04 August 2018

Dawn to Dusk

Week 09; 25 February 2018 - Mutla'a Ranch, Liyah, Jahra Farm + JPR

We had a long weekend, so I took advantage and had a whole day out in the field, starting in the north at Mutla'a Ranch. I started with a quick drive, but as the weather was so pleasant a walk around habitable parts of the farm was far more enjoyable. The owners are cleaning out the farm and all the trees that have been cut down have been put in an open area and this is actually a good site for many species. It was here I found a stunning male Ehrenberg's (Common) Redstart

Male Ehrenberg's Redstart (Phoenicurus p. sammamisicus)

In the same area a male Siberian Stonechat was foraging in the air on some termites that were emerging from the ground

Male Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola m. hemprichii)

I was alerted to by their calls to a small flock of Hypocolius and again managed to get an in-flight shot as they went vertical after take-off as they typically do

Male Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)

As it warmed up, small termites started erupting from a few places - one eruption was close to some cover and a male Ménétriés’s Warbler popped out and fed to his heart's content

Male Ménétriés’s Warbler (Sylvia mystacea)

A number of Common Swifts (pekinensis?) also got in on the flying protein overhead

Common Swift (Apus apus) 

With one Pallid Swift joining the flock of Common's

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

I headed over to Liyah and had an adult Eastern Imperial Eagle pass by overhead

Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)

It was pretty warm once I reached Liyah and although there were a couple of migrants, I spent a bit of time with a Common Kestrel that had caught and killed a Libyan Jird - quite a sizable prey for a Kestrel

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) with Libyan Jird (Meriones libycus syrius)

Struggling to fly with the heavy prey

At the small lake at Liyah a few White Wagtails were seen on the bank

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

As there was not much else to be seen, I drove south back down the ridge to Jahra Farm and ended up photographing some Darter type dragonflies

Darter sp.

As well as a Green Toad that took some time to locate after hearing it's call.

Calling Green Toad (Bufotes (Bufo) variabilis)

By now it was pretty hot, so I 'retired' for some air conditioning and a burger lunch.

Late afternoon was spent in Jahra Pools where a few Western Marsh Harrier's were seen.

Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Daurian Shrike were seen in the desert area 

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

and on the way to the beach a few more Siberian Stonechat's

Male Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola m. hemprichii

The sabkha near the beach had 3 Wheatear species; Desert

Male Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)


Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

and a beaut male vittata (pale-throated) Pied Wheatear

Male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka vittata)

At the beach, a couple of Great Black-headed Gulls were flying up and down the coast

Great Black-headed Gull (Leucophaeus ichthyaetus) with desalination plant backdrop

Whist Caspian Terns were patrolling above the surf zone - well if you can call it surf!

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

It was a really enjoyable day out - nothing too special, but many quality birds seen. 

03 August 2018

Good late winter birds in the west

Week 08; 23 February 2018 - Al Abraq, Dairy Farm Pivots + Pivot Fields

I opted out of tennis today for the drive out west to Al Abraq arriving just after sunrise while it was still a little overcast. I had a slow drive around the farm, finding an area in the fields that attracted a few passerines; first up was a quite obliging Asian Desert Warbler - always a good bird to see

Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana)

Caucasian Water Pipits were foraging nearby

Caucasian Water Pipit (Anthus (spinoletta) coutelli)

and a Pied Wheatear kept it's distance

Male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

I had a Common Cuckoo surprise me as it came by overhead, so I only got an image of it flying away

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

A couple of Tawny Pipits dropped in

Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)

Followed by an Isabelline Wheatear that was untypically sitting in a tree

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

One of the fields hosted a number of Siberian Stonechat's and I spent quite some time with them trying to get flight images to show the tail pattern as they flitted from plant to plant - with patience I eventually prevailed.

Male Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola m. hemprichii)

Male Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola m. hemprichii) showing the Wheatear type tail pattern

I then parked my car and walked and explored some of the denser areas, finding Common Chiffchaff

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

And a gorgeous male Ménétriés’s Warbler

Male Ménétriés’s Warbler (Sylvia mystacea)

I relocated the Common Cuckoo that was sitting quietly in one of the trees on the farm

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus

One of the highlights was the two Long-eared Owls that were pointed out to me by Sajan. They were in very dense foliage, so no real clear views, but satisfying nevertheless

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

A few butterflies were around, most of them were Mediterranean Pierrot's

Mediterranean Pierrot (Tarucus rosaceus)

Before leaving a couple of Common Swifts passed by overhead - could these be pekinensis at this time of year?

Common Swift (Apus apus)

After exhausting the farm, I then headed to the Diary Farm Pivots to look for Larks, but had to contend with these 'cowboys' that had tapes of Skylarks blaring from boomboxes and were racing up and down in their 4 x 4's shooting them at speed. They seemed to grow uncomfortable when I drove up and inspected their playback setup and took a few images of them and their registration numbers. So, I was quite pleased when they picked their shit and drove off at speed to the highway. Unfortunately prosecution of shooters out in the desert is few and far between, but I shared the images with the authorities, so hopefully there was an outcome.



As a result, other than Skylarks, not much else was to be seen, so I headed back east to the other Pivots and checked out the western boundary fence of which the highlight was a Richard's Pipit - an uncommon winter visitor

Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi)

A Steppe Buzzard on one of the pivots was unexpected at this time of year

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

I had a quick check at the eastern boundary for Sociable Lapwings but only had Pallid Swift

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

And Red-rumped Swallow

Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)

Overall though it was a pretty productive day with the Long-eared Owl and Richards Pipit taking joint bird of the day!