The heat and humidity continued as I visited the farm to see what was on offer today. There were a couple of migrants as well as some of the usual suspects
Here a European Roller perches on an overhead line keeping and eye out for the large grasshoppers that are everywhere at the moment. This one was more accommodating than the one that only allowed me a fleeting glance at the local patch the other day
I found this Whiskered Tern still showing most of its mask and dark grey breast and flanks. It was quartering back and forth over one of the storage dams in search of tasty morsels to dive bomb
As I was trying to capture BIF images of the Tern this Western Reef Heron came into land amongst the nearby reed beds
This male Namaqua Dove posed nicely on top of this mound to allow me to capture this image
A day or perching on top of mounds. Here a Greater Hoopoe-Lark does the same thing, to offer me a desired OOF background for this shot
This Lilith Owl was employing the complete range of cooling tactics to combat the conditions. It was perched in the shadow of a large rock, holding its wings open to allow the breeze access to its body and gular fluttering all at the same time. Smart bird. Imagine how I felt sitting motionless in a vehicle with the engine off (read no aircon) to reduce any vibration on the camera and lens.
Don't mess with me!!! A large Dhub surveys its territory
Other species included: Barn Swallow, Sand Martin, Crested lark, Black-winged Stilt, Common Sandpiper, Common Moorhen, Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Isabelline Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Grey Francolin, Eurasian Hoopoe and the rest.
It was good to be back in the local patch again this morning after not visiting it last week as I was traveling. Humidity levels continue to remain high. I managed to record 29 species today of which the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater is a new addition to the tally. My total species count for the patch now rises to 83.
Adult Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
A juvenile Blue-cheeked Bee-eater with breakfast
A Grey Wagtail. Last recorded here during week 8. Also seen today were a few Yellow Wagtails (week 16) and a single White Wagtail (week 9)
A Common Greenshank shortly after take-off
A Black-winged Stilt busy feeding in the shallows
An Isabelline Wheatear. Last seen here during week 10
A Graceful Prinia
Last but not least, another image of the Western Reef Heron which has been present for some time now, seen here successfully spearing a small fish
Other species included: Mallard, Little Ringed Plover, Whimbrel, Curlew, Little Stint, Common Sandpiper, Little Tern, Crested Lark, Eurasian Hoopoe, Barn Swallow, Indian Silverbill, Grey Francolin, White-eared Bulbul, Common Redshank (week 10) Green Sandpiper, Little Egret (week 8) and the rest
Previously I have posted a sequence where I showed a juvenile Lilith Owl regurgitating a pellet.(See post: Back at the burrow of 8/06/2014). Here is a sequence of five images showing a Shrike doing the same thing
I drove out to the farm early this morning. En route a heavy mist descended over everything. Driving on the highway was slow with everybody flicking their hazard lights as a safety precaution. Once at the farm it remained misty and wet for about two hours before the sun started to burn it off. The humidity was sky high which left me soaked through with sweat
A Bluethroat showing lovely colour. According to the literature these birds are winter visitors due here in November. The early bird gets the worm. Note all the moisture on the grass.
Here a Steppe Grey Shrike sits on its favourite perch with wings fluffed out in an attempt to dry out
Male Spanish Sparrow. There are large flocks of these birds present at the farm
Isabelline Wheatear. A common passage migrant and winter visitor. Again an early arrival as they are expected in October. The image is slightly OOF but it is a lovely action shot
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin in classic pose with its tail cocked
A juvenile Namaqua Dove
It wasn't so hot this morning but it was quite humid. I managed to record 19 species today. Nothing new to add to the all time list, but a few migrants were on offer.
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops). I recorded this species last week but did not manage to get an image. Today I was lucky enough to capture a bird with a fully raised crest.
