Over the last few weeks I have had some fleeting glances of an adult Black-crowned Night Heron at a pond it frequents at the local patch. I have managed a few B.I.F. shots as it departs after I disturb it on arrival.(see post of 22/06/2016) This week for some reason it was more relaxed and continued with some feeding along the edge of the pond so I was able to capture a few images
An adult bird in breeding plumage complete with streamers
There is a spot where these Nightjars frequent to lie up during the daylight hours. Gavin kindly took me to show me where it was and to guide me onto the birds as they rested up. We went there in the afternoon as the wind had been howling most of the day and the conditions were not ideal. We found the birds mostly in the lee of bushes, I presume sheltering from the wind, until closer to sunset, when the wind and temperature started to drop and they began to get active. When disturbed they do not fly far before settling again which was fortunate for us to be able to get some good images. This is another new species for my Qatar list
In summer, much like all the expats who have left to avoid the heat, the migratory bird numbers are also down and it is mostly only the residents to be seen
Black-crowned Night Heron
This male Mallard looks like a new arrival. Notice the fully curling tail feathers. I have not seen that on the other males here.
Great Cormorant drying out on the rocks
The Glossy Ibis is a passage migrant and winter visitor to Qatar. The literature says there is a possibility of one or two individuals staying over the summer. Recently I have seen a small number of these birds, possibly these have decided to spend the summer here.
To add to this I came across a single African Sacred Ibis in the company of some Grey Herons the other morning as well. These birds are listed as feral in the Arabian Gulf. That is to say they were introduced at some point and are now breeding and surviving in the wild. This is another new species for my Qatar list
A B.I.F. shot of a Glossy Ibis
A Sacred Ibis in the company of Grey Herons at an overnight roosting site
It looks like a juvenile bird given the amount of feathering on the neck
A B.I.F shot
I have come across these reptiles before but never one in such brilliant display mode. Here both the head/throat is deep blue and the tail orange
See two earlier posts on the breeding attempt of this pair of birds. When I arrived at the nest site hoping to see a parent, possibly the male incubating the eggs, my anticipation soon turned to disappointment when I realised something was not as it should be. The nest did not look intact at all. When I got up close I could see that the front section had been pulled out, the nest cup lining had been removed and the eggs were no longer there. Obviously a predator of some description had raided the nest and made a meal out of the eggs. The male bird was still to be seen and heard flying overhead so I presume that this was a recent event. I wonder what emptied out the nest. A feral cat, a fox or possibly a monitor?
I came across this Sand Viper the other morning. It has lovely light brown skin with darker brown markings and a distinctive dark stripe through the eye. It is a rather thick snake much like the Puff Adder I know from South Africa. It had a nice set of "horns" over the eyes. You can see the side winding movement it usually employs on the sand being used here as it moved across the track and into the vegetation. This is another first for my reptile records in Qatar
I posted an entry on the 23/5 showing an adult feeding a juvenile bird. Once again I have observed this behaviour. What was interesting today is that a large locust was the prey item caught and I watched how the parent dismantled it to make it easy for the juvenile to ingest the nutritious thorax and abdomen portion
Parent with neutralised locust
It commences to remove the wings and legs
It held either a wing or a leg in its beak and then slammed the insect into the ground using the force to dislodge the appendage. This was done several times until the legs and wings were all removed
Here the final wing is being dislodged
All that remains is the head thorax and abdomen
A quick grip on the head and a twist to separate the two pieces
The juicy piece is then offered to the juvenile who has been in close attendance throughout the preparation proceedure
After several gulps the food disappears down the gullet as the parent watches from close at hand
I was fortunate to observe this Squacco Heron fishing in shallow water. It poised motionless on the reed waiting for the fish to come into range, before spearing and ingesting them. The bird repeated the set up six times and managed to catch five fish. I would have it on my team any day of the week
Perched on the submerged reed it waits absolutely motionless for a fish to come into range
It explodes into action, thrusting its beak into the water and spears a fish. Note the nictitating membrane in use over the eye
It recoils with the prey firmly caught in its beak. The membrane is still in use
It continues the process of reeling its catch in
It begins to manipulate the fish for ingestion
The fish rapidly disappears down the hatch
A week after coming across the nest I returned to see what I would find at the site. So far things seem to be progressing nicely.
Nest with three eggs
Female incubating the eggs
Female leaving the nest
Male on stand-by in close proximity to the nest
Having done some reading up on the breeding habits of these birds this is what I have learnt. 2 - 3 eggs are laid and are incubated by both parents. Eggs hatch after 11 - 14 days and both parents take turns to feed the young although the female is more active. Young leave the nest after eight days. Each parent cares for a single chick, so only two young per brood will potentially survive. This is known as split brood care.