Quick trip to northern Norway. Eva Wikström and Anna Bohlin joined up on this short touristy trip. Two target birds, a Snowy Owl on Röst and a 3-year-returning White-winged Scooter in a fjord inside of Bodö. There are actually cheap direct flights from Stockholm to Bodö, this is a place I will return to, next time with bins and my fishing gear!! – it’s sport fishing mecka. Once on Röst, we were able to find the Snowy Owl easily – thanks to the folks on Röst Fuglestation.
Here is a pic of the gang – post tick. Chilling.
Röst is a pretty little place, and the village by the harbour has a hostel which is mostly occupied by Kittiwakes.
Once back in Bodö, we went for the White-winged Scoter. This is a returning bird that has spent the summer in the same fjord the last couple of years. It usually leaves in the beginning of August so it was far from clear that the Scoter would still be there. It was – albeit far out and tricky to id among all the Velvet Scoters.
After the successful twitch of the Elegant Tern in Valencia we flew to Corsica. The Island hosts a number of endemics and specialities. The first morning we woke up in the dark so that we could be at the spot for California Quail well before sunrise. Mårten and his friend Martin Berg slept in this very same vineyard almost ten years ago. We playbacked the quail at first light and after a couple of minutes we hear a response from inside the forest. We go closer and position ourselves silently, hidden, waiting for the Quails to come out into the vineyard. The male responds several times and soon we see a few birds poorly some distance away. We playback some more but eventually go closer. The family group took to the wings and flew into the forest. No pics, but decent quick views. The Quail is supposedly difficult to hear and see, so I guess we were lucky.
We moved on towards a spot known for Marmora Warbler, we stopped abruptly on the mountain road instead because we saw Siskins along the road side. And, yes, for sure the Corsican Finch were abundant in the right habitat.
With that cleared up we continued to one of the spots for Marmora Warbler. This is July and nesting season is over, birds are in principle not singing any longer. The Marmora Warbler responded to playback as if there was no tomorrow though. With non-singing birds, finding a skulky Sylvia without playback would be a most time consuming activity.
Last endemic was the Corsican Nuthatch. After a fantastic breakfast in a little mountain village we drove higher, into the high altitude pine forests and almost immediately found a family group of Corsican Nuthatch.
That was fast, all four of Corsicas specialities cleared up in a single morning.
Also common on the Island as a whole was the Mediterranean
Flycatcher. This picture shows nicely the lack of spots on the belly, it’s not a Spotted Flycatcher.
Time to move on, we had no fresh information on the Albatross in Sylt, so that – in combination with very expensive flight tickets to Hamburg made us decide to just fly to Paris and decide there and then what to do next. Once in Paris, we opted to go to London instead of Hamburg. There were quite a few good birds waiting for us on the English east-coast. We drove north from London and slept halfway. When we woke up, we received some boring news. Two of the target birds on the east-coast were gone, and American Golden Plover and a White-rumped Sandpiper had decided to move on the day before. We went for the remaining Pectoral Sandpiper which we failed to find. Just as we’re about to leave the reserve, a local birder found the Sandpiper. Nice.
Spectacular sanctuary with awesome birding in general. The brits have some amazing birding areas.
At this point we were at a loss what to do, nothing more for us in England really. It’s not especially easy to be spontaneous while traveling in England. We have become used to proper Internet connection while driving. This is just not the case in England and it’s irritating. We did see quite a few signs advertising “Psychic Mediums” though and Mårten suggested that – maybe that is how they communicate here.
However a report came in showing that the Albatross had been seen in Sylt the day before. We found cheap tickets from Manchester to Hamburg and immediately embarked on the quite complicated trip to Sylt which including a car train out to island itself. We drove to Niebull, parked as number two the queue for the train and slept a few hours in the car. Took the first train at 5 in the morning. Arrived at the spot and the Albatross was not there, and it also started to rain and we didn’t really have proper rain gear with us. Had breakfast and waited for the rain to stop. Went back to the area where the Albatross had been seen most of the times and the bird still wasn’t there. At this point we started to argue about tactics, and then suddenly it just came flying in. What a twitch.
