This is our second visit to Paphos, Cyprus, to ‘chaperone’ my wife’s elderly parents (their description, not mine). And, having heard about the birds of Cyprus from my friend, JP, I’m guessing November is definitely not the best time to be here to see our feathery friends. A migration hotspot in Spring and Autumn, but wandering the coastline and fields in November, I’m struggling to find much more than the ever present sparrows and hooded crows.
I eventually found a grey wagtail taking caterpillars from the grass by the hotel pool and then, later, performing all manner of acrobatics with a mate. A visit to the sewerage works (most amusing for the parents) brought me a stonechat and a chiffchaff hunting insects from a lofty branch, a white wagtail reflecting in a puddle and a pair of kestrels high above us. Last year’s sea-fishing kingfisher has not yet made an appearance.
It’s quite early in the ‘holiday’ so far so there may be more in the pipeline and I’m not yet losing hope. We’re not used to trips with so little wildlife to see but it does force you to spend more time with what you do find and, in doing so, learn a little bit more about their behaviour.
Yesterday, I skipped the parents’ boat trip and, instead, I invested 2.50 euros to investigate the Paphos archaeological site. I confess that I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to archaeology so I ignored the ruins and looked for birds. In two hours I found more stonechats, crested larks and a trio of linnets. A lone hunting kestrel followed me about the site, giving me great opportunities to shoot him in the air and on the ground. He, alone, was worth the expense!
Then, today, as we walked the seafront footpath north of Paphos, an incredible Bond-like yacht came into view and grabbed everyone’s attention. ‘Yacht A’, the largest, private, sail-assisted motor yacht in the world, owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko and built at a reputed cost of £360 million, anchored off Paphos harbour. A small catamaran, looking a bit like two tin baths similar to those my dad used to wash off the coal dust in front of our fire, emerged from a hatch in its side and plodded into the harbour. Obviously, nothing to do with wildlife but I couldn’t resist a photo of this weird-looking and obscenely expensive ship. You’ll find it on the Cyprus post.