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Cyprus

Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus ©Peter Jones Website

The politically divided island of Cyprus lies on one of the major bird migration routes across the Mediterranean. With Africa to the south, Turkey and central Europe to the north and Syria and the Middle East to the east, Cyprus is a major staging post used twice a year as birds move between Africa, Europe and Euro-Asia. Almost 200 species occur as regular passage migrants, while another 20 or so occur irregularly. Fatbirder treats the island as one for birding purposes and has no deliberate bias and no political view.

The resident species number in the lower 50s and some 40 or more are migrant species, which regularly or occasionally breed. The Island list stands at 365 species, which includes accidental or vagrant species and those like Stonechat and Black Redstart, which are abundant winter visitors. The degree of endemism is quite high which is surprising when you consider the Island’s close proximity to the mainland and its large migrant and wintering population. 2 species are currently recognized as endemic; the Cyprus Wheatear and the Cyprus Warbler and both are migratory. The Island also has 5 sedentary subspecies, Scop's Owl, Coal Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Jay and Crossbill.

Probably the best time to visit Cyprus is in the spring when, in addition to the hordes of migrants in their readily identifiable breeding plumages one can also see the resident and summer breeding visitors. Spring migration starts very early, by the end of February Great Spotted Cuckoo are numerous and the first Isabelline Wheatear are passing through. Early March sees the first Hoopoe and by the end of this month larks, hirundines, pipits, wagtails, warblers and buntings are in super abundance. Wryneck can be very common and Nightingale seem to pop out from every piece of low vegetation, quite happy to hop on the ground in front of you, quite different behavior from that observed on their breeding grounds. April is the prime month if you want the largest total of species, particularly the middle 2 weeks. Some of the winter visitors will probably still be hanging on, the migrant breeders will have arrived, including Black-headed Bunting, which is probably the latest arrival and the flocks of European migrants are streaming through; magic! It is also now that most vagrants occur as well!

Water bird and wader numbers start to build up in April and huge flocks of duck can be seen streaming by off shore. Both Cory's and Mediterranean Shearwater add excitement to a spring [and autumn] sea watch, a pretty pointless exercise at any other time of the year. It is in spring that we are now starting to receive skua records, previously an extreme rarity, but now being seen annually thanks to some dedicated visitors. Wader passage continues well into May, Broad-billed Sandpiper being one of the latest.

Breeding birds include very high populations of Great Spotted Cuckoo, particularly in the west were their host species, Magpies are in plague proportions in some areas. Roller also breed in good numbers all over the Island, as does Masked Shrike in the foothills. Olivaceous Warbler sing from every bush and Cyprus Wheatear seem to occupy every available spot, their choice of habitat is really catholic! Cretzschmar's Bunting breed on the sparsely vegetated hillsides but can be difficult to find unless you know where to look. Golden Oriole can be very difficult to track down on their breeding sites as you are no doubt aware, but they are there for those with the patience to search. We are getting increasing records of breeding Bee-eater; surprisingly difficult to locate once they set about rearing a brood.

The spring raptor passage is only a fraction of the autumn passage but it is in spring that we receive most Pallid Harrier sightings, particularly males. Breeding raptors include decent numbers of Bonelli's Eagle but I am afraid that Imperial Eagle has now been lost, unless of course you know different! Griffon Vulture are now restricted to the Western Sovereign Base site, a result of illegal shooting and poisoning. Peregrine, Goshawk and Long-legged Buzzard also breed and 2 years ago we had our first Sparrowhawk breeding record. Eleonora's Falcon are numerous on the western sea cliffs from May onwards and Kestrel are very numerous all over the Island.

It is in the autumn, from early September onwards to the end of October, that we get the main raptor movement. Honey Buzzard can be seen in the hundreds around the Akrotiri Peninsular and Black Kite and Steppe Buzzard can also be very numerous. Lesser Spotted Eagle is annual and in some years Booted Eagle can be quite numerous. October is the month for Red-footed Falcon, the area around Mandria near the Paphos Airport and Phasouri Reed Beds being well known feeding sites for this species.

It is also in autumn, early September in fact, that we get the Demoiselle Crane. They arrive early evening at the Akrotiri Salt Lake and rest there overnight before catching the early thermals the next morning. The best time to see them is to visit the Salt Lake at first light, scope the lake from a vantage point, the area around Sylvana's Restaurant is suggested, and then position yourself on the Salt Lake track to get decent views. Please, please do not try to get too close; they spend the night here because they are undisturbed!