The Elegant Tern was the sole reason for us going to Valencia. We had earlier given the Tern 2 days, driving all the way to Calais and dipping was hard. Furthermore, when we were in souther Spain, in the Gibraltar area an Elegant Tern was reported in the harbour of Cadiz. That was just a single report, so we decided to not go for the Cadiz bird.
When we arrived at Valencia thing started to go sour, first the car rental agency under performed Secondly on our way to the booked hotel, we call them and they say that they have no rooms. Later we get an SMS from that same hotel, where they say that they have another house for the same price. Fine we drive there only to be told that the house is not available. Booked another hotel, arrive there and there is no booking, nor any available beds. Bad start on the Valencia twitch.
Saturday morning, we park ourselves on the beach, between the litle lake with a Sandwitch tern Colony and the sea with the idea of catching the terns when they move between the nesting colony and the sea. Lots of Sandwitch Terns pass by between morning and noon, no terns with orange beaks though. Lots of Common Tern though. Mediterranean Gulls and Audouin’s Gull are patrolling the beach. Different age classes.
Finally we can connect with the Elegant Terns – What a twitch.
We’re on a Euro trip, picking off birds here and there. Lithuania, Poland, South Germany, Calais France, back to Germany, Gibraltar, Mallorca, …..
The first bird was Aquatic Warbler in Poland. It was a close call that we went for the Albatross that had been seen regularly on Sylt, north-west Germany but the Albatross decided to leave just as our Euro trip started, so we went to Poland instead.
Our original plan was to try for the Aquatic Warbler during migration. We were told that it’s reasonably easy in Portugal during migration, late August. It’s also a possibility in Holland during migration. We felt this was a bit random and decided to twitch it at one of the breeding sites in Poland instead. Flew to Lithuania and drove to Bialystok in eastern Poland. Arrived late at the site and slept in the car. At dawn the warblers were singing in the marsh and we were able to locate a singing male fairly easy.
Off to Germany and their two iconic Cat-C species. The Yellow-headed Amazon in downtown Stuttgart and the Swan Goose in downtown Heidelberg. Both were easy to find.
At this point, we had a few options available. A White-winged Scooter in Scotland, the possibility of the Albatross becoming twitchable again as well as an Elegant Tern that had been very stable close to Calais on the English Channel. We opted for the tern. This was also close to forests with known populations of Reeve’s Pheasant. We twitched the pheasant easily. Our friend PAC said that these pheasants are not tickable, however other birders (on Netfugl) tick Reeve’s Pheasant around Calais and until some French birding committee says that these birds are cage birds we tick it. The former population on Îles d’Hyères is apparently extinct.
These birds, the pheasants are assisted by humans. They are bred and released for hunting. OTOH, so are Ring-necked Pheasants, all over Europe. We tick the Ring-necked Pheasant without hesitation (unless you are Dutch)
Then we went for the tern. It had been seen regularly amongst a colony of Sandwich Terns on a beach just north of Calais. We arrived at the beach in the evening and scanned through the Tern colony. Next day we started at dawn, and searched and walked the beaches to no avail. The Elegant Tern just wasn’t there.
Eventually we gave up on the tern and drove all the way back to Stuttgart to return the car and fly on to Malaga, southern Spain. (Today, when I write this, we see that the damned Tern is back again)
Two important birds in the Gibraltar area, the first one – where we had received a good spot from Mårtens friend Rafa Benjumea (from Ecotonobirding ) for Iberian Chiffchaff. We played our mobtape, which has proved extremely successful. No Chiffchaff appeared so we gave up and went to another spot, a spectacular cliff overlooking the strait of Gibraltar. The bird which was possible here was White-rumped Swift. We scanned the area for a few hours. An Eleonora Falcon came flying – this was a year tick and a lifer for Erik and me.
Balearic Shearwaters flying outside the cliffs, also a good bird. Far away, but identifiable.
