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Separated by both politics and religionfrom the south of 'Aphrodite's island',North Cyprus has always retained adistinctive identity, its economy supportedby the production of cereals, grapes, citrusfruits and potatoes on the fertile MesaoriaPlain. The Mediterranean charm of theregion is epitomised by a sprinkling of littlevillages which seem barely to have beenchanged by the passage of time. However,inevitably, as in so many other parts of theMediterranean, the last few years have seenan increase in tourism to the island andplenty of development, although there arestill many areas of outstanding naturalbeauty to be found here, such as thedramatic scenery and forests surroundingthe Crusader castles and the stretches ofpristine coastline at Silver Beach. Inaddition, this is an island that has witnessedover 8,000 years of civilisation and itshistory can be traced through the manyRoman and other monuments and ruins stillevident in the countryside. North Cyprus is renowned in the botanicalworld for the astonishing diversity of itsflora. Over 1,250 plant species have beenidentified, a number of which are endemicto the country. From February to May theland is ablaze with colour, the componentsof this floral mosaic changing in tone andform as the season advances. The 30 or sospecies of wild orchid are particularlycoveted by botanists and representatives ofthis exotic family include the stunningendemic Cyprus Bee Orchid (Ophryskotschyi). The avifauna is also of greatinterest, the north of the island sharing withthe south the presence of two endemicbirds, the Cyprus Warbler and the CyprusPied Wheatear. During the extended periodof spring migration huge numbers of birdspass through Cyprus heading to northernbreeding areas. At such times theinteresting selection of resident species isaugmented by an ever-changing variety ofmigrants, adding an exciting unpredictabilityto every excursion.This is a 2-centre holiday and our first basefor this exploration of North Cyprus is nearthe delightful seaside town of Girne,formerly known as Kyrenia. A lively fishingharbour, around which are scatterednumerous inviting tavernas, and a networkof cobbled medieval streets, lend a timelessattraction to Girne, and these picturesquequalities are enhanced by the peaks of theBesparmak Mountains which rise inlandfrom the town. Our field activities will focusinitially on the abundant flora of the foothillsand wooded slopes of these mountains, butduring our stay we will also be looking formigrant birds at various coastal locationsand wetlands. A wealth of historical sites providesdiversions from the natural history and ourprogramme will be flexible in order toaccommodate a little of the history of theregion alongside our botanical andornithological activities. Towering Crusaderforts and ancient monasteries compete forour attention with reminders of the Romanera, such as the ruins of Salamis city nearFamagusta, which many historians regardas the best preserved examples of Romanarchitecture in the eastern Mediterranean.Flowers thrive here amid the ruins and weshould find such orchids as Serapiasparviflora, S. orientalis, S. vomeracae, Orchissimiaand many Ophrysspecies amongstthe colourful profusion of poppies, CrownDaisies (Chrysanthemum coronarium),endemic Gladiolus triphyllosand handsomespikes of Giant Fennel (Ferula communis).During the second part of the tour we willsearch for migrants on the easternpeninsula, near Cape Andreas. Falls canbe spectacular and we will watch out forpossible Pallid and Montagu's Harriers,Short-toed Larks, Tawny Pipits, warblers, chats, wagtails and perhaps Wrynecks andflycatchers too. On other days we willwander in the Kyrenia Mountains, a stretchof cliffs and pinnacles of hard limestone,dolomite and marble which forms adramatic spine-like formation. On thepeaks Calabrian Pine and Italian Cypressforests are interspersed with valleys oftypical maquis scrub consisting of Arbutus,Myrtus, Laurusand Quercus coccifera.Between the mountains and the richalluvial central plain lies a hilly areacontaining reservoirs which are often veryproductive for birdwatching and aquaticplants. Here we should find Little Crake,Water Rail, Little Bittern, Purple andSquacco Heron, Pied Kingfisher andpossible migrants among the reeds.Late March is one of the best months tobotanise in North Cyprus and among thespecies we will be expecting to find will becarpets of Anemone coronaria, Cyclamenpersicum, Crown Daisy, and many orchidsthat are typical of the easternMediterranean, such as the yellow Orchismorio ssp. syriaca, Ophrys scolopax ssp.lapethica, O. bornmulleri, O. levantinaandof course the endemic Ophrys kotschyi. Atthis season it seems as if every availablespace is occupied by a profusion of wildflowers providing both a wonderfulspectacle and a delight for botanists.Whilst the myriad of blooms are unfurlingto welcome a new spring, it is also aperiod of transition for birds as winteringspecies are replaced by the newly arrivedmigrants from Africa. Spring in North CyprusAn 8-day natural history holiday to the fascinating Turkish part of the island of Cyprus, to enjoy its spring flowers and bird migration. Saturday 23rd March - Saturday 30th March Cost: £1,295(This tour can be combined with our 'The Island of Cyprus' holiday outlined on Page 47)Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Larnaca and transferto Girne.Day 2/4A daily programme ofnatural history walksfrom our base nearGirne.Day 5/7A daily programme ofnatural history walksfrom our base near YeniErenkoy.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationComfortable hotels, all rooms withprivate facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingDay walks only. Grade A/B.FocusPlants and birds.LeadersAlan Outen (botanist) and AndyHarding (ornithologist).Single room supplement£140.Web quick search: CYP0146Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryNORTHCYPRUSMEDITERRANEAN SEA FAMAGUSTA LARNACABOGAZYENI ERENKOYNICOSIA GIRNE CAPE ANDREAS Cyprus WarblerCyprus Bee OrchidSalamis

