29 December 2013

It was the Eve of Christmas

Week 52, 24 December 2013 - Jahra Pools Reserve

What to do when the family is away on vacation over the festive season?

What would any sane birder do who has some time on his hands?

I had been doing some calibration tests on my 600mm and it appeared to be back-focusing just a little - but the only real test is in the field, so I headed out to JPR and caught up with the usual winter wetland suspects at the reserve.

Still good numbers of ducks present, although most were quite a distance away and focusing over water is never a good test. However, I was pleased to have finally photographed Common Pochard (which are not terribly common), the drake showed a bit of attitude with the 'local' Ferruginous Duck

Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) with Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
A female Garganey was a little more obliging

Female Garganey (Anas querquedula)
And this female Northern Pintail was only interested in stuffing herself in true dabbling duck fashion and spent more time upside down than this way up

Female Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
A flock of Gadwall were put up by two Western Marsh Harriers

Gadwall (Anas strepera)
The flock of Eurasian Spoonbill has now expanded to 7 birds

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
Numbers of 1st year Greater Flamingo are seen on almost all the pools in the reserve

Portrait 1st year Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

Common Black-headed Gulls seem to have commandeered the large northern pool just by way of numbers

Adult Common Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

1st year Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Two Little Crake were seen foraging along the base of an old fence in the same pool - certainly not the most attractive 'habitat' for this image

Little Crake (Porzana parva)
Eurasian Coot numbers seem to have increased exponentially and not all from the past breeding season, so the increase must be due to new arrivals

Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
I'm still trying to get 'that' shot of the Little Grebe sprinting across the water, this one was a double

Territorial Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
A Citrine Wagtail added a little splash of colour feeding out on the reeds in the middle of the pool. It came closer once, but was immediately chased away by a Water Pipit. Jem Babbington reported one in Eastern Province KSA just last week, so perhaps there is some winter movement of this species

Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
Overhead only Pallid Swifts were seen, this one about to snack on a flying midge; who is not going to know what hit it!

Feeding Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)
I went to look for a 'greyish' Grey Shrike that had been found by Mohammed Khorshed, but only found Daurian

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
Finally I was able to find an obliging subject to test my calibration, this Common Kingfisher. I was fortunate to see it catch a fish literally in front of me, but unlucky when it decided to turn its back to me to eat it..

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) with breakfast

The bottom line of this mornings test was that my lens was now front focusing just a little, so I need to 'push' out the adjustment to get it spot on

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