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Cyprus - April 2024 (1 Viewer)


Virtually unknown member
United Kingdom
With no prospect of travelling to see my chosen artists performing live this year and as 2023 was, for me, a very expensive travel year, this year would be birding only and on a budget so therefore staying in Europe. As winter tends to be the busiest time for me work-wise, a spring tip sounded a good idea so I decided on Cyprus for a bit of migration activity.

Flights were booked with Easyjet, a car through Rentalcars and accommodation via Trivago. I purchased 'Birds of Cyprus' (Helm) for ID's, Gosney's 'Finding Birds in Southern Cyprus' for site information and International Travel Maps Cyprus edition for planning. For navigation I had the relevant maps from MapsMe downloaded on my phone. Chris (@Scridifer) had also given me some very useful information following his visit.

Sunday 14th April:

A late morning play with the M25 traffic to get to pre-booked long stay airport parking at Gatwick for an early afternoon flight to Larnaca - all went fairly painlessly with only a slight delay on take-off made up en route for arrival mid-evening. Car picked up OK, I then had a bit of a drive to my base for the next 9 days near Pissouri. The owner had kindly left the key in the door for my late arrival.
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Monday 15th April:

Woke earlyish this morning, despite the late finish yesterday, to see a pair of House Martin building a nest above the stairwell outside my window and a number of Barn Swallow feeding above the patio/balcony plus House Sparrow and Collared Dove in the nearby trees. I set off west, seeing Wood Pigeon, Feral Pigeon, Magpie, Hooded Crow and a nice flyover Great Spotted Cuckoo on the road, and headed for the hot-spot of Paphos Headland. Parking near the beach restaurant to the north I walked along the well used walking/jogging/dog exercising track around the outside of the perimeter fence. In spite of this human activity I found a couple of Common Sandpiper on the shore, numerous singing Crested Lark both sides of the fence, a Zitting Cisticola on a taller grass stem and from the point Yellow-legged Gull and a single flypast Great Cormorant but the best bird was a Red-throated Pipit that flew from the shoreline vegetation and perched up on the fence.

I had a look around the area of the old castle and Paphos Harbour, not adding anything new, before paying up and going into the archaeological site. The first bird I saw once inside was a Kestrel overhead which had slightly protruding central tail feathers but when it landed in a shrub it proved to be a male Common Kestrel. There were plenty of Common Swift overhead and Sardinian Warblers singing from the scrub. On the hunt for migrants I wandered down the 'Avenue' where a couple of photographers/birders were obviously interested in something and there in the smaller landscaping trees between the track and the bus stop/car park was a handsome male Collared Flycatcher performing very nicely - first lifer of the trip! Further down toward the town end I had a couple of Laughing Dove on the ground and Great Tit & Goldfinch in the trees. Retracing my steps I stopped again to admire the Flycatcher more and then continued across the main part of the site to find a number of female type Wheatears on the ruins - to me they all appeared to be Northern but others there had different opinions. Trying for a view from a different angle I found a pristine Wood Warbler in a Stone Pine and a female flycatcher that I didn't get a good enough look at, unfortunately. Slowly wandering toward the less busy north west part of the site I could not locate any more migrants but there were a group of Spanish Sparrows around some of the buildings and flyovers to the north west of a group of 4 Black-crowned Night Heron followed a quarter of an hour or so later by 8 Purple Heron. Back at the ruins, the Wheatears now included a smart male Norther Wheatear. In the heat of the day I had a look around the interesting mosaics and then headed to the lighthouse and along the old city walls before exiting near where I had parked but saw nothing new.

As it was now quite warm I elected to take advantage of the air-con in the car and drove back east to take the tracks on the coastal side of Acheleia. Both the Ezousas Soakaway and Acheleia Reedbed were too overgrown to see anything so I carried on to Mandria and drove the roads/tracks through fields between the town and the coast. At first I only added Spur-winged Lapwing but then came across a freshly harvested forage field that, even with the farmer working nearby, was packed with Western Yellow Wagtails - most of the males were Black-headed feldegg with a few Blue-headed flava and numerous unidentified females plus a couple of White Wagtails. Whilst scanning through the flock for some other forms I also picked out another Red-throated Pipit and a Calandra Lark.

