Republic of Cyprus

Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus ©Steve Arlow Website
Birding Cyprus

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.

Contributors
  • Jeff Gordon

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 416

    As at July 2018
Endemics
  • Number of endemics: 2

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

  • Checklist

    British Sovereign Base Areas
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
  • iGoTerra Checklist

    Cyprus (administratively)
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • A Birdwatching Guide to Cyprus

    | By Arthur Stagg & Graham Hearl | Arlequin Press | 1998 | Paperback | 87 pages, 8 colour plates, b/w illustrations, 11 b/w maps | ISBN: 9781900159807 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Cyprus

    | By Colin Richardson & Richard Porter | Christopher Helm | 2020 | Paperback | 256 pages, plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781472960849 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Cyprus

    | By Jane Stylianou | Bank of Cyprus | 2009 | Paperback | 131 pages, 100 colour photos | ISBN: 9789963428731 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Cyprus Bird Report 2012

    | Edited by Jane Stylianou, Stavros Christodoulides, Nigel Cottle & Colin Richardson | BirdLife Cyprus | 2014 | Paperback | 184 pages, plates with 40 colour photos; b/w illustrations, tables | #213484 | ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Cyprus Breeding Birds Atlas

    | By David Whaley & Judy Dawes | David Whaley | 2003 | Spiralbound | 39 pages, Maps & b/w photos | ISBN: 9789963890606 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Finding Birds in Cyprus

    | By Dave Gosney | Easybirder | 2010 | Paperback | 34 pages, b/w maps | ISBN: 9781907316210 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Finding Birds in Southern Cyprus

    | By Dave Gosney | Easybirder | 2010 | DVD | Runtime: 65 minutes | ISBN: 9781907316227 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Birds of Cyprus

    | By Peter R Flint & Peter F Stewart | BOU | 1992 | Hardback | 234 pages, 16 colour & 24 b/w plates, 11 maps, 4 figs | ISBN: 9780907446149 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Where to Watch Birds in Turkey Greece & Cyprus

    | By H Welch, L Rose, Moore, B Oddie & H Sigg | Mitchell Beazley | 1996 | 216 pages, 8 colour plates, 30 b/w illustrations, 35 maps | ISBN: 9780600582328 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Useful Information
  • Recorder - Jane Stylianou

    janestycy@yahoo.co.uk
Organisations
  • BirdLife Cyprus

    Website
    Cyprus birding, information, conservation issues, contacts, species list, photographs and much more.
  • Kuşkor - North Cyprus Society for the Protection of Birds

    Website
    Welcome to the website of The North Cyprus Society for the Protection of Birds and Nature: a site dedicated to the birds of Cyprus and the conservation of its nature
  • Terra Cypria - The Cyprus Conservation Foundation

    Website
    Terra Cypria–the Cyprus Conservation Foundation is a non-profit, Non Governmental Organization, officially established in 1992. It was granted charitable status by the Council of Ministers in 1994. Its overall aim is to promote environmental awareness as well as the concept of sustainability within Cypriot society through educational programmes and sensitization activities.
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Troodos Mountains

    InformationSatellite View
    The Visitor Centre of the Troodos National Forest Park, is situated 200m west of the Troodos Square, to which is also connected with a paved trail. It is the first Centre of its kind in Cyprus and it has been operating since July 2002. The building has been erected by the Cyprus Tourism Organization and its development and operation as a Visitor Centre has been undertaken by the Forestry Department.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Cyprus-Birding

    Discussion Group
    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….
Guides & Tour Operators


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

  • Cyprus Birding Tours

    Tour Operator
    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
  • Cyprus Birdwatching Tours

    Tour Operator
    Cyprus Bird Watching Tours - Bird is the Word is a guided birding tour service that offers tailor made tours to meet your specific needs, whether that is a high bird count, photography focused or a perfect blend of both.
  • Kudu Travel

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


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  • 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

    PDF Report
    …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

    PDF Report
    ...At first our searching of the fields near the beach revealed little – White Wagtails and MeadowPipits, plus the common Crested Larks. Driving along the un-surfaced road towards the picnic site itbecame clear that the rough ground held good numbers of birds, so we spend some time searchingthis area. Here amongst the more commonly seen birds we added more Red-throated and TawnyPipits, and our only Greater Short-toed Larks and Desert Wheatear.
  • 2015 [08 August] - South & West Cyprus

