Thursday, 2 April 2015

Cyprus: nightingales in full voice

A beautiful sunny morning yesterday and a great way to finish our trip - with a hike up the hillside behind the Aphrodite Beach hotel on the Akamas Peninsula.

The past week has seen the arrival of nightingales en mass - from my first sighting at Pissouri Bay last Thursday of a lone bird barely venturing out from cover to feed in a cultivated garden, then the first burst of song around the hotel a couple of days back.  Now the whole hillside is full of song.  The thickets of Mediterranean scrub on the slope are perfect - almost impenetrable and full of a variety of plants and insects.  I counted at least eight different singing males.  Woodchat shrikes and Sardinian warblers were also everywhere, so too corn buntings and migrant blackcaps.  A couple of eastern Bonelli's warblers were flitting around the bushes restlessly.  A brief glimpse of a shy wryneck too, my fourth of the week.

We then descended back to the hotel for breakfast on the restaurant balcony and guess what? Another nightingale blasting song from the patchy thicket before the beach. He even jumped into view for a few moments, flashing rufous tail.

Very sad to leave after an excellent week, especially with the weather now set fair! Late March is definitely a great time to visit, especially if you are into flowers as well as birds.  The wonderful botanical diversity frequently stealing the show from the birds.  Development of the island continues and you can see the impacts of agricultural intensification and urban expansion.  But protected areas like the Akamas National Park in the extreme west, as well as continued low intensity agriculture in many areas, mean that for now it is still a great place to explore and enjoy some great nature experiences.

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