With that it was time, after a long sit by the shore staring out at the unfeasibly blue sea, to find a supermarket to stock up with supplies and get properly settled in, eventually, to the accommodation.


1. Sunrise view from apartment window;
2. Mosaic - Paphos Headland;
3. Ruins - Paphos Headland.


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Thanks Frank and have a good trip David.

Tuesday 16th April:

Up early again this morning as I was woken by the Barn Swallows and House Martins squabbling over the partly built nest. So decided on a longish drive about about as far west as you can to the Akamas Peninsula, seeing the usual roadside species (Doves/Pigeons, Magpie, Crow) including flushing a Chukar once I'd got on to the smaller roads. I started at the car park for the Baths of Aphrodite and walked up through the botanical gardens with an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler singing from the little valley in competition with a Cetti's Warbler. Carrying on from the nicely cool and shaded pools I came to a sign for the 7km Aphrodite Trail so decided to follow this circular route - a good move as within a few metres I had a nice male Cyprus Wheatear at eye level on the tip of a tree downslope. A nice route up through maquis and open pine forest provided Sardinian Warbler, Masked Shrike, Blackcap and a Lesser Whitethroat. At one point a slight drop in altitude meant the path went into a grove of taller trees and here there was a Collared Flycatcher, a bright Willow Warbler and a hepatic Common Cuckoo flew rapidly through. Near the top the vegetation became more sparse and there were a mix of Pallid Swift, House Martin, Barn Swallow and Red-rumped Swallow overhead plus Kestrel. The Rock Doves looked pretty genuine here. The views were pretty good as well. On the way down I had a Cretzschmar's Bunting below a small crag and lower down Yellow-legged Gulls and a single Shag on a small islet. Back at the pools the Eastern Olivaceous was still singing.

I then drove on to the Smigies Pic-nic Area to have a rest in the shade and some food and here there were European Turtle Doves purring in the taller trees and a mix of Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Serin moving around in the canopy. After a break I did a 3km trail through the forest but it was hotter by now and bird activity had lessened after this great morning. I did see the tail end of a largish green snake disappearing off the path.

Back at the car, and after another break in the shade, I set off for Polis Reedbed but there did not seem to be any way of accessing the reeds without crossing the farmed land between the pools and the road. So I carried onward toward Evretou Dam. Just after you pull off the side road on to the access track you approach a large, squat white water tank and right on top sat a Black Francolin displaying and calling against my invasion of its territory - a great view of a really smart bird when you see it close and I was glad of that as although I heard them calling almost daily I did not get to see another on the trip! The track down to the reservoir was a little rough for my low ground clearance car but I wound my way slowly down only to find the water held just one Little Egret. As the track worsened at the end of the water I did not risk carrying on across the valley but on turning round in the wetter grassland area saw a couple of Green Sandpiper.

Still a bit early to head back I drove to Theletra Gorge and just as I got to the relevant point a Buzzard flew over. But I was turning a sharp corner on to a narrow bridge with another car behind so was unable to stop. Once I'd had the chance to let the local pass and found a place to park I wandered up and down the gorge a bit and after quite some time looking at a load of Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw and Hooded Crow a Long-legged Buzzard flew nice and low up the gorge - again the only one I was to see. The light was beginning to go so time to go back to base.


Akamas Peninsular views from Aphrodite Trail.


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Those mosaics are really something aren't they! The one you've photographed there of Theseus and the Minotaur was amazing and probably my favourite. Nice start with the Collared Flycatcher Pete!

The first time I visited Cyprus in the 80's, the mosaics weren't even under cover and people were actually, walking on them.
Wednesday 17th April:

This morning's alarm call was a male House Sparrow sitting chirping in the Martin's nest! So out westward again, starting by trying and failing to find access to the Aspro Pools and then heading to the car park by the facilities area and a walk across Asprokremnos Dam which, along with the drive, produced the common species but it seemed a little quiet. The small woods either side of the car park end of the dam looked promising so I spent some time wandering around finding Hoopoe, Cyprus Wheatear and Crested Lark in the adjacent fields plus Goldfinch, Blackcap, Great Tit, Chiffchaff and an elusive male flycatcher that after much tracking proved to be a Pied Flycatcher.

