02 March 2016

2-days with Dr. Matthew Binn - Day 2

Week 44, 31 October 2015 - Al Abraq, Jal Al Zour and Jahra

Last night we agreed on an earlier pickup for the long drive west to the oasis farm of Al Abraq.

We arrived just after sunrise and had some glorious and soft golden early morning light. We were fortunate to find a few cooperative birds with the sun behind us. There were quite a few European Stonechat's, primarily males, but also the odd female.

Female European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

Male European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

Another female Ménétriés’s Warbler, but in way better light

Female Ménétriés’s Warbler (Sylvia mystacea)
Followed soon after by a 1st year Red-backed Shrike that found some protein in the crops

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

What a difference the light direction makes; Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
A few Water Pipit dropped out of the sky to forage in the fields

Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
We moved on from the field of crops, finding Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
and then Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
In the olive tree grove, a Red-breasted Flycatcher played hide and seek with us and neither of us was able to get any decent images

Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)
By now, the clouds had rolled in and the light faded as we were trying to photograph a few White and Western Yellow Wagtails

This may be the nominate Blue-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava flava)
As we were about to leave, I got onto a small raptor passage high above us - mostly Steppe Eagles

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)

But also a few Eastern Imperial Eagles..

Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)

Adult Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)
The last bird on the way out was a singing Corn Bunting

Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
From Abraq we headed to Jal Al Zour to try for some Wheatear species; we weren't disappointed, as I found Pied

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
Eastern Mourning

Eastern Mourning Wheatear (Oenanthe lugens)
and the main prize, Red-tailed

Wintering Red-tailed Wheatear (Oenanthe chrysopygia)

A quick stop a Jahra Farm produced a few aerial Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)

From the Farm it was a short hop across the freeway to Jahra Pools where we spent the rest of the afternoon, in sun shine and then rain believe it or not.

A few more Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, but these roosting on a dead tree in great light.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)
We found the Bonelli's again, this time in perfect position, roosting in a tree and then flying off and right past us - my best sighting ever!

Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciatus)

At the Pools, we had a few Daurian Shrike - another new species for Matthew

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
In and around the waterways, the iridescent Grey-headed Swamphen

Grey-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio  p. poliocephalus)
Indian Reed Warblers

Indian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus s. brunnescens)
And a fantastic Mountain Chiffchaff - a species I had not connected with for quite some time

Mountain Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus sindianus)

We tried the spot where Reed Bunting had been seen earlier in the week, but only found Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
As the end of day approached, the light was starting to fade and that's when we found a small flock of waders that had one bird that got us pretty excited. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an oiled Temminck’s Stint.

The oiled Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii) that got us a excited

A typical Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii)
While we were watching and photographing the Stints, a winter plumage Spotted Redshank dropped in - bonus!

Winter plumage Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
By now it was time to leave, but we did stop for this Pied Kingfisher for the last image of the day.

Male Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)
I really enjoyed a great 2-days with Matthew from which we departed as friends. He was able to photograph many more new species than expected, for which I was really pleased.  

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