Day Ten : 2nd May :
After a well deserved lay in to 7.30 this morning we headed out towards the Tsiknias and tracked up the east side above the lower ford. Three Little Bitterns and five Squaccos were seen in the upper reaches and the Penduline Tit was vocal but invisible unlike the six singing Great Reed Warblers, four of which were seen. Black -headed Buntings were even more numerous and singing from wires, trees and fences and one of the Red-throated Pipits was still on the bend with some flavas.
Kalami Marsh was very quiet with just two Zitting Cisticolas doing what they do best and there had also been a huge emergence of Robust Spreadwing damselflies and Red-veined Darters all of which were still yellow and yet to colour up. A Grass Snake was seen out hunting frogs.
|Robust Spreadwing (Scarce Emerald back home!)|
|teneral Darter - I think that they are Red-veined|
With cloud brewing we headed for the hills and after a quick look at three of the Sourmaria Scops Owls we made for the Raptor Watchpoint. Two Eleonora's danced over the ridge and the other usual suspects were seen including obliging Subalpine and Eastern Orphean Warblers and the singing male Cirl Bunting in last years Cretzschmars tree... The most bizarre thing was the sound of a churring Nightjar coming up from the valley below. It only lasted a few seconds but it is not the first time I have heard one churr during daylight.
|Eastern Subalpine Warbler|
|Eastern Subalpine Warbler|
Up over the top and then to Persama for lunch where the sun shone and rain inexplicably fell but the butterflies did not care and Marbled and Eastern Dappled Whites flitted around me. A soaring accipiter seemed to fit a Levant Sparrowhawk while a second was almost certainly a female Eurasian. Thee Squaccos traversed the reservoir and Ruddy Shelduck and three Coot were the only non-Yellow-legged gulls present! A male Ruppell's Warbler in song was a surprise and two Ruddy Shelduck were exploring the larger of the two up valley pools while three Red-backed shrikes and two Whinchat were on the wires.
|Accipiter with Hoodie... If you zoom in it seems to have a gular stripe. Comments welcome|
|Cliff Ruddy Shelduck|
|Small Burnet type day flying moth|
I came back via Anaxos and Filia and stopped at the mast for a short while. As ever the views down over the saltpans was amazing and I could see that there were absolutely no birders there even from up there! Two Eastern Bonelli's Warblers trilled and I found a Wood Nuthatch in one of the oaks before flitting up to a telegraph pole. This is still the only place I have regularly seen this scarce species on the island. Some rock turning did not reveal the hoped for Worm Snake but I did find a superb glossy black bodied False Widow species guarding three egg sacks and an Inky Skipper.
Ice-cream and then back out onto the pans. A chat with Jed and Sam at the river mouth offered views of two Curlews and four Squaccos and after giving Jed some butterfly id advice, I turned round to discover a two foot long chunky, well patterned snake literally between where we were standing! I looked closer and it stuck it's tongue out at me and made a little lunge. Paul Manning turned up at this point to see the two of us prancing away from this slightly odd looking and obviously miffed snake. It slunk away but not before I got a couple of shots. Paul's expert eye identified it as a Sand Boa so we were both well chuffed with that.
Onwards through a quiet Lotzaria before cruising the pans for a while. The water level in the channel had dropped and a Black Stork was chasing through the shallows after fish with nowhere left to go while Little Egrets shadowed his attempts.
|The Stilt & The Stork|
There were lots of very close Ruff and Little Stints but there were no visible marsh terns so I headed round to the north-east hide as the cloudy skies had given me some nice flat light and as a consequence I was able to have able good scan round and count the Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers and Ruff. I will keep looking for a Broad-billed Sandpiper but was quite content with 12 Ringed Plovers and my first Dunlin of the trip albeit with a terribly broken right leg. Three Black Storks loafed about and an adult Spoonbill sieved the water frenetically.
Eleven Gull Billed Terns rested up before soon heading north and two White Winged Black and a single Whiskered fed amongst the throng of plunging Little and Common Terns. The drive back to the Pela added a male Redfoot to the day tally and the Little Owl was still on his building by the lower ford.