Tuesday 16 January 2024

Cyprus 2023 - the next bit

Following breakfast we headed back to Agia Varvara to try and improve on some Little Crake photos. 

Little Crake

The birds (one male and one female) remained at the opposite side of the pool so shots were always going to be difficult and the above is the best I could manage.

Further down the track past the pools though was a small orchard and farm entrance where we enjoyed nice views of a male Collared Flycatcher, Cretzschmar's Bunting, several Tree Pipits and a Woodchat Shrike.

Tree Pipit

Woodchat Shrike

Collared Flycatcher

From here we drove to the headland at Akrotiri. Starting at the reedbed first and then driving the tracks around the gravel pits. From the elevated hide at the reedbed we had Spur-winged Plover, Black--winged Stilts, Wood Sandpipers, Great White Egrets and Glossy Ibis. Driving around the track we several groups of Teal, Glossy Ibis and Wood Sandpipers.

Glossy Ibis

We had little of much interest on our drive along the narrow tracks and eventually sighted Agios Georgios Chapel off in the distance and set forth towards that as there had been reports of migrants in the trees and bushes surrounding the little chapel. The track to the chapel looked like it had some rather large pools of water so rather than risk getting the rental car stuck, I decided to pull it over to the side and go on foot to the chapel - not a good idea as it turns out and more on that later!
En route to the chapel we dug out a few Northern Wheatears, Kentish Plovers and Nick found a male Spectacled Warbler which happened to be the only male of that species I'd ever seen. 

The chapel itself turned out to be very good with the highlight being this stunning male Ruppell's Warbler (L). 

Ruppell's Warbler

Great find by Nick and I would without hesitation mark this down as bird of the trip. 

Agios Georgios Chapel

On the opposite side of the road from the Chapel we searched a small area of scrub and bushes where we had a singing Eastern Subalpine Warbler which was a lifer for me (and possibly Nick though I stand to be corrected there) however, frustratingly, we couldn't get eyes on it and it remained unseen and unticked.

We commenced the track back to where had parked the car and from a distance through my bins I could see a British Army Land Rover parked up beside our rental vehicle with two soldiers standing by it peering in. It was then I remembered the signs saying not to stop or leave your vehicle unattended (its close to a sensitive military area and RAF base). I'll be honest and say my heart was in my mouth as I walked back along the track towards the soldiers and I wondered if we might indeed be requested to come back to the barracks and answer some questions. Thankfully, nothing like that happened. I realised my mistake, apologised for being a dimwit and promised not to leave my car like that ever again in Akrotiri. Lesson learnt!

We drove on across Lady's Mile Beach, stopping from time to time to scope distant waders. Best we had here were Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Greater Flamingo, Greenshank and Black-winged Stilt. 

Meanwhile a report on the Cyprus Bird Sightings WhatsApp group of a Finsch's Wheatear had us diverting towards Anarita Park. Anarita Park is a well known spot for wintering Finsch's Wheatear and we both expected those birds to be gone by the time we got to Cyprus so it was really good news to know there was still one about. Sadly though there was no sign of the bird when we got there. The diversion was worthwhile though as we did see an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, another lifer for me!

At this stage we had left it rather late to take the long drive east for the Diedrik Cuckoo. But instead we headed back to Agia Varvara where a Baillon's Crake was now reported. Thankfully we connected with this bird quite soon after our arrival. Another lifer for me!

Baillon's Crake

Our last port of call for the day was back to the Mavrokolympos Dam to check the cliffs above the road that leads up to the reservoir for Cyprus Scops Owl. This had been a reliable spot in the past but we didn't see or hear Scops Owl on this occasion. 

Nick inspects the cliff face for Cyprus Scops Owl

It had been an extraordinarily long day and a long time since lunch, we left empty-handed and returned to the hotel for a late dinner and bed.

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