Alan Dalton post's birding diaries and original artwork from Sweden. Established in 2006, this now long running blog is now a complete overview of my birding experiences. As an artist I greatly enjoy sketching birds in the field and you will find a wide selection of that work here, from fieldwork to finished paintings. I am very passionate about my artwork and try to depict birds in their natural habitat, as I see them in the wild. My artwork is for sale and can be viewed at http://www.alandalton.net/
As regards to my photography, since 2008 I have used a Nikon D90 DSLR camera coupled with a Sigma 150-500mm OS lens for since March 2012 for bird photography, all previous images being digiscoped. Regarding sound recording, I have been usung a Telinga Stereo Dat Mic and parabol to record birds in the field, coupled to a Marrantz 661 digital recorder, a superb piece of kit. Interest in butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies has recently seen the accquisition of a Sigma 150mm macro lens. I hope you enjoy the blog and please feel free to leave comments or contact me at alandltn@gmail.com

Friday, July 08, 2011

Birding in Cyprus; Protaras; July 2011

 Hotel Alva; Our accomadation, central, clean and friendly staffed....

The 3rd of July; Fig Tree Bay in Cyprus and a worthy subject for the blogs 600th post. A wonderful week spent at the site, mainly to relax with a little birding thrown in for good measure, The Hotel Alva proved a great base, a two roomed apartment which was clean and well staffed with helpful, friendly people. Thoroughly recomended and a great location to base oneself for the local birding sites, Cape Greco foremost amongst them...

 Bee Eater; Record shot.

From the balcony the first morning and the cast was set. Collared Doves, House Sparrow, Swallow and House Martin were the order of the day. After a while from amongst the Common Swift I started to get my eye in on a fair few Pallid Swift, very nice indeed. Even better were 2 Alpine Swift which blasted past the hotel. Then a familiar call, Bee Eater, I had good views of this little gem and managed a lousy shot. It would prove to be the only one of the holiday...

 Pallid Swift; Record shot from the balcony which would produce some good birds over the stay.



 Konnos Bay at dawn...

The morning of the 4th July I was up before dawn and headed past Konnos Bay towards Cape Greco. A lifer awaited. Spectacled Warbler were abundant and I enjoyed great views of these tiny sylvia's. Sardinian Warbler soon followed, nice birding to say the least...I spent some time here and got the sketchbook out...

 My first view of Spectacled Warbler; a lifer for me....



 Spectacled Warbler; Field Sketch



 Quick sketches of Spectacled Warbler...



 Spectacled Warbler Male...


 Spectacled Warbler Male...


 Spectacled Warbler Male...

Onwards towards Cape Greco and it wasn't long before the morning started to throw up more birds...


 The peak above Cape Greco, crawling with Spectacled Warbler just here in the gorse...

The calls of Crested Larks came next, loots of family parties about, brilliant views and more was to come...

 Crested Lark field drawing....



 Crested Lark in flight.



 Crested Lark

There were two species I hoped to see, both endemic to Cyprus and soon one of them appeared on the path in front of me, Cyprus Wheatear, a lifer again on what was turning out to be a great mornings birding. I watched it feed for ten minutes and got some shots as well...

 My first view of one of the endemic species; juv. Cyprus Wheatear



 Cyprus Wheatear; a confiding juvenile...

I moved onwards, taking in the stunning scenery in the area, which is quite remarkable. Whilst looking about I spooted a movement in a bush to my left, raised the bins and was greeted by a real surprise, a cracking adult female Masked Shrike, a total result, as well as another lifer. I was thrilled with this one and had good views. I got some shots which I stupidly managed to accidently delete a while later which was a real shame, I did get some sketches done of this amazing bird. Not a common breeder and I reckon this is a good sighting at the time of year at this site...

 The view toward Agia Napa...



 A real surprise; my first Masked Shrike; a female bird and very welcome....





 Masked Shrike field sketches.....


It just got better, whilst watching the Shrike up jumps a male Cyprus Warbler, endemic number two in the bag and another addition to the list. This was a cracking bird and I managed good views of it. Several  more were seen over the course of the morning...
 The second endemic, a cracking male Cyprus Warbler...

Then a bit later I was on to another long awaited tick, two large warblers in the undergrowth eventually showed themselves, Olivaceous Warbler! I had good views, though fleeting as the birds skulked about. Just to wrap up the morning another lifer, Black Francolin, which called before I seen it briefly. The sun was up high at this stage and the heat made me call it a day, a truly brilliant mornings birding...

 Lifer number four; Olivacious Warbler.



 Head detail....


 Another couple of quick sketches of Olivaceous Warbler....

Next morning I was back for more at Cape Greko, this time I covered the peninsula...

 The peak above Cape Greko, a superb birding site....

A lifer straight away, Rock Partridge, I eventually saw at least 14 of these birds whick showed well but distantly. I found birds hard to approach in genereal, no doubt due to the hunting which is notoriously prevelant on the island, happily I came across none whilst out myself...


 Rock Partridge, the first for me....


Next up was Cyprus Wheatear, several male birds were seen, and they really were worth the wait, spectacular birds to sat the least....

 Male Cyprus Wheatear, a stunning bird to watch...



 Male Cyprus Wheatear.


 Quick Sketch....


 A male Cyprus Wheatear in flight...

A while later it was time for a bit of frustration after I located two buntings which were seen badly but called the three times I flushed them. The views narrowed it down to Ortolan/Cretchmars Bunting, the call was telling me the latter as I am familiar with that of Ortolan Bunting and this was a little harsher to my ear. In the end I lost the birds and had to leave them as probables...

 Cape Greco



 Cape Greco

Other birds in the area were more of the same, Cyprus Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Crested Lark, Black Francolin.  A male Kestrel and a single Yellow Legged Gull were also noted...

 Cape Greco

The next day I was watching the skies from the balcony when another unexpeced bird was picked up. Two raptors initially struck me as eagles, though as they came closer several features became clear, Long Legged Buzzards, an adult pair. I was delighted with this lifer. They gave me brilliant views as they floated past the hotel, a really well marked raptor this, the rufous tail with white base and sharply patterned wings make this a very memorable bird....

 Another big surprise, a pair of adult Long Legged Buzzard from the balcony, the lifers kept coming...



 Detail recorded in field sketches....

The last day was July 7th and relaxing was the order of the day. We came back from the beach early evening and I kicked back on the balcony. Cattle Egrets were moving and several flew past. Then I heard a Swallow alarm call and expected the local Kestrel to appear, it didn't. I watched as a falcon appeared in fron of the apartment, my initial though was male Red Footed Falcon, but it wasnt right. The bird turned bradside and I took in the long tail and long wings, a dark phase Eleonora's Falcon! I really couldn't of asked for more on my last evening as I watched this impressive and long awaited lifer move into pursuit mode. I watched it fro three or four minutes as it chased the local swifts, a quite breathtaking sight even though it left empty handed, a quite amazing display of flight which left me elated. A few beers went down very well that evening. We left the next morning, I must say a thoroughly enjoyable few days....

 Cattle Egrets moving on the morning sun...



Sunset on our last night in Fig Tree Bay; Cyprus, a memorable week.



1 comment:

Peregrine's Bird Blog said...

Some lovely sketches there Alan and some nice birds. Very jealous of your blog header as have never seen an ordinary crossbill let alone your header.