22 December 2013

All along the Escarpment

Week 51, 15 December 2013 - Jahra to Sabriya

I decided to do a longish trip and an informal winter survey starting in Jahra and heading NE along the 801 to Sabriya Farm and in doing so would cover habitats ranging from urban to desert.

I hadn't been to Jahra Farm this early in the morning for sometime and irrespective of the day or time I visit, the ever-friendly Ali is always found working the farm crops.

Ali, always seen working the Jahra Farm fields
I found a small flock of Bank Myna's waiting for the first rays of sun to hit their tree on this cold winters morning. They allowed fairly close approach as they were probably a little reluctant to fly. It was good to connect with them again, as I haven't seen them at this location for a number of months.

Bank Myna (Acridotheres ginginianus), resident breeders
The sunflowers of autumn have now seen their best days.....

Glorious no more
Next stop was to check some wadis along Jal Al Zor escarpment, here I added a number of Wheatears; Red-tailed, Desert and Eastern Mourning as well as a male Blue Rock Thrush

Eastern Mourning Wheatear (Oenanthe lugens)
It was a long shot, but I thought I would check and see if the Taiga Flycatcher was still present at Sabriya Farm - the gate was locked, so unfortunately I couldn't access the farm. However, a Long-legged Buzzard was a good bird for the morning.

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

On the way back to Jahra, I made a quick visit to SAANR and the November rains have been good for the reserve in some places with patches of green sprouting up in areas that held some surface water.

Some greenery in SAANR on the way to Tahla
A Pied Kingfisher at Tahla was quite a surprise this far into the desert.

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)
The big pan in the wadi had very few birds, probably due to the cold. I did find a Collared Dove that initially I thought was something else as this bird had very pinkish hues to the underparts that I had not seen before on this species at any time of the year. Obviously this would be a male bird.

Male Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
My last stop was the wetland reserve of Jahra Pools which is in pristine condition and continues to attract a variety of water birds; there are encouraging numbers of Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot and Little Grebe (one adult with 2 young chicks was seen this late in the year). I have been trying for sometime to get a Little Grebe 'running' across the water, I'm not there yet, but this is the best I have so far.

Running on water; Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Two Black-necked Grebe have now also arrived for the winter

Winter plumaged Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Purple Swamphen numbers have certainly increased following a successful breeding season for a number of pairs

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio  porphyrio)
Waterfowl are now represented by Ferruginous Duck, the numbers of the birds the bred in the summer have been swelled with those that have arrived for the winter - perhaps more may stay through the Spring? 
Shooting over water with big glass is always a difficult, especially with the difference in water and ambient temps that create focusing challenges.

Adult Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
Gadwall, which don't seem to swim around that much

Male and Female Gadwall (Anas strepera)
And Mallard

Male and Female Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Whilst watching the ducks with Khaled Al Ghanem a Falcon came swooping low of the reeds at speed trying to surprise an unsuspecting meal, it checked and quartered before a 2nd and 3rd attempt which were all unsuccessful. It was fantastic to watch, even though it was some distance away - but rather disappointing to see that it was an escaped bird as it still had it's jesse's attached. This bird is probably a hybrid

Hybrid Falcon?

The larger wading birds like Grey Heron, Western Great Egret and Little Egret were seen around the reed edges.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
At Jahra Farm I had a glimpse of a distant Eurasian Sparrowhawk and at Jahra Pools perhaps the same male bird was also present.

Male Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
White Wagtails and Water Pipits are still around at most sites in numbers.

Wintering Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
The Graceful Prinia is a resident breeder at JPR

Resident Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)
All the reeds around the pools look like they have 'feather' dusters on their stems

Phragmite Reeds
I terms of the winter count, I recorded 53 species for the morning's birding - nothing really unusual or unexpected, but a good variety and a good morning out.

1 comment:

  1. The first falcon or buzzard shot is just amazing. Sorta surreal! I still can't interpret the feathers' movement!