Threatened beauty

“What about nature in Cyprus?” you might ask. “Where are the birds, the mammals?”
Let’s start with the most famous eye-catchers: the flamingos. South of Larnaca, in the salt lakes. Larges groups and easy to see.

Apart from the flamingos, the first few days I hardly saw any birds. Very disappointing. A few common stonechats (Saxicola rubicola) – don’t need to go to Cyprus to see them. This one showed up shortly after sunrise, in the early orange light.

I soon found out why I saw so few birds. They are afraid! It is quite dangerous to be beautiful. In Cyprus, people shoot. Right after my beach house, there was a small nature reserve with a salt marsh. Information panels proudly stated how special the vegetation was. There were huge signs: Nature conservation area. No Hunting! And right after these signs, you find the empty shells. One at least at every 20 meter. No wonder I didn’t see any birds. And the ones I did see – quite special, endemic species – kept well hidden and so far away, that it was pointless to try and take pictures. I do Like Cyprus, but the hunting and shooting – even in nature reserves! – is awful.

Lots of lizards though. For instance this rock agame near Aphrodite’s bath. Previously this reptile was considered a subspecies of Laudakia stellio, but DNA research showed that Cyprus truly has its own endemic species: Laudakia cypriaca.

And another lizard, Schreiber’s fringe-fingered lizard (Acanthodactylus schreiberi). Quite a lot of them – even saw one on the beach.

Lots of dragonflies as well here. For instance the globe skimmer (Pantala flavescens) – a species found all over the world, able to migrate many thousands of miles during the year.

So what about the mammals in Cyprus? Of course they are present, but very, very well hidden. In between the shells, the silent witnesses of hunting in nature conservation areas, I also found fresh footprints of roe deer. The kind of deer that I can see almost daily where I live, where hunting is largely banned, but that are invisible ghosts here.

With these final remarks, I close off with some shaky air during another stunning sunrise.