12 April 2019

Some colour in the gloom

Week 14; 06 April 2019 - Pivot Fields

As with Paul Scott and I last visit to Pivots, today was also overcast and gloomy following a big storm and very strong winds during the night. Strange weather again with a low pressure over the region and now floods in southern Iran. After an early start, we were at the gates just after sunrise and saw that many trees had been damaged from the wind last night - some trees knocked over and many where big branches had broken off and fallen into the road 

At the pool we found well marked male Spanish Sparrows feverishly nest building - this is unusual as these are normally winter visitors.

Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

From here we headed to the western part of the farm, finding a single Pied Wheatear with quite warm tones below.

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

I saw a flock of Yellow Wagtail land in one of the fields and we were able to get the car quite close, switched off and let the birds come to us as the foraged amongst the crops. We had a great selection of the various races of Yellow Wagtail and really enjoyed seeing some colour again - so here you go.....

Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. feldegg)

Eastern Black-headed

Eastern Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. melanogrisea)

Sykes's and a couple of variations that may not all be Sykes's

Sykes's Wagtail (Motacilla f. beema)

Dont think this is Sykes's?

Possible White-headed (too pale for Syke's)

Possible White-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. leucocephala)


Yellow-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. lutea)


Grey-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. thunbergi)

And the most interesting for me a possible/probable Iberian Yellow Wagtail

Iberian Wagtail (Motacilla f. iberiae)

To add to the mix, there was a stunning male Citrine Wagtail

Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)

and good numbers of Red-throated Pipit

Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)

with House Sparrows also coming to forage in the fields

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

We headed east to the big pan created by the winter rain where there were fair numbers of Black-winged Stilts and a good selection of smaller waders

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

We then enjoyed some time with at least 4-5 Spotted Crake's

Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)

and two cracking male Little Crake's

Little Crake (Zapornia parva)

A Caspian Reed Warbler popped briefly out of the reeds

Caspian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus s. fuscus)

Something flushed some of the bigger waders from a pool surrounded by long grass - guess the silhouette?

Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

On the far side of the pad, a big flock of Collared Pratincoles was feeding over one of the fields. It was a real challenge swinging the heavy older 600mm + 1,4 extender hand-held - but I did manage to get a few acceptable images despite the poor light. Note the bulging crops on some of the birds - they really are fueling up!

Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola)

However the highlight was an Eastern Imperial Eagle that suddenly appeared above the flock of Pratincoles - a truly magnificent Eagle!
Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)

On that note we called it a morning, but did stop briefly for a Greater Spotted Eagle that we found soaring above us just after leaving the farm

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)

Back to the SW

Week 14, 04 April 2019 - Salmi, Abraq and Jahra Farm

This time we were three; Paul Scott, Neil Tovey and I that headed back to Salmi. Neil needed a couple of species that we had found last week, so we were more than happy to meet at 5am so we could be on site shortly after sunrise. It was a lot more strict to get through the police control point this time. Just before we reached the checkpoint, we stopped for Western Osprey that had roosted overnight on the border fence

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

We went back too the same area, parked and then started slowly walking the area.

It wasn't long before we were on to our first Desert Lark's and we saw many more than we did last week during the course of the morning.

Desert Lark (Ammomanes deserti)

Similarly with Bar-tailed Larks, their numbers had certainly increased substantially today

Bar-tailed Lark (Ammomanes cinctura)

In one area we had some other migrant passerines; Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat

Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia c. halimodendri)

Along with a out of place Eurasian Wryneck

Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)

Wheatear's were represented by Northern

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

and many Eastern Black-eared

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe h. melanoleuca)

As it warmed up, a cracking male Pallid Harrier drifted too quickly overhead and shortly after was followed by a Steppe Eagle pretty high up

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)

Earlier on we found this 'mammoth' Grasshopper - not yet identified

Grasshopper sp

And as it warmed up quite a few Snake-tailed Fringe-toed Lizards were seen

Snake-tailed Fringe-toed Lizard (Acanthodactylus Opheodurus)

By now it was warming up so we started to make our way to Abraq - but on a detour found a single Temminck's Lark - a real bonus and not on our radar at all

Temminck's Lark (Eremophila bilopha)

On the border fence, more Eastern Black-eared Wheatear

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe h. melanoleuca)

and this cracking male 'Greenland' Northern Wheatear

Male Northern 'Greenland' Wheatear (Oenanthe leucorhoa)

and later a female Eastern Black-eared

Female Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe h. melanoleuca)

At Abraq, a Marsh Harrier sailed over our car as we came through the gate

Male Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

It was already quite warm, so activity was pretty slow - some Lesser Whitethroat's that were difficult to photograph

Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia c. halimodendri)

and a cool female Semi-collared Flycatcher that disappeared and could not be relocated

Female Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata)

I found another Striped Hawk-moth

Striped Hawk Moth (Hyles livornica)

a couple of Mediterranean Pierrot's

Mediterranean Pierrot (tarucus rosacea)

and this Nomophila noctuella moth

Nomophila noctuella

We then called it quits and headed east to Jahra, stopping first for a bite and then to Jahra Farm. We picked up a cool Grey Wagtail as we walked through the gate to the farm

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

Followed by a couple of Bank Myna's

Bank Myna (Acridotheres ginginianus)

Not much else as time of day was not ideal. Painted Lady numbers are slowly reducing, but now also some Small Cabbage White's amongst them

Small Cabbage White (Artogeia r. iranica)

This vibrant looking Darter species posed for a quick image before we wrapped up what was a pretty successful day

Darter sp.