17 February 2014

Where are the migrants?

Week 06, 08 February 2014 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City

Driving south on the Fahaheel Expressway (the 30) there was literally a carpet of yellow flowers along the verges and in many parts of the desert. I thought this was Arfaj (the national flower), but thanks to Haitham Al Ghareeb who pointed out that these yellow flowers are actually called 'Nowair' by the locals and the Latin name is Senecio desfontainei 

After above average winter rains, they are everywhere to be found and create a wonderful pastel pattern of colour across the desert.

A sea of yellow; Senecio desfontainei
Birds were really thin on the ground and around the lagoons and on the islands, but I did connect with a couple of Steppe and Slender-billed Gulls

Steppe Gull (Larus f. barabensis) and Slender-billed Gulls (Chroicocephalus genei) with pinkish hue
And a single Eurasian Curlew

Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
On the islands I had to make do with photographing Dragonflies, using big glass instead of a macro lens. I suspect these to be Vagrant or Lesser Emperors

Vagrant or Lesser Emperor female?

Vagrant or Lesser Emperor male?
Painted Lady butterflies are resident all year round and they were making good use of the Senecio desfontainei flowers

More Arfaj

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) enjoying the flowers of Senecio desfontainei
I discovered a new butterfly for me in the form of a Peablue Butterfly.

Peablue Butterfly (Lampides boeticus)
Around the site offices, male House Sparrows were starting to perk up for the coming breeding season. I had seen a single bird earlier that appeared to have rusty flanks and then discovered the same on these two males. I suspect now it has to do with where they are roosting at night?

Male House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

On route home I stopped at the Al Kout Harbour and was on the money for a single Great Black-headed Gull which I suspected would be present.

Great Black-headed Gull (Larus ichthyaetus)
A single Sandwich Tern stood out amongst the Common Black-headed Gulls

Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
The weather is changing and the days are getting longer, so the early migrants should be making an appearance soon. I'm looking forward to some colour and birds in breeding plumage

01 February 2014

Much of the same

Week 05, 31 January 2014 - Al Abraq

I managed to get out to the oasis farm for a few hours in the hope that there might be one or two late winter or early spring species since the last visit.

Unfortunately, this was not to be the case and most birds seen were the same that I had found previously. The Goldcrests are apparently still present and appear to have stayed the winter, although I wasn't successful in finding them today.

After the dismal photography earlier this week, I was a little more happy with today's results as I had more control walking and getting into the right position than I had when I was in the boat.

A few Meadow Pipits were still about in the small fields, but proved to be quite elusive.

Wintering Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Spanish Sparrows were in the area with Acacia Trees and if you take the time to look, the males are pretty smart birds

Male Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

A lone male Common Kestrel posed in the early morning winter light before departing
Male Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

When a Eurasian Sparrowhawk came in overhead

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
In line with OSME changes, the Eastern Black Redstart is now known as the Central Asian Black Redstart and what a handsome fellow he was.

Male Central Asian Black Redstart (Phoenicurus o. phoenicuroides)