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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Birding before the summer’s heat kicks in…. ]

Birding before the summer’s heat kicks in….

No matter how keen on birds you are, watching them in the summer is less enjoyable. JANE STYLIANOU on some of the visitors you may get to see before the heat sets in

However keen a birdwatcher, there comes a time of year when being out in the open looking at birds loses some of its appeal. That time is surely approaching as the temperature begins to rise. This made me think that I should be careful to ensure that anywhere I recommend you visit this month should not require a difficult walk or the need for long hours out in the open. In addition, by way of a change, this month I will not be talking about one Cyprus bird-watching site but suggesting several different spots that you could visit to catch the last of the spring migrants that are still speeding through the island on their way north.
By the end of May most passage migrants have moved through Cyprus on the way north. Yet there are still a few places, especially those that still have water, where it is possible to spot various herons, waders and terns resting and feeding before continuing their journeys. Some of them may hang around for several days. Lady’s Mile in Limassol is one area worth checking for all these types of birds. This May has been especially interesting. Three Red-necked Phalarope, a scarce passage migrant to Cyprus, have spent at least three weeks there. These birds breed in the Arctic region and, unusually for birds, it is the female that is the more brightly coloured. She also mates with different males and leaves them to incubate the eggs and raise the young.

Wading birds like the pools behind the road in the area and although the unusual Red-necked Phalaropes are an unlikely visitor, these pools are worth scanning for Broad-billed Sandpiper and the commoner Curlew Sandpiper. Both of these are regular in the spring although the former only in ones or twos. Another place to look for these two waders is the Spiro’s Pool area of Larnaca Salt Lake. When this pool has water, as it has this spring, it can be teaming with waders and has recently been used by hundreds of Little Stints and Ruff, among others.

Spiro’s Pool is also one of the wetlands that members of the Tern family use at this time of year. Little and Common Terns have bred in the area recently and they are very likely to be seen there. White-winged Terns and Whiskered Terns may also be spotted but they are migrating through. These birds also appear at Lady’s Mile and at another wetland – Achna Dam. Last year Achna Dam – which is between Larnaca and Ayia Napa - dried up completely in contrast to other years when it held water all-year long. At present there is enough water though to make it an attractive resting place for water birds. Again Broad-billed Sandpiper have been spotted along with the commoner waders. An unusual visitor in mid May was the Great Snipe.
The vegetation around Achna Dam makes it attractive to the many heron species that pass through Cyprus. The commoner Little and Great Egrets, Grey and Squacco Heron rest there and some lucky visitors may also come across Little Bittern and Spoonbills. The Spoonbill is an impressive, white, heron-like bird but with a distinctive spoon-shaped tip to its long bill, which is usually yellow on adult birds. Lady’s Mile and Spiro’s Pool are good places to search for herons as well. Readers in the west of the island will be pleased to find that they do not have to travel east and that the plentiful rain that their area received over the winter months means that the dams there, such as that of Asprokremos, also provide the ideal conditions for these species.

As well as the species mentioned, recent visitors to Asprokremos, which is situated off the motorway on the way into Paphos from Limassol, include Cattle Egret and Glossy Ibis. Although too far inland to attract terns on a regular basis, migrating waders such as Curlew Sandpiper, Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit have been recorded there in the last few weeks.

Once these wetlands start to dry up and as we move into summer anyone interested in discovering the birds of Cyprus would be well advised to start moving to higher ground!

Keep informed about recent sightings of birds in Cyprus by visiting the BirdLife Cyprus website and thus make sure that you go where the birds are. If you want to know more about Cyprus’ birds or are interested in joining BirdLife Cyprus please contact PO Box 28076, 2090 Nicosia, Tel: 22 455072 or email

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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