25 August 2013

Wetland, desert and shoreline

Week 34, 23 August 2013 - Jahra area and SAANR (Click to enlage image)

I decided to cover a few areas today, as there was also a reasonable high tide around 1pm. So, first stop was Jahra Pools Reserve where water levels had been supplemented. Water is key for this reserve, but obviously water is also in demand for many other uses and the reserve isn't always at the top of the list.

There wasn't too much new and migrants still appear to be trickling in, there were numbers of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus) portrait
Whilst watching the Bee-eaters, I saw Warblers gleaning insects off the fence; a few Marsh Warblers

Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris)

Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris)
And a single Indian Reed Warbler

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
I saw the first Little Crake of this Autumn, also using the fence to forage for food.

Little Crake (Porzana parva)
A female Byzantine Stonechat was a new arrival...note the pale rather than streaked rump. Our ringing records show that Byzantine arrive earlier than European and Caspian (Oct/Nov)

Female Byzantine Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)
Not too much else to be seen, so I headed to SAANR and checked the wadi on the top of the ridge. Whilst driving to the wadi I was wandering if Lillith Owls may have dispersed from where I had seen a pair earlier this year outside of the reserve. Knock me down, the first bird I see in the wadi is a Lillith Owl, so that is great news. Unfortunately it didn't stay out in the open for long.

I heard a soft whistle-like call coming from the stony ridge above me and after a long search found a very well camouflaged small Lark that it was coming from - a Bar-tailed Lark. 

Bar-tailed Lark (Ammomanes cinctura)

Walking back to the car, this slender and very quick Lizard darted out in front of me. It took some time to relocate and thanks to Abdulrahman for confirming it's identification.

Small-spotted Desert Racer (Mesalina guttulata)
By now, the heat had sucked the moisture out of me, so I headed for the comfort of the car and a/c and drove to the pool at Talha (thanks to Haitham for giving me the correct name which means; the big lonely tree beside the pool). 

The strategy here is to find some shade and wait for birds to come and either drink or seek shelter. However, photographic conditions are far from perfect with birds in harsh sunlight, shade or cover. Nevertheless, there was a fair selection that included a first year Barred Warbler

First year Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria)
A few Eastern Olivaceous Warblers

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida)

At full stretch; Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida)
Garden Warbler

Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)
Eurasian Wryneck

Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
A few very shy first year Eurasian Golden Orioles

First year Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus)
Grey Wagtails have now joined the Yellow Wagtails

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
A couple of Shrike species, including this first year Mauryan Grey Shrike

First year Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)
Greater Short-toed Larks, looking punk-like with it's crest, were found among the Crested Larks

Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)
As was a Tawny Pipit

Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)
Not sure if this is pale Dragonfly is a different species, or just a juvenile of a species I have seen before?

Dragonfly - id?
By now it was time to get to Jahra East Outfall for the 4.0m high tide at the wrong time of day in terms of sun. Two Common Snipe dropped in to the grass next to the outfall as I arrived

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Today the predominant wader was Little Stint with a large flock stretched all along the beach. Working through them, I found Dunlin and Curlew Sandpiper

Dunlin (Calidris alpina), Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) and Little Stints (Calidris minuta)
Common Ringed Plover

Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Not many Greater Sand Plovers, but a few Lesser Sand Plovers

Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius atrifrons)
Temminck's Stint

Temminck's Stint (Calidris temminckii)
And a flock of Pied Avocet

Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
and of course all the other waders associated with this important staging area which included; Grey Plover, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Eurasion Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Phalarope, Marsh Sandpiper, Ruff, Ruddy Turnstone as well as Slender-billed Gulls, Caspian Terns, Sandwich Terns, Gull-billed Tern and both Marsh Terns (Whiskered and White-winged).

Sadly, I saw that it isnt just birds that are senselessly persecuted during migration - it appears that some fisherman don't care for Stingrays, as I found many that had just been dumped on the shoreline as part of the unwanted catch....

Just a small part of the many dead and discarded Stingrays dumped on the shoreline

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