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

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Birding at Cape Greco, Cyprus.27th-29th August 2013.

Having travelled to Cyprus on my honeymoon, birding was certainly not a priority, though with Cape Greco being so close by our hotel a couple of early morning visits were managed. My first morning visit came on August 26th and I wasn't sure what to expect with regard to migrants. I got there at dawn and immediately there were the expected Crested Lark and Spectacled Warblers, both species are very abundant. Chukar were feeding in the open areas and calling everywhere. Slightly better were a couple of Red backed Shrike. Willow Warbler soon began to show, with the odd Chiffchaff thrown in. These birds were very interesting, many of the Willow Warbler were large, rather dark brown with dark legs and contrasting pale yellowish feet. I worked the scrub carefully and had several Ortolan Bunting before my first good bird came in the form of a juvenile Black Headed Bunting. A short while later came a cracking Olivaceous Warbler, most welcome. The slopes over the fields south of the peak held lots of birds, Sardinian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Cyprus Wheatear, Red Backed Shrike, Whinchat, Black Headed and Ortolan Bunting and a couple of lovely Isabelline Wheatear. A stunning adult male Barbary Falcon was a big surprise, it gave me a brief but fantastic view as it powered around the outcrop. I had a couple of interesting birds slip away into cover before I could nail their identification, all part of the excitement. A Hoopoe flashed over my head as did a small group of Bee Eater...
 I made my way back up to the road and checked the north side of the peak, here there came more buntings. Spectacled Warbler were everywhere, with several Cyprus Wheatear showed well. Whilst working my way through an area of scrub and pine I flushed a bird that really lit up my retina, a cracking adult Masked Shrike. The bird gave me stunning views and allowed me to get some decent photos, I was a happy man. A few minutes later I was checking the scrub and pines under the peak when a striking Sylvia warbler appeared, a conspicuous white eye ring, long dark tail, plain retrials, pale legs, sturdy decurved bill. My first Menetries Warbler was an unexpected treat, a juvenile bird that showed well at times. I was thrilled with this and still trying to locate the bird when another Sylvia appeared in front of me, this one I had hoped for. A big, pale grey Sylvia, for all the world like a huge Lesser Whitethoat, my first Orphean Warbler was unmistakable. It gave me a fantastic view for about ten or twelve seconds alongside a Willow Warbler, before moving back into cover where I lost it, despite looking carefully, I could not relocate it. Moving on there was more to come. Among the pines were Lesser Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, a handful of Collared Flycatcher and a single Semi Collared Flycatcher. This was instructive, quality birding. A second Olivaceous Warbler followed, whilst the numbers of passage Willow Warbler was impressive, with over 200 birds estimated. The sun was now rising high and the heat forced me back to the hotel at around 10am. A stunning mornings birding with lots of interest....
 I returned four days later at dawn, this time there was a difference in passage. Whereas the earlier visit saw Willow Warbler as the diminant migrant species, just after dawn it became apparent that they were not as numerous. Overhead the sky was very much busier however, with a steady passage of Ortolan Bunting and Bee Eater apparent. I counted 142 Ortolan in an hour, most flying purposefully southwest. They were vocal and easily picked up as they passed in small groups. Among them were a handful of Black Headed Bunting. Also very vocal were Bee Eater, several flocks moving through which were hopefully checked for Blue Cheeked. Alas, no joy. After an hour I moved on, quickly locating two male Masked Shrike! A Lesser Grey Shrike as most welcome, it showed well at times. As did several Red Backed Shrike. A Glossy Ibis flew over as did a Common Kestrel. A short whole later another falcon flew past, a dark phase Eleonora's Falcon. The tail and upper wing coverts were seen quite well and aged the bird as a second calendar individual, only the second time I have seen this species. Around the fields there were not as many birds, though a few Whinchat and a White Spotted Bluethroat were picked up. Isabelline Wheatear were again noted , whilst offshore there was a few Yellow legged Gulls as well a a couple of Audoin's Gull. A calling Tawny Pipit was flushed and I spent a while chasing an elusive vice which was almost certainly a Blue Rock Thrush. A second Orphean Warbler later in the morning made my day and gave me super views. Then I spent a while looking at Collared Flcatcher juveniles and taking in some details before doing a sketch or two. What as almost certainly an adult male Isabelline Wheatear showed well in the scope and allowed prolonged study. Throughout there was always something in front of be to identify, throughout my time on the headland I was thinking to myself that this venue must be nothing short of superb later in the autumn and surely capable of turning up some mega vagrants, possibly right into the month of November...

Bee Eater's were common in the area. moving through in migratory flocks. There was a real element of excitement when a new flock was detected, as there was always the possibility of a Blue Cheeked Bee Eater amongst them. The flocks were all carefully checked, alas no joy!


A juvenile Ortolan Bunting. Very common passage migrant an local resident. I spent a lot of time checking through these birds and was struck by the variable appearance of the juveniles, particularily the extent of yellow tones around the face, throat and eyering. The checks paid off, a few Black Headed Bunting were picked up...

Above and below; Crested Lark were adundant, due to their vocal nature the most obvious species at Cape Greco. They are rather nice birds with a very distinctive call...




Cyprus Wheatear; A cracking male bird here, which showed really well. This is one of the two highly sought endemic species and is quite easy to see at Greco. Several birds were present, though no juveniles were noted and it seemed they had already dispersed.


Darter Species; Not yet identified this species, which was very common. I would of very much enjoyed having more time at this site in order to take more photos and generally pay more attention to the local odanates...


Collared Flycatcher. A handful were recorded, with a single Semi Collared Flycatcher being notable. It was very instructive to see these birds on passage in autumn..


Glossy Ibis flying overhead. the only one recorded on the trip...


Lesser Grey Shrike; A record shot of a juvenile bird. Always a nice species to see...


Masked Shrike, an adult male. It doesn't get much better than this really, an absolute stunner, especially in flight when they are really striking. I found two male birds in the area, which took a bit of work but was well worth it. I was very happy to get a decent photo of one of these birds...





Ortolan Bunting; this time a better image of a cracking adult bird...

                                     
Red backed Shrike, adult male. The commonest shrike in the area by some way.


Above and below; Spectacled Warbler. The most abundant species at Cape Greco, very common and easily seen, though not so easy to photograph. Quite simulat to Common Whitethroat, only one of which was seen, though easily identified by way of the small size, calls and differing plumage.




Willow Warbler; Common passage migrant, I was very suprised at how many were present of my first outing. a very interesting range of plumages and I would of liked to be able to spend more time studying these birds in the field..



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