Sunday, 4 December 2016

An unexpected Western Palearctic tick

An unexpected bonus today with two laughing doves in Kouklia village, a Western Palearctic tick for me. I wasn't expecting any lifers this holiday so that's not bad on our first proper birding day out. Actually we'd only called in at Kouklia to visit Gabriel's taverna, and I didn't have my binoculars or my camera with me when I spotted the doves, so I had to dash back to the car. Lesson learned there, but at least I recognised that the doves were something different even without binoculars, and the car wasn't too far away! Earlier we had visited Asprokremmos Dam and the ruined Turkish village of Finikas which is well known for a handful of wintering Finsch's wheatear, and is where I saw them in 2014.

Laughing doves in Kouklia village. I've been in touch with Jane Stylianou, the bird recorder for BirdLife Cyprus who informs me that up until about eight years ago laughing dove was a vagrant to Cyprus. A few birds - assumed escapes - started breeding outside Agia Napa, then others were found breeding in at least two locations in Limassol and then outside Larnaca and the last two years in Kouklia and Mandria outside Paphos. No doubt now that they are a resident breeder and probably expanding their range but whether from escapes or as a coloniser its hard to say. Possibly a mixture of both I guess.

Finsch's wheatear. This took some finding today and photographing it was even more challenging. This was the best I could manage so below is a much closer image from our last visit in December 2014.

Finsch's wheatear December 2014.

Finikas village and the much reduced Asprokremmos Dam. In December 2014 the water completely covered the mud on the left of the photo.

Finikas village still attracts Turkish visitors in winter. Finsch's wheatear is a Turkish breeding bird.

Chiffchaff from our hotel balcony.

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