BirdLife Cyprus participates in Let’s Do It Cyprus!
Let’s Do It Cyprus is a part of Let’s Do It World! Project implemented in 94 countries all over the world. It is the largest environmental and social involvement campaign in the world and Cyprus will be participating in this project for the first time this year.
As part of the project, volunteers from all over Cyprus will participate in a National cleanup Day on 29 September, to remove as much illegally dumped waste from the environment as possible and clean up important ecosystems such as beaches, forest areas, mountain areas, rivers, lakes and any other polluted natural areas in Cyprus.
BirdLife Cyprus is proud to participate in Let’s Do it Cyprus and we invite all our members and friends to join us on 29 September for a cleanup of the Achna Dam area, a Special Protection Area for Birds (part of the Natura 2000 Network) and an Important Bird Area as recognised by BirdLife International.
Achna Dam has become an important site for birds in recent years and is one of the important breeding sites on the island for the Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus and occasionally for the Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus. It is also an important migration point. Unfortunately, despite its importance, it suffers from disturbance and pollution by careless visitors who come to enjoy the site but leave behind their waste.
With our participation in Let’s Do It Cyprus we hope to do our part in cleaning Cyprus’ natural areas and raise awareness of this important wetland and the need to protect and conserve it. We are counting on your support!
Support the campaign and help make a difference!
*** UPDATE: Meeting point: BirdLife Cyprus Offices @ Strakka, Kato Deftera at 8:00 am or north end of Achna Dam at 9:30am.
We have arranged for a minibus leaving from the offices to carry staff and friends to Achna Dam, there is still a limited number of seats available, if anyone is interested in tagging along please let us know promptly.
All the materials and refreshments/snacks will be provided.
For directions and info please call Lilia at 99914274, 22455072
More details to follow soon! ***
Photo: Achna Dam / L. Kapsali
Celebrate Eurobirdwatch 2012 with us!
EuroBirdwatch is BirdLife’s annual birdwatching event in Europe and Central Asia. EuroBirdwatch primarily aims to encourage as many people as possible to go birdwatching over one weekend and to record sightings of as many bird species as possible. Secondly, it provides a great opportunity for bird lovers to meet and practice birdwatching. It works to raise awareness of issues relating to bird migration and promotes efforts to save threatened bird species and their habitats. This year’s EuroBirdwatch will take place on the weekend of 6-7 October 2012.
BirdLife Cyprus is inviting all of you to join the celebrations. On Saturday 6 October you will have the opportunity to attend a bird ringing session- a procedure whereby we catch birds and put rings on them in order to study them. On Sunday 7 October we will be watching the autumn migration from different vantage points giving you a unique opportunity to see raptors, soaring birds, cranes, bee-eaters and other species as they travel over Cyprus during migration. Choose the event you wish to join and contact Lilia Kapsali at
or on 22 455072 if you need more information.
Saturday 6 October: Pyla Ringing Demonstration
Leader: Alan Crabtree. Mobile: 99455345, Clairie Papazoglou, Mobile: 99545094
Demonstration from 9.00 am to 12.30 pm
Directions for Meeting Point: Take the Xylophagou exit from the A3 (Larnaca to Ayia Napa) and then turn right to go over the motorway. Meet on the side of the dirt track there (see map).
Please note that the meeting point is NOT the ringing site. BirdLife Cyprus staff will meet participants at the above meeting point to escort them to the ringing site. If you would like to participate you must be at the meeting point at either 7: 30 am or 9:00 am. Please arrive promptly as staff cannot come back for latecomers
MP= meeting point
Sunday 7 October: EuroBirdwatch Day
1. Autumn migration watch at Akrotiri Peninsula, 09:00 am – 12:00 pm
Stavros Christodoulides. Mobile: Mobile: 99425050
Meet at Phassouri Reed-beds.
2. Autumn migration watch at Oroklini Lake, 09:00 am – 12:00 pm
Leader: Martin Hellicar, Mobile: 99 907893
Meet at area in front of Oups Café at Oroklini Lake.
3. Autumn migration watch at Paphos plain, 09:00 am – 12:00 pm
Leader: June Neal. Home Tel: 25932008, Mobile: 99918665.
Meet at Mandria, ‘Lark Corner’, on coastal track opposite rocky islands.
All sightings will be added to the EuroBirdwatch total to help increase the number of birds and species seen at a European level.
Note: Binoculars and bird guides will be provided by BirdLife Cyprus.
For more information please contact Lilia Kapsali on 22 455072 or email
A rare and spectacular sight!
White Storks have unfavourable conservation status in Europe (SPEC 2) and are listed in the Annex I of the EU Birds Directive (i.e. are subject to special conservation measures) / Photos by M. Apostolidou
Whoever happened to be at Akrotiri last Wednesday and Thursday, 22 and 23 August, was witness to a special and spectacular sight, as over two thousand White Storks were seen soaring the Cypriot sky. White Storks, Ciconia ciconia, are large migratory birds, well-known to everyone from folklore and European fairytales. Visiting northern Europe in the summer to breed, with larger numbers of breeding pairs in Eastern Europe, at this time of the year White Storks migrate south, to spend the winter in milder climes in Africa and even southern Europe. They are a rare sight on our island, because they usually avoid crossing the Mediterranean as they depend on air thermals, which do not form over water, to soar the long distances between Europe and Africa. Instead, they prefer to take the more energetically-efficient route over the Middle East and the Strait of Gibraltar.