Cyprus is a rugged, sun-drenchedisle languishing at the crossroads ofAfrica, Asia and Europe. In earlyspring, while western Europe endures latewinter gloom, the eastern Mediterraneanalready sparkles beneath clear blue skiesand warm sunshine, its birdlife augmentedby the arrival of summer visitors andnorthbound migrants. Cyprus's hillsidesnow show the vivacity of spring, cloakedby a veneer of cheerful anemones, TurbanButtercups, asphodels and marigolds, andencompassed by glittering turquoisewaters and sun-bleached rocks. This is themost colourful season of the island'scalendar, and a period when modesttemperatures allow its rich natural historyto be enjoyed to the full.Flying in to Larnaca airport, we will spendthe first night in a nearby hotel, giving ustime to explore the wealth of habitats inthis area before moving to our comfortablehotel near Polis. This will be our base forthe next part of the holiday, from which wewill make daily excursions with the aid of aprivate minibus. Our walks and excursionswill be broken each day by a picnic lunch,whilst there will be plenty of opportunity tosample the full range of Cypriot cuisine inour hotel or in one of the island's delightfultavernas in the evenings. Our visit is timed to coincide with themigration of thousands of birds wingingnorthwards to their breeding groundsacross a Cypriot landscape rejuvenated bywinter rains. Over 200 species have beenrecorded, including such rarities asBlue-cheeked Bee-eater, Caspian Ploverand White-breasted Kingfisher. ExoticHoopoes, cranes, Purple Herons andGlossy Ibises loiter at the coastal wetlandsnear Akrotiri. An array of eastern warblers,such as Rüppell's, Subalpine andOlivaceous, descend to mingle with theendemic Cyprus Warbler, all sporting theirimmaculate breeding plumages.Near our hotel on the unspoilt north coastof the Akamas Peninsula lies an inlet ofclear shallow water. This is a magnificentlocale for wild flowers and restlessmigrants such as Collared Flycatcherswhilst, from the hotel itself (even from thebreakfast terrace), Blackcaps, Hoopoesand other migratory birds may be seen.For the final part of our holiday we will bebased in the village of Platres in theTroodos Mountains. On the fringes of thepine-clad mountains we explore the homeof the Masked Shrike which obliginglyperches in the open as it scours theground for small lizards and robustbeetles. In forests nearby we may findsmall groups of the rare Mouflon,recovering now from the verge ofextinction. The maquis is flushed withdelicate pink, white and purple floweredrock roses, a fusion of hues reminiscent ofan impressionist's canvas. Scatteredbeneath the shrubs lie an abundance of orchids, now at their finest. A Cypriotspring truly presents a feast of varied andexciting encounters for the naturalist.Our leisurely ambles along goat tracks and eroded gullies will bring fulfilment tothe most discerning of naturalists; anirresistible attraction of our holiday beingthe immediacy and ease with which adiversity of wildlife can be enjoyed. At thesame coastal salt lake, mountain forest orravine in the foothills, we will discoverample to satiate the ornithologist, botanist,herpetologist and entomologist. There istime on our unhurried rambles for thephotographer to ponder composition and for the watercolour artist to seize the advantages of wonderful lighting and clear air. Our itinerary offers the expectation of aholiday of rich contrasts. Away from thetourist centres we will discover a Cyprus of tranquil villages, lovely vineyards andlegendary hospitality. Forests, mountains,creeks and saltpans all sit within strikingdistance of our hotels, and we will enjoythese habitats to the full.For those wishing to enjoy the rich cultural heritage of this historic island,Cyprus reveals much evidence of earlysettlement and we strongly recommendextending your holiday. Sites such asancient Kourion boast a series of finemosaics which even the keenestbirdwatcher will find an enthrallingdiversion from the Cretzschmar's Buntings and Cyprus Pied Wheatears which adorn the ornate stonework.The Island of CyprusA 9-day spring holiday in search of migrating birds, orchids and other flowering plants on the Isle of Aphrodite.Saturday 30th March - Sunday 7th April Cost: £1,395(This tour can be combined with our 'Spring in North Cyprus' holiday outlined on Page 46)Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationKOURIONEPISKOPIAKROTIRI SALT LAKEGERMASOGEIADAMLARNACASALT LAKELARNACANICOSIABATHS OFAPHRODITEAKAMASPENINSULACEDARVALLEYPOLISTROODOSMOUNTAINSPAPHOSFORESTPAPHOSPLATRESASPROKREMMOSDAMCYPRUSOutline itinerary Day 1 Fly Larnaca.Day 2/5Natural historyexcursions from Polis.Day 6/8Natural historyexcursions from Platres,Troodos Mountains. Day 9Fly London.AccommodationComfortable hotels, all with privatefacilities.FoodIncluded in the price, except forlunches throughout. Allow £60-£70.GradingDay walks only. Grade A/B. Usuallystraightforward.FocusBirds and plants.LeadersCliff Waller (ornithologist) andYiannis Christofides (botanist). Single room supplement£140. ExtensionsHoliday extensions on Cyprus canbe arranged (with or without carrental). Extensions can also bearranged to Egypt and the Holy Land.Web quick search: CYP0247Cyprus Pied WheatearEpipactis veratrifoliaEpiskopi