Here are the birding pics I took after having watched the fox yesterday morning
This Southern Grey Shrike is a first for the patch. It was getting harassed by a pair of White-eared Bulbuls whom I suspect had a nest nearby.
The call of this Graceful Prinia attracted me to where it was perched on top of this bush
As always, there were plenty of Grey Francolins to be seen. This one has just caught a juicy caterpillar
An inquisitive Red-vented Bulbul lands on the ground near to where I was sitting
A nice crisp image of a Eurasian Collared Dove
Whilst at the local patch early this morning I came across this very relaxed Common Fox. It was not worried about my presence at all and carried on for a few minutes as if I was not there.
When I first spotted the fox it was lying down on the grass. There were some birds alarm calling from a nearby tree, but it was not in the least bit concerned
After a while it sat up and started to groom itself
Busy with some tail grooming
Something in the grass caught its attention so it went over to investigate
After a while it gave me one last look and then trotted off into cover
I have been watching this family of owls for some time now. I was told by another birder that there were four owlets being raised. I had never previously been able to identify four birds so had presumed it was the runt and had perished. To my total surprise and enjoyment I was able to observe all four of the offspring simultaneously as they went about their morning routines at the burrow site.
Portrait of an owlet in soft early morning light
The elusive fourth bird. It is leaner and paler than its siblings.
Compare it with a more robust looking sibling
A quick forty winks
There was almost constant vocalisation from the juveniles, especially when the parents flew away from the site
Here one of the owlets had hopped down onto the ground and had picked up a black beetle it had observed scurrying around
One of the parents flew in with what looked like a small mouse. It immediately disappeared down into the crevices between the rocks. There was a mad scramble by the juveniles to follow and get a piece of the action
Here one of the owlets reappears and hops back up onto a prominent perch
Some talon cleaning being undertaken
To end the sequence here is my favourite image of the smallest owlet. It appears to be winking at me as if to say "I had you fooled for ages"
Here are a series of images of a Little Bittern female going about the business of securing a meal
At first she stands motionless on a perch waiting for dragonflies to come within range. This still hunting seems to be their preferred method and is what I also saw another male bird doing the other day
Today this tactic is not working. Suddenly she jumps off the perch and onto the floating algae bed, flapping her wings as she struggles to stay on top of the surface
Now she regains her balance and steadies herself in preparation for a strike
Success, but she realises she is sinking fast
Prey item secure in her beak, she rapidly retreats to terra firma
Having swallowed her meal she now relaxes on this dried out bush
Finally she puffs up to shake out and realign her feathers after all the action
It is amazing how every visit throws up something different. Today I spent time watching as a Western Reef Heron, a Cattle Egret and a Little Bittern were busy feeding at a fresh water storage dam. Tadpoles, dragon-flies, and a small fish were all on the menu.
Western Cattle Egret wading on the shallow water. A new tick for the patch
A Little Bittern stood motionless on the rocks at the waters edge and lunged at passing dragon-flies.
A male Little Bittern . A new tick for the patch
A dark morph Western Reef Heron wading in the shallows and spearing tadpoles.
As per my last visit there were still some migrants to be found.
A female Red-backed Shrike on her perch waiting to hawk an insect on the ground below
Other migrants seen but not photographed were a single Yellow Wagtail, A Willow Warbler, a male Red-backed Shrike and a White-winged Tern (a new tick for the patch)
Other species included: Crested Lark, White-cheeked Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, several Grey Francolins all with chicks, Graceful Prinia, Indian Silverbill, Common Myna, and the rest.
I also spent some time at the owl burrow to see what was happening with the offspring and how things were progressing with this successful breeding. I managed to count and identify 3 young owls, even though there were reports of 4 chicks at an earlier stage. Perhaps the 4th smaller and weaker bird has perished? The parents often flew away from the nest to perch on various look out points, thus leaving the chicks to their own devices. There was a lot of calling backwards and forwards between offspring and parents. I watched as a couple of the juveniles flew a short distance away from the nest and landed on the ground. They spent some time hopping around exploring and some time sitting on the ground in the shade of a shrub. When they saw a parent flying back to the nest they also returned.
