We will be based at Paphos, within easy distance of one of the best birdwatching areas on Cyprus: the nearby Paphos headland and the island’s West coast. Visible migration can be exciting in late March and possibilities include watching flocks of up to six species of heron flying by over the sea: Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, larks, and wagtails making landfall, with Common, Pallid and Alpine Swifts and Red-rumped Swallow sweeping overhead.
We will also look for the three endemic breeding species on the island, Cyprus Scops Owl, Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Pied Wheatear and may well find these against a backdrop of dazzling limestone cliffs that plunge into the azure waters of the Mediterranean.
Like so much of the rest of the island, the areas around Paphos headland should be a blaze of colour at this time, carpeted with yellow Crown Daisies, scarlet poppies and pink Convolvulus. In the afternoons, the colour changes to blue as the lovely Barbary Nut Irises open in the warm spring sunshine.
Each new day brings fresh surprises – one morning perhaps a stunning Masked Shrike hunting from a Carob tree, while next day we might find an equally spectacular Collared Flycatcher or Rüppell’s Warbler skulking in the bushes. In Spring, waders along the shore can include the scarce Greater Sand Plover in its striking breeding plumage. There is also the chance of a rarity or two turning up too – Demoiselle Crane, Hooded Wheatear, Caspian Stonechat and Cinereous Bunting have all been amongst the surprise finds on previous Limosa tours.
During our stay we plan to visit several key wetlands, including the Agia Varvara pools along the Esouza River, and the reedbeds at Phassouri. To the East, the vast salt-lake at Akrotiri holds Greater Flamingos, while Oroklini Lake (one of only seven natural wetlands in Cyprus) is the haunt of some smart breeding species, including Spur-winged Lapwing. In the quieter grassy valleys stretching inland from the coast, the rhythmic calls of Black Francolin and Chukar float over flower-filled meadows heralding the start of another exciting day of birding.
Another place we intend to explore is the scenic Akamas Peninsula, which is excellent for wildflowers and highly attractive in Spring to migrating flycatchers and warblers. One evening, we will also drive a short distance out of town to try to look and listen for Cyprus Scops Owl.
We have again chosen to stay in one strategically placed hotel for the whole week to make this a more relaxed birdwatching holiday, with plenty of time for exploration.
Limosa first visited Cyprus in 1999 and we have been lucky to see many superb birds there over the years. Our March 2022 tour will be guide Gary Elton’s fifth visit to the island for Limosa where we will enjoy all the excitement of a Spring migration tour with more than a hint of the Middle East.
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