Cyprus

The first thing that struck me during preparation is the general lack of a whole bunch of Southeast European and Asian specialties on Cyprus. The location of Cyprus, close to Turkey and Syria might suggest the presence of these species but the facts are different. 

Nevertheless there’s a lot of birding fun on Cyprus, especially during spring migration (April) and winter (for difficult birds like Finch Wheatear). Yet, this was not really a birding trip. More a relaxing trip and while we’re at it put in a bit of birding. Consequently my bird list is small and probably not representative. During the heat of day there was time to check the few butterflies that were left after three months of 40+ degrees temperatures.e island during spring migration in April. And since both endemics (Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear) and other specialties (Black Francolin) can also be found in destinations that are richer in birds (notably Syria and Israel), I can’t find a reason to advise this destination to world twitchers or target birders.

Since it was not a genuine birding trip I only did a short study on what to expect and where to find it. I checked the trip reports available by Travelingbirder.com. Apparently most birders writing a trip report know their way around Cyprus or used one of the books available, because almost no one explained the exact location of the sites visited. This can be very frustrating when looking for famous spots like Phassouri Reed Beds and not being able to find it due to lack of a good site description. Even the renown Kensington Cliffs are hard to find when directed by the trip reports only.

We arranged a combination of flight, accommodation and rental car, all for the price of about E 2000,- for the two weeks. Our accommodation was a small apartment complex with pool in Pomos, a small town 20 kilometres north east of Polis in the north of the Greek part. The surroundings were great and birding around Pomos was good but unfortunately it was quite a drive from there to the famous spots like Akrotiri and Paphos Headlands. I decided that Larnaka Salt Lakes were to far to visit even once.

Weather was great with temperatures exceeding 30°C daily. The first week was sunny with virtually no wind. After exact one week we had a day with small thunderstorms and the next day was a bit windy, which proved good for birding. During that windy day the island was filled with swallows, bee-eaters and Honey-buzzards. After that small depression the weather was a bit more instable bud good every day.

My only targets were Cyprus Wheatear, Black Francolin and Demoiselle Crane. The first was easy with several birds every day. The second proved a bit more difficult and in the end I only had one sighting with two birds. The latter was my frustrating dip with over 140 birds seen about two weeks before my arrival and a few seen by Danish birders the very day that I tried to find them at Akrotiri. Good birds that I did find were: Finch Wheatear, Ruppells Warbler (rare during autumn migration) and Cretzschmar’s Bunting. See also the results. For more information on birding in Cyprus the site of Birdlife Cyprus may be of use. Not updated frequently but interesting anyway.

I also tried to identify the butterflies with an additional handicap that some of the specialties are not illustrated in the ‘Butterflies of Britain and Europe’ guide. Fortunately there is an excellent website on butterflies of Cyprus with photos of the endemics and other specialties.