For comparative purposes I include an image of an African Hoopoe (Upupa africana) that I took on the lawn of our home in Johannesburg, South Africa in September 2011. The African bird has a richer colour, less grey on the back and no white in the crest
I watched as it used its beak to excavate into the soil to expose and despatch beetles. Note how well it blends with the leaf litter in the background
Barn Swallow. Last recorded here during week 14 (May) Likely to be a juvenile given the lighter reddish buff forehead and throat as well as the relatively short tail-streamers
Common Greenshank. A single bird was present today. Last recorded here in week 11 (April)
Whimbrel. There were several birds present today.
There was also a single Eurasian Curlew. With the two species in a similar pose comparisons can be made. The Whimbrel is smaller, darker, has a shorter bill and a dark brown crown as compared to the Curlew
A Green Sandpiper in the soft early morning light
Other species: Arabian Grey Shrike, Grey Francolin, Little Stint, Little Tern, Western Reef Heron, Graceful Prinia, Laughing Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Myna, White-eared Bulbul and House Sparrow
Whilst trying my hand at B.I.F. shots I also managed to capture some other birds going about their business
A magnificent Squacco Heron in full breeding plumage
Black-crowned Night Heron busy nest building
Indian Reed Warbler
Little Bittern juvenile standing motionless at the waters edge
A fleeting glimpse of a Ruppell's Sand Fox before it disappears into thick cover. Only my second sighting of this species
The other morning I visited Abu Nakhla ponds. I spent some time out of the vehicle trying to track and lock onto birds on the wing handholding my "doorstop" lens . Here are some of the more successful results.
An Adult Black-crowned Night Heron banks on approach as it returns with nesting material
A juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron
Greater Flamingos just after take off
There was not much on offer today so I decided to sit near a freshwater pond and see what would unfold
I had seen this Whimbrel on my look around earlier. It had been a bit skittish and not allowed me too close. I was pleased therefore when all of a sudden it did a fly-by over the pond
There were two Western Reef Herons working the edges. This dark phase adult complete with plumes seen here taking a rest from feeding
And here walking in the shallows picking off whatever came within range. Mainly tiny fish but also any dragon-flies that ventured within striking distance
Also present was this lighter coloured individual that I think is a juvenile dark phase Western Reef Heron. Note the lack of plumes in this bird.
There was a constant stream of Eurasian Collared Doves that perched on a prominent look-out branch on top of a nearby bush. When the coast was clear they would fly down onto the rocks and hurriedly drink before flying off in a rapid burst of wingbeats
There was also a single Little/Saunder's Tern flying back and forth over the pond and occasionally dive bombing small fish swimming close to the surface.
Try as I might I just could not capture this hovering action with the Tern side on
The resident Mallard type Drake caught what looks like a baby Red-eared Slider Terrapin? It took plenty of "chewing" before it went down the hatch
Steppe Grey Shrike tbc perched on top of its look-out bush
Common Quail. You often hear them calling from the cover of the irrigated pastures. I have only seen a couple of them out in the open like this
A smart looking male Namaqua Dove
A male Montagu's Harrier flying overhead
Juvenile Black-winged Stilt
Adult Black-winged Stilt
A male Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark
Last but not least, another image of a Lilith Owl. I think this is one from the pair that earlier raised the four owlets successfully. I came across this bird close to where they previously had their burrow
Other species included: Grey Francolin, Crested Lark, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Red-wattled Lapwing, Barn Swallow, Laughing Dove, European Turtle Dove and the rest.
I was very fortunate to be invited on-board a fishing trip into the bay recently. There was a fairly stiff breeze blowing which pushed up bit of a swell. Keeping my lens steady and on subject was therefore a challenge. Next time I will use a lighter lens.
We spent some time fishing near a buoy which marks the edge of the deep water shipping channel. It was a handy perching post for Terns (Bridled and White-cheeked) as well as Socotra Cormorants.
Juvenile Bridled Tern
Juvenile Socotra Cormorant. This bird spent some time chasing the lures under the water as they were being reeled in towards the boat. It would dip its head under the surface, locate the lure and then chase it with incredible speed and manoeuvrability.