Recording Eleonora’s Falcons and Shags

From the end of September till the beginning of October 2023, the Pandoteira project has been roaming the seas recording two very important bird species – Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae) and European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii).

Members of our team, from the Game and Fauna Service and BirdLife Cyprus, conducted boat surveys, from Akrotiri to Episkopi, Paramali and Pissouri. The British Bases supported our efforts with additional staff. During the outings, the breeding colonies of Eleonora’s Falcons and the population of the Shags were recorded.

Eleonora’s Falcon

Eleonora’s Falcon is a migrant breeder to Cyprus, which nests during August-September on coastal cliffs in these areas. Unlike other birds, it breeds later in the summer, to take advantage of the passage of small migratory birds, that hunts close to the cliffs to feed its chicks. Around the end of October, Eleonora’s Falcon will begin its return voyage towards Africa, where it will overwinter.

Falco eleonorae (Photo: Nicolaos Kassinis, Game and Fauna Service)

European Shag

Shags are one of the very few seabird species which nest in Cyprus. It perches and nests on rocky shores, steep, coastal cliffs and small uninhabited rocky islands near the coast. Cyprus is home to the Shag subspecies Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii, which nests only in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The global population of the species has suffered a significant decline in the last 30 years and its existence is linked to the health of the marine ecosystem.

Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii (Photo: Nicolaos Kassinis, Game and Fauna Service)

Why are we recording these species?

Within the framework of the Pandoteira project, our team will fill knowledge gaps related to the specific ecological requirements of these species. These ‘gaps’ relate mostly to the specific requirements for feeding, nesting and resting, as well as quantification of threats. This will allow us to achieve the country’s conservation targets, regarding the specific species, as well as achieve the country’s targets related to the Natura 2000 network, where these species can be found.

Photo: Anders Gray, BirdLife Cyprus.

Headline photo: Nicolaos Kassinis (Game and Fauna Service)


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