Bird Watching Tours
In a world that is ever-changing, and one that is fast becoming covered in concrete. North Cyprus is still one of the only countries that has remained relatively unchanged and isolated. With a huge area of undisturbed landscape with rich and unique flora and fauna North Cyprus is one of the best places in Europe for birdwatchers to view different species of birds such as Falcons, Warblers, Shrikes, Sandpipers and Bee-eaters in their natural habitat.
As the third largest Mediterranean island, North Cyprus is located 40 miles from Turkey, 60 miles from Syria and 250 miles from Egypt in the Eastern most part of the Mediterranean. Its location is therefore an important stopover for millions of migrating birds giving birders a perfect opportunity to capture them on their journey. North Cyprus had two indigenous species the Cyprus Warbler and the Cyprus Wheater which both breed in the summer months as well as five endemic sub-species. Scops Owl, Coal Tit, Short-Toed Tree-creeper, Jay and Crossbill.
Our local guide is both passionate about nature and eager to share his knowledge of the country and its wildlife. A wildlife ecologist, a conservation biologist, our expert guide has designed and carried out field studies to map the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of North Cyprus for Birdlife International. His experienced enables him to design perfect itineraries to enable birdwatchers the best opportunity to catch the perfect shot in any season.
We have suggested itineraries, however tours can be tailor made to the individual. We recommend that if you are interested in capturing the best North Cyprus has to offer; then the best time to go and birdwatch it late April and early May or Mid August through to Mid October, Spring and Autumn, when the migrating birds are arriving and departing.
For further information please contact us.
With two endemic species and many species which cannot be found elsewhere in Europe, North Cyprus presents exclusive birding opportunities. A diversity of habitats including plains, marshes, wetlands, mountains, coastal scrub, beaches and dunes are waiting to be explored all under one of the World’s greatest migrant flyways.
With outstanding knowledge of the local ecology and the birds our guides will get you off the beaten track into some of the best countryside that the Mediterranean has to offer.
Most of the sites we visit are within designated Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and whilst birding with us, you’ll realise why the birds that you are seeing are so important. You will also feel a sense of participation in conservation, since all of our records are collated into annual reports for this little-studied region of Cyprus, which is only recently being realised as a birders haven.
On all of our trips you’ll experience the unique Turkish Cypriot culture with a taste of Middle East birding.
Day 1. Fly to Ercan Airport and transfer to hotel (4* Boutique hotel). A short briefing and acclimatisation locally.
Day 2. Besparmak Mountains. Today we will explore both North and Southern flanks of the 5 finger mountain range in the Kyrenia area. Both aspects hold different species collections due to very different micro-climates acting on each side of the range with the South faces being dry, exposed and supporting low arid scrub and North faces supporting mature pine forest and maquis. During winter months wall creeper, finch’s wheatear and rock bunting can be found amongst the resident species which include bonelli’s eagle, cyprus warbler, spectacled warbler and blue rock thrush. During our spring trip both the endemic cyprus warbler and cyprus wheatear are common as are cretzchmar’s bunting, olivacious warbler, alpine swift, crag martin, masked shrike, raven, hobby and peregrine falcon. The trip includes a stop off at one of the three byzantine mountain castles.(B,L)
Day 3. Korucam Peninsula. This site is popular with local bird photographers during winter and rarities and vagrants are often recorded here including in recent years shore lark, trumpeter finch and crimson-winged finch. On spring migration red-breasted flycatcher are may be seen at a small watering hole where pied, collared and semi-collared flycatcher are also common. Red-backed, masked, woodchat and lesser grey shrike are likely and the cape can turn up pallid, montagu’s, hen and marsh harrier at the same time. Long-legged, common buzzards and other surprise raptors are likely to be seen passing through on the thermals. Eleonora’s falcon, bonellis’ eagle, ferruginous duck, bee-eater, little owl, spur-winged plover and black-winged stilt can be seen at Kalkanli reservoir. (B,L)