I then headed inland and parked at Nata Ford, walking across the bridge / causeway and a little way down each of the accessible tracks parallel to the river. Cetti's and Sardinian Warbler, Laughing and Turtle Dove and Zitting Cisticola all heard, Spanish Sparrow on the tracks, a mix of Hirundines hawking low and I inadvertently flushed a couple of Stone Curlew from the gravel of the braided stream. Retracing my route a little I very slowly took the rough track toward the abandoned village of Phinikas seeing a Little Owl perched on the overhead wires near the start. But had to give up when the surface became too rough and walked the remainder. A pair of Great Spotted cuckoo objected noisily to me being around the ruined buildings, Alpine Swift were overhead and the end of the reservoir held a group of loafing gulls that were a bit too distant for ID, three Western Cattle Egret and a group of Grey Heron on some dead branches in the water and a small flock of Ruff in the shallows with two Common Snipe.

Back at the car I cautiously drove back to the road (the Little Owl still in the same place) and headed to the Anarita Park area to slowly drive the graded tracks whilst scanning the wires. This was rewarded by nice views of a couple of European Roller perched and in flight, Kestrels hovering, Common Swift in numbers and a dark Eleonora's Falcon over.

The plan was to head for the 'Crake Pool' but the track would definitely have killed my car so I quickly gave up. Looking for a possible walk in the shade I decided upon Avgas Gorge but road works on the northern outskirts of Agios Georgios seemed to block the way with no apparent diversion in place or alternate route possible. So I headed for Cape Drepanum and parked up by the coast. The islet offshore held a few Yellow-legged Gull and a single Shag, a White Wagtail and a Blue-headed Wagtail stalked the small beach, the scrub had Crested Lark and Sardinian Warbler plus a male Northern Wheatear and there were three Squacco Heron on a rock just below the low cliff.

Next stop was Mavrokolympos Dam partly to check out a possible stake-out spot for later in the week but also to park at the dam and walk the track above the water through habitat that seemed to have good potential. The reservoir was a bit quiet but did add Little Egret to the day list and then, after chasing some furtive Sardinian Warblers, at last a nicely perched up and singing Cyprus Warbler plus a female.

Heading back towards base I called in at Agia Varvara Pools. The first one was overgrown but noisy with Cetti's, amphibians and other sounds but the next couple had areas of open water - one with Little Grebe and Purple Heron and another with good views of a nice Little Crake. I then back-tracked a bit to the Episkopi Environmental Information Centre hoping for a nature trail of some type but the centre was closed and there was not enough light left to complete the marked walk; so it was time to head 'home' after a long day.
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Thursday 18th April:

No avian alarm today as the nest was empty but the rising sun did the trick. Set off east this morning, seeing the common species on the road, starting at Zakaki Pool but it was very overgrown with reeds and nothing to be seen so I carried on toward Ladies Mile Beach stopping at the first pools where the road crosses and walking to the hide on the pool nearest to the port - a lone Ruff present and a flyover Black-crowned Night Heron. I moved the car to the car park on the other side of the road and walked the trail that loops between the pools and Akrotiri Salt Lake through open scrub. Chukar was seen and Black Francolin heard, a few Crested Lark and Sardinian Warbler around but the best birds of the outward walk were a male Black-eared Wheatear and a Woodchat Shrike. On the way back nearer the pools the scattered waders seemed to be mostly Ruff with one or two Kentish Plover and a small group of three Dunlin huddled under the vegetation on the seaward side. Back at the car I headed toward the shore and after a quick look at the empty beach slowly drove down Ladies Mile Beach road stopping to look at the pools where most birds were Ruff. But near the masts at the southern end of one of the pools the shallow water and mud was packed with a variety of waders so I pulled up and used the car as a hide (I had tried the scope a little further away but the onshore wind was very strong): mostly consisting of Greater Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Ruff and Little Stint, but over time I found a couple of Common Ringed Plover, more Kentish Plover, three Red-necked Phalarope (one in breeding plumage), three Curlew Sandpiper (again one in breeding colours), at least 2 Marsh Sandpiper and a single summer plumage Spotted Redshank. In amongst the waders there were three loafing Slender-billed Gull and a couple of diving Little Tern. What a great spot!