So – with this streak of bad luck, dipped Tern, no Chiffchaff nor the Swift we had lunch. No time to relax, just push on. We eBirded another point for the Swift and went there, just north of Gibraltar. Lots of swifts in the air, and after maybe an hour, we found two White-rumped Swifts flying. We got good views in the scope but no pictures. Phuuu, at last, now it’s turning. Went to a strange hotel very close to the site for the Chiffchaff, the idea being that we jump up very early in the morning looking for it again. Just as we park the car at the hotel, an Iberian Chiffchaff shows well in the hotel garden. Dang.
Move fast, next day we flew to Mallorca. Two important birds there, the newly split Mediterranean Flycatcher which was very easy. They were virtually everywhere on Mallorca.
Harder bird to find was the Balearic Warbler. We tried first one place close to Port de Pallenca where it had been reported, we only saw Sardinian Warblers there though. Next we tried a valley close by. Walking into the stony valley, Mårten and Erik hear the bird calling faaaar away. Hyper-hearing. It’s in the bushes, and they sort of hear it maybe calling very low. I cannot hear a thing, but we make our way through the thorns and suddenly we flush a small dark bird. It lands maybe 100 meters away and we can see it, it’s the Balearic Warbler. It came in closer as we playbacked the song and the call and we got excellent, but short views.
Mallorca cleaned up, next stop before we go to Corsica is Valencia where a pair of breeding Elegant Terns appears to be possible.
We decided to go to Svalbard quite some time ago. There was a twitchable Ivory Gull in Germany this spring, the bird was slowly dying on a muddy field in Germany and we wanted better. The Ivory Gull is the breeding price bird of Svalbard, all the other species are in theory possible to get at other, more easily accessible places. Thus, we went for 3 full days of birding on Svalbard.
First day was spent birding in and around Longyearbyen and we fairly quickly racked up all the expected species – except Ivory Gull. First bird was Snow Bunting, singing through the hotel windows. Common everywhere.
A walk along the estuary at Longyearbyen is awesome birding. Fairly few species but high quality birds. Unexpected – to us – was the amount of Purple Sandpipers, they were everywhere. All time high for all of us on that bird.
Many of them ringed by local ornithologists. Barnacle Goose were abundant as well as Pink-footed Goose.
You are not allowed to wander around by yourself on Svalbard due to the Polar Bear hazard. We never saw any Polar Bears during our three day visit, they are further north where the pack ice is. Regardless, in order to walk about you need a gun. We had brought a gun from home and were thus free to walk around as we wanted.
Other birds along the estuary were both Phalaropes, Dunlins, Glaucous Gull, Kittiwake, Arctic Skua and Common Eider.
The Common Eider were nesting just along the road, next to the gravel.
Just as we stood looking at the cute Ducklings, and Arctic Fox turned up and smartly snatched one of the Ducklings.
After Lunch we walked the valley Björndalen, west of the village. There we found our first close and possible to photograph, King Eider.
Later we found a few female King Eiders too, they have a nice smile in their appearance contributing to our smiles.
On the way back from Björndalen we saw our only Ptarmigan on the trip. These Ptarmigans are clearly bigger than the ones we have at home. We heard that the Norwegians have already split it, calling it Spetsbergsripa.
No Ivory Gull though, there were quite a few recent reports of Ivory Gull from Longyearbyen and we searched all the Dog Kennels and the harbour to no avail.
Next day we went on a boat trip some two hours north of Longyearbyen. The goal was a known herd of Walruses. Birding on the sea from the boat was spectacular and we got excellent views of the sea birds. Especially the groups of fast flying Little Auk were nice.
Other sea birds were Brünnich’s Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Atlantic Puffin and Norhern Fulmar.
We saw two Blue Whales in the distance and went closer. This is one impressive mammal. Eventually we arrived at the place for the Walruses. As from now on, we’re in love with Walruses, they way they look, move and fart is world class.
On the way back, close to Longyearbyen a Long-tailed Skua was resting on the water.
