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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Our Man in Armenia (and Cyprus too) (1 Viewer)

My final day in Armenia began rather cool and misty but things were beginning to clear. After breakfast, I headed a few miles to the road that runs up from east of Dilijan to Haghartsin Monastery. This is one of the finest wooded areas in Armenia, and I was soon enjoying the birding. A Hawfinch flew up from the road before I'd even parked, and this species was quite conspicuous throughout the morning. The birds had a surprisingly western European feel, with species such as Robin, Song Thrush, Wren, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Mistle Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch and Bullfinch all around. I was hoping for some less familiar birds though. I found one of the specialities fairly soon, although it was hard work to get good views. A group of at least three Green Warblers were foraging in the budding beech trees on the lower part of the road. I watched them for some time, although they were mostly only viewable from underneath. They weren't singing or calling at all, but perhaps had been feeding lower down during the cold weather. Another target took a bit longer but I eventually had some decent views of three male Semi-collared Flycatchers, two of them higher up the road and then one back down near the bottom. I also enjoyed flight views of a pair of noisy Black Woodpeckers in a beautiful setting.

Time was pretty much up by early afternoon. I stopped for a short time by Lake Sevan at Sevanavank Monastery. Not too much was here but I did get some close views of Armenian Gulls. Then I drove back to the airport, negotiating the traffic in Yerevan and getting the car washed. By late evening I was back on a flight to Larnaca. Armenia was quite excellent. I recorded 181 species amidst some beautiful landscapes and, although I didn't see any lifers, I really enjoyed the spectacular birding in many places, the pleasure of seeing a lot of birds I've not seen since the 90s, and the thrill of the unknown.


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Great stuff Andrew, brings back fond memories of my too short visit to Armenia last spring. I loved it and Armash is (in my admittedly not massive Euro/WP experience) by a country mile the birdiest / best site I have seen in the WP to date. Really a great place.

Shame you didn’t ever see the Snowcock. I had a similar experience getting nervous as the morning wore on though eventually did see an extremely distant bird. My photo here is the stuff that dreams are made of 🤣🤣

Great stuff Andrew, brings back fond memories of my too short visit to Armenia last spring. I loved it and Armash is (in my admittedly not massive Euro/WP experience) by a country mile the birdiest / best site I have seen in the WP to date. Really a great place.

Shame you didn’t ever see the Snowcock. I had a similar experience getting nervous as the morning wore on though eventually did see an extremely distant bird. My photo here is the stuff that dreams are made of 🤣🤣

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Thanks Josh. I should also thank you, as your report was really helpful for organising my trip. Looks like I definitely missed out on the Snowcock! I also agree about Armash. Easily one of the best wetlands I've been to in the WP. It has incredible potential.
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Great report. The Desert Finches were only found maybe 7 or 8 years ago, shortly after i'd visited Vedi a couple of times in the hope of Mongolian Finch!
A great country to visit, safe, friendly, amazing scenery and birds, and a bit of a trip back in time. :)
You did well and had a good plan worked out Andy, my wife and I always seem to have other things to do when we go to Armenia so always end up with fewer species despite usually spending a fortnight there!
Glad to see you included the obligatory photo of Mount Ararat, they would turn you away at Yerevan Airport next time if you hadn't!
You did well and had a good plan worked out Andy, my wife and I always seem to have other things to do when we go to Armenia so always end up with fewer species despite usually spending a fortnight there!
Glad to see you included the obligatory photo of Mount Ararat, they would turn you away at Yerevan Airport next time if you hadn't!
Thanks Richard! It's hard to avoid getting Mount Ararat into at least some photos. It looms very large over much of the country!
I was back in Cyprus for 19th and the first day followed a similar routine to the first day of the trip. I began at Larnaca Salt Lake. A reasonable selection of birds was on the lake, including lots of Slender-billed Gulls. A few migrants included an Isabelline Wheatear, five Whinchats and a Spotted Flycatcher. I then headed to Larnaca Sewage Works, but things were very quiet and there had obviously been a bit of a clear out of birds since my first visit. Four Squacco Herons loafing on the poolside were the best of it. Spiro's Pool was better, with over 200 Little Stints an impressive sight. Among them was a Curlew Sandpiper. I also had reasonable but brief views of a male Spectacled Warbler in the scrub and a female Redstart zipped through. I had a brief look at the Kiti Dam area, which had held a Great Snipe a couple of days previously. The only water I could find had nothing in it and there weren't too many other birds about, save for a lovely hepatic Common Cuckoo.

