16 August 2016

The Owl and the Moon

Week 30, 22 July 2016 - Mutla'a Ranch and Jahra

The almost full moon was low in the sky when I left home in the pre-dawn, opting to head north over Jal Al Zour escarpment to Mutla'a Ranch in the hope of finding some early migrants.

Early morning full moon - almost!
No luck with any migrants, but walking through the dense palm grove I flushed a Western Barn Owl (a species I suspected to occur on this farm). Trying to relocate it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but after 20-minutes I did. Unfortunately, it had better eyesight than me, so as I lifted my camera and pressed the shutter, it was off again. As it was so gloomy inside the palm grove, I still don't have the image I want of Barn Owl!

Western Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
From here, I headed back down the escarpment to Jahra Farm with the mercury rising pretty quickly. A quick walk around the farm produced both Myna species (Common and Bank) and surprisingly a few European Starlings (a species that normally occurs late autumn/early winter), as well as a lone Western Cattle Egret (hey Dad!)

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Last stop was Jahra Pools, just on the other side of Highway 80. Graceful Prinia's were pretty vocal in the desert shrub after the entrance gate.

Young Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)
The Grey-headed Swamphen's appear to have had a good breeding season, with both adults and juveniles seen

Adult Grey-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio  p. poliocephalus)
At the large pool I was checking for Black Tern (as they have been recorded in July in previous years), but it was just the White-winged Tern that was still present

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
However, for this morning the 3 European Black-tailed Godwit's, a Near Threatened species, were much more interesting.

European Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa l. limosa)
Yellow Wagtails have now arrived and there numbers should increase in the coming few weeks..

Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. feldegg)
Very little else was seen, as a brisk and scorching 'hair dryer' wind picked up and both the birds and I headed for cover

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