Blogs/Trip Reports

Cyprus Trip October 2018

This trip was to attend the wedding of my niece Elaine and her husband to be Scott. We flew out on Saturday 6th. October arriving in late evening and returned in the early hours of Sunday 14th. October. The hotel was the Athena Beach Hotel in Kato Paphos, about 1.25 miles south of Paphos harbour.

Day 1 – 7th. Oct – up early (6:40) and out with my son and brother in law for a pre-breakfast walk along the seashore path towards Paphos Harbour. The first wildlife seen were House Sparrows in the palm trees around the hotel, LPA_3354quickly followed by Hooded Crows LPA_3375which also favoured the shore area near the hotels. Next we saw a Kingfisher (f) on a landing stage which flew north and stopped at various rocks along the coast to look for its breakfast.

LPA_3367   A plant LPA_3346

that had a spike consisting of white flowers was spotted next, this proved to be Sea Squill (Urginea maritima). The next bird I saw appeared at first to be a wading bird which flew parallel to the shore before landing several hundred yards away behind a chain link fence. Whilst I went off in search of it my companions made a more leisurely pace and missed it! I got within a 100 m trained my camera on it, just made out a long beak before it flew away behind a hoarding. It was a Hoopoe, my only sighting of the week. When they caught me up it transpired that I had missed a Wheatear that was on the rocks by the shore. We never reached the harbour but had to turn back to rendezvous for breakfast with the rest of the party.

Later that morning on a short walk with my wife along the footway by the shore we spotted a number of Red-veined Darter Dragonflies, both male and female

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and 6+ Starred Agama Lizards.

DSC_5857After lunch my son, brother-in-law and myself set off along the coastal path again, this time to the east. Here we saw a single Clouded Yellow Butterfly, 2 or 3 tiny blue butterflies which DSC_5864turned out to be the African Grass Blue and 2 or 3 smaller lizards, the Schreiber’s Fringe-fingered Lizard.

Day 2 – 8th. Oct – up early again for a pre-breakfast walk along the seashore east to the small church of St. Nicholas and the area of scrubland beyond. A Kingfisher was again seen, a male or juvenile this time. In the scrub area were several Crested Lark (difficult to count but at least 6). Starred Agama were again plentiful along the rocky shore and several Schreiber’s Fringe-finered Lizards LPA_3547were also seen. At one point 6 Grey Heron flew over heading south east and four Swallows. On the way back to the hotel we walked along the road that ran parallel to the beach, with the hotels on the south side and a mixture of fields and development on the north side. In some scrub on one of the fields we saw a male Sardinian Warbler. There were also some trees bounding an allotment type area in which we saw a second male Sardinian Warbler, two Spotted Flycatchers and briefly saw/heard two Great Tit.

After breakfast, with my son and brother in law we took a bus to the bus station close to the harbour, walked up to the castle which abuts the harbour, where we saw a single Yellow Legged Gull, and then went into the Archaeological site that covers much of Paphos headland. This is a large area which has some great archaeological features including an amphitheatre and some well preserved mosaics covered by timber structures, (this was my fourth visit so I had seen much of the archaeology before).

Here we saw more lizards including Starred Agama, Schreiber’s Fringe-fingered Lizards and Snake Eyed Lizards. There were several Sardinian Warblers with their rattling calls from the scrub, a number of Crested Lark scattered over the site and a female Kestrel atop a tree that let us get quite close. As with most places on Cyprus there were a number of House Sparrows and Hooded Crows. In our wanderings around the site we came across two Northern Wheatear (in separate places), a female type and 1st. winter male, 3 Barn Swallows were also seen flying over. Also seen in various places were several butterflies including a meadow Brown type (possibly the endemic Cyprus Meadow Brown) but it was very active and we could not get near enough to photograph it. 2 Bath White were seen, a single Mediterranean Skipper and 6 Swallowtail (but never more than 2 together) and a couple of Small White were also noted. Two different types of spider were seen, a tiny and well camouflaged Jumping Spider on a wall and a very large Orb-weaver spider which had a web of around 1 metre diameter which was a Lobed Argiope. There were also plenty of Red-veined Darter dragonflies, ants of various sizes and at least 2 species of Grasshopper.

