more ubiquitously known is an impressive site, most notably for the views across the bay illuminated by the choleric aquamarine sea, with waves crashing against the rocky outcrop.  The rock itself is a triumph for marketing tourism.  It's just a rock.  Controversial.

A nature trail winds its way up the hill behind the rock and is worth a visit for the views across the bay.  Continue on, and that path will eventually terminate back onto the main coastal road where a short walk will lead all foot-weary tourists to a rather lovely restaurant with tables overlooking the sea.

The trail held a decent selection of birds, with a Long-Legged Buzzard, and a Common Buzzard observed soaring over the tops, with at least six Sardinian Warbler, three singing Blackcap, a single Willow Warbler, singing Cetti's Warbler, and three Black Redstart.

6th March

A trip to the Tomb of the Kings was worth the visit for both archeological ruins and for birdlife. There were plenty of incoming migrants with a total of six Northern Wheatear (1m, 5f), two Black Redstart, around ten Meadow Pipits, a smart male Subalpine Warbler, a Hoopoe, and two Corn Bunting.

7th March

A dedicated birding day took us to Mandria.  This quiet coastal town is a reliable site for migrants and with the assistance of a couple of English birders, kindly offered us a lift to the beach area where we started our walk.  The birding was great, first connecting with another stunning male Desert Wheatear followed closely by an Isabelline Wheatear.  Great to get them both in the same view.

The scrubby area by the beach produced some interesting birds with three Northern Wheatear (1m, 2f), my first ever RED-THROATED PIPIT with three birds together including a nice summer male, a single Woodlark, a Greater Short-Toed Lark, 12 Black-Headed Wagtail, and a 'Blue' Headed Wagtail of the form dombrowskii.

Black Headed Wagtail

8th March

The date of the return journey home, but not without one last walk round the Headland.  It turned out to be the best morning for birds of the entire trip.

A female Northern Wheatear, a Common Sandpiper, female Black Redstart, and Grey Wagtail were noted first thing by the hotel.

Walking down towards the harbour and my second sighting of Greater Sand Plover on the rocks was complimented by a single Black Headed Wagtail.

The Archaeological Park was gold this particular morning.  Barely inside a Reed Warbler. my second male Subalpine Warbler, and a Common Whitethroat were active amongst the scrub.

Northern Wheatear were new in with at least five seen (4m, 1f), as was an Isabelline Wheatear.  In amongst the ruins, two Tawny Pipit were busy feeding.

Tawny Pipit

Black Redstart were particularly obliging as was the Great Spotted Cuckoo that sat atop a bush for a short time which was a bird I was keen to catch up with.

Black Redstart

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Later on in the walk, a flock of five Woodlark and a Blue Rock Thrush were seen.

Contact Cyprus Bird Tours with any sightings whilst in the country

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