28 March 2013

Wheatear's, Thrushes and Shrikes

Week 11, 16 March 2013 - North of Mutla Ridge (Click to enlarge image)

I spent a great morning north of Mutla Ridge with a few members of KEPS and visited an area that I had last been to in 2007/2008. The regenerated habitat in this area was protected and as a result the migrant spring birds were undisturbed and had plenty of insects and caterpillars to feed on.

Driving across the desert we couldn't help but notice the abundance of small plants with yellow flowers that appeared to cover the desert like a carpet. 

A carpet of yellow flowers 
However, even more exciting was a small flock of 57 Caspian Plovers, with many in breeding plumage.

Caspian Plover (Charadrius asiaticus)

Wheatear's were present in numbers and one particular Eastern Black-eared Wheatear with a black throat had us initially thinking we had a late Finsch's Wheatear.
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe h. melanoleuca)

A few more Black-eared with dark throats were seen later in the journey, with both birds singing their hearts out.

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe h. melanoleuca)

Here is a more 'classic' Eastern Black-eared Wheatear

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe h. melanoleuca)
And for comparison a tricky vittata Pied Wheatear - this image was completely blown out (something went wrong with my camera settings),but I was able to salvage it to some degree of acceptance for publishing from the RAW images

Vittata Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
Also seen was a typical male Pied Wheatear in full song

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
We were fortunate to find both Rock Thrushes, first up a male Blue Rock Thrush

Male Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)
and a little later a stunning male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush

Male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis)

We had a good numbers of Shrikes, all of them Mauryan Grey Shrikes

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)
We came across one individual that had just caught and killed a snake and followed it when it flew with it's prey into an Acacia Tree. Here we watched it impale the snake on a thorn, so that it had leverage when trying to eat it from where the head was - a fascinating interaction.

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris) with a snake

Here some of the quite lush vegetation in one of the natural depressions

Greenery in the desert
In another area with a few taller trees, we found Turkestan Shrike

Turkestan Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides)
A few more Mauryan Grey Shrike, this one with a formidable hook on its bill

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)
A single Corn Bunting

Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
A few Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)

and a Eastern Orphean Warbler that took quite some time to get onto.

Eastern Orphean Warbler (Sylvia crassirostris)

On our way out, our only raptor of the morning in the form of a Pallid Harrier

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)

1 comment:

  1. Magnificent blog and very good pictures. Congratulations.