Still no Ivory Gull though. In the evening we took another walk up the valley from Longyearbyen. Pectoral Sandpiper had been reported there recently but we never found any.
Next, and last day, we took yet another boat trip, this time much further away to the most northerly village in the world Ny-Ålesund. Ivory Gull had been seen there just a few days by our friend Jens Wikström who works as a guide on ships that cruise Svalbard. This time the weather was even better than the day before, the sea was completely calm and the sun was shining giving us even better views and photographs of the sea birds. When we finally see the village we’re hyped to max, expecting the Ivory Gull. Just as the boat enters the harbour, I’m squeezed in by other passengers, Mårten is inside putting on his shoes, then Erik screams IVORY GULL. Any .. yeyyy, it came flying in.
Mission complete. We then spent a couple of hours in the village and never saw the Gull again. We were lucky – again. On the other hand someone once said that if you’re lucky all the time – then it’s skill.
The last leg of our long trip that started with Alexandrine Parakeet in a park in Amsterdam in March is a trip to the Ural Mountains.
It’s a wild mostly inhabited area with large spruce forests. The mountains themselves are not especially high, more like the mountains at home, the Swedish Fjällen.
We went by night train from Yekaterineburg to Serov, and then by bus to Severouralsk where we were picked up by Victor the driver/camp master and Galina, camp cook from heaven. We packed all the gear into their UAZ and drove to the first camp site, just below Kvarkush plateau. White’s Thrush and Red-flanked Bluetails singing whenever we made a stop. We spent in total 5 nights at the first camp site. Around the camp, one of the most common bird was Arctic Warbler, singing everywhere.
Day two we hiked up to the plateau, good birding along the path as well as up there. Weather was bad though, rainy and cold. We found a nest of Little Buntings along the path.
Up on the Plateau we spread out and searched for Grouse. Soon we found a few Willow Grouses.
The Siberian Rubythroats were singing from the bushes, their throats shining inside the grey foliage.
Great Snipe was displaying in the rain, and with playback we got to see one very well.
The bad weather forced us to go back. In general here, the weather was usually good or even very good early in the mornings, with heavy rain in the afternoons.
In the late afternoon we birded the lower areas around the camp. Black-throated Thrush was reasonably common.
Next day we drove with the UAZ to an area with an open marsh and wet forest. The habitat was ideal for Rustic Bunting and we split up into two teams searching. Nutcrackers were abundant in that area, flying around in loose groups making ruckus.
Eventually we hear the Rustic Bunting singing, and we’re able to get to the bird.
The next day we made yet another hike up onto the plateau. This time going further up. Singing Bluetails on the way up.
This was a bird very high up on my want-to-see list. Almost twenty years ago me and hacker/math/computer friends of mine started our first Internet company and we named the company Bluetail. Now I finally got to see the bird.
Once above the tree line, we stumble onto a family of Weasels.
And just shortly after that, a large Brown Bear stands on its hind legs looking at us, it takes off running and three cubs follow. Stunning.
We go higher, aiming for an area that from a distance looked good for Dotterel. We never found any Dotterels, however we found both a singing Lapland Bunting and Rock Ptarmigans. The Bunting is very rare in the area.
Next camp site was close to the Ridge. Here Bluetails were singing constantly around the camp. The price bird on the ridge is the Black-throated Accentor. First day was just rain, we walked halfway up to the ridge anyway and found a nest of White’s Thrush.
Next day, we hiked up towards the ridge and soon hear singing Yellow-browed Warblers. This is a species we thought would be common in the area as a whole but it was only here, just below the ridge it was common.
We started to search the forest which is known to hold the Accentors, and fairly quick, we hear a bird singing. It responds to playback and we get exceptional views.
This is a very good WP bird, and to be able to see and hear it singing at the breeding site is a privilege.
With Black-throated Accentor in the bag, we were now almost done in the Urals, only Siberian Tit remaining. The forest around our camp, and also along the path up to the ridge looked like ideal habitat for Siberian Tit. Next day we split up from the camp and started to search for the Tit. We haven’t even begun the actual search when Raul calls out, he found a pair just 50 meters away from our camp.