    PDF Report
    ...Then on to Troodos. Within minutes had a Cyprus Jay. These are actually very common, with afurther 5 seen. Took the pony track from the back of the public toilets that leads to two large holdingtanks. After a bit of ‘pishing’, I was soon surrounded by Cyprus Coal Tit and (Dorothy’s) Short ToedTreecreeper. 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
  • 2016 [09 September] - Birthe Rasmussen & Erik Vikkelsø Rasmussen

    PDF Report
    ...Our main target species for the trip were Cyprus Wheatear (Oenanthe cypriaca) and Cyprus Warbler (Sylviamelanothorax) which both easily showed up. They are both endemics for Cyprus so they were of courseimportant for us. The report is made to give information about these two endemics only. We saw these twoendemics the first morning – first hour...
  • 2017 [03 March] - Bob Shiret

    PDF Report
    ...Due to weather conditions birdwatching was generally very poor compared to previous years, for instance at Anarita Park last year there were eight cars there on my first visit, this year I only saw two cars in the whole fortnight....
  • 2017 [04 April] - Rosemary Royle

    PDF Report
    This week-long spring trip was intended to give us (Peter and Rosemary Royle) a break in a warmer and sunnier climate (winter in Pembrokeshire is not cold but it is relentlessly dull, wet and windy) whilst also supplying us with two new species of bird in the form of Cyprus Wheatear and Cyprus Warbler, plus some nice scenery, good food and spring flowers We were also keen to see the Cyprus endemic sub-species of Jay, Short-toed Treecreeper, Coal Tit and Scops Owl....
  • 2018 [01 January] - Thorncombe Street Diary

    Report
  • 2018 [02 February] - Aladdin

    PDF Report
    Coming to Cyprus and I was searching the internet for a bird guide as I had planned to stay on Cyprus for a few days of bird watching before flying back home. I was in contact with a few Guides but there was only one that could cover 3 days with me. And we will cover the most of the island, well, the Greek side.
  • 2018 [03 March] - Derek, Vivien & Peter Gruar

    PDF Report
    ...The area around the amphitheatre was very productive with several Northern Wheatears, Cretzchmar’s Buntingand the only Western Black Redstartof the trip...
  • 2018 [03 March] - P M Callagher

    PDF Report
    ...a flock of several dozen Short-toed Larks,was still present to kick-start our holiday!We also had three Short-eared Owls in off the sea onto the beach. Later in the week, almost exactly the same spot hosted an incredibly confidingCream-coloured Courser...
  • 2018 [11 November] - Bob Shiret

    PDF Report
    ...About an hour later we were on the edge of the amphitheatre and in the middle of the field opposite was a Wheatear that looked different to any I had seen before. I took some distant shots and realised it could be something out of the ordinary so got closer, to about 25 yards and the bird was quite happy and continued feeding whilst I took some shots some of which are below. That evening I contacted the Cyprus Bird Recorder to let other birders Know and next day a number of birders were able to make contact with the bird and the discussion started as to what it might be. Initial thoughts were that it might be a femail Maghreb Wheatear, but then some of the experts thought a femail Finch`s Wheatear more likely, which is how it currently stands...
  • 2019 [05 May] - Bob Swann

    PDF Report
    For our early summer holiday this year we decided on Cyprus. We booked flights with Easyjet and used Booking.com to book the Kings Hotel in Paphos for four nights and the Marianna Apartments in Limassol for the final three nights. We used CarRentals.com to book a car via Budget which we collected at Paphos Airport. Finally I bought Dave Gosney’s excellent booklet – Finding Birds in Southern Cyprus. This gives details of all the sites we visited, though there have been some changes since it was written in 2010.
  • 2019 [08 August] - Derek Brennan

    PDF Report
    This is a Trip report for Cyprus from 31st July – 14th August 2019. Areas covered include various sites around Paphos, sites near Kyrenia in Northern Cyprus, and finally some sites on the Karpas peninsula in the north east of the island.
Places to Stay


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  • Holiday Appartment - Pyla (near Larnaca)

    Accommodation
    Special rates for fatbirder users! quote this code: P07C101
  • 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
Other Links
  • 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

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