The winter months can also be very productive. Stonechats, of every conceivable race, are very common as are Black Redstart. A specialty species is Finsch's Wheatear, found in all suitable habitat, and Wallcreeper are to be found but require time, effort and some local knowledge to locate.

Cyprus is a wonderful country to birdwatch despite all the illegal liming and netting of birds that goes on. The Illegal catching of birds can occur anywhere on the Island, but does have a contraction east of Larnaca, towards the Eastern Sovereign base area near Ayia Napa. this activity is potentially is the greatest threat to the Cyprus birds and those migrating through the Island than any other illegal hunting activity. Any illegal liming or netting should be reported to Game Fund. It is unadvisable to take your own action against the equipment found as the person reasonsable might be nearby and do so could result in confrontational situation occurring.

Cyprus like most countries has legalised shooting of Game birds, though unlike the UK, Cyprus does allow the shooting of Skylark and Thrushes between November and February. All shooting is illegal between March and around 20 August. Shooting is not allowed every day during the open season. In spring you potentially will not encounter many, if any shooting incidents of birds. Autumn during the open season is the time of year that you will witness legalised shooting. It is more likely that you may experience infringements during this period. There was the well documented shooting of a number of Red-footed Falcons near Akrotiri. Unfortunately, whilst incidents like this can occur, if you visit Cyprus you will not necessarily experience incidents of shooting of non-game species as a regular daily occurance.

If you do witness any such activity write and express your concerns about it to Letters of protest should be sent to:

Cyprus High Commission, 93 Park Street, London W1Y 4ET, Cyprus Tourist Organisation, 17 Hanover Street, London, W1S 1YT. Tel 020 7569 8800 or to the
Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Main, 19 Lemesou Avenue, 2112 Aglantzia, Nicosia.

To show your support consider joining and supporting the work of Birdlife Cyprus anti-trapping campaign (see website details below) or ring (00 357) 22455072. , With the assistance of the RSPB, active work is taken each year in conjunction with the Game Fund and Sovereign base authorities to reduce the incidences of illegal trapping. The more members that Birdlife Cyprus can recruit the better!

NB This advice is only relevant to the Cypriot (Greek) part of Cyprus and not the northern (Turkish) area.

Contributor

Jeff Gordon

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 374

Endemics

Number of endemics: 2

2 species are currently recognized as endemic; the Cyprus Wheatear and the Cyprus Warbler and both are migratory. The Island also has 5 sedentary subspecies, Scop`s Owl, Coal Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Jay and Crossbill.

Checklist

Checklist

WebBirder Checklist

Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder

Useful Reading

Northern Cyprus in Spring - "Mayblossom in March"

Naturalist and North Cyprus enthusiast, Malcolm Rymer, invites you to savour the region's natural beauty and fascinating flora and fauna in this celebration of Northern Cyprus throughout the Spring. - Buy direct from the filmmaker: http://www.wildlifevideos.net/cyprus_new.html

A Birdwatching Guide to Cyprus

by Stagg and Hearl - An attractive where to watch birds guide covering the southern Greek partof Cyprus. The directions and maps in the site guide are accurate and easy to follow. There is also a 24 page checklist and a ticklist. 1998. Arlequin Press, UK. 88 pages, photos, maps & vignettes. A5, softback. ?9.95

ISBN: 1900159805

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A Birdwatching Guide To Cyprus

by Jacquie Croxzier Arlequin Publications 1998

ISBN: 1900159805

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Birds of Cyprus

by P R Flint and P F Stewart (2nd Edition)Published by the BOU, this is the current standard work on the island`s birds. Introductory chapters cover the history of Cyprus ornithology,geography, geology, climate, vegetation, migration, breeding and conservation. The main part of the book is an annotated systematic list which for each species includes (where known or applicable): abundance and phenology ; changes in status; migration patterns and routes; breedinghabitat, distribution and density; nest sites and materials; song periods; clutch and brood dates and sizes; post breeding dispersal; conservation andtaxonomy. Appendices cover omitted species, biometrics, ringing recoveries, bird protection, a guide to bird watching sites and a migration table. There is also an extensive bibliography. 1992. 224 pages, maps, figures, colour & b/w plates.
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 0907446140