Day 4. Mesaoria Plain. Locally known as the “bread basket of Cyprus” this is the most productive agricultural area of Cyprus. The Kanlıdere river drains from the Trodos mountains onto the plains and meets other smaller tributaries which provide water to pools and wetlands with plenty of reeds close to Nicosia. Today’s tour begins at Haspolat water treatment plant who’s out-dated settling pools provide the largest area of permanent water on the island and great habitat for birds with plenty of reeds. In winter the pools attract a whole host of wintering wild fowl including ferruginous duck, widgeon, gadwall, red-crested pochard, pintail, black-necked grebe, green sandpiper, lapwing, spur-winged lapwing, snipe and jack snipe. In spring any of these are likely as well as waders such as marsh, wood and green sandpiper, spotted and common redshank, ringed and little-ringed plover, spoonbill, hundreds of ruff. Spur-winged lapwing and black-winged stilt breed regularly at the site. We then follow the watercourse from the sewage works through to Balıkesir pools passing through dried up pools which formerly formed part of the waterways. In this area stream water is used to irrigate fodder vetch which during the dry summer provides a green oasis on the plain, constantly in bloom with flowers that attract pollinating insects. In spring mud banks of these pools provide for the burrows of bee-eaters and many tens of roller. Red-footed falcon, cranes, storks, calandra larks and collared pratincole also likely. Regular sightings of little crake and little bittern (up to six seen at one time in 2013) here in spring. In winter bluethroat and moustached warbler are usually here. (B,L)
Day 5. Famagusta Wetlands. Famagusta is situated in the middle of a massive wetland complex. Famagusta lake hosts the only regular breeding site for glossy ibis and cattle egrets on the island and among them also nesting are black-crowned night heron and squacco heron. Little bittern, purple heron are also common on migration. In 2014 a pied kingfisher pair also bred at this site. In winter pelican, water rail and bluethroat are likely and in 2014 2-3 wintering booted eagle were regularly seen between December and February. Gulseren lagoon hosts a few hundred wintering flamingo and at the Klapsides and Silverbeach wetlands up to 40 curlew and 800 golden plover and small numbers of grey plover are regularly recorded. Black stork has been seen here in spring. The seasonal Koprulu wetland attracts tens of thousands of ducks and waders in winter with a huge diversity. This site when wet is probably the best birding site on the whole island and anything can turn up. Black tailed godwit, marsh sandpiper and red-throated pipit among them in spring. If this site is wet we will be spending some good time here pulling out species and with harriers patrolling and peregrine falcons periodically stirring flocks up our time will be well rewarded. Koprulu wetland is currently the subject of a makeover project funded by the EU and implemented by KUŞKOR to improve the site for birds and birders through installation of hides, managing vegetation, trails and landscaping The project is due to be completed by spring 2017. (B,L)
Day 6. Karpaz Peninsula North. Based at the remote agricultural village of Dipkarpaz, we will today explore towards the Eastern most extremity of the island. En route we cruise between Ronnas Bay and the 10th century Ayios Philon church. These beaches and dune systems are among the top 5 nesting sites for sea turtles in the Mediterranean. The tip of the island is the last-stop for birds before they head north to the next landfall, so the concentration and diversity of birds using the area and passing here in spring are expected to be high. The charismatic Karpaz feral donkeys are also great added value. As the tip of the peninsular is so narrow, the entire area is composed of coastal scrub with high junipers in the centre to low stunted dwarf scrub and cliffs. Great habitat in pristine condition. From the tip, the migration will be extremely evident as flocks of passerines make landfall and dash out to sea, with circling raptors passing almost continuously through this natural northward bottleneck. Lesser-grey, red-backed, woodchat and masked shrikes are all likely as are rüpells and barred warbler, black-eared and isabelline wheatear, hoopoe and wryneck. You will also see Cyprus’s only colony of endangered Audouin’s Gulls on the Klidhes Islands. You will have time to visit the historic Apostolos Andreas Monastery where pallid swifts are nesting. (B,L)
Day 7. Karpaz Peninsula South. We explore valleys of the South coast between Dipkarpaz and Kumyalı, all of which are full of meadows that terminate in small coastal lagoons. Again North and Eastern migration will be extremely evident in spring and we’re likely to see flocks of red-footed falcon, great spotted cuckoo, common (often rufous) cuckoo, tawny pipit, greater short-toed lark and maybe corncrake here. Keeping our eyes on the sea we’ll likely see flocks of birds such as glossy ibis and mixed herons passing up the coast. During winter the Mehmetcik wetland and Kumyali lagoons attract bittern, crakes, green sandpiper and ruddy shellduck and any of these and more are likely during spring if sufficient rains have fallen. (B,L)
Day 8. After Breakfast transfer to airport.