22 October 2018

Raptors in the west

Week 37; 15 September 2018 - Al Abraq and Jahra

I met Paul Scott early and we headed west to Al Abraq to arrive just after sunrise. Unfortunately at this time of year, the shooters are prowling around on the boundary fence with some disregarding the private property by jumping over the fence to shoot inside the farm. We had words with some and they retreated (for awhile), but rather than have our birding spoilt, we headed to a different area of the farm.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were pretty vocal and already in the air (disturbed by all the shooting)

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)

Northern Wheatear's had arrived and we had quite a few around the farm

Male Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

As had Mauryan Grey Shrike

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)

Near the western boundary we surprised a Common Quail

Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix)

We spent quite a bit of time at the small fields and this was the most productive area of our visit. Western Yellow Wagtails feeding in the fields

Juvenile Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla f. flava)

Along with Ortolan Bunting

Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana)

We had a few Lesser Short-toed Lark roosting in the shade of one field

Lesser Short-toed Lark (Aquila pomarina)

We saw a big raptor flying in very low and landing in one of the fields - a Steppe Eagle obviously looking for a place to 'rest'. We gave it space, but with all the activity around the farm it wasn't able to settle for too long and eventually flew off again after around 30-minutes on the deck

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)

By now it was starting to warm up which created thermals and soon we had Pallid Harrier

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)

and later Steppe Buzzards passing by overhead

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

A few European Rollers were about, with some passing by overhead

European Roller (Coracias garrulus)

Along with Pallid Swift, which are unusual this far west

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

We also had two Eurasian Hobby's pass by and one literally over our heads

Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo)

We found an exhausted Steppe Buzzard and were able to coax some life back into it by giving it water from a bottle over 15-minutes

Buzzard whisperer

Sadly, whilst walking around, we also found several dead raptors that had been shot for fun and this senseless and needless killing really gets me. Hopefully the wheel turns for those responsible.....

Sparrowhawk's and Kestel

We then called it a day and headed east for a quick stop at Jahra Farm - here we had a few warblers at the holding pond for the farm. This a probable Marsh Warbler

Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris)

and I believe this may be Basra Reed Warbler (with a Great Reed lurking on the frond beneath)

Basra Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus griseldis)

By now the temps had risen substantially, so we called it a morning

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