Some 20 recorders covered 36 wetlands (and two coastal sites) across the island as BirdLife Cyprus took part in the 50th International Waterbirds Census (IWC) mid-winter count, which has been organised by Wetlands International since 1967. Some 25,453 birds, of 56 different species were recorded over the weekend of 16-17 January 2016.
The most abundant species was the Greater Flamingo, with just under 15,000 individuals counted (over 12,000 at Larnaca Salt Lake). Three duck species (Teal, Mallard and Shoveler) were recorded in numbers exceeding 1,000, while unusual sightings included White-headed Duck at Oroklini and Tufted Duck at Athalassa Dam. The wetlands holding the most birds were the two salt lakes, and Kouklia Dam, while the most species-rich sites were Larnaca Salt Lake, Oroklini Marsh and Athalassa Dam.
An additional focus for January 2016 was an effort to count all male and female Pochard seen during the mid-winter count, as part of a conservation effort for this threatened species being led by the Wetlands International ‘Duck Specialists Group’ (see http://www.ducksg.org/activities/compoch/). A total of 66 Pochards were recorded at only four sites. The biggest flocks were at Kanli Dam (12) and Mia Milia Sewage Works (50). Overall, there were 36 male Pochards and 30 females.
The IWC mid-winter count can be seen as the pinnacle of our year-round monitoring programme covering all the main waterbird sites in Cyprus, which has been running since 2005, though BirdLife Cyprus has been participating in the IWC for much longer than that.