For the first time in a long time I did not manage to record a new species this week. Nonetheless there was still something interesting to see and photograph.
My first "Large White-headed Gulls" of the Autumn. This adult above and a juvenile below. Species tbc.
They flew in together and did a few circuits before heading off again. I checked my records and I last saw large gulls here during week 6
There were two of these White-winged Terns patrolling up and down above the dams, occasionally diving down to catch small fish. This one landed on the grass to take a short break from feeding
A nice sharp image of a Grey Francolin
One of the Little Grebes that seem to have taken up residence on the dams recently
Greater Short - toed Lark
Greater Hoopoe - Lark
Pied Wheatear 1st Winter male tbc
I had not visited Al Wakrah for a while so was looking forward to what I was going to find.. Unfortunately when I got there and drove out onto the tidal flats I was asked to retire back above the high tide mark by a patrolling security/police member. It would seem that they are enforcing a no drive rule and stopping vehicles from going out onto the inter tidal zone. This is a huge disappointment as I used to drive back and forwards stopping at the pools or parking and waiting as the tide pushed the waders closer to the vehicle. Now one will have to park on the beach and wait for high tide to bring the birds within range. This reduces the time and the opportunities to capture what is on offer. On the positive side though, perhaps fewer people will now drive down to the beach because of the limited access. Fewer vehicles means fewer people, this means less movement and noise, fewer walkers and their dogs chasing all the birds away, so perhaps still a good chance to capture images. Here is what I managed by patrolling up and down along the high tide mark.
A Grey Plover in transition from breeding into winter plumage
This Dunlin still showing summer plumage
A Bar-tailed Godwit in winter plumage
This Kentish Plover is also already in winter plumage
Greater Sand Plover also sporting its winter plumage
A Broad-billed Sandpiper having already lost its very dark summer upper parts
This Sanderling is still showing most of its summer plumage
A Ruddy Turnstone also in winter colours
Here a Saunders's Tern in autumn plumage including the dark bill and more white appearing on the head
Every now and then I am lucky enough to capture an image of a bird in the act of feeding. Here is a selection of some recent shots which make for some interesting viewing.
A Purple Heron having just caught a Field Mouse
A juvenile Montagu's Harrier busy devouring a Field Mouse
A Yellow Wagtail with a rather large Moth
An Indian Reed Warbler with a Grasshopper
A Curlew Sandpiper with a juicy green Caterpillar
A White-eared Bulbul enjoying the ripe fruit of a Cactus
A Cattle Egret having speared a Frog
A Grey morph Western Reef Heron having successfully speared a tiny Fish
Here a Grey Francolin is busy pecking at a ripe Date
This Blue-cheeked Bee-eater has caught a Locust
There are many Harriers present at the moment. Here are some comparative images of what is to be seen
Juvenile Montagu's Harrier tbc
Juvenile Female Pallid Harrier tbc
Female Western Marsh Harrier
Male Western Marsh Harrier tbc
I came across a large party of migrating Yellow Wagtails feeding in a recently cut lucerne field. They were all business, darting backwards and forwards catching small insects as they replenished their reserves for the next leg of their journey. This bird hit the jackpot and landed this rather large moth.
Breakfast in the bag, but how do I swallow this beast?
Well a couple of bangs on the deck to stun it would help for starters
Now let me remove the head, which I am not really wild about
The wings will also get in the way so lets get rid of those
Finally let me swallow this thing and get on my merry way
Another productive visit as we head into the Autumn migration period. 4 new ticks for the patch. These included a Common Moorhen, a Common Quail, a Common Ringed Plover and a European Turtle Dove. This brings the site total up to 91 species. I managed to tick 37 species during the visit which is the highest weekly count since I began recording.
Common Ringed Plover
A single European Turtle Dove, seen in the company of some Eurasian Collared Doves
An Ortolan Bunting. One of two birds seen. I last recorded these birds here in Week 10 (April)
Little Grebe. A few of these seem to have settled on one of the ponds recently
A Yellow Wagtail with a juicy snack
A Lesser Sand Plover
Four of these birds have spent the last week at the local patch. Unfortunately all the birds are in their Autumn plumage so no colourful image of a Drake to be had. They are very shy and explode into flight for the slightest of reasons. Luckily they do an aerial loop and then settle back on the ponds again. I sat quietly and after some time they relaxed and went about their business. I was then able to capture some of their daily routine.
A bird glides by giving me the beady eye
Surface skimming, or dabbling, their preferred feeding method
Here one of the ducks upends to feed. This is apparently not common in Garganey's, so an interesting piece of behaviour to witness
Two of the ducks sorting out their "pecking" order
After some feeding and fighting it was time to climb out onto the rocks for some sunning and preening
A B.I.F. image showing the bold white wing bars
I spent a morning out in the field with Barry Corless, a keen birder from Manchester, England. He wanted to connect with a few of Qatar's species whilst out here on business. Connect he did, 15 lifers in 4 hours.
Steppe Grey Shrike. My first Autumn sighting of this species
Female Namaqua Dove
Male Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark
Daurian Shrike juvenile tbc. My first Autumn sighting of this species
Greater Short-toed Lark. There seem to be quite a few of them around at the moment
Lesser Kestrel in early morning light
My first sighting of a Female Desert Wheatear this Autumn
Other species included: Arabian Grey Shrike, Barn Swallow, European Roller, Red-wattled Lapwing, Crested Lark, Ferruginous Duck, Black-winged Stilt, Grey Francolin, Spotted Flycatcher, Collared Pratincole, Grey Heron, Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck, Yellow Wagtail, Sand Martin, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Lilith Owl, Common Moorhen, White-eared Bulbul and the rest.
I had the pleasure of spending a morning with Rudy and Theuns Erasmus and Johan De Vries, showing them some of what was to be had locally. As per usual it was an early morning start to get in a few hours before the mercury levels got too high. Luckily the friendly Lilith Owl obliged and posed nicely on a lookout rock for its portrait to be taken. Rudy who had seen this species in Abu Dhabi previously commented on how much paler in colour this bird was.There were many Harriers quartering over the fields, their numbers having increased all of a sudden. Another good sighting was a single Ferruginous Duck on one of the irrigation storage dams. I have seen several of these here over the last weeks and I suspect they are dispersing from Abu Nakhla ponds, where water levels are very low at present. I don't usually go to the farm on a Friday and I was quite pleasantly surprised at how many other photographers we came across, all out there trying for award winning images. Rudy managed to capture pics of the European Hoopoe so as to be able to compare it with its African cousin when he gets back home. Whilst we were stopped to stretch our legs and have a snack a very tame Arabian Shrike flew in and landed on the top of the open door of our vehicle. It sat there for a minute or two before heading off again on search of its own grub. We paid a visit to the ponds on the way back to town. There were large numbers of Grey Herons, Ducks, Great Crested Grebes, Western Reef Herons, Greater Flamingos, Glossy Ibis and the like. The highlight for me were three Avocet that were also present.
Arabian Grey Shrike
Abu Nakhla Ponds showing the much lower water level. The islands that are appearing as a result have created safe resting zones for the bird life