Cleanup in the Urals. We thought that maybe we had allocated too much time for our Russia trip, we hadn’t. It takes time to find these species. Also, quite a lot of time in Russia was lost due to rain and bad weather.
Night train back to Yekaterinenburg. Arrived early in the morning and this time, a friend of Sasha had located a nest of Azure Tit. It felt really good to be able to finally get the Azure Tit which we had searched so hard for. Cred to Ural Expeditions here, they knew we craved this bird, and found a nest in Yekaterinenburg for us.
This is last birding day in Russia, and we attempted a long shot. We went back to the place where we earlier had a few hybrids Yellowhammer/Pine bunting. No Pine Buntings, but quite a few Oriental Turtle Doves close to Monetny.
The Russia trip has been a success, we have found everything we wanted to find and more. Spent the last night in the city drinking copious amounts of vodka in bars and playing chess with Russians.
We’re in Russia, and we love it. This country rocks. Putin may do strange things, but what we see, this sure looks good. We have a setup here with a full-package deal from Ural Expeditions. This is sort of required to do a proper Ural tour, expensive but good. In the Yekaterinburg area we have a van, a driver Igor and our guide, Sasja.
First day of birding we went straight to a famous site close to the airport, packed breakfast and dawn. The first Booted Warbler sung as we opened the car doors.
These marshes held a plethora of new WP birds for us, and just in a few hours we ticked off Grasshopper Warbler, Thrush Nightingale, Long-Tailed Rosefinch and a fast over flying Oriental Turle Dove.
Other nice species at the Airport marshes:
After a wonderful breakfast in the lingering morning, we went to another spot close by which held a number of breeding Great Snipes.
Nice little wetland with breeding Godwits and Red-shanks
Keep at it, we went to another local site called, Monetny which is an amazing site, with a dirt road passing thorough prime marsh habitat. First thing, we came into the habitat and we heard River Warbler calling, next we hear Greenish Warbler and then Lanceolated. Dream birds.
Oriental Cuckoo called from far away and we found the first of hopefully many Olive-backed Pipits. The site is famous for Azur Tit, we didn’t find any though.
At the end of the day, we had picked up 11 new WP ticks. We remember when we had the pelagic in April in Kuwait, we had 10 new ticks that day and Paul Chapman said, this was probably the last day you had 10 new ticks. Haha, he was wrong.
Day two, started out early in a park close to the city, Lake Shartash where Sasja had seen the Azur Tits just two weeks ago. No tits there. Tried a few other spots, and finally went to a spot an hour north of the city. This was the place where Sasja had seen Yellow-breasted Bunting two weeks ago, a known nesting site. Fairly long walk through woods and moor, and we arrived at the spot. Entirely different habitat to what we believed was the right habitat for the enigmatic bunting. The spot was a classical Swedish/Russian taiga marsh with small Pines and Cloudberries. We split up, and after half an hour Mårten calls on the Walkie and says – WE HAVE THE BIRD. Raul and I run there but when we arrive, the bunting is gone. We walk back and forth, searching, no Bunting. Eventually the bird responds to playback and flies over, Raul and I see a Bunting, but that’s all. Sigh. One hour later, after thorough search we connect with a male. Poor pics, but better video. What a bird.
Day three, rain. We’re sleeping in a wonderful camp full of well behaving children on some sort of Russian wilderness course. We eat with the kids and it’s just great – apart from the rain which pretty much rules out birding. Nevertheless we ignore that and walk along a swampy area for a couple of hours searching for Rustic Bunting. None there. Back to camp and drink coffee and read. Eventually, bored out of our sculls we go out again for a walk. Mårten and Erik gets to see a Capercaille!! The infamous Difference List is finally empty, it hasn’t been empty since January 1 when Mårten saw a Moustached Warbler and Erik and I did not.
