23 October 2018

Autumn raptors

Week 38; 29 September 2018 - Al Shallal Farm and Jahra Pools Reserve

After the success of last weekend, Paul Scott and I did the same route again today; stopping again for a spectacular sunrise at the top end of the Arabian Gulf

Khuwaisat sunrise

As we learn to often with birding, every day is different and so it was today with fewer passerines than last week. However it was a Black-winged Kite that was the first bird we saw entering the farm. We are like magnets for this bird!

Black-winged Kite (Elanus c. vociferus)

There were both Barn Swallows and Sand Martin's overhead

Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)

Walking past one of the fields we flushed a medium sized Warbler that was really agitated by being disturbed and was very vocal. We struggled to get decent views of it, although there was lots of attitude with frequent tail cocking as it moved around the farm. I managed to get one half decent image and it was only later with the help of others that we managed to confirm the ID as Cetti's Warbler - not the usual place you would expect to see one!

Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti)

Walking around the farm, we picked up a Woodchat Shrike

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)

As it was a little slow, we checked out a few butterflies and I quite like this habitat image of Mediterranean Pierrot

Mediterranean Pierrot (Tarucus rosaceus)

Turning over some debris, we uncovered a Zarudny's Worm Lizard that was really fast for a blind worm - we managed to get a few images before it disappeared quickly and without trace into the desert sand

Zarudny's Worm Lizard (Diplometopon zarudnyi)

By now it had warmed up and raptors started appearing - first up were around 3 dark form Booted Eagles, with one passing by quite closely

Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata)

These were followed by Pallid Harrier

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)

and then a small kettle of raptors that included an adult female Oriental Honey Buzzard

Oriental Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus)

As well as Steppe Buzzard, Black Kite and Western Marsh Harrier all in the viewfinder at the same time

Black-eared Kite (Milvus m. lineatus), Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus) and Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

We decided to head to Jahra Pools to see if any raptors dropped in for drink finding another Pallid Harrier on the way to the freeway.

Male Pallid Harrier (Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)

At JPR, a Little Egret passed by overhead near the gate

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

Suddenly there were numbers of raptors passing by overhead, but quite high up - we counted 40+ by  the end of the passage. In amongst the Steppe Eagles was a single Eastern Imperial Eagle, which is quite easily distinguished from the Steppes in flight

3 Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) and Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)

An assortment of Steppe Buzzards of various plumage variances also passed by overhead, although none dropped in to drink. I guess the thermals and wind was too favourable and they took the window of opportunity to continue their journey south

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

Driving around the reserve, we found a few Pied Wheatear's

Female Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

Autumn migration is coming to an end and now we move into the last quarter of the year and anticipate the return of some wintering species