Tearing myself away I carried on down the shore-line road stopping a couple of times to walk to the sea but the beaches were empty of birds. The next location was intended to be Bishop's Pool but unless I am being very stupid here I could not find a way to it - the access road shown by Gosney had a closed gate, the drive to the monastery just led to their car park, etc.. and the access shown from the road to the west in the Helm guide was blocked by a fence and other items in a very determined way. But a couple of days ago there were some reports from here on the Birdlife Cyprus page? So I carried on through the town and drove on to the tracks of Akrotiri Plain seeing Kestrel and Spur-winged Lapwing and a few each of Stilt and Ruff plus a Squacco Heron on Akrotiri Gravel Pits. Again the shore-line itself was quiet.

On to Phassouri Reedbed which seems to have improved dramatically since Gosney's guide was produced. I first stopped where a section of the stock field's boundary fence angles away from the road and there is a pull-off with a view of the edge of the reeds where the cattle / horses / donkeys can access the water. This gave great views of Wood Sandpiper, Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Little Egret, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard and both drake Garganey and Teal. A bit further on a small car park allows you to walk between stock paddocks to a hide overlooking a pool that is more of a mud-hole for the animals so had fewer birds but close up Glossy Ibis were nice. Further still another car park and walk along a track leads to a tower hide with views of the reeds and wet field with more distant examples of many of the same species. A Reed Warbler was singing from the scrub near the base of the hide.

After a while at the above site I set off for Akrotiri Reedbed but the track became too much for the car so I turned round and stopped to put the coordinates for my next site in my phone only for a green pick-up to speed up and stop angled across the track in front of me and an armed British soldier emerged and questioned me as to what I was doing. After my explanation was accepted he warned me about using the phone next to military facilities and let me on my way!

I drove through the Episkopi Garrison, parked where recommended and walked to the top of Kensington Cliffs. Great views and I spent some time just sitting watching Alpine Swifts overhead, Yellow-legged Gulls on the water, Jackdaw and Doves on the cliffs and some fine sightings of two Eleonora's Falcon interacting, swooping and perching on the cliffs.

A bit of an early finish today as I planned to go out again later so I set off back to Pissouri. At home I routinely drive a 4-WD pick-up so the Kia Picanto I had hired was a bit of a change and I put this down as to why I thought it was a bit underpowered and struggled in the hills. Setting off, I pulled on to the motorway and tried to accelerate up to 100kph but it was a real effort and then it lost almost all power, the engine management light flashed three times then went out and the car went in to 'limp home' mode. Luckily it wasn't far so I dawdled back and emptied the car anticipating a day off from birding tomorrow waiting to sort things out. I called Europcar Larnaca office at 17:04 who got the Limassol branch to call me back for my location and by 17:47 a chap had arrived, plugged in a diagnostic which confirmed a miss-fire on cylinder two and handed me the keys to a replacement! What great service.

So the plans changed back again and after eating I was on my way back towards Mavrokolympos Dam to park up in my chosen spot to wait for dusk. I had a wander along the road and had a Little Owl on the overhead wires. As darkness came I hung around by the roadside cliffs waiting for my quarry. I did not hear any calls but did have a couple of owls fly up onto the rocks and although I thought the shape was not quite right for them, as I knew there were Little Owls in the area I could not be sure exactly what I had seen. So, back to the accommodation in a much better performing car.


Kensington Cliffs view.


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Friday 19th April:

Whilst it had not been too hot (25-28 mid-afternoon) the forecast was for today to be in the low 30's so I sought out cooler conditions at altitude and headed for Troodos. A nice drive up through the foothills, seeing the usual suspects, and up the mountain and I continued through the village as far as possible intending to head for the summit of Olympus but the military facility put a stop to that. On the way up the last stretch of road I had noticed a car park and an information sign so doubled back to there and found I was at the trailhead for the 7km Artemis Trail so set off through the pine forest. A great walk that basically contours the mountain just bellow the peak so is fairly level but winding with fantastic views. Pretty soon I had tracked down a singing 'Cyprus' Wren and seen many 'Cyprus' Jay, 'Dorothy's' Treecreeper and 'Cyprus' Coal Tit - the former seems to be more arboreal than the one in the UK and the latter are everywhere. Also very common were Chaffinch and Cyprus Wheatear. Seen in the forest in lesser numbers were Wood Pigeon, Great Tit and Blackbird, a Chukar flushed from near the path, a Cuckoo heard and Pallid Swifts overhead around the ski infrastructure. It took until about a kilometre from the end of the walk to find the final endemic subspecies - 'Cyprus' Crossbill, a group heard high up in the canopy but only a female seen.

