04 July 2015

Dawn to Dusk

Week 14, 03 April 2015 - Spring Count

I really have been slack in my Blog posts, but truth be told, I have a backlog of images to process and just haven't managed to find the time to get through them. We are now in the middle of summer and I will still be posting spring migration images - bear with me!

We had a good start to spring migration and I decided to push a solo dawn-to-dusk count to see what was achievable given that conditions were favourable.

I started north of the city along the coast at Sulaibikhat where I had shorebirds on the coast and migrants in the adjacent desert area. Wheatear's were the most abundant mostly Pied and Northern - here a female Northern.

Female Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
I then detoured east toward Doha (not the one in Qatar), but where Entertainment City is located - this area has a small reed area, with some desert scrub and a few acacia's.

As with Sulaibikhat, here I continued to find both Pied Wheatear

Male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
And a male Northern Wheatear in a 'classic' pose

Male Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
Around the small pool, I had my first Red-throated Pipits of the spring in various stages of breeding plumage.

Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)

And a stately Squacco Heron quietly hunting near the reeds.

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) in breeding plumage
Among the Warblers calling from inside the reeds, I managed to 'phish' out one Warbler that I initially thought was Basra, but thanks to feedback from Yoav is more Eurasian/Caspian Reed and it didn't stay visible for long. 

Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Pushing on to Jahra Pools reserve the numbers continued to increase and I ended up spending a good few hours at this great wetland reserve. 

Graceful Prinia are normally seen soon after passing through the entrance gate

Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis) calling
An obliging Common Kingfisher let me take images from 2 different angles thereby changing the background colour - personally I prefer the green background.

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

A Blue-cheeked Bee Eater had its beak full with a large Emperor Dragonfly, but got it down eventually

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)
Starting with Waders, amongst others, I ticked Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Common Snipe

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) running for cover
This 'paler' Common Snipe had me going for a bit, especially when I compared it to a more normally coloured Snipe foraging close by (a poor image, but for comparative purposes only)

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

'Normal' Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
In the same area, there were numbers of Kentish Plover

Male Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
As well as Little Ringed Plover which appear to be preparing to breed in this reserve - this one had it's eye on a raptor overhead - so lay flat and low until it had passed by

Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
A number of species had already bred, Common Moorhen amongst them.

Juvenile Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Grey-headed Swamphen are present in this reserve in good numbers

Grey-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio  p. poliocephalus)
However, Glossy Ibis are seen infrequently

Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
A few raptors were around, this dark form Booted Eagle had come down to drink and was thermalling to gain some height when I saw it.

Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)
A Steppe Eagle flew by with a fairly large crop

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis )
A few species of Harrier flew by at a distance, I was only able to photograph this female Montagu's

Female Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)
Out on the water, another successful breeding year for Near Threatened Ferruginous Duck at this reserve

Adult and young Ferruginous Duck  (Aythya nyroca)
A pair of Garganey were also a welcome sight.

A pair of Garganey (Anas querquedula)
The morning was almost over, so I continued north up the 80 and over the ridge to Mutla' Farm. I saw a number of Warblers - Orphean, Ménétriés’s as well as Semi-collared Fly - but they proved elusive to photograph. I did find a Caucasian Bluethroat - but it was not at all obliging.

Caucasian Bluethroat (Luscinia s. magna)
There were also small numbers of Tree Pipit in one of the small patch of crops that had irrigation

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
As well as a few Great Reed Warblers

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
Driving out of the farm, there were a couple of European Bee-eaters hawking from the overhead lines.

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)
From here I headed north again and then west into the desert stopping at Liyah Reserve - by now the temp had jumped a few more degrees. This reserve is split by a main road, so I explored the northern part first. The north is quite barren, but there is a group of 4 tree's that always has birds. Today was not an exception there were both Woodchat and Mauryan Grey Shrikes, but a single Hypocolius was a surprise.

Female Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)
A female Semi-collared Flycatcher was also trying to hold on in the brisk wind.

Female Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata)
Even though the southern side has better habitat, it didn't produce very many new birds - although Asian Desert Warbler was one.

Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana)
This Spiny-tailed Lizard eye-balled me for a long time, eventually I relented and moved off as he seemed quite comfortable lying in the sunny spot it had chosen.

Arabian Spiny-tailed Lizard (Uromastyx aegyptia microlepis)
I continued west along the main road and eventually turned south at a T-junction - very few birds as this area was barren and devoid of any habitat. I found the odd Wheatear along the roadside and a few Mauryan Grey Shrikes sitting high on razor fences.

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)
This stretch was a waste and I ended up in a restricted area so had to backtrack and drive back to Jahra the longer way round. On the return journey, I stopped at Jahra Farms. Red-breasted Swallows were amongst the Hirundine flock foraging overhead.

Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)
Again I found Semi-collared Fly, this time a male bird - this brought the count to 4 for the day.

Male Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata)

By now it was quite late in the day, so I thought I would end it back at Jahra Pools and to check what came in to roost for the night. Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were still present and would roost for the night.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)
On the way to one of the pools, a Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin was foraging on the ground. But as I passed by it flew up into some cover and did a little display

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas galactotes)
A male Citrine Wagtail was briefly seen at one of the open pools

Male Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
However this Western Yellow Wagtail (supercilliaris type) was a little more obliging.

Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla f. supercilliaris)

More Red-throated Pipit's were recorded

Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)
In the same pool, there were also Ruff

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

Marsh Sandpiper

Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)
and a Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
On the sea side of the reserve, a female Desert Wheatear was the first for the day

Female Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)
A Woodchat Shrike in the soft afternoon light

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
Followed by a female Pied Wheatear

Female Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
Finally, it was time to call it a day!

This Greater Spotted Eagle with a bulging crop checked me out as I drove past, probably contemplating whether it was worth the effort to fly or not.

Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)
Although it was a long, it was a pretty productive day with 98 species recorded overall.


  1. Awesome collection; we do need to remember spring in such time though! The heron specifically got me.

  2. Fantastic. Always enjoy your posts.

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