26 December 2013

Sea's and Deserts

Week 51, 19 December 2013 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City

This was my last survey of the year at Sea City and we included an extensive off-shore route from Mina Al Zour to south of Khiran village to check for any interesting pelagic birds.

Inside the project there were large numbers of Great Cormorants on the lagoon beaches and in the lagoons.

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Keeping up with the boat
Gulls normally associate with the large flocks of Cormorants and today was no exception. Large flocks of Slender-billed and smaller number of the large white-headed Gulls. This was my first Caspian Gull of the winter in the south and the Gull with the palest upperparts

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
Heuglin's Gull was still present and mostly seen on the beaches, some feeding on discarded fish.

Adult Heuglin's Gull (Larus f. heuglini) showing some dominance

This Gull had an almost black-back from a distance, but once I got closer saw that it was dark slate grey (certainly darker than the Heuglin's in the previous image) - so I am uncertain of the identity of this Gull; Heuglins or Baltic, but more likely Heuglin's?

Possible Heuglin's Gull (Larus f. heuglini)
We then ventured off shore and headed north up the coast, finding only Gulls and Cormorants. On the return trip the journey was rewarded with a single Arctic Skua flying in-shore low over the water. No picture unfortunately, as there was only time to watch it through the bins.

Further south I came across 5 Lesser Crested Terns on a light buoy, very unusual for this time of year.

Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)
I then swapped the boat for a SUV and headed south to Khiran village finally connecting with a wintering Finsch's Wheatear.

Finsch's Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii)
A group of 4 Desert Finches sitting on the telephone line was not completely unexpected as they were confirmed breeding a little further north earlier in the year. Nevertheless, still a good bird to find at any time of the year..

Desert Finch (Rhodospiza obsoleta)
I found this wild x domestic cat stealthily hunting in the desert area and it seemed a little peeved that I had seen it.

Hybrid Cat

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