Day 4 in Lower Urals, this is Azur Tit day. We’re on a quest. Started out really early in Monetny, walking slowly playbacking the darned Tit. Apart from not finding the Azur Tit during the entire day, we had some fantastic birding this day, with sightings of Oriental cuckoo and much more. Best, and a bit unexpected were in total three Siberian Ruby-throats.
What a stunner. Pretty wasted after a long walk through the marshes we come back to the van, the driver, Igor, sees us and waves – come come. A Great Grey Owl has parked just by the van.
Another good bird on this second visit to Monetny was White-backed Woodpecker, quite a few individuals were seen and heard.
We gave up on Monetny and tried a few other sites nearby for the Azur Tit. Tricky bird, the current theory is that due to the late spring, they had failed nestings and are now sulking in the woods.
On a field, on the way back, we heard Yellowhammer/Pine bunting song and stopped to investigate. A few Yellowhammers, but also a number of clear hybrids. Interesting to see such a clear mix of two species.
Tomorrow it’s going to rain, and we’re having Azur Tit panic.
Kazakhstan is mostly steppe, that is also the main reason for visiting the country. The steppe habitat is, grass and scrub continuing for endless hours in the car. Before going north from Atyrau, we revisited the place on the Ural river where we found a Black-headed Penduline Tit, the goal being better pictures.
Headed north towards the little village Inderbor. This is a good place to stay a couple of days, it has an old-school soviet-style hotel which was just great.
Next day we headed out onto the steppe. We drove a long round about towards north west of Inderbor. We had received good information from the unthreatened WP king, PAC. Larks were abundant, especially Short-toed Lark. We estimated the number of Short-toed Larks seen in the day to 7000. White-winged Larks were reasonably common all day too.
After a few hours driving west, we soon found the first Black Larks. They were common in an area along the dirt track stretching approximately 10 km. The steppe favoured by the Black larks was possibly more sandy than other parts of the steppe. We counted all together 104 Black larks.
The Black Lark is a bit of a dream bird, it stands out like a beacon of want in the Collins Guide. We drove on heading towards a lake on the steppe. The lake hosted quite a few Dalmatian Pelicans which were easy there.
We heard a Bittern at the lake, possibly uncommon. Soon we also found our first group of Demoiselle Crane, altogether we saw 4 different groups of Demoiselle Crane, one pair nesting with chicks.
Turned east after the lake, continued to bird from the car with numerous stops and short walks. Pallid Harrier and Montague’s Harrier were fairly common, also Steppe Eagle was fairly common.
Halfway between the lake and the main road, a group of 3 Saiga Antilope runs across the dirt track. A very rare and strange animal indeed, threatened on the brink of extinction. Later, one more ran along the road.
Next day was spent searching villages and disturbed areas along the road back to Atyrau. There is always the possibility of that rare bird from far away. Rosy Starlings were seen a couple of times.
Our last day in Atyrau, we went back to the Ural Delta. We had gotten all psyched up on the possibility of the Lesser Short-toed Larks in that area actually being Asian Short-toed Lark. We photographed several individuals. The Advanced Id Guide, says that t6 should be almost entirely white.
We concluded though, slightly disappointed that the birds in the Ural delta most probably are not Asian. This complex needs further investigation, and we have heard that Per Ahlström is conducting just that right now.
Kazakhstan, western part of the country is part of WP. This is an area which not especially easy to access. The city to go to is called Atyrau, and there are AFAIK zero car rental agencies in the city. We opted for a solution organised by Yekaterina Dotsenko (firstname.lastname@example.org) which has turned out to work well, albeit expensive. The setup is a UAZ bus with one driver, one guide and one translator (I guess this explains the price)
Nevertheless, we arrived yesterday and took a day privately with a taxi driver, birding some of the parks in the city and also some nearby marshes. Long-tailed Shrike was found breeding in Victory Park, Atyrau last year. This was our first target, and we birded that park and nearby shrubbery along the Ural River. No Shrike, but quite nice birding, especially in the shrubbery.
