I spent some time up in the north yesterday, checking out the harbour areas before finishing off at Al Wakra beach. Here are a selection of the gull images for the day.
Immature Great Black-headed Gull
Great Black-headed Gull changing into breeding plumage
Common Black-headed Gull trying to keep its feet dry on an incoming tide
Common Black-headed Gull developing its dark summer hood
Steppe Gull tbc
Reflections of a Slender-billed Gull in the calm harbour waters
Slender-billed Gull resting on the beach
Here is a small selection of shrike images to compare. These have all been taken over the last week.
A Daurian Shrike basking in the early morning sun.
A Masked Shrike. Unfortunately in the shade so colours not showing to best advantage.
A Masked Shrike on a nice OOF background.
A Turkestan Shrike on the lookout
A Female Pallid Harrier shortly after take-off with landing gear still to be retracted.
A Female Montagu's Harrier tbc gliding over the field.
A Male Marsh Harrier. My first image of a male of this species.
I was back out at the farm again today. The dragonflies were everywhere and the feathered folk were taking full advantage.
This Green Sandpiper was light enough to jump down off the reservoir wall onto the algae bed on the water surface and pick off whatever came in range. Of the three bird species feeding on the dragonflies they had the highest hit rate.
This Wood Sandpiper spent lots of its time chasing off other Wood Sandpipers and not enough time concentrating on the job on hand. It was also jumping off the wall and hopping back onto it to swallow its catch. Here it has actually caught something else for a change.
The Squacco Heron was in attendance again and easier to photograph as it remained clinging onto the wall, (how sometimes I do not know) leaning forward and spearing a dragonfly, before regaining its balance to despatch it.
Here it had changed its position further along the wall but with the same result, another dragonfly.
Thus far this week I have managed to record two new ticks to my Qatar list, bringing my total to 138 species. Luckily I managed to get images of both birds. I have also photographed another bird but I am waiting on confirmation of the species before I count it.
It was overcast, windy with intermittent slanting rain, but the birds are still out there to be found
A Black-necked Grebe in breeding plumage
A Citrine Wagtail going about its business. An uncommon winter visitor and passage migrrant
My first Northern Wheatear of the season
A solitary Great Black-headed Gull
Every now and then I actually get too close to a bird for my telephoto lens so I end up taking a few portraits. Here are a few from my collection from the first five months that I have been in Qatar.
Male Common Kestrel
Juvenile Black-winged Stilt
I spent another morning in the field watching out for migrants.
Here is a Red-spotted Bluethroat in early morning light.
A female European Stonechat hopping around on the ground looking for a snack.
A Corn Bunting warming up in the morning sun on a nice exposed perch.
An Isabelline Wheatear chasing insects on the ground.
This Squacco Heron spent some time on this floating algae bed in the middle of the storage dam, and took the opportunity to carry out some preening.
A Little Ringed Plover was busy replenishing reserves.
There were a few Little Stint present as well as a lone Temminck's Stint (no image)
This Woodchat Shrike has been around for a while, and I finally connected with this striking bird.
A lovely crisp image of a confiding male Common Kestrel.
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka has recently launched a new series of bank notes which have included birds as part of the design.
1) A 20 Rupee note
Maroon in colour, it features the Serendib Scops Owl. (Otus thilohoffmanni)
2) A 50 Rupee Note
Blue in colour, it features the Dull Blue Flycatcher. (Eumyias sordida)
3) A 100 Rupee Note
Orange in colour, it features the Orange Billed Babbler. (Turdoides rufescens)
4) A 500 Rupee Note
Purple in colour, it features the Emerald Collared Parakeet. (Layard's Parakeet) (Psittacula calthropae)
5) A 1000 Rupee Note
Green in colour, it features the Hanging Parrot. (Loriculus beryllinus)
6) A 5000 Rupee Note
Gold in colour, it features the Yellow-eared Bulbul. (Pycnonotus penicillatus)
Yesterday I spent a few hours out at the farm. The wind was a bit blustery and I was hopeful a few early migrants would be starting to appear. New species for me at this spot so far this spring were a fleeting glimpse of a Eurasian Hoopoe flying overhead and better views of a Marsh Sandpiper feeding at one of the irrigation storage dams.
There were several Wood Sandpipers to be seen. Here is one in the early morning light.
Also feeding were a party of seven Black-winged Stilts
I managed to get an image of the Red-wattled Lapwing that has the injured leg. It seems to be mending nicely.
This Black-headed Gull had been flying back and forth over the dam and then landed on the road to rest for a bit.
This possible Siberian Stonechat, popped out of nowhere and landed close to me
I sat and watched a Daurian Shrike which was perched near the dam and then carrying out sorties over the water to capture dragonflies out of the air. It would then return to the perch to devour them. It caught and ate 5 over a half hour period before flying off to try its luck elsewhere. Look at the one image where it appears to have caught two in one attempt, perhaps they were flying tandem?
I moved away from the water and drove around the fields to see what I could find.
A Crested Lark, a resident breeding species to be found everywhere.
A Common Kestrel tucked up nicely out of the wind behind this succulent shrub.
A flock of Spanish Sparrows flying over the fields. There is some irrigated barley ripening which I am sure they are starting to tuck into.
The Abu Dhabi based International Fund for Houbara Conservation's breeding programme has provided 1,065 Asian Houbara to a breeding centre in Qatar.
The Rawdat Al Faras Houbara Breeding Centre has received the birds with the aim of establishing a full breeding flock in Qatar.
The strategy is to ensure that there are sustainable, wild populations of the iconic bird across its entire range.
Last year in March an initial 334 Houbara were provided. With this latest addition a significant breeding flock has been established from which to produce chicks for future breeding and release.
In 2013 captive bred birds were provided to Kuwait and Yemen in a co-ordinated attempt at restoring resident,wild populations across the Arabian peninsular. This to reverse the historical decline in numbers through poaching, unregulated hunting and habitat degradation.
Gulf Times 18th February 2014.
Open the Kuwait specials tab at the top of the page and scroll down to see an image of a wild Houbara Bustard I managed to take in November 2009.
A Curlew on the look out for a tasty morsel
A Grey Heron still hunting for frogs