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Birds of Cyprus

by Birds of Cyprusby Lucas Christophorou - A photographic guide to the island`s birds, with hundreds of good and often excellent photos taken by the author over fourteen years. For each species there is a text briefly covering status, identification and sometimes habitat, diet, breeding etc. Also included are attractive photos of landscapes and habitats - of particular value because they show what exists now and what is being lost due to the rapid destruction of natural habitats for tourist developments and retirement/ second homes. For anyoneholidaying in Cyprus, the local price is a bargain. 1998. Chr. Nicolaou & Sons Ltd, Cyprus. 268 pages, 750 photos. Large format softback. ?18 Cyprus Pounds plus VAT. Price in UK ?48

ISBN: 9963835805

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Breeding Birds of Cyprus

by Louis Kourtellarides - A good English translation of an earlier Greek edition. The plumage, habitat, food and breeding of each species are described in a generalmanner, with a final section specific to Cyprus. The Cyprus data include some valuable and previously unpublished records, e.g. the first breeding of Pied Kingfisher and Blackbird. The many photos show adults and sometimes also nests, eggs and young; most were taken in the wild, though a fair minority were taken in captivity. The content of the book and its appearance (large format, large print, large photos and lots of white space), suggest it is intended to appeal to the general reader as well as to birders. 1998. Bank of Cyprus Group/Cyprus Ornithological Society. 314 pages, c.300photos. Large format, hardback. ?16 Cyprus Pounds plus VAT.

ISBN: 9963420680

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Cyprus Bird Report 2006

Edited by Colin Richardson - 172 pages, col photos, maps, tabs, figs. BirdLife Cyprus

ISBN: 171028

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Cyprus Breeding Birds Atlas

by David Whaley and Judy Dawes - The results of atlas surveys made in 1995-2002 covering mainly Paphos district: the only part of the island to hold all the endemic species and sub-species, plus other species such as Griffon Vulture, Eleonora`sFalcon and Woodchat Shrike, which breed only in that area. The 5 km gridmap for each species is accompanied by an annotated text which covers the present breeding status, distribution and habitat, and highlights any changes since the publication of the second edition of The Birds of Cyprus in 1992. Scarce breeding records prior to 1992 are also mentioned, as are species with the potential to breed in the future. 2003. A4, comb bound,39 pages, maps & b/w photos. ?7.50 Cyprus Pounds, ?10 Sterling or 15 Euros - including postage. From David Whaley, P. O. Box 66, Goudi, 8850 Paphos, Cyprus. Fax ++357 26 815289

ISBN: 9963890601

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Finding Birds in Cyprus

Dave Gosney Paperback (January 1993) Gostours - and DVD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZxsbGqkzVQ&feature=channel

ISBN: 1898110131

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North Cyprus 2001 Bird Report and Checklist

Published by Kuskor (North Cyprus Society for the Protection of Birds andNature). A4, 47 pages, comb bound. Price ?6 (UK pounds) plus ?2 air mail postage and packing to Europe. Payment may also be made in Cyprus Pounds, Euros, or Turkish Lira. The publication of the report has been fully sponsored and all proceeds will be used to aid the work of Kuskor.

Where to Watch Birds in Turkey Greece & Cyprus

Welch, Rose, Moore, Oddie & Sigg. Hamlyn (1996)

ISBN: 0600582329

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Useful Information

Cyprus Birdline (357) 25275099

Is a service to local and visiting birders giving up to date information on rare and unusual birds recently seen on the Island… report sightings ring the Bird Recorder on (357) 26946682

Recorder - Colin Richardson

Richar@cytanet.com.cy

Reporting Sightings

To report sightings ring (357) 26946682 [The Birdline no. is still correct but you have to listen to the message and then you are given the option of reporting your own sightings. (The calls are very cheap, within Paphos at least.]

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Cyprus Birding Tours

Website

Bird-Tours Cyprus cyprusbirdtours@gmail.com - Jane Stylianou offers guided tours around the Republic of Cyprus. She has lived on the island since 1985, is an active birder and involved in birding projects for BirdLife Cyprus and others. She is the author of the Bank of Cyprus book 'Birds of Cyprus'… Also see Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cyprusbirdtours

Kudu Travel

Tour Operator

North Cyprus: a Walking Tour for Birds, Flowers and Crusader Castles

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2006 [05 May] - Tom Tams

Report

…We covered the main birding areas and I ended up with three new lifers, which I did not connect with on a previous trip to Cyprus some five years earlier…

2006 [09 September] - Jens Sogaard & Poul Ulrik

Report

pdf

2008 [09 September] - Mark Hows

Report

This was no ordinary birding trip it was a week in Cyprus to get married, there were lots of meetings to sort stuff out and parents to keep happy oh and a wedding day so the birding had to be squeezed in around all this…

