08 March 2019

Spring has sprung

Week 09; 02 March 2019 - Abraq, Liyah and Jahra Farm

Paul Scott and I had an early start to get to Abraq a little after sunrise on a crisp and clear morning with an azure blue sky and the mercury around 5-degrees. It was certainly a lot colder than we thought it would be.

First bird we saw was a Grey Wagtail, just after the entrance of the farm - so that was encouraging.

Male Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

We flushed a Squacco Heron from the same area, to slow to change the camera settings, so a Squacco in motion

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

We walked the wooded area and found that Willow Warblers had also arrived and were foraging together with the Chiffchaff's. With its pale legs I thought the bird below was Willow, but I stand corrected with the insight's of an experienced ringer who confirms it is Chiffchaff; small dark bill, neat eye-ring and short wings

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

We heard the long staying Hume's Leaf Warbler and took some time to get images of this fast moving and energetic little bird - in fact there were two birds present

Hume's Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus humei) playing hiding-go-seek

In the open area, we had a male Western Marsh Harrier pass by overhead

Male Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

A Daurian and Mauryan Grey Shrike were also seen, so finally some spring migrant action

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)

We then had a walk through one of the areas that last year was just sand, but is now covered in grass and flowers and looked for invertebrates; Painted Lady's still abound

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

As do the possible Bordered Straw Moths

Possible Eastern Bordered Straw (Heliothis nubigera)

Possible Bordered Straw (Heliothis peltigera) paler than the Eastern Bordered Straw

and there were many caterpillars seen on plants and on the ground - I suspect these are Painted Lady caterpillars

Possible Painted Lady Caterpillar

Not sure what this smooth caterpillar is, but it shook off the ants that 'attacked' it and continued on its way

Unknown Caterpillar

Fighting off the Ants

Another Striped Hawk-moth was a highlight for Paul

Striped Hawk-moth (Hyles livornica)

We had an unidentified Beetle

Beetle sp.

and Wasp with a partially red abdomen

Wasp sp.

We also found a young nymph Grasshopper that had us stumped. But after sharing the images with Dr. Arne Lehehman, he identified it as 2nd instar Stone Grasshopper which will grow to 4-6cm in a couple of weeks

2nd instar Stone Grasshopper (Eremotmethis carinatus)

I showed Paul the Desert Hyacinth and it appears to have flowered in the last week

Desert Hyacinth (Cistanche lutea)

The Red Thumbs were still showing and have quite a repugnant smell and for the rest, the flower show continues

Flower sp.


We headed back east to Liyah where the camel herds are still grazing freely inside the reserve - the fragile ecosystem certainly wont last long. We had Desert and Isabelline Wheatear along with Woodchat and Mauryan Grey Shrike and a single male Siberian Stonechat

Male Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

Last stop of the day was at Jahra Farm, I was heartened to see my  Dad's spirit bird as we walked in the gate

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

A Common Myna flew past carrying food or nesting material

Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)

And a single Bank Myna came past in the opposite direction

Bank Myna (Acridotheres ginginianus)

Another Moth that looks similar to the one I found last week?

Possible Nomophila noctuella

The White-throated Kingfisher's were actively calling in preparation for the pending breeding season. One of them zipped by in front of me, this was the best I could do..

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

So, it seems migration has finally kicked off and the coming weeks should hopefully be better, unless of course all the emergent habitat in the desert disperses the migrants?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike! Just want to salute you for your great images!