Day 3 – 9th. Oct – Up early once again for a pre-breakfast walk, again east and this time continued past the church and the scrubland and onto the public beach used by the locals. Again the Kingfisher was seen and the Crested Larks. 3 Grey Heron flew over heading east and a small flock of White Wagtails were spotted feeding in a grassed play area. It looked to be a family group with an adult male and 2 juveniles. Several Collared Doves, Feral Pigeons and Woodpigeon were also seen. The route back took in a short length up and back down an unmade track, and then back along the road, but other than a Sardinian Warbler and numerous House Sparrows no other birds were noted.

After breakfast myself and my wife took a bus into town to do some shopping, walking through the harbour I noted a Yellow Legged Gull on the same ships mast as the previous day. We also saw another Yellow Legged Gull in flight and also a juvenile Slender Billed Gull. In the street near to the fish restaurants was a Great White Pelican, it is a regular visitor here (I saw one in the same place in May 2015). However looking at the photos when I got home, on both occasions the bird’s outer primary feathers have been clipped making sure it could not get away. Another example of animal exploitation was an Iguana being used as a photographic prop.

Later in the afternoon we walked along the beach to see a relative at another hotel. Whist sitting down having a beer I noted a pair of Common Kestrel, one of which was being given a hard time by a couple of Hooded Crows.

Day 4 – 10th. Oct – today I hired a car and we drove out to see another great archaeological site at Kourion. Here there is a large amphitheatre sat at the top of a large cliff with magnificent views of the sea. We saw up to four Northern Wheatear, 1 Kesterel, several Sardinian Warblers and saw/heard a Cyprus Warbler. Both Starred Agama and Schreiber’s Fringe-fingered Lizards were noted along with several Large White, a Clouded Yellow and a Meadow Brown Butterfly. Hooded Crow and House Sparrows were also seen. On the way back along the coast road I noted several wild Goats and we stopped off at a cafe near to Aphrodite’s Rocks, here I noted several Jackdaws. Then we stopped off at Asprokremmos Dam. The water level was well down and there was a large flock of House Sparrows in the trees. Also seen were 8 Chukar Partridges, another Common Kestrel and 2 Crested Lark. There were also a number of Starred Agama on the rock armouring below the dam wall.

In late afternoon we went down to the beach to take some sunset photos. On the way back my eagle eyed son noted a wasp that was digging out a burrow in the sand. I identified it as a European Beewolf, which is a solitary wasp that preys on honey bees.

Day 5 – 11th. Oct – Another early morning jaunt before breakfast (on my own this time), again I headed east along the beach. A Kingfisher was again seen along the shore, allowing me this time to get some close up views. 6 Barn Swallows flew over heading east and 5 crested Lark were noted in the scrubland beyond the church.

This was the day of the wedding, which was at 15:30 on the grassed shoreline near the hotel, however before that I had a short walk west along the shore, which produced a Common Sandpiper, 1 White Wagtail, a Kestrel, 3 Swallows feeding over the lawned area behind a hotel and 2 Great Tit. A large black coloured insect was also seen on the beach (yet to be identified) it seemed to inspecting burrows or pits in the sand.

The wedding was a great experience, followed by a ride in an open topped bus to the harbour and culminating with a evening on a motor cruiser just off shore. One further highlight for me and a few other guests was a turtle that surfaced near the boat before diving right under it in the harbour before we set sail.

Day 6 – 12th. Oct

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In search of a Stinkhorn (29.09.2018)

It has been over 40 years since I had seen a Stinkhorn fungus and so when I found two ‘eggs’ close together on a fungi expedition to Duxbury Woods, Chorley on the 21st.

Stinkhorn 'Egg'

On Friday 21.09.2018

September 2018 I was determined to observe and photograph them in their erupted state. Over the following week or so I observed them on a regular basis.  I visited the site on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th but could not get there in daylight on the 25th due to work commitments. When I visited on the 26th in late afternoon I found that one of them had erupted and was almost gone. Stinkhorn fungiThat made me even more determined to catch the second one in action. I visited again on 27th, twice on the 28th and at 07:50 hrs on Saturday the 29th when I noted that the ‘egg’ was more oval and a white ring could be seen beneath the outer coating. Stinkhorn 'Egg'I returned again after the Chorley & District Natural History’s annual Fungal Foray (to White Coppice) at 11:15, when I saw that the Stinkhorn was partially erupted. Stinkhorn fungi

 

 

I returned again  at 14:00 hrs when it was more fully erupted.

Stinkhorn fungi

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In both instances the gleba (the green material) was in one piece and there was only the odd fly buzzing about, neither was there any bad smell. I returned again mid morning on the 29th when I noted and the stinkhorn was almost gone, with all the gleba missing and large areas of the stem eaten by slugs.

 

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