North Cyprus is a relatively underexplored area for birding, but the Karpaz Peninsula, the island's panhandle, offers some of the best birding in the eastern Mediterranean. Cape Apostolos Andreas, at the tip of the peninsula, is only 109km from the coast of Syria. It's an ideal place to witness bird migration as almost any species that migrates between Africa and Asia or Eastern Europe can potentially be found here.
In spring, herons, Glossy Ibis, Spur-winged Lapwing and other wading birds are funnelled along the east coast and past the Cape from the wetlands in Famagusta. Many raptors fly over, including Long-legged Buzzard, European Honey-buzzard, Pallid Harrier, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Red-footed Falcon and Eleonora's Falcon. Though non-migratory, the rare Bonelli's Eagle can also be seen here.
Some of Europe's most colourful and charismatic bird species are known to breed on the Karpaz: European Roller, European Bee-eater, Golden Oriole, Woodchat Shrike, Masked Shrike and Hoopoe. Any of them may turn up at the Cape during migration and it's definitely worth checking further inland in the juniper scrub-forest for them, plus any other migrating passerines. There, you may also find Cyprus' resident Eurasian Scops Owl, which is considered to be a separate species to the rest of the population.
Other passage migrants include Pallas's Gull, Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, Lesser Grey Shrike, Eastern Orphean Warbler and many more. Chukar, Black Francolin, and Audouin's Gull are resident. One of the rarest finds here was a Desert Finch in April 2017. The bird list below is not complete.
Apart from birds, there are several species of lizards and snakes on the Karpaz, including starred agama, Schneider's skink, Mediterranean chameleon and European blind snake. There are also Middle East tree frogs, long-eared hedgehogs, feral donkeys and many species of butterflies and moths.
There are two main routes to North Cyprus - you can fly to Ercan via Turkey or fly to an airport in the south of Cyprus and drive to the north. There is no public transport to the Cape so the only way to get there is by car. The main road is called Karpaz Anayolu and once you get to the Dipkarpaz area, you can take a route along the north or the south coast of the peninsula on the way to the Cape. There are a few hotels and motels near the Cape, and when you get close, the road becomes unpaved. There is plenty of space to park when you get there.
Terrain and HabitatScattered trees and bushes, Grassland, Sea, Beach, Canyon/cliff
ConditionsRocky, Dry, Open landscape, Dusty, No shadow
Is a telescope useful?Can be useful
Good birding seasonSummer, Spring, Autumn
Best time to visitSpring
Difficulty walking trailEasy
Accessible byFoot, Car
Birdwatching hide / platformNo
The area around Golden Beach, just a short way along the south coast of the Karpaz, is also brilliant for birding. It's also worth going up into the Kyrenia mountains as this is another good place for visible migration and for Bonelli's Eagle. A visit to St Hilarion Castle provides some great birding in a beautiful setting, with a chance of seeing Wallcreeper in the winter months.