02 August 2018

A productive winters day

Week 05; 03 February 2018 - Mutla'a Ranch, Al Shallal Farm and JPR

I had an early start and headed north and over the ridge to Mutla'a Ranch. Not sure what is happening on the farm, but I think it is being converted into a date plantation and as a result a lot of the shrubs and acacia type (Mesquite) trees are being cleared and as a result the farm is now looking a little barren. Nevertheless, there is still plentiful water and this in itself is a attractor for birds.

It is quite a reliable location for Hypocolius and you need to be tuned in to their calls to locate them and then with patience you get to see them. Finally I got an in-flight image that I have been trying to get for some time.

Female Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)

Male Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)

Resident species include White-eared Bulbul and this pair was huddled close in the chill of the early morning

White-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus mesopotamia)

In the open area there were hirundines overhead; Common House Martin

Common House Martin (Delichon urbicum)

and Pallid Swift

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

After a pleasant walk around the farm, I headed east along the 801 to Al Shallal Farm, where it is also best to walk around. First up was a female Black Redstart

Western Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)

An unidentified Dragonfly species, of which there were many

Dragonfly sp.

A fleeting glance of a Eurasian Sparrowhawk as it shot by, against the light.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

A couple of Tree Pipits were seen in the fields

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

From here it was back west and south to Jahra Pools for the rest of the day. Most of the action was on the coast and at the outfall. Here a Western Marsh Harrier flying low over the sea

Female Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Great Black-headed Gull's are still here in small numbers

Great Black-headed Gull (Leucophaeus ichthyaetus)

As are some 1st year Gull's which are tough to identify

Gull sp

There are huge numbers of Common Black-headed Gulls roosting on the tide line, this is a sign that they are massing for departure in the coming weeks

Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

An Isabelline Wheatear was perched on some Sabkha surveying it's domain

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Daurian Shrikes have now arrived

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

Greater Spotted Eagles are still plentiful

Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)

Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga) and Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

As are Eurasian Marsh Harriers

Female Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

The big shallow pools on the way to and from the beach are also quite productive for smaller waders. Kentish Plovers gather in numbers

Male Kentish Plover (Anarhynchus alexandrinus)

And others like Green Sandpiper can also be found

Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)

White Wagtails also enjoy this particular patch

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

As do Caucasian Water Pipits

Caucasian Water Pipit (Anthus (spinoletta) coutelli)

For photography, the outfall is great later in the day when the sun is favourable. This is a good place for the larger wading species that wait just below the outfall to see what morsels might be washed down from Jahra town. Here a Little Egret flying up the channel

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

A Western Great Egret coming in to land

Western Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Here a few regal Western Great Egrets competing for the 'waste food' washing out of the outfall - but they are more selective than the others and don't seem to get involved in any "bun fights"

Western Great Egret (Ardea alba)

And striking a pose on the bank

And Western Reef Heron's waiting on mass

Western Reef Heron (Egretta g. schistacea)

This Grey Heron pounced on some discarded fish

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Whilst a Common Black-headed Gull plunges in to pick grab something under the water without any hint of interest from the Heron

The Black-headed Gulls compete amongst the Herons for food

Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

Caspian Terns also get in on the act - but from above

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

A highlight on the way out of the reserve was finding this magnificent male Arabian Red Fox as he emerged from his burrow

Male Arabian Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes arabica)

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