2008 [10 October] - Steve & Sue Wilce

Report

he river had dried out completely, the birds, however, had not. The bushes were full of Willow Warblers and Olivaceous Warblers. There was a brief shower of rain and after this the birds really showed well. Also present was a Stonechat and Bee Eaters flew overhead…

2010 [12 December] - Bob Shiret

Report

This short report has been compiled to cover our latest trip to Paphos, whilst we did not expect to see too much we were very pleased to see some interesting birds including four lifers …

2011 [06 June] - Steve Baines - Dhiarizos Valley

Report

I have had the pleasure of birding around the southern, Greek, half of Cyprus for a few years in my time. From 1978 to 81, courtesy of HM forces, I lived on RAF Akrotiri and then from 1989 to 91 I found myself working at the very top of Troodos Mountain, although actually residing in Trimiklini, a beautifully green village some 8 Km below the mountain village of Platres. Trimiklini was known by all who worked up the mountain as ‘the tropics’ as the snow line in winter never came below Platres. The first winter we were there we got snowed in for 3 days! Anyway suffice to say I have managed to accrue a fair few birds on the island during these times…

2012 [04 April] - Ian Kinley

Report

… As on our last visit in 2007, this part of the island remained really under-watched and it suited us to search for our own birds. It proved to be another very enjoyable trip with highlights including White-throated Robin, Caspian Plover, Greater Sandplover, Thrush Nightingale, Pied Kingfisher, Citrine Wagtail, four species of harrier including good numbers of Pallid, Spotted and Little Crakes, Ruppell’s and Orphean Warblers, Ortolan and Cretzschmar’s Buntings and much more…

2012 [08 August] - Colin Manville

Report PDF

…I immediately come across a pair of Lesser Grey Shrikes and a Masked Strike. It was difficult to get close as the birds seemed very wary. Eventually after some skulking around I managed some decent close views I decided to return that evening with a camera and scope. When I returned to the pool it appeared I had been away a couple of hours – not good. The day wore on with only a couple of Barn Swallows over the pool…

2013 [04 April] - Bob Shiret - Paphos area

Report

This trip was our first to Cyprus when full migration was underway, this made a huge difference to the number of birds seen. On an expertly guided trip many more birds would have been seen, but as ours was predominantly a walking holiday, we were more than happy with it and Paphos was the ideal centre to access a large number of locations…

2014 [03 March] - Bob Shiret

Report

…Birds seen here and the adjacent fields were six Cretzchmar’s Bunting, ten Red-Rumped Swallow, fifty Barn Swallow, twenty House Martin, four Serin, two Meadow Pipit, thirty Corn Bunting, two Chukar, ten Northern Wheatear, one Black-eared Wheatear, one hundred Spanish Sparrow, two Spectacled Warbler, three Red Throated Pipit (lifer), one flyover male pale Harrier seen was a probable Montagu’s as one was found later by others in the area…

2015 [03 March] - Bob Shiret

Report

Our trip this year was a week earlier than last year and produced a good number of different birds and we visited four new locations. I have included directions to these; other location directions can be found on my previous reports on the Real Birder website...

2015 [03 March] - Paul Sharp

Report PDF

...At first our searching of the fields near the beach revealed little – White Wagtails and Meadow Pipits, plus the common Crested Larks. Driving along the un-surfaced road towards the picnic site it became clear that the rough ground held good numbers of birds, so we spend some time searching this area. Here amongst the more commonly seen birds we added more Red-throated and Tawny Pipits, and our only Greater Short-toed Larks and Desert Wheatear.

2015 [04 April] - Cliff Waller

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...Upon arrival we visited Zakaki pool which we found was suffering from reed encroachment making it less suitable for waders. We visited the new hide and found several good birds, the best of which was a very obliging Little Crake. Ferruginous Duck, Common Sandpiper, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard and Reed Warbler were also new; and as some of us left the hide a Little Bittern appeared.

2015 [08 August] - South & West Cyprus

Report PDF

...Then on to Troodos. Within minutes had a Cyprus Jay. These are actually very common, with a further 5 seen. Took the pony track from the back of the public toilets that leads to two large holding tanks. After a bit of ‘pishing’, I was soon surrounded by Cyprus Coal Tit and (Dorothy’s) Short Toed Treecreeper. 3 Palid Swifts flew overhead.

2016 [01 January] - Jonathan Lethbridge

Report

A 3 day trip in early January with Andrew M, Saturday to Monday, targeting wintering Finsch's Wheatear.

