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CYPRUS

23–27 April 2022

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 Kato Paphos. Our hotel is close to the famous lighthouse and we should have time for a walk along the headland before sunset to search for migrants before settling in to our first night on Aphrodite’s Isle.

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, plus meadows and bushes that make it look like a cross between Flamborough and Portland. Birds we can expect here include Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike, Sardinian, Rüppell’s, Eastern Subalpine and Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, Greater Short-toed Lark, Isabelline Wheatear, Collared Flycatcher, Tawny Pipit and Cretzschmar’s Bunting. There should be a good selection of Yellow Wagtails, including ‘Black-headed’ (feldegg), Blue-headed’ (flava) and Grey-headed’ (thunbergi). A scan through them may provide the rare and quite stunning ‘superciliaris’ and 'dombrowskii’ forms. There are also superb Roman remains here, which we may have time to view.

Mandria We will head a short distance to Mandria on the Paphos plain, where the headland and farms create a migrant hotspot. The calls of Black Francolin will be heard everywhere, and we should be able to see one or two in the fields. Eurasian Thick-knee and Laughing Dove are resident, and there will be a selection of recently-arrived migrants in the area, mainly wheatears and wagtails, and if we are lucky we might find other specialities including Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Bimaculated Lark and Caspian Stonechat. We will keep our eye on the sea for migrating flocks of ducks and herons.

Anarita Park We will head a short distance inland to the foothills to seek out Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear, both of which are fairly common. The rolling, boulder-strewn hills at ‘Anarita Park’ host wintering Finsch’s Wheatear, one or two of which may still remain, and a number of other interesting passerine migrants including Great Spotted Cuckoo, Wryneck, Blue Rock Thrush, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear and Red-rumped Swallow. The area is a popular hunting ground for locally resident Long-legged Buzzard and Bonelli’s Eagle, plus migrating Pallid Harrier and Lesser Kestrel.

Agia Varvara Located in the Ezousas valley, this rich agricultural area with its seasonal river is another major route and stopover for migrants. A number of large soakaway pools to replenish the aquifers attract herons, waders and crakes, and we might be lucky to find Little and Spotted Crakes, perhaps even a Baillon’s Crake. Other species such as Black Francolin, Great Spotted Cuckoo and Great Snipe are regular here too, while the list of passerines we are likely to find is impressive.

Asprokremmos Dam Asprokremmos Dam is the largest reservoir in western Cyprus, and this large stretch of water is an irresistible stopover for many wetland species and other migrants. If the water level is low, we will look for passage waders as well as herons and egrets. We will look for Cyprus Warbler near the dam wall and there should be a good selection of other migrants in the bushes and olive groves around the reservoir, while Alpine Swift is usually common overhead.

As dusk approaches, we will listen out for the recently split Cyprus Scops-owl. If we don’t see one on our first attempt, we will certainly be able to locate ‘singing’ pairs so that we can return on other evenings.

Troodos We will spend most of the day visiting Troodos, where at an altitude of over 5,000 ft. we can explore the forest in the cool mountain air. We will see many Cyprus Wheatears on the way, as they often fly across the winding mountain roads. On reaching the village of Troodos we can start searching for the several Cyprus forest endemics, including ‘Cyprus’ Coal Tit,‘ ‘Cyprus’ Jay and ‘Dorothy’s’ Short-toed Tree-creeper, plus regional endemic races of Eurasian Wren, and Red Crossbill. One of our target birds is Masked Shrike, a common breeding visitor to these upland forests and we should see several, and also encounter breeding Pallid Swift and Eurasian Crag-martin. It is a very scenic area, and there are many suitable picnic sites.

Akrotiri Peninsula There are a number of excellent wetland sites on the peninsula. The shallow water of the Akrotiri Salt Lake attracts thousands of migrant wetland species, including a large Greater Flamingo population and good numbers of breeding Kentish Plover and Black-winged Stilt. We will visit Akrotiri Marsh and Lady’s Mile and doubtless encounter Ferruginous Duck, Garganey, Eurasian Marsh-harrier, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ruff, Temminck’s Stint and Marsh Sandpiper. A few migrant gulls are likely too, including Slender-billed. Armenian, Caspian and Baltic Gulls. The reed-beds hold warblers including Eurasian, Great Reed and Sedge Warblers and herons including Black-crowned Night-heron, Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egret, while the damp grass around the marsh hosts breeding Black Francolin and migrant Citrine Wagtail and Red-throated and Water Pipits. We will drive around the vast gravel pits to look for larks, wheatears and pipits and we hope to encounter one or two migrating birds of prey.

Kensington Cliffs This is an excellent place to watch Eurasian Griffons at close range. We may also see Peregrine Falcon and Alpine 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 migrants. The peninsula is a largely unspoilt area of hills and valleys, with gorse scrub, scattered carob, cereal fields, almond and olive groves. We will visit the inland Smygies picnic site to look for migrant breeders Masked Shrike and Cretzschmar’s Bunting, European Serin, warblers and flycatchers. Cyprus Scops Owl is often heard in the daytime (and we will look for any we hear!) and Northern Goshawk is a recent coloniser. At the Baths of Aphrodite, with its stunning views over Chrysochou Bay, we will look for Collared, Pied and Semi-collared Flycatchers, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler and Pallid Swift, the latter nesting in the cliffs and rocky islets. Anything can turn up here and we hope for some surprises.

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 be generally warm (12–22°C) at this time of year, with light pullovers required in the early mornings and evenings, and rain is possible. Troodos will be 5–10 degrees cooler. There will be a moderate amount of gentle walking with frequent stops for birds on moderate terrain. There are no special medical requirements and insects will generally not be a problem.

Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 5; maximum group size: 7 with 1 leader, 14 with 2 leaders.

Cyprus Wheatear

Cyprus Wheatear

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