Tour At A Glance

Cost:

1450.00 per person

Deposit:

400.00

Single Room Supplement:

100.00

Tour Code:

Intermediate with early starts most days, but fairly easy walking and relaxed finish times

Group Size:

Seven plus leader

Cyprus Warbler Cyprus Pied Wheatear Black Francolin Cyprus Scop's Owl Isabelline Wheatear Red-throated Pipit

Southern Cyprus - Migrants and Endemics of Aphrodite's Isle

Date: 29th March - 5th April 2020 (ONE SPACE - Guaranteed Departure)
Leaders: Jason Moss

Itinerary

 

DAY ONE

Fly London to Paphos in Southern Cyprus and transfer the short distance to our rural hotel. There will be time to make our first birding excursion after check in, and we are sure to see many of the common resident species of the island and no doubt a few migrants – Cyprus Pied Wheatear is not difficult to find and we may well see our first one before the day is out!

 

DAYS TWO – SEVEN

Most days will follow a similar pattern of an early breakfast, followed by the first session of the day at a nearby migraton hotspot such as Paphos Headland and Mandria, in order to make the most of the productive early morning period for migrants. We will be praying for a rain shower or two, or perhaps some blustery winds, to ground migrants bound from Africa to Europe! Flocks of pipits and wagtails can frequently be found on the open stony ground at first light, having made the crossing overnight, and scarcer species such as Tawny and Red-throated Pipits, Cretzchmar's Bunting, Isabelline and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears, Short-toed Lark and even the impressive Bimaculated Lark occasionally show up. The Yellow Wagtail flocks comprise many different races, and we will have our work cut out determining which they belong to! The bushes and scrub are good places to seek warblers and scarcer species such as Common Nightingale, Eurasian Wryneck and Bluethroat might also be found, and it wouldn’t be totally unexpected to find a Stone Curlew, Greater Sand Plover or European Nightjar. As the morning progresses, flocks of day-flying migrants begin to appear – principally herons which depart the African coast at dawn – Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Great White Egret and Eurasian Spoonbill. The main part of our day will then involve a principle birding excursion, with the main sites visited as follows:-

 

Asprokremnos Dam and Pools

This excellent site, just up from the coast, is essentially a small sparsely vegetated valley running up from the base of a dam where one or two marshy pools can be found. The pools sometimes hold herons and crakes of both species [though have been dry and overgrown in recent years following prolonged drought], while the dam itself is frequented by Blue Rock Thrush. It is the narrow valley that offers the best birding though, and in the right conditions can house virtually every type of warbler imaginable! This is a great place to find Cyprus Warbler, which, along with the Cyprus Pied Wheatear, breeds nowhere else in the world. Overhead raptors are frequent here, and could include the impressive Bonelli’s Eagle which breeds nearby and often overflys the area.

 

Akrotiri Peninsula, Phassouri Reedbed, Zakaki Pools

This wetland area is a superb place for viewing waders and herons depending on water levels. Purple Heron and Little Bittern can be found, and Penduline Tit and Great Reed Warbler frequent the reedbeds. Waders such as Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover and Black-winged Stilt are likely, while reedbed fringes should be checked for migrant crakes. The whole area is a likely place to see overhead migrants such as Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, raptors and hirundines. Areas of low, saline scrub towards the coast are a place to find Spectacled Warbler, and can be excellent for both Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers which pass through the area. Spur-winged Plover and Glossy Ibis are two more scarce but regular migrants, while saline pools hold Greater Flamingo, Ruff, Little Stint, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper and occasional marsh terns.

 

Coastal fields and valleys, Paphos – Akrotiri

There are numerous locations along the south coast to look for migrants away from the well-known Paphos Headland. Some are characterized by agricultural fields, excellent for finding large flocks of wagtails and stunning Red-throated Pipits, as well as various larks. These open areas are also good for finding migrant Cretzchmar’s Buntings, and shrikes such as Woodchat & Masked might also be seen. More scrubby areas are superb for finding warblers, particularly those of the genus Sylvia – Eastern Orphean and Subalpine Warblers, and also the star of the show – Ruppells Warbler. Among the agricultural fields, the loud call of the Black Francolin may be heard, and we should be able to find at least one before the trip is out!