One of the chicks was more inquisitive/adventurous than the others and spent more time out in the open, hopping from rock to rock around the burrow site. Often looking out in the direction that the parents had flown. A lot of vocalisation was taking place at all times
Two siblings looking at me with owl eyes. The one was briefly joined by the other on the same rock
One of the chicks has a piece of a wing in its beak. I think it is from the bird carcase below
One of the parents brought out the remains of a bird to encourage the offspring to feed. The bird looks like a Lark but this needs to be confirmed. Previously this had been stored in another location at the burrow site, which I had also seen the juveniles visiting from time to time
One of the juveniles defecating
I observed two of the juveniles carrying out this yawning action. I thought they were perhaps going to regurgitate food pellets, but on both occasions this did not occur. If anybody has another view point on this behaviour I would love to hear it
Whilst it was warm today, luckily there was no wind. I drove out to the farm this morning to see what I could find. Having been away for a while I was keen to catch up with the breeding Lapwings etc.
The nest with 4 eggs has hatched and I counted 3 surviving chicks this morning
An ever vigilant parent gives me a fly-by just to make sure I know they are around
In a nearby reservoir I came across this single Black-winged Stilt
This female Montagu's Harrier was resting on the ground. They are a lot less common than the Pallid Harriers that frequent the farm
Here is a B.I.F. shot of the same bird
There were plenty of Larks out and about. They were perched wherever they could find a good vantage point
I came across this single Isabelline Wheatear. Most of them have already passed through on their way north
I happened upon two Collared Pratincoles that were lying in a shallow furrow where some irrigation water had drained into the soil. They were obviously keeping themselves cool by doing so.
To round off the morning I also spotted two male Lesser Kestrels perched up on the overhead pylon. This is another new tick for me in Qatar
I have been travelling for a few days. When I arrived back I paid a visit the local patch to see what was out there. The Grey Francolin chicks had grown noticeably and the parents are now happy to bring them out into the open in search of food. On the migration front there were several Spotted Flycatchers still present. I saw a single Red-throated Pipit, a Willow Warbler, a Lesser Grey Shrike, a Common Whitethroat and a Great Reed Warbler. The latter three being new ticks for the patch.
This Common Whitethroat was working along the tree line feeding. Here it has just caught a moth. A new tick for the patch
A Great Reed Warbler. An uncommon passage migrant. A new tick for the patch
A rather grainy long distance pic of a Lesser Grey Shrike. Note how the black mask extends above the eye onto the forehead. This is also a new tick for the patch.
Below are comparative images of the two breeding resident species of Bulbul to be found here
Red-vented Bulbul. The less common and more shy bird
White-eared Bulbul. Friendly, noisy and conspicuous these birds are found almost everywhere in Qatar.
There was another "wave" of Yellow Wagtails present again. I also found one Red-throated Pipit in their company. There were several races present. Here are my attempts at identifying them correctly
A Feldegg type female
A Feldegg type male. Notice the slightly lighter black colouring on the head as compared with a typical male and a small amount of white on cheek. Possibly a hybrid bird
A Beema type bird
A Flava type bird
A Thunbergi type bird
There were also a few LBJ's present feeding and resting in the tree lines
Upcher's Warbler. A new tick for the patch
Female Common Redstart
After a few quiet visits the patch was quite productive today. I added some new species to the list, as well as a sighting of a successful breeding attempt of the resident Francolins.
Grey Francolin parent and family out and about
Grey Francolin chick
Red-backed Shrike. A new tick for me in Qatar
A Turkestan Shrike doing a tight rope balancing act. A new species for the patch.
Whinchat. My first image of this species in Qatar, and a new species for the patch
A Spotted Flycatcher on the lookout for a meal. Another new species for the patch. There were several of these birds present today