photo by: Tobi Koppejan
North Cyprus is home to an impressive 347 different species of birds, seven of which are unique to Cyprus. The twice-yearly arrival of migrating birds adds to the unique pleasure of a North Cyprus bird watching holiday, with visiting birds heading northwards during March to May, and hading south between August and October. Visiting birds include swallows, swifts, hoopoe, masked shrike and little ringed plovers.
North Cyprus mountain bird watching
One of the best places to watch birds in North Cyprus is in the Kyrenia Mountains, where the pines and funeral cypress trees positively teem with birds. Kantara Castle offers a picturesque spot to observe both resident and migrant birds, including the blue rock thrush, spectacled warbler, the resident Cyprus warbler and wheatear, and black-headed bunting. Alpine swifts can be seen darting around their nests, perched on the cliffs around the castle.
Bird watching on the Karpas peninsula
This ‘pan handle’ peninsula in North Cyprus juts out eastwards from the north coast, pointing towards the Turkish mainland. It is a major stopping point for many migratory birds, and the dedicated bird watcher can spot golden orioles and bee-eaters. The rollers always provide a great display, as they bounce across the countryside in their trademark jerky flight pattern. At the far end of the Karpas peninsula, the Klidhes Islands provide refuge for sea birds such as Audouin’s Gulls, cormorants and shags. During March and April, the islands are also home to breeding peregrine falcons, audaciously fast hunters who take snatch birds from the sky with ease as food for their nest full of hungry offspring. The peninsula is also home to two game birds, the francolin and chikor, both types of partridge.
The North Cyprus griffon vulture and other birds of prey
Despite rumours of its demise in 1995, the griffon vulture still soars above Kantara and St Hilarion in the Kyrenia Mountains, riding the winds on its 2m wingspan. Birds of prey numbers have been affected by the Cypriot love of hunting, but it is still perfectly possible to see buzzards and falcons, and nesting pairs of red kite can be spotted around the Lapta area. Other hunters include scops owl and little owls. The reservoirs at Köprülü and Gonyeli attract overwintering duck, herons and grebes, which in turn attract the brids of prey to feast on them.
Bird Societies in North Cyprus
The North Cyprus Society for the Protection of Birds (Kuskor) works hard for the welfare of all birds, in the face of both hunting and liming traditions. It holds regular education programmes for adults and children alike, and is gradually changing attitudes. You may reach bird protection society on 00 90 392 815 7337.