As we approach April female adders start to link up with males but there always seems to be a disproportionate number of males to female at my sites. Anyway a female was in close association with a large male and I managed to get my first photos of Common Lizard this year.
After My trip to Cyprus I've been out trying to see/photograph various wildlife. AdderVipera berus counts have been a bit frustrating with a maximum of 15 over the weekend 15th -16th but it got too warm on the Sunday and it was all over by 11am, whereas on the Saturday when Matt came over the weather didn't look that promising but picked up in the afternoon and we scraped together 12 including a big male (an old friend) with a stumpy tail. I then went to try and get better photos of the Mountain HaresLepus timidus because previously the weather hasn't been great when I got on to the top of the peaks. My pair of Little OwlsAthene noctua are back in situ, Curlew Numeniusarquata and LapwingVanellus vanellus are back on their breeding grounds, and a surprise were 7 Whooper SwansCygnus cygnus on Strines Reservoir.
For the whole of last week I was on a course with work that took place in Edinburgh. I had heard of a place on my drive up that was good for Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris. Anyway I saw 2 but the light was poor so only got a couple of decent shots. Edinburgh as well as being a very nice city, has some great wildlife within a short distance. I didn't get much free time but managed to get to the coast near Musselburgh where I saw lots of sea ducks (although generally distant). I then stayed a extra night to try and get better photos of the squirrels (which I did) I also found my first female adder of the year and my first ever in County Durham.
Having not been on a foreign trip last year I wanted to go somewhere warm during February half term. Cyprus seemed to fit the bill with a chance of some nice reptiles and if it wasn't warm enough I could do some birding. A cheap Easyjet flight at £115 cheap car hire £60 and a nice apartment in Paphos all was set. My daughter Sasha also came along now aged 15 she likes to sleep a lot, lounge around, make my wallet lighter etc so I let her bring a friend, thereby releasing me to do some field work. At the weeks end I had seen 11 herps (3 lifers) and 47 birds (8 lifers).
We arrived at 2pm on the 23rd February and the weather was nice and warm at about 20 Celsius. So I quickly went out with a quick walk around The Tomb of The Kings where I saw a few StarredAgamasLaudakia stellio cypriaca and flipped an Ocellated SkinkChalcides ocellatus. There were also a few small birds flitting around, including Crested Lark, Galerida cristata, Fan Tailed WarblerCisticola juncidis, Sardinian WarblerSlyvia melanocephalaKestrelFalco tinnuculus and lots of StonechatSaxicola torquata.
Monday 24th February
This turned out to be the best weather of the holiday at about 21 celcius. I started the day with some birding and had some success seeing lots of Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis, Serin Serinus serinus, Long Legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, BlackFrancolin Francolinus francolinus and 4 lovely Spur Winged Lapwings Vanellus spinosus, as the morning warmed up I saw a few TroodosLizards Phoenicolacerta troodica, a Striped Skink Trachyleis vittata and several Agamas. Then after a nice start to the morning it was spoilt when I saw a male Kestrel stuck to a fence with glue on its tail and wings. It was still alive so I removed it, I realised I would have to return to the apartment to try and clean it up. Gradually with warm water and soap I got most of the glue out gave it some sugared water and ham and left it to dry out, It seemed ok so I released it and I think I saw it again later in the week flying complete with scraggy primaries. This illegal method of trapping birds is practiced in Cyprus by morons.
Spur Winged Lapwing
In the afternoon I dropped the girls off at the beach and then walked along the headland. Here I saw a couple of Snake Eyed LizardsOphisops elegans schlueteri a Juvenile Fringe Toed LizardAcanthodactylus schreiberi another Ocellated Skink and a few Agamas. Birds included Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria and 3 Greater Sand PloverCharadrius leschenaultia one of which was going into summer plumage. Later my ears must have tuned in because I heard some TreefrogsHyla savignyi near the apartment and found a few breeding in unkempt swimming pools.
Snake Eyed Lizard
My Birthday so obviously the worst weather of the week with thunder and lightening in the night and torrential downpours on and off all day, so I went for a run along the coast and didn't see much wildlife at all.
Today started with a little rain and was pretty much cloudy all day but brightening up late on. Therefore I started the day with some birding and finished with some herping. I added a new species of Wheatear to my life list Isabelline WheatearOenanthe isabellina. Lots of larks and pipits were seen along with finches. Later I flipped a Kotchy's GeckoCryptopodian kotschyi.
Fan Tailed Warbler
Red Throated Pipt
Snake Eyed Lizard
Wednesday 27th Feb
The weather started to pick up a bit but pretty much more of the same. I found 4 species of lizard in our apartment garden!
Fringe toed Lizard
Red Throated Pipit
In the morning I tried to get some better photos of some birds I had seen. I managed to get a record shot of Black Francolin and some better photos of Striped Skink.
Black Redstart Female
Spur Winged Lapwing
Today was supposed to be warm so I assigned it for a determined look for a Blunt Nosed Viper. In the event it wasn't that hot only 16 C. I did however see the best bird of the trip a Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria at fairly close range. I also found a Green ToadBufo viridis, it was stuck in mud from all the rain with just its eyes showing and looked very much alive, but unfortunately it wasn't I think it must have suffocated because its nostrils were blocked and its body covered in mud
Saturday 1st March
Again it wasn't especially warm up to about 17C but I finally saw a snake and caught it (100% catch rate) a nice Black Whip SnakeDolicophis jugularis cypriacas and for people who know this species they are one of the fastest European snakes. Unlike the ones we saw in Symi these are really black including the belly. I also added Levantine Water FrogRana bedriague, these were quite different from other water frogs I've seen and I ticked off the endemic Cyprus WarblerSylvia melanothorax.