26 December 2013

Above and below Mutla Ridge

Week 51, 18 December 2013 - Liyah Protected Area and JPR

I conducted a winter survey at Liyah Protected Area just north of Mutla Ridge. I had left pretty early, so on top of the ridge I had the setting moon in the west.

The setting moon
and in the east a spectacular sunrise in a biting wind, ambient temp was 0 degrees, so the wind dropped it a little further below freezing.

Sunrise over Doha Power-station
I started in the southern portion of this PA hoping to find some interesting winter birds, as it is an area with very little traffic. Unfortunately it was not to be so; in the old quarry area a few Eastern Mourning Wheatear's were present.

Eastern Mourning Wheatear (Oenanthe lugens) warming up in the sun
A single 1st year Black Kite drifted over the quarry in the early morning sun

1st year Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
Driving around the acacia lined loop road produced just a singe Mauryan Grey Shrike

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)
On the way back to the gate, two Greater Hoopoe Larks.

Greater Hoopoe Lark (Alaemon alaudipes)
Since it was still early and there was still good light, I detoured past Jahra Pools below the ridge.

Waterbirds were pretty well represented with numbers of duck species; a good few Ferruginous Duck are now present, including those that bred at JPR this year

Adult and 1st year Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)

A small flock of Tufted Duck who kept their distance

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

Two Garganey

Garganey (Anas querquedula)
and a few Mallard

Female Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Male Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Other waterbirds included Purple Swamphen

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio  porphyrio)
Eurasian Coot and Common Moorhen, here the Moorhen 'giving' way to the bigger Coot

Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) and Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
A cryptic Common Snipe allowed close approach

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) probing with it's long bill
There were a number of the common winter passerines like Water Pipits

Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
and White Wagtails

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
as well as the ever present Common Chiffchaff

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
As well as a good sized flock of Spanish Sparrows.

Male Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis) loving these seeds
Two Kingfisher species are almost guaranteed in winter, but today Common was the more obliging.

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

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