With Cyprus situated on one of the major migration routes across the Mediterranean, its a stop off point for many bird species which travel between breeding grounds in Europe and Asia in the autumn/winter months. The most famous is the Greater Flamingo, but there are also plenty more to discover! So where to head to in the wetter seasons to see some great migrating birds, as well as some residents, in all their colourful glory? My Cyprus Insider leads the way…all you have to do is grab a good pair of binoculars!
Goshawk. Photo: A. P. Leventis
1. Larnaca Salt Lake
Yes, it’s the most famous spot on the island to catch a glimpse of the Greater Flamingo, and for good reason! Thousands of them call the waters of the glistening salt lake home – between the wetter months of November and March – and it’s a marvellous sight to see, with the salt lake backed by the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque and its towering palms. But this is not the only seasonal wetland that makes for a great birdwatching day out; don’t forget about Akrotiri Marsh and salt lake, as well as Paralimni Lake and Oroklini Lake and marsh where there’s a high chance you’ll spot various plovers and ducks!
White-headed duck. Photo: Vasos Vasiliou
2. Asprogremmos Dam, Paphos district
One of the most studding hidden spots to visit on the west of the island, this man-made reservoir attracts the Long-Legged Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle, Grey Heron, Blue Rock Thrush and more. With seasonal pools to check out in the river below the dam and the stunning abandoned village of Finikas to explore, you can easily spend a whole morning or afternoon at this place. How to get here? Head towards the little village of Anarita – and then you’ll see signposts towards the dam.
Bonelli’s Eagle. Photo: Michele Mendi (BirdLife Cyprus)
3. Kensigton Cliffs (Zapalo Bay), Limassol district
Make a point of looking out across the horizon from these steep cliffs as the waves crash against the shore in the autumn and winter, and you may well spot the most important remaining Cyprus breeding colony of Griffon Vultures. Also look out for the Peregrine Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, Blue Rock Thrush and Wallcreeper.
Griffon Vulture. Photo: Dave and Jan Walker (BirdLife Cyprus)
Photo: Melpo Apostolidou (BirdLife Cyprus)
4. Akamas Peninsula, Paphos district
Another gorgeous spot on the west of the island, few people make the effort to visit the area in the autumn and winter. But the cooler autumn climate make for a fantastic time to explore the vicinity, which stands as a coastal waterbird passage. What can you expect to see in the autumn and winter months? Head straight to Avakas Gorge when it gets a little colder and you’re more than likely to spot the Wallcreeper. In the wider Akamas area, keep your eyes peeled for the Stonechat, the Cyprus Scops Owl and many more gorgeous birds.
Wallcreeper. Photo: Dave and Jan Walker (BirdLife Cyprus)
We couldn’t possibly compile a birdwatching hotspot list without including the island’s highest peaks! Actually home to all the Cypriot endemic sub-species, just head into the Troodos forest, and while you’re walking through the pine trees, you’re very likely to spot the Cyprus Coal Tit and the Cyprus Jay in the greenery, while the Cyprus Short-toed Treecreeper walks vertically up and down the trunks. Then there’s the Red Crossbill who likes to feast on pine nuts! And if you’re really lucky, you may even catch a rare glimpse of the Cyprus Scops Owl!
Crossbill. Photo: A. Stoecker
Find out more about birdwatching in Cyprus by visiting www.birdlifecyprus.org
Cover photo: Cyprus Jay. Photo: Dave Nye (BirdLife Cyprus)