|Birdwatching - a new hobby?
||[Mar. 3rd, 2007|03:29 pm]
I went on a BirdLife Cyprus field meeting today. |
I'd visited their website ages ago and certainly seen their hotline printed in the Cyprus Weekly listings but it wasn't until I read this Cyprus Mail article online that I was actually moved to action. Probably it was the walk part that lured me in. I called the number for details and so it was that the morning of 18th February I was heading to Oroklini Marsh. Now, I'd actually passed the location in the past but hadn't really paid attention to it - it was just a place that usually had water in it!
As that was aimed at beginners, we had a handout with the type of birds we were looking for as well and there were spare sets of binoculars. Our leader also had her telescope with her. The difference between the binoculars and the telescope was amazing. Through the latter, I could really distinguish the colors and they looked just like they did in the Collins Bird Guide which is apparently the bird guide. The downside of the telescope is that it is slower than the binoculars so sometimes the bird has taken off by the time you've gotten it set up!
I enjoyed it enough that in the meantime, I decided to become a member as a way of supporting the organisation. I'd also exchanged numbers with someone else who lived in Nicosia and it was she who reminded me of the March 3 outing. We met on the outskirts of town and rode out. Our destination was Achna Dam on the way to Ayia Napa. We took the turn off for Xylotymvou and headed inland. My friend remarked that Cyprus had a lot of churches and I agreed saying that you had to account for at least one church per village. At that moment, we passed a cluster of three churches with another small church about 500m later! I hadn't taken that road before and was really surprised at how close the buffer zone was to the road. We even passed a completely abandoned village on the left at one point. The countryside is still very green.
We had to turn back for the turning to the dam. I remarked on it because somehow we'd also managed to miss the very big sign with bold, block letters on the right of the road marking the turnoff. The water level was depressingly low - we're only at 21% of our water reserves as opposed to this time last year when we were at 45%.
After gathering at the meeting point, we drove around to the other side of the dam and walked around a bit. I fulfilled my usual 'talk to three strangers' mission. It's interesting to hear how people became birdwatchers - passed down by parents, married into (although he was more along for moral support and the opportunity to be out and about than actually looking at birds), and even just picked up and then nurtured by non-birdwatching parents!
On the way back we stopped at the Oroklini Marsh again. As we were driving over we saw a bird with something in its mouth flying along the highway. The two cars in front of us pulled over on the side of the highway (!!). I remarked that that was the true mark of the birding enthusiast! The bird and its prey (apparently, a snake) was caught on film (hm, is the new term, caught on disk?) by someone with a camera with a very, very, very long lens!
I was asked if I liked birds at one point. I had no response. I like them in the context of learning more about Cyprus but apart from that nothing particularly appeals. It will be interesting to see if this changes the more field meetings I attend! I have just researched binocular terms in order to become more informed before I go and purchase one!
So far, the greatest part has been the discovering new places that I haven't been to yet as well as gaining a better understanding of places here.
I suppose a list of birds we saw would be appropriate. The ones that I remember are: long legged buzzard (1), swift, meadow pipit, little-ringed plover, shoveler, teal, little grebe, cormorant (5 - three were just sitting on some rocks chillin and these were the ones we noticed from the meeting point), kestrel (which I thought was fitting having gone to Falcon!), and grey heron (2 - apparently they're very territorial).