Thursday, 8 December 2016

Finsch's wheatears at Kidasi

Finsch's wheatears are cracking birds and possibly the star attraction of any birding visit to Cyprus at this time of year. All of my previous sightings have been in the deserted Foinikas village near Nata on the banks of the Asprokremmos Dam. Today however I decided to try my luck at a second well known site for the species, near Kidasi in the Diarizos valley. To access this site you park near the old road bridge just north of the village and walk up the valley. The trick here is to walk up the right hand side of the valley, not the left which is what I did at first, before realising my mistake. The track on the right hand side is easily drivable (at your own risk!), but I prefered to walk. After about 1km the track bends to the right, and this is where the the best birding is to be had. I saw two male Finsch's wheatears in this area. Apparently the males outnumber the females in Cyprus, and this is certainly my experience, I've had about six sightings of the species and never seen a female yet.

This species is rather timid compared to the northern wheatear which we get in the UK, and usually flushes at about 40m, sometimes a lot more. Digiscoping is probably the best bet for a photograph, but there was no way I was carrying my telescope and tripod up there, so I had to make do with these hybrid camera photos.

Finsch's wheatear is superficially very similar to Cyprus wheatear, but the latter does not overwinter on the island and is long gone by December, and also Finsch's wheatear has a diagnostic creamy white back.

Kidasi is also an excellent place for raptors, but today I had to be content with this single griffon vulture. Other birds I saw today included about 30 woodlarks, several chukar and the ubiqiutous stonechat.

Road bridges old and new.

The track bends to the right and this is where most of the action is (at least in December).

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