This trip was our first to Cyprus when full migration was underway – this made a huge difference to the number of birds seen. Our 14 night holiday was booked through Thomsons and cost around £1000 each including half board and transfers. The hotel was the Pioneer Beach and I can comfortably say that this is the best hotel we have ever stayed in – bar none; food, staff and attention to detail were excellent. Weather on the trip was mainly in the 70–75 °F range with heavy rain on two days. We hired a car through the hotel for 7 days at around £350, interestingly a month earlier and this would have been almost halved. Arthur Stagg’s “A Birdwatching Guide To Cyprus” was used as a guide but is a bit out of date (15 years). I have split the report into areas visited and included time/distance from Paphos. All bird numbers given are for the most seen at a location on one visit.
GERISKIPOU BEACH RIVER
This location was 40 minutes walk/5 minutes by car from our hotel towards the airport, found by accident whilst looking for the E4 hiking path. The most accessible side of the river was on the airport side, but after heavy rain it was not possible to cross the river mouth on foot. Surprisingly this was one of the most productive areas of our holiday, with a wide variety of birds seen including :- flyover Marsh Harrier, one Steppe Buzzard, ten Squacco Heron, two Night Heron six Purple Heron, twenty Little Egret, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Moorhen, six Little Crake and a Black-eared Wheatear.
To reach this rolling grassland area from Paphos (15 minutes) take the B6 road and after a few miles turn left on the road to Agia Vavara (E606), pass the village and a Chicken farm and take a track on the right. This location was visited on just one day, our last, but was truly exceptional for raptors including fifty Red-footed Falcon using telegraph wires to feed on the extensive large insect supply in the long grass. Also seen were at least six different Harriers, three each of Hen and Montagu’s. Interestingly, two of these were watched at length feeding on large ground insects. Roller and Cyprus Warbler were seen and Bonelli’s Eagle and Pallid Harrier were seen by others.
This location on the Akrotiri Peninsular is 45 minutes from Paphos and here we saw twenty Glossy Ibis, six Cattle Egret, four Ruff, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, ten Red-footed Falcon and twenty Black-crowned Night Heron in flight.
A Squacco Heron and Spur-winged Plover were on the rocks by our hotel, twenty migrating Little Egret rested on the rocks, twelve Black-winged Stilt were seen migrating at low level over the sea. Several Common Sandpiper and a Kingfisher were regular, thirty eight Glossy Ibis were seen inland migrating at high level. A Black Francolin was heard from our hotel room and almost every other location.
We caught the bus to Coral Bay (30 minutes) and saw several Sardinian and Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola) and both were abundant in many locations. Perhaps the most impressive sight of the whole trip was a flock of sixty Purple Heron migrating out to sea; next day a smaller flock of thirty was seen. Six Short-toed Lark were seen along with two Linnet.
This site is about 10 minutes on the B6 out of Paphos and signposted on the left. A flock of six Black-crowned Night Heron plus one juvenile bird was seen along with six Alpine Swift and an Ortolan Bunting. At the “shallow end” two Roller were seen.
The Curium Archaeological site had a Tawny Pipit, the road behind Kensington Cliffs had three flyover Griffon Vulture and Akrotiri Gravel Pits had a Long-legged Buzzard, Hoopoe, two Whinchat, six Stone Curlew and two Red-footed Falcon. Two Great Spotted Cuckoo, Black Kite and Marsh Harrier were at Evretou Dam along with over a hundred Spanish Sparrow. Paphos Lighthouse area turned up several Yellow Wagtail species, Merlin, Woodchat and Lesser Grey Shrike (both found by others). The hills at Petra tou Romiou (Aphodite’s Rock) held two Cyprus Warbler and a juvenile Black-eared Wheatear.
Pictured below are some of the butterflies seen on the trip:-
On an expertly guided trip many more birds than mentioned above 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. Many thanks to Mike King (The Gloster Birder) and Colin Richardson for their ID help.
Trip Report Adobe PDF version with all original photos