After the park, we took the all-day-cab to a sewage pond north-west of the city. Lot’s of Caspian Gulls, lots of ducks and warblers.
In the shrubbery next to the sewage, we found a few Red-headed Buntings.
Drove on towards wetlands just north of the city, plenty of Black-winged Pratincoles there. We sort of ignored a few sightings of the Pratincole when we were in Kuwait, the idea being that we should get the Pratincole here. This was right, Black-winged Pratincole is common here.
The next day, we had a date with the Kazak team, 5.30 outside our hotel in Atyrau. The destination was the Ural delta. This area is possibly difficult to visit. We have heard of groups who lately had problems getting access to the area. There was a military checkpoint, but our guide just spoke to them and we had access. The area is covered with dirt roads, and a 4WD is required.
Anyways, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, just 100 m prior to the checkpoint, we search bushes and reeds, and found at least two Black-headed Penduline Tits. This is MEGA, and AFAWK a first for Western Palearctic. The distribution maps for the Tit shows that is should occur in the Ural Delta, but no one has to our knowledge ever reported it. Poor pics, but it sure looks good.
With this gem under our belt, we entered the Nature Reserve, the Ural Delta.
Birding in the area was excellent, the salty steppe combined with reeds, canals and marshes.
On this leg, the Kazkhstan and Russia, Raul Vicente joins up with us. Raul in the middle on the picture above. So far he has called out two WP ticks for us, more to come !!
A wide variety of species, waders, ducks, Sykes Warbler, Red-headed Buntings, Calandra Larks, Short-toed Larks and Lesser Short-toed Larks in the delta.
After a few hours, we also found a few White-winged Larks.
Cyprus has three specialities, one we’d already seen in Israel, the Cyprus Warbler. The other two are the Cyprus Scopes Owl and the Cyprus Wheatear.
Arrived late in the evening in the North/Turkish part and made a short stop close to our hotel. Heard the owl calling on our second stop.
Second day we went birding on a point into the sea, the idea being that once we had picked up the Wheatear, we could do some sea watching. The sea was completely empty and in retro perspective, the short stop we made close to Antalya before the Romania Amur Falcon twitch, was a lucky strike. Then we had good views of both of the two occurring Shearwaters in the eastern Mediterranean, Scopoli’s and Yelkoan Shearwater. Without those two bagged in Turkey, especially the Yelkoan, we would be in Shearwater-panic-mode now.
The Wheatear was a bit tricky to find though, we saw one individual from the car briefly. Eventually, at one stop where we flushed a Little Owl we got it.
The Little Owl woke a whole lot of Sardinian Warblers, and also a Cyprus Wheatear. They all were very irritated with the owl, including the Wheatear which was then easy to photograph close to the Owl.
Late in the season, birds here are already breeding and birding is generally poor. Slightly interesting was the lightly coloured subspecies of Hooded Crow.
We never had any views of the Warbler, on the other hand we didn’t search that hard.
After dinner at night, slightly drunk, we went owling again. This time we not only heard the cool little Scopes Owls, we got good views. Sneaked into a graveyard and whistled the calls.
Listen carefully to the two-note-call, this is what mainly separates it from the normal Eurasian Scopes Owl which has a one-note call.
Last day here, spent by the pool, emailing and planning the remainder of the year. Lazy.
Quite a few people suggested that we should have skipped Cyprus, or maybe shortened it and gone twitching the famous Albatross on Sylt in Germany. Lucky thing we didn’t, the Albatross is gone again (as far as we can see on Internet) . Had we hurried like crazy from Milan, we would have arrived on June 6, and dipped the Albatross. Much better then to drink beer by the pool in Cyprus.
Finally, Northern Cyprus appears to be an undiscovered gem. The three of us generally hate tourist resorts. For example the Lago d’Orta in Italy, the lake with the Muscovy Duck. That place was crawling with tourists, horrible place. Not to mention Hourgada in Egypt … brrrr. The coast of Northern Cyprus is beautiful and very relaxed. Well worth a visit.