Cooling Marshes, Kent, 7th December 2014

Thursday, 16 July 2015


(When is a butterfly not a butterfly?)

I've seen some wonderful sights in recent months - including some great birds. One that I hadn't necessarily expected to encounter in spring or summer on Cyprus is Honey Buzzard. Spring passage tends to be rather fleeting with birds generally scarce, it's autumn when the classic spectacle of birds massing on migration occurs.

Surveying near Amiandos, up in the hills, on Saturday, I caught sight of a large bird of prey cruising way up over the forest. Watching for a moment, I expected the form to become a Long-legged Buzzard, the most commonly encountered Buteo here, but it wasn't happening - too dark and as it drifted closer, the shape was off. Then as I turned my mind to other buzzards it accelerated, moving with carpals thrust forward, its head up and cruised was a Honey Buzzard.

I watched it move over the valley, always at height and made a note for the 'other species' part of the survey sheet.

It was an unexpected encounter, but it got better. As I watched it started folding its wings and plummeting short distances in the air while making rapid, fluttering wing-beats. I have read this described as its territorial or pairing 'butterfly display' but this was the first time I've seen it. Beautiful, it has great agility for a large bird. Honey buzzard doesn't breed in Cyprus (does it?), so perhaps this was an immature bird 'rehearsing' for the future.

From top, some butterflies of Cyprus: Southern White Admiral, Long-tailed Blue, Grayling sp.

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