25 April 2020

Lockdown - Day 22

Week 14; 02 April 2020 - Pivot Fields

The partial lockdown is still pretty surreal and it is not going to be eased any time soon. I had another quick fire 2-hour visit to the farm, arriving before 6:30. In the time of the lockdown, there are not many options for birding, as JPR is closed and Abraq is too long a drive (unless on the weekends)

Not far from the gate, I had an obliging and good looking male Ehrenberg's Redstart. He used these sticks to check out for food below and was soon successful catching what looks like a small Wolf Spider

Male Ehrenberg's Redstart (Phoenicurus p. sammamisicus)

In an open area, Collared Pratincole's had roosted overnight and were feeding on the small and slow moving Darkling Beetle's

Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola)

And not far off, a flock of Barn Swallows were also roosting on the ground, although this one had found a small dead twig to perch on.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

In the same area, I had both male and female Pied Wheatear

Male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

Female Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

A section on the farm has some young Palms and this area was quite busy. My first Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin for the spring and amongst the yellow flowers that are showing all over the farm

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas galactotes)

There were a number of Turkestan Shrikes hunting in this area, a younger karelini

Turkestan Shrike (Lanius p. karelini)

and an adult which to me is pretty striking, with it's grey cap and upperparts

Turkestan Shrike (Lanius p. karelini)

A Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush popped up and perched on a distant Palm

Female Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis)

Along the edges of one of the pivot fields, another Wheatear species; this time a female and later a male Northern Wheatear

Female Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Male Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Along the road, a female Eastern Black-eared didn't hang around for too long

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

Driving to the marsh, my first Whinchat for this spring

Female Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)

Whilst at the marsh, a distant and still skittish Glossy Ibis was still present

Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

There are still fair numbers of Black Kite that roost on the Pivot irrigation

Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

The Marsh Harrier regularly passes over the marsh, putting up everything below

Female Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

A Pallid Harrier caught me by surprise as it flew right over my head - these taken into the sun

Female Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)

The fulvescens Spotted Eagle passed by closer than normal

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila c. fulvescens)

Whilst higher above it, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk was trying to gain height after which I left and was back home by 8:30 

Female Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

19 April 2020

Lockdown - Day 20

Week 13; 31 March 2020 - Pivot Fields

Another early morning and very short visit to Pivot Fields after arriving at the gate by 6am.

I had a bonus at the patch of reeds just after entering the gate; a stunning male Caucasian Bluethroat and it has been quite some time since I have seen this form.

Caucasian Bluethroat (Luscinia s. magna)

Whilst enjoying the Bluethroat a Common Sandpiper dropped in.

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

I noticed some movement deeper in the reeds and lo and behold, out popped a Spotted Crake that foraged in the same area where the Sandpiper was earlier

Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)

House Sparrow's were dropping down to drink

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

and there were also a few with the Spanish Sparrows, these males having much whiter cheeks than some of the others seen earlier - Indian House Sparrow

Indian House Sparrow (Passer d. indicus)

A great start so far. Driving into the farm, a fair sized flock of Spanish Sparrows were gorging themselves in the wheat field

Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

I headed to the marsh finding some calling Crested Larks on the way

Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)

At the marsh, I had a quick walk and found another good bird in the form of Caucasian (Mountain) Chiffchaff that was quite relaxed around me, although it was never static

Caucasian Chiffchaff ((Phylloscopus lorenzii)

There were also good numbers of Willow Warblers and a few Common Chiffchaff feeding in the reeds

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

Sedge Warblers were typically skulky, but all quite vocal

Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

Overhead, a Common Swift passed by

Common Swift (Apus apus)

Whilst Collared Pratincole's were feeding on emerging insects overhead

Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola) catching insects

Still big numbers of Common Snipe around the marsh (I keep looking for the elusive Pin-tailed). Although it is still satisfying catching one of this fast flying birds in flight especially hand-held and with a heavy prime lens.

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

Green Sandpipers were easily identified by call, as they flew by

Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)

This is the spot for the White-tailed Lapwings that for sure should breed here in the coming weeks

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)

Not sure if this was a new Purple Heron, or one from a few days back

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)

A Greater Spotted Eagle flew past as it headed for another Pivot to roost on

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)

Then a quick drive around the farm, finding a Turkestan Shrike dispatching a Desert Locust. There are not enough Shrikes for the amount of locusts on the farm. It was against the light, so pretty happy with how these images turned out.

Turkestan Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides) with Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria)

A small flock of Lesser Kestrel were doing their part in dispatching with of some locusts too

Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)

In flight snack

On the boundary with the Tamarix trees, a stunning male Ehrenberg's Redstart really stood out from the dead branches on the ground

Ehrenberg's Redstart (Phoenicurus p. sammamisicus)

and a little further along, a Semi-collared Flycatcher just kept far enough away

Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata)

A juvenile Pallid Harrier gives me the hairy eyeball after I inadvertently flushed it from the side of the road

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)

In one field, I found the pair of Red-wattled Lapwings which appear to be holding territory, as they are pretty aggressive to any raptor passing by overhead

Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)

I found a field that along with Water Pipits, had

Caucasian Water Pipit (Anthus s. coutelli)

Red-throated Pipits; many of them sky watching to keep an eye out for danger overhead

Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)

a few lone White Wagtails are still hanging around

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

There were also big numbers of Western Yellow Wagtails with many races/form present

Sykes's Wagtail (Motacilla f. beema)

Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla f. dombrowskii) with the dark ear coverts

Eastern Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. melanogrisea)

Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla f. superciliaris)

Grey-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. thunbergi)

On the way out, a dark-headed sub-adult Steppe Eagle past by overhead - first time I have seen one of these forms

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)

These short and focused 2-hour sessions are really rewarding and today I had some pretty good birds, so no apologies for the photo heavy post.