I drove over to Limassol, where I was staying for the night, and went for a look around the Akrotiri area. I stopped at Phasouri Reedbeds, which was quite busy. Several Glossy Ibises and a Squacco Heron were in the marsh and the fields nearby held three Red-throated Pipits. A large flock of at least 28 European Bee-eaters gathered in the trees.

I finished the day at the precipitously high Kensington Cliffs. I enjoyed watching the eye-level Alpine Swifts there but had another fast flying species on my radar. Eventually, I picked out a pale phase Eleonora's Falcon perched on a ledge and then noticed a few more. Most were distant but eventually I had some fairly close fly pasts, particularly from a lovely dark phase birds. My first since 1996.


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The 20th began around the Akrotiri area, where it was sunny but quite windy. I stopped at Zakaki Marsh, where Purple Heron and Night Heron both showed. At Lady's Mile, there were plenty of waders, with over 100 Little Stints, two Spotted Redshanks and a Marsh Sandpiper.

I looked around the 'gravel pits' area of the peninsula but couldn't see much in the wind, although a Black Francolin briefly crossed the tracks. At Agios Georgios Chapel there was a Spotted Flycatcher and a Turtle Dove. Phasouri Reedbeds held a similar selection of birds as the previous day, although there was also a Turtle Dove there and Glossy Ibis were up to 16.

I then headed west for another look at the excellent pools at Agia Varvara. Birding was a bit easier here, although the water levels were much higher than on my previous visit. This made it harder to see crakes, although eventually a male Little Crake showed nicely. Other birds included a showy Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, a group of nine Purple Herons, a Squacco Heron, a Wryneck and a seemingly inseparable Little Stint and Wood Sandpiper.

It was then time for lunch and I had an idea of how I might make it productive. I headed to the Vasilias Nikoklis Inn, which is near the start of the road up to the Troodos Mountains. I knew that this was a regular site for roosting Scops Owls. I asked if they did lunch and, oh, do you know where the owls are? I was pointed towards a small tree near the veranda. I poked my head around and soon found a lovely Cyprus Scops Owl sitting wearily on a branch. Excellent! After lunch, I popped back in for another look and found that there were now two there.

With my main remaining target in the bag, I headed on up the road and into the hills. If I've any recommendation to anyone birding in Cyprus for the first time, it's to head inland. The coast has lots of great birding but is very hectic at times. Inland, the countryside is beautiful and much quieter. A lot of the speciality birds seem a bit easier to find too. My first stop was near the village of Kidasi. The scrubby, grassy hillsides here were quite busy with birds and, in particular, with Great Spotted Cuckoos. At least five were around and they were noisy and conspicuous as they chased one another around, sometimes watched warily by Magpies. Other birds included a few migrants such as Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and four Whinchats.

I then spent a while wandering along the road to the west of Mandria in the Troodos foothills (not the Mandria by the south coast). This area had plenty of things I was looking for. Cyprus Pied Wheatears were conspicuous and I finally had good views of them. Another Great Spotted Cuckoo showed very well. A lovely pair of Masked Shrikes appeared around the edge of the olive groves. Pied Flycatcher and Common Cuckoo were in the same area and I also saw a few of the very striking Cyprus subspecies of Coal Tit, which is much darker than mainland European birds with a more ringing call.

I ended my journey near Platres, where I was staying for the night. Around my accommodation I found a Wood Warbler, another Cyprus Pied Wheatear and a Serin.

