James Lowen 

Among Cyprus' other special birds were Black Francolin (sadly no photos: seen at two sites and heard at a third, just as we were packing to head to the airport...), a stunning male Rüppell's Warbler (a world tick, having dipped it in Lesvos last year), plenty of Spur-winged Lapwings at one site, and plenty of European Rollers at another.

(Mainly) Migrant birds

Our four days were made more efficient thanks to lots of gen provided by friends (e.g. Drew Crutchley, Stuart White, Philip Precey, Phil Saunders, James Hanlon, Sarah Lambert, Jonathan Newman, Mark Pearman, Jonathan Farooqi, Jono Leadley), by Jane Stylianou (via her guide on birdwatching sites on the island, published by BirdLife Cyprus), and by the numerous contributors to a news-packed WhatsApp group run by BirdLife Cyprus. This helped us see some migrant birds - and I hadn't really gleaned until this winter quite how good Cyprus is for spring migration (and this despite Stuart and Phil telling me so repeatedly). The highlights were Great Snipe, Baillon's and numerous Little Crakes and ample Collared Flycatchers. But there was plenty of other good stuff, as these slideshows hopefully illustrate - from wader-packed coastal lakes, to flyover European Bee-eaters (Blue-cheeked eluded us, however), to gatherings of herons, fields full of wagtails and red-throated Pipits, and  bushes secreting warblers.

Endemic birds

Cyprus now has three species of bird that breed nowhere else in the world. We heard and glimpsed Cyprus Scops Owl on the first night, and then saw it properly on our third night and again the following morning. We saw Cyprus Warbler before breakfast on the first morning, but had to wait to get proper photos. We took until our second morning before we saw Cyprus Wheatear, and it took another 30 hours until we got some acceptable photographs. Here are some images, in the order the species appear in this paragraph.

The Cypriot mountains are also home to three endemic subspecies of widespread species. Coal Tits of the ssp. cypriotes, glaszneri European Jay and dorotheae Short-toed Treecreeper. All were easily seen on the road up to Troodos and around Troodos village itself. 


There was a wealth of inverts on Cyprus - and I could have dedicated the entire time to looking at them, rather than at things with feathers. Quality butterflies included three numerous endemics: Paphos Blue, Cyprus Grayling and Cyprus Meadow Brown. There were many Eastern Festoon on the way up to Troodos (but not elsewhere). Other quality butterflies included Lang's Short-tailed Blue, Millet SkipperBath White, Lulworth Skipper and Pigmy Skipper, Lesser Fiery Copper. Swallowtail was common. Other butterflies included Brown Argus​, Clouded Yellow, CleopatraRed Admiral and Painted Lady. 

What's that I hear you say? Moths? Where are the moths? Is that the question?... Well, we did put my new LED lights from AngLeps to good use. So much use, in fact, that the mothage merits an entire blogpost of its own, although it may take me a little time to compile. For now, to whet the tastebuds, here's a couple of images of a Crimson Speckled encountered by day... 


21 April 2024 Cyprus

Last week, Mike Buckland and I spent four days in Cyprus. It should have been four weeks. The country was superb and - despite seeing all our bird targets and much more besides - we felt as if we only scraped the surface of its wildlife potential. Originally, all I wanted to do was see Cyprus' three endemic bird species. Then I realised quite how much else there is here. I need to come in mid-March for the Ophrys orchids, then stay through end April for migrating birds and emerging herps. And then return in July for moths, and Sep again for herps. But let's start with the endemic birds, particularly as I will be penning a travel feature for Bird Watching magazine... 


We had little gen for plants, and the Ophrys season, at least, was over. so we had only chance encounters with orchids. Nevertheless, we had a few lovely moments - enough to make me dribble at the mouth to go back. Holy Orchid Anacamptis sancta was probably the stand-out, the species being restricted to the eastern Med and environs (and one that I saw gone over in Lesvos last year) - a decent number being found in the company of unidentified Serapiatongue-orchids near a reservoir. 

Two of the highlights of the trip were also inverts. At two sites, the stunning owl-fly Libelloides macaronuswas present in good numbers. And the Nosey Cone-headed Grasshopper Truxalis nasuta was simply spectacular.

Herps and mammals

Endemic birds aside, my primary hopes were to see Mediterranean Monk Seal and Blunt-nosed Viper. We had very little chance of the former (it would have to be a chance encounter while walking a rocky coast, or a rapid-fire twitch should someone else have such an encounter) - and we didn't see it. The latter I was slightly more optimistic about, as we had some reasonable gen, and spent time in suitable locations (including streams/riverbeds), flipping stones and the like. Again, no luck. We did have fun, however. An Egyptian Fruit-bat was around the hotel on the first night, and I'm guessing that the numerous small bats were Kuhl's Pipistrelle (but happy to be corrected). The endemic subspecies of Mouflon was a great spot by Mike on a hillside off the Troodos road. A smart Eastern Thin-toed (ex-Kotschy's?) Gecko was sunbathing on a pine tree in the Paphos Archaeological Site. Cyprus Water Frogs were a decent endemic - though I have still to see a Green Toad of any description, Cypriot endemic or otherwise. Lizards were numerous, with Cyprus Starred Agama far showier and more numerous than the respective subspecies on Lesvos, and Troodos Lizard, Schreiber's Fringe-toed Lizard and Snake-eyed Lacertid all common, with Turkish Gecko around the hotel. Of skinks, however, or Lemon-Yellow Tree Frogs, or whip snakes... we had none. More reasons to return.

Finally, thanks to Mike for an outstanding trip!

Dragonflies were pleasing, Slender Skimmer was attractive. Epaulet Skimmer more expected. It was great to finally catch up with the stunning Violet Dropwing and Broad Scarlet. Lesser Emperor and Red-veined Darter were both common. Blue-tailed Damselflies fluttered around pond edges.