03 August 2014

A Locustella layover

Week 31, 01 August 2014 - Al Abraq

We were almost at the end of the Eid holidays and it was a good opportunity to go birding with Neil before we prepared to head back to work on Sunday. 

As always, an early start for the hour and a bit drive to the farm in the west of the country and at least for this visit the weather was on our side; no wind like our last visit.

We arrived just before 7am and decided to first walk the farm whilst it was still relatively 'cool' if you can say that 36 degrees is cool at 7am. A Common Kingfisher at the pool near the entrance gate was unexpected and my first record of this species at the farm.

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) 
There were many non-breeding or 1st year Black-headed Buntings around, but proved pretty difficult to photograph.

1st year Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala)
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler was a new arrival

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida)
Although a few Upcher's Warblers were also still present by way of comparison

Upcher's Warbler (Hippolais languida)
A single Spotted Flycatcher was a first for this autumn passage and more will undoubtedly arrive over the next week

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
Around the alfalfa fields we had two Lark species, Crested

Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
and Greater Short-toed

Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)

Cool 'hair'
The numbers of 1st year Yellow Wagtails are slowly increasing, this one nimbly caught a dragonfly, but was harassed by the other Wagtails who wanted a piece of the action.

Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava flava) with breakfast
In the mix of birds drinking and bathing in the alfalfa fields which had been freshly watered, two juvenile Rose-coloured Starlings flew out into one of the acacia trees.

1st year Rose-coloured Starling (Pastor roseus)
By now it had heated up, so we did one last circuit around the farm in the car, using it as a hide. This is where I saw the similarity between fishing and birding; how often does a fisherman say, just one last cast and that is when he catches his first or biggest fish. Well, the same happened to us - I saw a small Warbler fly up into a tree, while trying to get my bins on it, it dropped back down on the ground and scuttled off in a crouched position almost like a mouse - Common Grasshopper Warbler, a notoriously difficult species to find anywhere. I was hoping it would be a River Warbler, as I had found my first Grasshopper at this same site a few years back.

Nevertheless, this bird was looking for somewhere to rest and I could have taken a picture with my macro lens I was able to get that close - but I gave it some space and managed to get a few in not so natural surroundings as it was looking for shade and a place to rest up. A great and charismatic little bird all the same.

A skulking Common Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia) in a natural environment

In search of a cool spot

Finding a cool spot and some shade

1 comment:

  1. Your photos are really beautiful! Greetings from Montreal, Canada.