Over 80 raptor surveys were completed as part of the 2016 effort to monitor the autumn passage of birds of prey through the ‘bottleneck’ sites of Akrotiri, Paphos Plain and Cape Greco. A first assessment of the results gives an estimate of 5,300 birds of prey from over 20 species. The surveys took place from 27 August 2016 to 15 October 2016 by a great and dedicated team of 12 volunteers.
The preliminary results are definitely higher than the 2015 counts where only 3,500 raptors were observed. The lower number of individuals in 2015 was attributed to the dust that was all over and around Cyprus during the critical days of the count. This not only caused birds to avoid the dust clouds but also made it difficult to spot birds. The 5,300 raptors observed this year are consistent with the 2014 count. Once again Honey Buzzards were the undoubtable protagonists of the surveys with over 3,800 individuals counted in all three sites. The Akrotiri site was the busiest one with 4,100 raptors observed passing through.
The raptor counting programme contributes to our understanding of the importance of Cyprus for migratory birds and is used to identify and monitor sites that qualify as Important Bird Areas under the migratory raptor criterion. Raptor identification and counting is a specialised skill and could not have happened without our experienced volunteers who are greatly appreciated for their effort and time in these surveys.