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CYPRUS

24–29 April 2019

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and, due to its position off the coasts of Lebanon and Israel, attracts a large number of migrants. This tour will specifically target the breeding endemic Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear together with the recently-split Cyprus Scops-owl and the scarce Black Francolin.

Day 1 Flight from London to Paphos followed by a transfer to our hotel for the next five nights in Coral Bay. We will then head a short distance inland up into the hills where we will seek out Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear, both of which are common. As dusk approaches, we will listen out for the recently split Cyprus Scops-owl. Although it isn’t a true endemic, as there are winter records on the adjacent mainland, realistically, it is only possible to see them on the island. If we don’t see one tonight, we will certainly be able to locate ‘singing’ pairs so that we can return on other nights.

Days 2–5 The itinerary will be completely flexible during these four full days to ensure that we enjoy the best views of the breeding endemics, speciality birds and migrants. We will, however, visit most/all of the following sites at least once:

Paphos Headland An outstanding migration watchpoint with a lighthouse and a few bushes that looks like a cross between Flamborough and Portland. Birds we can expect to see here include Red-backed, Lesser Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Tawny and Red-throated Pipits, Rüppell’s, Eastern Olivaceous and Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, Greater Short-toed Lark and Collared Flycatcher. There are also superb Roman remains here, which we will have time to view.

Asprokremmos Dam One of the few places in Cyprus where fresh water can be found. If the water level is low, we will look for passage waders as well as herons and egrets. In the bushes and olive groves around the reservoir we should see Spectacled and Sardinian Warblers, Masked Shrike, Eurasian Hoopoe and Cretzschmar’s Bunting. The wires by the road are good lookout posts for European Roller and shrikes. Isabelline and Black-eared Wheatears can be found in the more open areas and there is a good chance of Black, White-winged and Whiskered Terns over the reservoir; we may even find some migrant Great White Pelicans. Nearby we may have time to visit the Baths of Aphrodite.

Troodos Mountains We can spend time in the hotter part of the day here, where the temperatures are a little cooler. Imperial and Bonelli’s Eagles both breed here and there are endemic races of several species in the forests, including Coal Tit, Red Crossbill and Short-toed Treecreeper. It is a very scenic area, good for picnics, and we will also spend time looking for Hawfinch, Eurasian Jay, Eurasian Crag-martin and Alpine Swift.

Akrotiri Salt Lake and Reed Beds If there is water in the salt pans, we may see Greater Flamingo and various passage waders. Hundreds of European Bee-eaters congregate around this area together with Red-footed Falcons feeding on the insects. Eurasian Marsh-harriers and Pallid Harriers hunt over the area, and in the scrub are many Zitting Cisticolas and Cetti’s Warblers. The reed beds also hold passage warblers including Eurasian and Great Reed Warblers, Sedge and Moustached Warblers and resident herons including Black-crowned Night-heron, Little Bittern and Squacco Heron. We will also look for migrant Little, Spotted and Baillon’s Crakes around the reed edges. In the nearby agricultural areas, Black Francolin can be found.

Kensington Cliffs This is an excellent place to watch Eurasian Griffons at close range. We may also see Peregrine Falcon and Pallid Swift; however, it is unlikely that the Eleonora’s Falcons will have returned by this time. On the sea, we will look for the eastern Mediterranean race of European Shag.

Akamas Peninsula This is a fantastic area for migrant landbirds, whilst seabirds such as Scopoli’s and Yelkouan Shearwaters, Audouin’s and Yellow-legged Gulls can also be seen passing. Birds of prey pass through in good numbers, with European Honey-buzzard being the predominant species. Herons also move eastward along the north coast here and, in with the usual Grey Herons and Little Egrets we may encounter Purple Heron and Glossy Ibis. On some days, Thrush Nightingale and Ortolan Bunting can be found, whilst on other days we are more likely to see commoner species such as Whinchat, Eurasian Blackcap and Greater and Lesser Whitethroats. Blue Rock-thrush and Chukar also breed in the area and we will make a point of looking for them.

We will visit many other, smaller sites, and species like Spanish Sparrow, Crested Lark and Red-rumped Swallow will be commonplace.

Day 6 We will have the morning to revisit local sites before returning to Paphos airport to catch our flight to London at the end of the tour.

General Information The climate will generally be warm at this time of year although rain is possible. There will be a moderate amount of gentle walking with frequent stops for birds on moderate terrain except for the Troodos Mountains, which are a little more demanding. There are no special medical requirements and insects will generally not be a problem.

Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 4; maximum group size: 6 with 2 leaders, 13 with 3 leaders.

Cyprus Wheatear

Cyprus Wheatear

Recommended books available from NHBS