At the end of the walk I drove down to and parked in the village - plenty of House Sparrow and a Masked Shrike in the small trees in the square. I visited both of the potential drinking sites highlighted by Gosney but the local plumbers must have been busy and the leaks fixed. Whilst staking the pools out I did get very close views of a couple of the Treecreepers at the abandoned chalet and a Jay at the water tanks.

Taking a wandering route down the mountain on some good roads I stopped off at a parking area and wandered down to the historic Kelephos Bridge, set in amongst some damp woodland, presumably not a common habitat on the island. A brief wander around here and then I took a track downstream toward Arminou Dam but chose the wrong side of the stream and eventually hit a dead end. So I retraced my steps to the bridge and found the fisherman's track down to the shallow end of the reservoir. It all proved quite birdy: Little Egret in the shallows, Common Swift overhead, Hoopoe and Roller in a small orchard, Kestrel hovering, Swallow and House Martin low over the water, Cetti's and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers singing from the reeds, Crested Lark on the forest track, Greenfinch and Goldfinch in the pine forest and a Grey Wagtail in the stream. Headed back to base very happy.


1 & 2. Early morning view from just below the summit of Olympus, including a nice cloud inversion;
3. View from Artemis Trail.


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Can't believe I missed it off from yesterday's post but half way around the Artemis Trail I heard a Scops calling mid-morning. There was no chance of seeing it from the path and if I'd tried to track it down I would have disturbed it. So heard and possibly seen but not at the same time!

Saturday 20th April:

The nest saga continued with two pairs, I presume, of House Martins squabbling over ownership. Started the day with a long drive east to the less than salubrious sounding Ayia Napa Sewage Works. But it is much better than this suggests with a large area of potentially very interesting and possibly productive looking habitat. The usual Sardinian Warbler in the scrub, Crested Lark on the tracks and Kestrels overhead plus calling Francolin and flushed Chukar. In the taller vegetation near the boundary fence Cetti's and Zitting Cisticola sang, there were a number of Spur-winged Lapwing on the pool bund-top tracks and House Sparrows chirping by the buildings. There was quite a strong breeze and the small birds were keeping low and zipping between the bushes so birding was not too easy. Heading further on and nearer to the rocky hillside an elusive bird perched up in view eventually long enough for an ID of Ortolan Bunting. In the taller trees back near where I had parked was a female Blackcap and a singing Easter Olivaceous Warbler.

I then headed for the car park near Cape Greco Caves and wandered down to the edge of the cliffs. The scrub just inland held a lot of Crested Lark plus Greenfinch, Goldfinch and at last a Spectacled Warbler plus Swallow and House Martin hawking low. Being a weekend it began to get busy so I moved on to Cape Greco itself but this was packed with people and party boats just offshore! But I still managed to see a Common Sandpiper on the shoreline and on the north west tip of the inaccessible point some resting Yellow-legged Gulls had a nice group of three Audouin's Gulls with them. I wandered the coast a bit and then back inland between the rocky promontory, with Common and Alpine Swift circling, and a ploughed field that held a few Northern Wheatear with two Whinchat looking a bit out of place perched up on clods of soil.

It was all a bit too hectic for me so I headed north west and inland to Paralimni. Stopping just to the north of the village by the (active) shooting club I could see very distant birds on the lake. From just behind the shooting bund on the nearest water there were some Black-winged Stilt, a Wood Sandpiper and Little Egret. I began to walk a bit further out intending to get closer to the main body of the lake to set up the scope for a scan but the mud became very sticky and I was also getting concerned about causing disturbance so I returned to the car. I tried the other suggested access points to Paralimni Lake but extensive roadworks in Sotira with slightly chaotic road closures and diversions thwarted every plan.

