Birdwatching
in North Cyprus

Undoubtedly the best time to see birds is during the spring and autumn migration when millions of birds pass through the island. Good birds can be found almost anywhere but watch in the right places and the results can be spectacular.

  • North Cyprus Birds in Spring

    Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

    Migration begins early in North Cyprus with Hirundines starting to arrive in mid February, with Isabelline Wheatear, Common Wheatear and Great Spotted Cuckoo putting in appearances before the month end. In addition to these early spring migrants many of the winter visitors will still be present for a while longer, as well as familiar birds such as Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Robins and Song Thrushes you should also easily still be able to find in early spring Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, White Wagtail and Serin.

    By early March the increasing Hirundines are joined by Common Swift, Alpine Swift and later in the month Pallid Swift. By mid-march the numbers are starting to build up with warblers, larks, pipits and wagtails streaming in. A good chance to catch up with the otherwise shy Nightingale and the elusive Wryneck. April becomes the best month of the year with huge numbers of migrants appearing, at the main migration points numbers are huge, Bee eaters pass over in seemingly never ending flocks. Almost anything can turn up anywhere giving opportunities to see a variety of birds that would otherwise be difficult to find. Although the autumn is far better for raptors Spring is very good for Pallid and Marsh Harriers.

  • North Cyprus Birds in Summer

    Chukar (Alectoris chukar)

    Birds become less obvious as the hot summer begins but island endemics such as the the Cyprus Pied Wheatear and the Cyprus Warbler are common breeders and are a welcome addition to lifelists. Common or fairly common breeders also include Red-rumped Swallow, Masked Shrike, Black-headed Bunting, Alpine Swift, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Dove, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Chukar, Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Spanish Sparrow, Fan-tailed Warbler, Black Francolin, Olivacious Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Turtle Dove and Great Spotted Cuckoo. Localised specialities include Audouin’s Gull, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Short-toed Treecreeper, Serin, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Crag Martin and Raven.

  • North Cyprus Birds in Autumn

    Cyprus Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe cypriaca)
    Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

    The autumn migration covers a longer period than the spring migration and for some waders this may be as early as July. Many raptors pass through in the autumn, large numbers of Buzzards (Common and Honey) are often seen, Flint and Stewart refer to daily totals occasionally exceeding 1000. Other migratory raptors include Red-footed Falcon, Black Kite, Osprey, Harriers and smaller numbers of Eagles, mainly Lesser Spotted, Booted or Short-toed.

    Large numbers of Demoiselle and Common Crane cross North Cyprus in the autumn. Once they reach land they swirl around at a great height above calling noisily (see photo below).
    As in springtime huge numbers of noisy Bee-eaters on migration are very obvious as they pass overhead. Hirundines passage again is almost constant, Flint and Stewart refer to departure rates easily exceeding 1000 per hour at suitable locations.

  • North Cyprus Birds in Winter

    As well as a number of familiar species common winter birds in North Cyprus include Chiffchaff, Sardinian Warbler, White Wagtail, Serin, Stonechat and Black Redstart.

    Local specialities include Finsch’s Wheatear, Wallcreeper, Penduline Tit, Moustached Warbler, Ring Ouzel, Beareded Tit, Hawfinch and Woodlark.

    Water birds and Waders are represented by Black-necked Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Pochard, Golden Plover, Woodcock, Redshank.

Birdwatching Sites in North Cyprus

Sadrazamkoy

Pass through the village of Sadrazamkoy (there is only one road) until you reach a new development of white houses that lead down to the sea. Immediately after the small cafe you’ll see the tank and mulberry tree on the right hand side.

Korucam Burnu

Korucam Burnu rarely disappoints in the Spring, From the tank at Sadrazamkoy you can either walk or drive the track to Korucam Burnu. After a mile or so the track passes through a gap in the hedge, these last trees and shrubs provide cover for countless birds before they cross the sea to mainland Turkey in the spring. You may want to avoid Sundays when you are more likely to meet “hunters”.

The Karpas Peninsular

The Karpas Peninsular is a sparsely populated, unspoilt and protected area situated on the north east part of the island. Flint and Stewart considered Zafer Burnu (Cape Andreas) to be the finest point on the island for visible migration with some movement at almost any time of year. The surrounding scrub often holds large concentrations of grounded migrants, Auduoin’s Gulls breed on the nearby Klidhes Islands.

Gecitkoy Reservoir

Located on the Girne to Guzelyurt road, it can easily be seen from the road. In winter and spring when the ground may be wet it is probably best to park near the entrance and walk the short distance to the reservoir (a 4WD is essential for driving the steep track when wet).

Gecitkoy Reservoir holds water all year round and attracts a wide variety of birds such as both Purple and Squacco Heron, Great Reed Warbler, Bittern, Little Crake, Bonellis Eagle and many more.

Gonyeli and Kanlikoy Reservoirs

Both reservoirs are north-west of Nicosia (Lefkosa). Kanlikoy, the largest, is easily reached by following the road north from Kanlikoy village to the dam. Gonyeli Reservoir can be found from Gonyeli northwards traveling uphill past a Mercedes showing room the right. At the crest of the hill, turn right onto a narrow road, left immediately, then sharp right onto a dirt track. The track leads down to the dam.

Excluding the very hot summer months of June, July and August the reservoirs provide good bird watching all year round and more than 110 bird species have been seen at the two sites. Kanlikoy is a quiet area, whereas Gonyeli is popular at the weekends for picnickers and fisherman. If the water supply lasts until September, Kanlikoy becomes an excellent site for migrating waders and herons including squacco heron, little egret, avocet, greenshank and sand piper.