07 June 2016

The last wave of spring

Week 19, 05 May 2016 - Liyah, Mutla'a and Jahra Pools

I have had a poor record for the first 5-months of this year and haven't been able to get out very often. Spring had sprung and most of the migrants had passed through, but I managed to get out for a morning at the tail end of spring, so to speak.

I woke before my alarm went off and was soon heading north up the 80 and then west onto Iron Horse Road to Liyah Reserve and was at the southern gate just after sunrise.

The southern part of the reserve has a ring road with trees around an old quarry with deserted buildings. I chose the loop around the ring road to start, as it had the sun behind me. Thankfully there were still signs of migration and this was the last wave of migrants that were passing through. 

The majority of species seen were Red-backed Shrikes and the males looking particularly smart in their breeding plumage and in the soft early morning light.

Male Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

Female Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
Lesser Grey Shrikes were less abundant and also a little more skittish than the Red-backed...

Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor)
A single European Roller was present, but did not want to turn around

European Roller (Coracias garrulus)
A few Marsh Warblers were also seen in this last wave of migrants

Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris)

and surprisingly an Upcher's Warbler was also seen..

Upcher's Warbler (Hippolais languida)
In terms of other passerines, Spotted Flycatcher numbers were seen frequently on the loop drive

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
There were huge number of Dragonflies around - they timed their hatching to perfection, as all the Bee-eaters have already passed through - so score 1 for the Dragonflies. I suspect this is the young of one of the Emperor species...

Emperor sp,
After 2-hours, it was time to move to Mutla'a Ranch, but I was stopped by a family of Greater Hoopoe Larks on the side of the road.

Juvenile Greater Hoopoe-Lark (Alaemon alaudipes)
It was starting to warm up when I arrived at the Ranch, so I decided walking was a better strategy, as I could get into the palm groves where there was shade and cover..Here I found number of migrant species; more Spotted Fly's, Tree Pipits, Redstart and numbers of Eurasian Blackcap's

Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
A couple of Desert White butterflies were also seen around the small alfalfa fields

Desert White (Pontia glauconome)
Along with an Ortolan Bunting that had just cooled off in a small pool to escape the rising heat

Male Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana)

There were quite a few Willow Warbler, this one appears to have pretty dark legs, but quite yellow feet, which is not unusual for birds of this species from Asia (thanks to Peter Kennerley)

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Last stop of the morning, before the heat became too oppressive was Jahra Pools. The favourable conditions in terms of permanent water and pretty good winter rain have caused the phragmite reeds to expand rapidly. After the breeding season, measures will need to be taken by reserve management to curb the rapid growth and somehow cut them back before the few remaining pools are lost.

Nevertheless, some migrants and residents were still to be seen. The Ferruginous Ducks have had another fantastic breeding season

Juvenile Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) - the pride of JPR!
In terms of waders, Wood Sandpipers were in the majority

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Followed by smaller numbers of Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)

and a couple of Ruff

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
The stand-out wader was a single Black-tailed Godwit

European Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa l. limosa)

and a Glossy Ibis, which in the right light, is actually quite impressive

Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
The only passerine of interest was a single Whinchat that stayed close to a large pool of water...

Female Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
By this time, the temp was heading to it's max of the day, so it was also time for me to retreat and head for pastures cooler. But for the tail end of spring migration, it was still an enjoyable day out!