14 May 2012

Migration thinning out?

Week 18, 05 May 2012 - Sulaibikhat, Jahra Pools Reserve and SAANR

Another early morning start to beat the early on-set of summer heat. I decided to drive along the Bay at Sulaibikhat, not realising that it was low tide and the sea was a long, long way out. I noted the Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes numbers had increased and many were seen.

At "Manchester Club" car park, a scan over the distant flocks produced a familiar and recognisable silhouette, in the form of a Black Stork (16th record). A poor record photograph was taken across the low tide flats

16th record of Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)
On the north side of the car park, a late departing Common Black-headed Gull was seen amongst many Slender-billed Gulls

Common Black-heaed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

Portrait of Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
I watched with interest as this Slender-billed Gull swallowed without too much trouble a Mud Skipper that initially looked way to large for it to do so..

Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei) swallowing a large Mud Skipper
I then made my way to Jahra Pools Reserve where there was a lot of activity in the form of construction. Some to fix and upgrade the current road system and others accessing the new pipeline on the seaside of the reserve. I didnt hold much hope of seeing anything interesting with all this traffic, dust and noise. However 4 White-tailed Lapwings were welcome. I found a small dead-end road into the reedbed that was a little protected and was rewarded with some really good birds in the form of Mountain Chiffchaff

Mountain Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus sindianus)
A singing Basra Reed Warbler that will be monitored for signs of breeding this summer, where it has done so before

Basra Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus griseldis)
And many active Willow Warblers

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
A last look over the pools gave a juvenile Little Grebe, so successful breeding for this pair

Juvenile Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Not much else was about due to the traffic of the trucks, so departed to SAANR as a last stop for today's outing.

The small pool on the top of the ridge after the entrance gate produced one of many Upchers Warblers seen today. This bird showing a characteristic spring white panel on the wing and swaying of the tail

Upchers Warbler (Hippolais languida)

A small detour on the way to Tuhla gave a few more obliging Red-backed Shrikes which are quite striking in the breeding plumage

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

At Tuhla I found Mike and Sylvie Newey and later Graham Whitehead - by now the wind had picked up a bit, so birds werent too active, however I did find a Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas galactotes)
and missed photographing a small flock of 3 Black-headed Buntings, but got the 2 Yellow-throated Sparrows

Yellow-throated Sparrow (Gymnoris xanthocollis)
Just as I was leaving a Pallid Harrier came swooping in looking for a quiet place to land and have a drink. All in all, a relatively quiet Spring migration day, but it seems the bulk have moved through as the summer heat slowly intensifies.

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)

The day before, while my family cycled around the new exercise track near Mesilla junction on 6th Ring Road, I walked with my camera (since I havent bought my mtb yet), a couple of migrants were seen in the surrounding habitat, including a few of Spotted Flycatchers

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
and a number of distant Lesser Grey Shrikes that were all a little wary of the people excercising
Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor)

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