After dark, I had dinner in the village and then wondered about driving the forest roads listening for owls. Although I'd seen the Scops Owl earlier, I still wanted to hear them calling, given that this is their most distinctive feature. I was a bit tired, so didn't want to drive far. I needn't have worried, as there was a pair of Cyprus Scops Owls calling right next to where I'd parked. I managed to find one of them showing really well, and partially lit by the street lights. I watched it for some time, as it gave its distinctive two-note call.


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21st April was my last day of birding on this trip. I headed up to Troodos village early in the morning, in fine, clear weather. I was focused on some of Cyprus's distinctive subspecies and a Jay crossing the road as I drove up was a good start, although I would want better looks. The car park in the village was busy with birds. The action included lots of Pallid Swifts, which were regularly landing on the small buildings around the car park to give very good views. A Crossbill flew over, another of the subspecies I was interested in. A look around the pine trees soon produced some decent views of 'Dorothy's' Short-toed Treecreeper, which has quite a different song to birds from mainland Europe. An Eastern Olivaceous Warbler showed well nearby and a group of three Masked Shrikes were chasing after one another.

I headed to the other end of the village and went for a walk around a small hill. A group of six Crossbills flew over and seemed to land, although I couldn't find them in the trees. There were more Short-toed Treecreepers and the Cyprus subspecies of Coal Tit was very common. I eventually got some good views of the rather dark looking Jays near the top of the hill. A few Cyprus Pied Wheatears were seen well around the village.

I then continued down the road and back towards the coast. I wanted to look again in the scrubby hillsides near the village of Mandria, as there was one species I still hoped to find in that area. The birds were initially similar to the previous day, although I had good views of another Cyprus Warbler. Several Eastern Festoon butterflies were on the wing. I continued a bit further along to where the hillsides were rather sparsely vegetated and, as I suspected, the bird I was looking for was there. A lovely male Cretzschmar''s Bunting was calling quietly from a bush. Eventually it flew off with a female in tow. My first since 1996.

I stopped a couple more times on the way down. The first stop was at some nice riverine forest near Kidasi. I didn't see many birds there but I did see the distinctive Odalisque damselfly. I then stopped for lunch a bit further down near Mamonia. A Griffon Vulture was soaring about the hills and a couple of Red-rumped Swallows were zipping about.

I ended up at Agia Varvara once again, where I still had hopes of seeing another new bird. I scanned the regular 'crake pool' for some time, getting good views of a male Little Crake. The Little Stint and Wood Sandpiper were still firm friends too. A European Bee-eater was on the wires and a Red-rumped Swallow was among the hirundines. The bird I was looking for wasn't in evidence though. A few other birders arrived but there were mainly looking on another pool. Eventually I went to ask them what they were looking for and, it turned out, the bird I was after had actually been seen on a different pool to the one where I was looking. This pool had very high water levels, so I didn't think it looked that promising, although I soon found another male Little Crake poking about in the corner. Then, one of the other birders who was there said 'I think I've got it', and it turned out he had. A Baillon's Crake was quietly wandering along the flooded near edge of the pool, giving excellent views. I was able to watch it for several minutes as it stealthily crept through the vegetation and sometimes swam briefly. A lovely spotty chestnut and grey thing and my first ever. Satisfied I headed off, although not before I saw a nice Little Owl of the Lilith's subspecies perched up on a small crag.

My final destination was Asprokremmos Dam where I was hoping to find a few migrants. A bit of wandering about in the trees produced a Wood Warbler, a Redstart, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Whinchat and, best of all, a couple of lovely male Collared Flycatchers. That proved a good finale to the trip. I then headed back along the highway to Larnaca for the night before an early morning flight back to the UK. I saw 122 species in Cyprus, which is okay for just a few days. Four of these were lifers. The trip as a whole produced 224 species, which is quite a decent tally for a couple of weeks in the Western Palearctic.


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