Sunday, 14 January 2018

Gull watching at Larnaka

A good day in Cyprus today, I spent it around Larnaca going back and forth between the water treatment reservoirs near the airport, the salt lake and Oroklini Lake. I'm here specifically to look for gulls and especially Great black-headed or Pallas's gull, a species which I have never seen before. I've also never been to Larnaca before, but this is the best place in Cyprus to see Great black-headed and the middle of January is the best time of year. That said, there's usually only one or two records every year and they are sometimes only present for a few minutes before moving on, so it's at best a longshot. However if you stay at home and don't try then you definitely won't see one, so here I am.

No sign of great black-headed gull today, but at least 4 Heuglin's (Siberian) gulls (2 ads, 2 3cy and a possible 1cy), about 300 Caspian, many yellow-legged and several Armenian. They don't seem as easy to get close to here as they are at Lady's Mile near Limassol, but still not too bad when compared to the gull roost at Pennington Flash! Also the gull flocks seem to be dominated by Caspian here, whereas in previous winters I've seen more Armenian at Lady's Mile and just a few Caspian. I'm heading for Lady's Mile tomorrow so it will be interesting to see if history repeats itself.

Obviously I'm also seeing plenty of other birds, notably around 500 greater flamingos, 11 ferruginous ducks, a few laughing doves, loads of Kentish plover, a single flock of 61 black-necked grebes (!), red-crested pochards, a good variety of waders and plenty of chiffchaffs of the race brevirostris. The remarkable story of how I discovered that this was overwhelmingly the race which overwinters on Cyprus when it was previously thought to have never been recorded on the island is told here

A flock of mainly Caspian gulls

Adult Heuglin's gull

3cy Heuglin's gull. Note how retarded the moult is. Also I've always found that 3cy are darker than adults.

Heuglin's gull
Laughing dove, Larnaca

European white-fronted geese, Larnaca waste water treatment reservoirs

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