Unfortunately, this incredible sight was not untainted, as around 5 storks were seen colliding with the antennas at Akrotiri, highlighting the risk these installations can pose to birds at this key migration site. The surviving storks were recovered by the Game and Fauna Service and were taken to the Veterinary Services for treatment. Let’s hope that the journey ahead will be less perilous for the rest of the flock and that the storks arrive safely to their destinations, giving people across their journey a magnificent sight, enjoyment and inspiration, as they have done for generations.
Latest update of the Parliamentary discussion regarding the hunting law proposal
Following our last article on the Parliamentary discussion regarding the hunting law proposal, in an unexpected move, the Cyprus parliament approved controversial on-the-spot fines for use of calling devices in an extraordinary session. During the last meeting of the Plenary of the Parliament on 12th July 2012 the voting for the hunting law proposal was postponed to be discussed when the Parliament reopens after the summer holidays. However an extraordinary meeting of the Plenary of the Parliament took place on the 27th July 2012 and the hunting law proposal was part of the agenda. Overall BirdLife supports the law proposal since the amendments that have been introduced will strengthen the implementation of the law, will help in the enforcement efforts against poaching and will fill in gaps of the current legislation regarding the protection of biodiversity and of flora and fauna from alien and invasive species. However, an amendment was also introduced to regulate the possession and use of calling devices with on-the-spot fines (instead of a court conviction), something that BirdLife is entirely against. The Plenary approved the law proposal, including unfortunately also the amendment regulating the possession and use of calling devices with on-the-spot fines. BirdLife Cyprus believes that this particular amendment is a ‘relaxation’ of the legislation and will continue to monitor the issue and to put pressure to bring back the court conviction for calling devices.
Autumn raptor migration and call for volunteers
Photo: Honey Buzzard, Pernis apivorus / D. Nye
Cyprus is a key site in the Mediterranean for the autumn passage of birds of prey (raptors), and the movement through Cyprus begins this month. For the past few years, since 2006, BirdLife Cyprus has organised coordinated counts of these birds as they pass over the island. The main objective of this project so far has been to identify “bottleneck” sites, where raptors concentrate along particular flight lines, or where they congregate for feeding or roosting.
Cumulative counts during the passage period count towards the identification of a site as an Important Bird Area, which can then be used in conservation planning. So far, the counts have confirmed that the Akrotiri Peninsula, Cape Greko and Pafos Plain are IBAs on the migrant raptor criterion, but further data are needed for these and other sites in Cyprus.
Other objectives of the autumn raptor counts include detecting population trends in individual species, to enable the recognition of species that might need conservation assistance somewhere within their range, whether in their summer breeding areas, wintering areas, migration stopover sites or flight lines. And identified IBAs need monitoring too, to determine any changes in their importance due to shifting migratory patterns or other factors.
The autumn raptor counts have so far been carried out mainly by volunteers, and the continuation of this project depends entirely on volunteer assistance, because good data need to be collected more or less continuously over the whole period of the autumn passage. The data from Akrotiri so far are the best for any site in Cyprus, but are not detailed enough to tell us whether we can afford to reduce the monitoring effort there in some way, so as to be able to put more effort into other sites. Other sites that will need greater effort in future include Pafos Plain, Cape Greko, Akamas and the Karpas Peninsula.
The plan for 2012 therefore has two main thrusts. The first is to focus on Akrotiri and try to obtain a comprehensive picture of the daily and hourly passage there, by posting volunteers there for as many days as possible during the period 20 August to 10 November. This is our top priority for this year. The other part of this year’s programme is to accumulate observations from other sites, particularly Pafos Plain, Cape Greko, Akamas and Karpas, according to the local availability of volunteers there.
If you would like to help with this effort, please contact our Reseach Coordinator, Αlan Tye, as soon as possible at
or 22 455072. Even if your raptor identification skills are not the best, we will try to pair you with someone more experienced, so this could be a great way to learn your birds of prey. We will provide detailed guidance on methods to volunteers. If you could do either Akrotiri or some other site, we’d prefer to fit you into the schedule at Akrotiri as far as possible this year. But if you can only do another site, your observations from anywhere in Cyprus will be welcome.
Barcoding και geolocators!
Photo: Cyprus Wheatear, Oenanthe cypriaca / A. McArthur
BirdLife Cyprus is implementing a new and exciting project from April 2012 to March 2015. The aim of the project is to create a database with the DNA of the common breeding and migrant species in Cyprus so that it can be used to identify each species, like a barcode is used to identify a product in a supermarket. The barcodes will be used, among other things, in cases of confiscations of illegally trapped birds, when the birds are often no longer identifiable, to identify the species. To do this BirdLife Cyprus, mainly with the help of Alan Crabtree, Vice-Chairman and Ringing Officer, is trying to catch all of those common and regular species in order to take samples of feathers for the project. The DNA will be extracted from feathers. The project is being implemented together with the Game and Fauna Service, the University of Pisa, Italy, and the University of Cyprus, and funded by the A.G. Leventis Foundation and Mr A.P. Leventis.
A further aspect of the project is to fit geolocators on the two endemic species of Cyprus, the Cyprus Wheatear Oenanthe cypriaca and Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax. The geolocators will be fitted in spring 2013, but already on 8 August, a team from BirdLife Cyprus and the Game Fund went to Troodos, where with the help of PhD student Marina Xenophontos we trapped 8 Cyprus Wheatears. The birds were weighed and ringed by Marina, and some initial measurements were taken for preparing the equipment for 2013. Geolocators use a light sensitive receptor and analysis of its data allows the determination of a species location in terms of latitude and longitude over time. This could provide valuable new data for the two endemics whose wintering grounds are not fully known yet.