2016 [03 March] - Bob Shiret

Report

I have to confess that before embarking on this year's trip I doubted whether I would be constructing a report afterwards as it could be too similar to previous years and not of interest. However I could not have been more wrong! I was lucky enough to be the finder of a very rare (in Cyprus) Asian Desert Warbler and also made contact (after some effort!) with a Namaqua Dove (found by others) which is similarly rare

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Acorn Villa - Troodos Mountains

Accommodation

Acorn Villa is located next to the famous 800 year old Oak tree, and surrounded by vineyards, and flora, great for the nature lovers and birdwatchers, lots of tracks for walkers and cyclists….

Holiday Appartment - Pyla (near Larnaca)

Accommodation

Special rates for fatbirder users! quote this code: P07C101

Paphos Villa to Let

Accommodation

I have a holiday house just outside Paphos to let. Paphos is generally considered the quieter, more civilized end of the island. Although there are a few night clubs and loads of bars in Paphos, if you are only after razzle and noise try Ayia Napa! If on the other hand you want a quiet, comfortable base from which to explore the island then read on. Most of the other villas in the group have permanent residents so it really is quiet!

Perivoli Holiday Villa

Accommodation

If you are a Birdwatcher there could be no better place to stay ! You can watch birds at the DIARIZOS VALLEY (150 meters from the villa) or just visit ASPROKREMNOS DUM, which is just 2km away….

Peyia Apartment

Accommodation

2 bed apartment for rent…

Vasilias Nikoklis Inn

Accommodation

The area is an unspoiled paradise for bird watchers at any time, but particularly during the migration season. Francolin, kestrel, vulture, hoopoe, warblers and kingfisher are often to be seen in the valley. Every year swallows nest in the bar and dining room…

Organisations

BirdLife Cyprus

Website

Cyprus birding, information, conservation issues, contacts, species list, photographs and much more.

Cyprus Conservation Foundation

Website

The geographical position of the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean gives it especial importance as a stopping place for millions of migrant birds moving between Africa and Europe and western Asia each year. During the northward migration in Spring, and the southward movement in the Autumn, huge numbers of birds of many different species use Cyprus as a stepping-stone during their arduous flights across the Mediterranean. Because of the morphology of the island, the migrants tend to funnel into certain areas, making them extremely vulnerable to human interference…

North Cyprus Society for the Protection of Birds

Website

Kuzey Kibris Kuslari ve Dogayi Koruma Dernegi -KUSKOR - First institutionalised attempts at the protection of the birds in Northern Cyprus started in 1989, with the foundation of the North Cyprus Society for the Protection of Birds, NCSPB (or KUSKOR)…

Forums & Mailing Lists

Cyprus-Birding

Mailing List

To subscribe to list: http://groups.google.com/group/cyprus-birds/subscribe

This List is for the discussion of wild birds. The uses of this are various: interested birders can ask about carpooling to various birding hotspots; novices can freely ask for identification tips; birders can discuss their year-lists or life-lists if they keep them; or people can simply share their enjoyment of birds in whatever way they choose. It not only allows us to share information, but the fun of birding as well….

Other Links

Bird Watching - North Cyprus

Website

It is possible to watch 347 different species of bird in Cyprus. However, only 46 of these are native of Cyprus, and 7 of these are the endemic sub-species (that is only found in Cyprus). 119 out of the 347 birds that can be observed on the island are of winter-migrant breeder type, and 90 of these migrate to Cyprus regularly every winter-time. 29 of these winter-migrants migrate to the island less regularly than others. Together with the native Cypriot birds 27 of them migrate to Cyprus for breeding purposes.

Cyprus Bird Watching Tours

Tour Operator

Bird is the Word is an up-and-coming, professionally guided birding tour service that will also provide great photo opportunities. Established in March 2015 but with over 10 years of birding experience in Cyprus, using a local tour guide is the best way to ensure the best birding on the island.

Green Cyprus

Website

With its approximately 1.800 species and subspecies of flowering plants, Cyprus, is an extremely interesting place for nature lovers and has all the attributes which make it a botanist`s paradise. Being an island, it is sufficiently isolated to allow the evolution of a strong endemic flowering element. At the same time being surrounded by big continents, it incorporates botanological elements of the neighbouring land masses.

Migrations

Website

Migration is not just something we observe in birds but part of our own nature…

Photographers & Artists

Cyprus Birding

Gallery

A Flickr group where anyone can poost their photographs of birds in Cyprus…