BIRD WATCHING
Cyprus is located on one of the main migratory routes from Africa to Northern Europe and Asia and is host to more than 300 different bird species. The phenomenon is more accentuated during autumn and spring in the winter and landfall of the huge flocks of flamingos makes a unique spectacle.

Cyprus, lies at the east end of the Mediterranean and at a cross-roads for migration, as birds move between Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia. The island can boast two endemic species - the Cyprus Warbler and the Cyprus Pied Wheatear - both of which will be seen during the tour. We shall be in Cyprus during the peak Spring migration. Much of the tour will be spent searching the headlands, mountains, wetlands and cultivated areas for passing birds of prey, waters and passerines.

Suitable weather conditions can produce large falls of birds, and each day brings another wave of bird life - some days hundreds of heaters, other days perhaps pipits, larks, flycatchers or wagtails. The volume and diversity of the migration are impressive enough, but there is always the chance of discovering rare visitors and vagrants. Over the past few years we have recorded Sacker, Pygmy Cormorant, Long-legged Buzzard, White-tailed Plover Great Black-headed Gull, Pied Kingfisher and Mourning Wheatear (a first record for Cyprus).

Besides the excellent bird watching, enjoyment of the tour is enhanced by the varied scenery, colorful plants and butterflies, the rich archaeological heritage of the Roman and Byzantine periods, the generally warm and relaxing weather and the welcoming hospitality of the Greek Cypriots. On most days, lunch is taken in local taverns, allowing a further chance to explore the delights of Greek cuisine.


 Program

Day 1

Meet and assist at the airport, transfer to the hotel dinner.

Day 2

Today will be spent gently exploring the Cape Kiti area and the Larnaca salt lakes. The under cliff at Cape Kiti and the fields nearby will be searched for migrants, such as Quail, Wryneck and Calandra Lark. If conditions are right, we will do some sea-watching. launch in a nice restaurant.

The rest of the day will be spent bird watching around the salt lakes. Certainly we will see more waders, as well as Greater Flamingos and Slender-billed Gulls, but who knows what else besides? Previously we have seen Cream-colored Courser and Collared Pratincole. The scrub and wooded areas close to the Tekke mosque often hold good numbers of migrating warblers and flycatchers. Dinner and overnight Hotel, Larnaca.

Day 3

An early start needs to be made in order to allow plenty of time at Cape Greco, one of the prime migration points of Cyprus, and an hour's drive away.

The morning will be spent checking out the impressive rocky outcrops and scrubland for migrants. Overhead the skies need constant surveillance for raptors and herons on the move. We should also see our first Cyprus Pied Wheatear and Cyprus Warbler, as well as Spectacled Warbler, Chukar and Woodchat Shrike. In the afternoon, after a lunch stop in Paralimni, we will make a circular tour which at one stage runs along the border of the Turkish Occupied Zone.

Stops at different habitats - field, wetland and lake should provide plenty of opportunities to extend our familiarity with some of the more common birds, but we will need to be on the look-out for migrants on the move, be it Pallid Harrier, Great White Egret or Red-rumpled Swallow. Dinner and overnight Hotel, Larnaca.

Day 4

For those who wish, there will be a chance to do some early-morning bird watching around the salt lakes. After breakfast, our itinerary takes us first back to hotel Pool and then along the road that runs close to the coast in the general direction of Limassol. Frequent stops will be made en route to take in a mix of habitats, hopefully to observe a good variety of passerines. Great Spotted Cuckoo will be a priority species. We will reach our hotel, the Golden Arches, in Amathous by mid-afternoon, so that there will be some time before dinner either for leisure or more bird watching in the local area.

Day 5

Pre-breakfast bird watching will be in the marquis close to the hotel. In particular, we will be on the look-out for Rupee's, Cyprus and Fan-tailed Warblers, Nightingale and Hoopoe. After breakfast, we will drive a little way inland to Yermasoyia Dam and check the lake for gulls and ducks, the surrounding bushes for Sylvia warblers and a streamside for buntings (Ortolan and Cretzschmar's) and cracks.

Raptors seen here can include Peregrine and Bonelli's Eagle, whilst other interesting species observed last year were Spotted Crack and Blue Rock Thrush. After a lunch stop at Curium, we will drive to the impressive cliffs near Episkopi for Griffon Vulture, Alpine Swift and Crag Martin. Alas, it may well be too early in the year for the migrant Eleonora's Falcons which breed here.

