With summer here things have quietened down on the migration front, but there is still a lot going on out there. Here are some images of resident species with evidence of breeding activity
An adult Greater Hoopoe-lark perched conveniently on a bush top for me
Juvenile Greater Hoopoe-lark. Note the lack of breast streaking and the lack of feathers on the throat
An unmistakable male Black-crowned Sparrow-lark
A female Black-crowned Sparrow-lark. I suspect this is a juvenile given the presence of a still fleshy gape
An adult Arabian Grey Shrike (Southern Grey Shrike)
A juvenile Arabian Grey Shrike (Southern Grey Shrike). Note the still pale bill and the ochre buff on the wing bars
A Crested Lark with very smart and fresh plumage, with just a hint of a still fleshy gape, which leads me to believe this is a juvenile
Yesterday I revisited the burrow after a two week gap to see how things were progressing. When I got there I found Dad on a lookout post at the burrow and Mum on another prominent rock some way away. They were focusing their attention off in one direction and there was a lot of alarm calling going on by both of them. There was no sight of the juvenile. I watched and waited, trying to piece together what the problem was.
After a while I saw a bird of prey, which looked very much like an eagle, flying low to the ground. It was quite far off so I did not manage a positive ID. Now it all made sense. The juvenile was being told to remain out of sight by the parents.
After a while the female bird flew back from her outpost to a clump of rocks closer to the burrow and perched there. Sure enough a few minutes later out popped the juvenile and joined Mum on the rocks for a bit of bonding.
The female on high alert looking off in the direction of the eagle
Once all is clear the youngster joins the female out on a rock above where it had been hiding
Some reassuring and bonding goes on between the two birds
Once more it is business as usual as they carry out some preening
When the male sees all is in order he retires to a spot in the shade where he can catch the prevailing wind
Here the juvenile has also moved down out of sight, and into the shade of a overhanging rock
I had not been there for quite a while, so decided it was time to revisit the ponds again today. It turned out to be a really productive morning. I saw signs that the following species had bred successfully. Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Ferruginous Duck, Black-winged Stilt, Black-crowned Night Heron and Common Moorhen. I also managed several new ticks for this venue including Purple Swamphen, Glossy Ibis, Caspian Tern, Pied Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Grey Francolin, Little Tern, Sand Martin, Kentish Plover, Little Bittern, Red-wattled Lapwing, and Black-crowned Sparrow-lark.
Other species recorded included Squacco Heron, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Greater Flamingo, Graceful Prinia, Barn Swallow, Slender-billed Gull, White-eared Bulbul and the rest.
A lovely B.IF. shot of a Black-crowned Night Heron in full breeding plumage, complete with streamers
A female Ferruginous Duck
Juvenile Great Crested Grebe
One of a pair of Black-winged Stilt chicks seen
A Purple Swamphen seen feeding on the succulent reed shoots
A Glossy Ibis. A new tick for my Qatar list, bringing my total up to 180 species
Recently we set off on a mission to find the Sooty Falcon. Birders present were Neil Morris, Simon Tull, Gordon Saunders, Wayne Hodgkinson and I. We spent time scouring the Qatari coastline with our telescopes and binoculars to see if we could pick up any of these lovely little raptors. Our efforts finally paid dividends when we were able to record the 3rd mainland sighting of this bird, as well as come away with the what we think are the first images of the raptor taken in Qatar.
A Sooty Falcon adult doing a fly-by along the Qatari coastline
A Sooty Falcon resting up during the heat of the day
Her are a few more images of the proud parents
When I first arrived at the burrow there was still a bit of an early morning mist . I found the male perched some distance away. He was very relaxed and after giving me the once over, promptly nodded off
Early morning forty winks
He would snooze for a while and then open his eyes to check out all was still in order
Later in the morning I got this shot of the very alert female who landed back at the site after seeing off a shrike that had come too close for comfort
Here she had moved into a shady spot facing the prevailing breeze
Once more the female on full alert on top of a good look-out point at the burrow
Next up are several images of a preening session followed by some delicious head scratching all carried out on the owlet's favourite rocky perch. Finished off with a short rest.
In this sequence a left leg and wing stretch morphs into a bit of a dance and a double wing stretch before the owlet settles back on the perch all limbered up and ready to go
I went back to the second burrow again today to see if any more juveniles were to be found. Nothing to report on that front unfortunately. I did spend some time observing the owlet as it went abut its morning routines. I will load a series of images over the next dew days documenting what it got up to. I also observed the parents chase off a European Turtle Dove and an Arabian Grey shrike that ventured too close for comfort.
The owlet commences to yawn
This time it continues to keep the beak open with its head pointing downwards
After a bit of effort out pops a food pellet
The owlet watches it as it falls off the side of the look-out point
And disappears into the rocks below
That feels much better
The female on one of their favourite lookout posts early in the morning
I know I know, this breaks all the rules of image composition, but it shows the feather detail and the wear pattern well on the female owl
Here the female is hopping down off one of the look-out perches and heading into the burrow
The male having a good scratch
The male resting up out of the wind and sun
The male flew down from the thorny perch to check out if there was still some water to be had in this depression on the road near the burrow
Whilst I had been watching and recording the life of a pair of Lilith Owls who successfully raised four owlets to adulthood, I had kindly been shown the site of another burrow where it was suspected another pair of owls had also bred. Now that the first pair have successfully raised their brood I was curious to check out how the other pair were doing. When I visited the site previously I would always find one adult on sentry duty in the vicinity of the burrow. Things changed the other day, and both owls were present. There was a lot of vocalisation going on, so I suspected they were communicating with their chicks who would possibly be out of site in the rocks.
I returned again a few days later to see what I could find. I am happy to be able to report this pair have also been successful in their breeding attempt. Here are my first images of what I hope will be another opportunity to watch and record as they raise their brood.
Adult Owl. Presumed to be the male. Note marking above the eyelid
Adult Owl female. Note the extensive feather wear on head, breast and back
First owlet viewed outside of the burrow
A quick power nap
Bonding with the mother on one of the look out points at the burrow