A bit frustrated I went on to Achna Dam which had high water levels. Firstly parking at a raised viewpoint at the north west end of the dam then I found a better access to the south east of the other end by parking in the car park for the 'Donkey Farm' and walking down the side of their fence. Patches of vegetation and both live and dead trees held a few Little Egret, a Purple Heron, one Glossy Ibis and a few each of Moorhen and Coot with a pair of Great Crested Grebe out on the water. A group of four Common Sandpiper were feeding frenetically on a patch of floating vegetation very close to the track. Reaching the end of the track I turned and just before reaching the start again a Whiskered Tern flew in, circled a bit and landed briefly on a buoy.

I decided to head back but broke up the drive with a visit to Kourris Lake, doing a circuit and finding a way down to the northern end, despite the navigation app becoming very confused by the small village roads, walking once the track became too bad to drive. Plenty of fishermen but no new species for the day - it was nice however to sit and relax by the shore before returning to base.
Sunday 21st April:

Nest empty again this morning - who knows what is happening! Another early start in case it got weekend busy later in the day and I headed to Oroklini. A bit of an incongruous location, with busy roads, petrol station, etc., but a great birding site. From the raised hide overlooking the pool there were three Flamingo, some Black-winged Stilt, Little Egret, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Mallard, and smart drakes of each of Garganey, Northern Shoveler and Red-crested Pochard, but the stars for me were three drake Ferruginous Duck. House Martin and Swallow over the water. After quite a time just sitting and watching, I relocated to the hide at the other end overlooking a more scrape-like feature. More of the above seen, but more distantly, plus Purple Heron and Spur-winged Lapwing and Cetti's Warbler, Black Francolin & Zitting Cistcola all heard only.

Moving on I checked out Meneou Pools but it was quiet on both sides of the road. There were a few more birds from the hide at Larnaca Sewage Works, mostly the species already seen, including Barn Swallows feeding fledged young on the fence-line, with the notable addition of a Marsh Harrier quartering over the ground between the pool and airport. Spiro's Pools were also quiet and added nothing new for the trip or day. A slow drive up the approach road to Tekke Mosque and a scan added a few Ruff and a walk from the impressive Kamares Aqueduct toward the other end of Larnaca Salt Lake added Hoopoe and many House Martin and Common Swift over the reed bed and a singing Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. It was hot by now and open views through the reeds of the salt lake seemed a long way off so I returned to the car.

Heading back west, a short detour to Germasogeia Dam was fairly scenic but not noteworthy for birds with the very nice exception of a stunning male Golden Oriole flying low over a village road and perching in a small tree all too briefly. I had intended to finish earlier than usual today to eat and have a break before another dusk stakeout but it was still too early to return so I headed for the area the Helm guide calls Pissouri Bay East Cliffs - an area of grazed scrub on a high cliff-top plateau where a road just ends and becomes a rough track. I parked at the end of the road and slowly wandered the track through some nice looking habitat. A few Chukar flushed from near a ruined farm building, a number of Crested Lark on the track, a Kestrel hunting and Goldfinch, Sardinian Warbler and Spectacled Warbler zipping around the scrub in a stiff breeze. On the way past a stock fold with a few taller trees I saw a male Flycatcher but it was flighty and the views were never conclusive. On the return walk I saw it again just before the same area and this time it was a bit more cooperative and stayed still and at the right angle just long enough to confirm a Semi-collared Flycatcher. An area with great migrant potential!

Very happy I retuned to the accommodation to eat before venturing out to find a location I had been given (thanks, Chris) for my last real target. Arriving at the appointed tree before dusk I sat in the car, windows down, and waited. Just before it got properly dark a shape dropped silently out of the tree and perched up on wires next to another that I had not noticed and they began calling softly to each other. Getting quietly out of the car I watched the interaction for some time before they both flew into a private garden. Cyprus Scops Owl both seen and heard at the same time now - the saga over - well pleased. Then, ironically, after getting back to my room I opened the patio door to hear one calling loudly from a tree not 10m from the balcony railing - I had not heard one here since arriving and did not again after this evening!

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