Our last call of the day will be at Phasouri, a superb wetland where we may expect to see several species of heron (Grey, Purple, Night and Squacco), Little Egret, Garganey and a range of wades which may include Spur-winged Plover and Collared Pratincole. If water-levels allow a close approach to the reedbeds, we should be able to add several species of Acrocephalus warblers to the tour list, as well as Little Bittern and Penduline Tit. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel, Limassol.

Day 6

Today we visit, the Troodos Mountains, which contain remnants of the forest that once covered much of Cyprus. The valley floors carry deciduous trees such as the Oriental Plane and Alder, but with increasing altitude these give way to conifers. From Mount Olympus at 1,951 meters (6,400 ft), the highest point of the island, we shall admire the panorama and scan the skies for migrating raptors.

Lower down, we will take a walk through the pinewoods in search of some montane species, particularly the local races of Coal Tit, Jay, Short-toed Treecreeper, Wood Lark and Crossbill. We may also expect to encounter a variety of finches, including Serin, Siskin and Hawfinch. The steeper, rocky slopes hereabouts are home to Griffon Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle, Raven, Crag Martin and Pallid Swift. During our outward and return journeys through cultivated areas, we will check regularly for harriers, cuckoos and shrikes. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel, Limassol.

Day 7

Today, we travel to Paphos for a three-night stay. On the way, a number of stops will be made, starting at Lake Akrotiri. The lake itself is temporary host to large numbers of Greater Flamingo and a variety of duck (Shelduck, Pintail, Shoveler). With any luck, several species of gull (Black-headed, Little and Mediterranean) may be spotted as well as terns (Common, Caspian, Gull-billed) on passage.

The marginal mudflats attract large numbers of waders, including Marsh Sandpiper and Ruff, Little and Temminck's Stint, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover. The plant succession encountered as we move further away from the Lake edge may be expected to hold warblers, wheatears and wagtails, whilst the cultivated areas of the outer perimeter attract larks.

Time permitting, we will revisit the Phasouri wetland before moving on to Pissouri Beach for lunch and a chance to scan the offshore waters for passing gulls, terns and shearwaters.

Our main stop of the afternoon will be near Kouklia. We will walk along the banks of the Diarizos River just before it enters the sea. Here we should see Black Francolin, Kingfisher and Spanish Sparrow are also likely to be additions to the tour list. Having allowed a little time for settling in at the Hotel, Paphos, we shall take a gentle walk in the direction of the Lighthouse. This area is one of the best in the whole of Cyprus for birds on passage. The grassy sward, bush, old quarries and archaeological remains frequently teem with migrants at this time of year. It is one of those places where, in birders' jargon, 'anything can turn up'. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel, Paphos.

Days 8 & 9
 
   During our stay in Paphos, the daily routine will be one of early-morning and late-afternoon circuits of the Lighthouse area. During these walks, we should record at least five species of Wheatear (Northern, Cyprus Pied, Pied, Black-eared and Isabelline), five of pipit (Tawny, Tree, Meadow, Water and Red-throated) and a least four sub-species of flava wagtail. Quail, Wryneck and a range of Sylvia warblers are also almost guaranteed.

On the two previous tours the group has found Bimaculated Lark here. Overflying migrant flocks are likely to include Little and Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis and Common Crane. In between these exciting forays from the hotel, we will make a major excursion each day. One of these will be to the breathtaking Chrysochou Bay on the north coast. The olive grove near the Baths of Aphrodite is yet another migrant magnet. Previously, a two-hour session here has produced Pied, Collared and Semi-collared Flycatchers, Subalpine and Spectacled Warblers, to name just some of the highlights. This is also a good area for Masked and Woodchat Shrikes. On the return, we stop at Evretou Dam for more duck species and hopefully Black-necked Grebe.

The second excursion will take in Asprokremmos Dam, the Diarizos Valley and the coastal plain near Paphos Airport. We shall be on the look-out for harriers (Marsh, Montagu's and Pallid), Bonelli's Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Stone-curlew and Calandra Lark. Perhaps we might even spot a long-staying Finsch's Wheatear. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel, Paphos.

Day 10

After an early-morning circuit of the Lighthouse, we will breakfast, pack and drive to Larnaca, hopefully arriving there in time for lunch. In the afternoon, we shall give the salt lakes a final scrutiny, hoping perhaps for a rarity such as Terek Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Greater Sand Plover or Great Black-headed Gull. Alternatively, some may prefer to spend the afternoon at leisure, Perhaps doing some souvenir shopping. We shall then meet up and drive to the airport.

Quotations according your needs by our special interest team .

 
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