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!

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