 

Dhiarizos Valley

Our hotel lies right on one of the major migration routes which runs north from the coast, along the beautiful Dhiarizos Valley. Again species such as shrikes, warblers, flycatchers, buntings, larks, pipits and wagtails could abound in the fields in the right conditions. Raptors are frequent along the valley, and as well as migrants such as Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Pallid Harrier and Lesser Kestrel, breeding Long-legged Buzzard and Bonelli’s Eagle are also frequently seen. European Bee-eater, European Roller, Great-spotted Cuckoo and Eurasian Hoopoe are also regular migrants, while common species such as Sardinian Warbler and European Serin can be right around our hotel. The endemic subspecies of Scop's Owl might be heard calling nearby, we’ll make a special effort to catch up with one. Cyprus Pied Wheatear is common and easy to see in the valley, too, and the widespread but tricky to see Black Francolin is often to be heard calling nearby.

 

Troodos Mountains

Heading north up the Dhiarizos Valley will eventually take us up into the Troodos Mountains, a cooler climate with pine forests where a number of interesting subspecies can be found. These include distinctive forms of Coal Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eurasian Jay and Common Crossbill. Its also a beautiful drive winding up through the groves of almond and carob trees among the sunny foothills.

 

Akamas Peninsula

In the north-west corner of the island, there are some beautiful coastal walks where migrants often gather prior to heading off towards Turkey. Hirundines such as Red-rumped Swallow can be particularly numerous, while there are further opportunities to find species similar to those listed for the other migration spots. Inland of the area is a reedbed and a good area to see species such as European Roller and Great-spotted Cuckoo. The Bath's of Aphrodite is often the best spot for migrants getting ready to make the sea crossing to Turkey, and is one of the best sites on the island for finding the black and white flycatchers, Wryneck, Wood Warbler and Nightingale.

 

Larnaca area

There is some good birding to be had close to the airport, and this warrants a full day of exploration. The saline lagoons here often turn up Greater Sandplover, and other waders such as Little Stint and Marsh Sandpiper. Stone Curlews are often to be found here and its a good area to pick up a Pallid Harrier and to search coastal scrub for resident Spectacled Warbler and migrant Isabelline and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears. There are some artifical lagoons here too, where Spur-winged Plover can be quite common and its sometimes possible to find Ruddy Shelduck, or flocks of passage Garganey. Oroklini Marsh, just east of Larnaca, is an excellent site where Cattle Egrets have a small colony, and sometimes Squacco Heron, Little Bittern and Little Crake can be found.

 

The north-west

Cape Drepanum and Avakas Gorge are two attractive areas to the north of Paphos where more migrants can be found. Stony coastal fields attarct larks, pipits and wheatears, and the gorge itself brings the chance to connect with Blue Rock Thrush, Bonelli's Eagle and Cyprus Pied Wheatear. Long-legged Buzzard will be a target in this area, and Black Francolin is often to be heard calling by the roadside - but difficult to see! Around Polis, and the Bath's of Aphrodite, are some good areas of habitat which can hold migrants when inclement weather prevents them departing north towards Turkey. Great-spotted Cuckoo, European Roller, raptors and shrikes are especially likely in this area. Butterflies can abound too - expect Cleopatra, Clouded Yellow, Paphos Blue, Small Bath White, Mallow Skipper and Cyprus Grayling in the right habitats.

 

DAY EIGHT

We transfer to the airport for the onward journey home. If time permits, we will do some last minute birding on the headland this morning before departure.

 

 

Additional Information

 

WHATS INCLUDED

Seven nights’ accommodation in en suite rooms equal to four star grade at Vasilias Nikoklis Inn, return flights London/Paphos or Larnaca with a budget airline and 20kg luggage allowance, all meals from dinner on day one to breakfast on final day, transport and services of leaders.

 

NOT INCLUDED

Transport to/from London airport and any overnight stay that may be involved, travel insurance, drinks, tips and items of a purely personal nature.

 

PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH

Visas are not required by UK nationals. Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return travel date. Standard health and innoculation requirements apply for UK nationals, visit www.masta-travel-health.com to check these and if necessary, download a free health brief to take to a travel appointment at your local medical practice. 

 

 

Tour Reports

 

2017    2018    2019 

 

Testimonials

 

" A lovely rural hotel and the best guide we have ever had meant we enjoyed the tour very much" M &S F Watford

 

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