11-09-2005

One of the greatest species to find this time of year is beyond reasonable doubt Demoiselle Crane. I knew that is was already getting late in the season (best time by far is August) so today I headed to their famous twitch spot Akrotiri, near Limassol. Quite a drive from Pomos, just over 1,5 hour but I arrived early enough to get good looks over the fields near Akrotiri. Akrotiri is signposted from Kolossi and easy to find. Yet I had no idea what the best spot would be to search for the cranes. Upon arrival the area around Akrotiri was easily surveyalbe and the hundreds of Greater Flamingos were easily found. But no sign of Demoiselles. I scanned the fields and the Flamingos several times from different points of view but nothing. Apart from Red-backed Shrikes I was happy with the Lesser Grey Shrikes perched on telegraph wires. When going east in Akrotiri, near a restaurant on the north side of the road, it is possible to drive into the area (unpaved but good roads) to the eastern part of the lake and Ladies Mile Beach. The only Spectacled Warblers (2) of the trip were found in the bush along Ladies Mile Beach. The small pond called Zakaki Marsh was full of water and birds. This pond is along the road driving away from Ladies Mile Beach to the west. A Glossy Ibis was present for a moment but was called away by two others flying by. There was a Squacco Heron present and a number of waders, including Greenshank,Wood SandpiperDunlin and Little StintWater Rail was calling from the reed beds and a Common Kingfisher occasionally hovered over the water. Floating bird life consisted of Common Coot,MoorhenDabchickCommon Teal and Garganey. A skulking warbler, low in the reed, proved to be a Sedge Warbler rather than a Moustached Warbler. Every once in a while a flock of Bee-eaters and two Pallid Swifts came by for a drink and migrating Honey-buzzards passed in small numbers. A moment of panic over three large soaring birds but these were Black Storks and not cranes… That’s a good two hours of birding fun.
My enthusiasm dropped considerably after meeting a group of Danish birders claiming to have found Demoiselle Cranes among the Flamingos… I tried to scan the Flamingos again but in vain as the heat hazed it all into a fata morgana of swarming pink curls. My difficulties of coping with this kind of disappointment made me vacate the area and drive back home to a relaxing afternoon. But not without the plan to try again next morning.
Yet it only took me a few hours of reloading before I couldn’t keep myself from a tiny bit of birding in the area of Pomos in the late afternoon, after temperatures dropped. About 10 km from Pomos on the road to Polis I stopped to check out a small bird and -lucky me- this proved to be a male Cretzschmar’s Bunting, accompanied by a juvenile (breeding or migrating?), this is one of my favourites. The same agricultural field also held several Long-tailed Blues. Along a small road into the agricultural area I found the first Masked Shrike, stunning birds they are. A flock of sparrows had a few nice males Spanish Sparrow among them. That was a good end to a great birding day with a tiny little dark spot in the middle.