I was fortunate enough to get good visuals of an Osprey fishing at the new ponds adjacent to Irkaya farm today. This is a new tick for my Irkaya list even though I have previously seen Ospreys at various other locations around the country.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Here are a few images from various locations of some recent duck sightings
A Northern Pintail female (Anas acuta)
A Garganey (Anas querquedula) basking in the sun
A wary Ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca) keeps an eye on me
The resident Mallard Drake (Anas platyrhnchos)
A Mallard cross-bred
A Mallard female
I was very fortunate to be alerted by Corey Finn to the presence of a Swan the other morning. I rushed over to have a look and managed to get a couple of images before it departed. The bird has been identified as a Mute Swan. I have been asking around the birding community of the Middle East for a possible explanation behind such a sighting. The consensus is that it is in all likelihood an escapee bird. Nevertheless it is a very interesting record and certainly got the adrenalin flowing. Here are some of the accepted records that I have received from around the region.
Jem Babbington from Saudi Arabia told me they have on record a Whooper Swan sighting as well as a couple of Mute Swan records but the latter were deemed to be escapees.
Mike Pope from Kuwait told me they have a vagrant Mute Swan record dated November 1997 from Jahra Pool Reserve.
Mark Smiles from U.A.E also kindly supplied the following information. They have 4 records of vagrant Mute Swans. One adult and two immature birds from Abu Dhabi in December 1984, six birds ( 2 groups of 3) flying near Bahrain Island in December 1993, two birds from Abu Dhabi Eastern Lagoon in October 2000 and three immature birds at Al Warsan Lakes between December 2002 and March 2003.
They also have some information on releases. A pair nesting at Sir Bani Yas April 1989 with four birds present July - September 1989, a flock of up to nineteen birds in Abu Dhabi Al Reem Island and Eastern Lagoon May 2008 - May 2009, one bird at the International Media Production Zone March 2010, two birds at the Jumeirah Golf Estate June 2010, and six birds in the Saih al Salam Desert Reserve 2013 - 2014.
The Qatar Birding Rarities Committee (QBRC) has one record of two adult Whooper Swans that were seen at Abu Nakhla and Irkayya Farm in February 2008.
Does anybody have any knowledge of any Captive Swans in Qatar? If so please post a comment on the blog or contact me by e-mail
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Graceful curve to long neck with bill often pointing down
There is a bit of a buzz now. More and more birders are posting their Autumn sightings and the numbers are on the increase. Below are some first migrant sightings for me from the farm this week
Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Mallard Duck (Anas platyrhynchos)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)
On the farm the other day I came across a bird I had not previously recorded here. Sadly it was not alive. Looking at it I don't think it was a hunting casualty but rather that it had died of natural causes. They are denoted as scarce on the Qatar bird list so it would have been great to see this as a live bird. Hopefully this will happen on another day. It made me think about how many birds must perish on their long and arduous migrations every year. But these casualties must be small compared to the benefits the age old migrations afford to the bird populations
Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)
The other day (13/09) Deepak reported seeing a Wryneck on the left as you enter the farm. I have only seen one of these birds here previously, and that was back in September 2013. So I thought I must make a concentrated effort to connect with this bird. As I arrived I turned left and was about to park the vehicle so I could walk through the rows of trees to try and locate it when some movement on the ground caught my eye. Blow me down if it wasn't a Wryneck feeding on the deck
Whilst they are normally seen in trees where they collect ants here it is on the ground on the lookout for something to eat
Note the flying particles of sand where the bird had flicked the ground with its beak to unearth some ants
I then continued around the farm, birding for a couple of hours. When I was approaching the gate from the other side I came across a Wryneck along the fence line. It may have been the same bird, never the less it was all action on the Wrynecks today
A passage migrant, it is the only member of the Woodpecker family to be found in Qatar
Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
A very well camouflaged European Nightjar sitting quietly on a tree stump. I last saw this species in October 2013
A Garganey. One of two birds seen. I last saw this species in November 2014
The Heron was still in attendance when I was back at the small dam again this week. It was stalking the small fish in the shallow waters. This time I was successful in capturing an image just as it had managed to spear one.
Poised and ready to strike
Success at last
I was also fortunate enough to get a couple of B.I.F shots that I am particularly pleased with
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
A Whimbrel pauses to give me the once over
A Bar-tailed Godwit still in lovely summer plumage
A Common Redshank in winter plumage
A Ruddy Turnstone transitioning into winter plumage
A Terek Sandpiper in summer plumage
A Terek Sandpiper in winter plumage. Dark shoulder bar absent and leg colour paler
I made a trip to Al Wakra beach to coincide with a high tide to see what would be present. I haven't been there for quite some time after I was stopped from driving out onto the inter tidal zone a few months ago. Since my last visit the nearby Souk has opened, the pile of building sand at the southern end of the beach has become massive, and sadly there is some pollution evident as the sea laps up onto the beach. Having said all that, the birds were still there going about their business. In this post I will show the small waders I found and then I will include the larger birds in the next post
Lesser Sand Plover
Greater Sand Plover
A Common Ringed Plover still in summer plumage
A Sanderling in winter plumage
A Dunlin still showing some of the summer black belly patch. Note the green/grey look to the polluted sea in the background
A Broad-billed Sandpiper in worn summer plumage