After observing this Eagle the other day I surfed the net to learn more about this species. Here is some of what I found.
Greater Spotted Eagle
Distribution map: Green shading represents the Summer breeding range. Blue shading represents the Winter range. Source Wikipedia.
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My first sighting of Eurasian Curlew out on the farm. There was a small flock of 6 birds feeding in one of the recently planted fields
Here a male European Stonechat does some tail flicking as it uses this perch from which to hawk insects
A Steppe Grey Shrike was also hawking insects from this thorny perch
Indian Silverbills are hard to photograph as they are constantly moving in the tall grass as they feed. After many attempts I managed to secure this image of one feeding on a seed head
Whilst I was watching the Silverbills this male House Sparrow joined the feeding party
A single Green Sandpiper dropped in out of the blue, gave me a quick once over and then started feeding
I returned to the farm to see if the Greater Spotted Eagle was still around and to see if I could re-connect with and photograph the Black-winged Kite. Sadly both seemed to have moved on, but there were still some other raptors on hand
Female Montagu's Harrier
Female Pallid Harrier by way of comparison
Female Western Marsh Harrier seen here in soft early morning light
Female Western Marsh Harrier on take-off
Here a Common Kestrel perches rather awkwardly on this stick, but it provides a nice OOF background for the shot
The other day we had some overcast weather with a few light showers. Enough to muddy the roads and dirty all the vehicles. The ducks at the local patch enjoyed the conditions and put on a good showing at one of the ponds
The Greater White-fronted Geese are still present. Here one dries off after a swim in the pond
Note the white front (forehead) developing in this juvenile bird.
I learnt something new. Geese also dabble
There were two pairs of Egyptian Geese strutting backwards and forwards. The original pair were not happy and kept chasing the new arrivals off
Here the resident Mallard male dries out on a rock
New to the pond was this Eurasian Teal
This Northern Pintail male duck was also seen for the first time. Perhaps it is a juvenile male as the chocolate colouring on the head and neck are not complete and the vertical white line on the neck is not fully formed. Any comments?
There were also a party of four Little Grebes on the water. They were extremely shy and kept their distance
A few images of some less colourful, but still wonderful little birds
Tawny Pipit. A passage migrant and winter visitor
Water Pipit. A fairly common winter visitor. The black legs and streaking on the under parts are the main features that differentiate these two Pipit species
Isabelline Wheatear. A very common and widespread passage migrant and winter visitor
Lesser Short-toed Lark. A uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor.
Corn Bunting. A breeding resident. Very cryptic as it forages for seed in amongst some straw
There were many birders out on the farm this weekend. We were treated to some great raptor viewing. The highlights for me were the Greater Spotted Eagle and the Black-winged Kite. In South Africa we call it the Black-shouldered Kite. Unfortunately I did not manage to get an image of the bird, but it was great to see it all the same. The Eagle obliged by perching on the overhead centre pivot irrigation pipeline so it was well photographed by all. Others that I managed to connect with included a male Marsh Harrier, the resident Lilith Owls, and a Common Kestrel. I also came across a Harrier with pieces of red cloth tied to its legs. I don't know if this bird had been previously been captured and has now escaped.
Adult Greater Spotted Eagle
Greater Spotted Eagle busy carrying out some tail preening
Male Western Marsh Harrier
Male Western Marsh Harrier on take-off, showing the tri-coloured wings
Patrolling female Western Marsh Harrier
A pair of resident Lilith Owls
Harrier with pieces of red cloth tied to the legs
Earlier this week I photographed a raptor, the image of which I passed around for other opinions. The consensus was that it was a Crested Honey Buzzard. I submitted the images for adjudication by the QRBC and here are their findings. They called upon the help of Dick Forsman Finnish Ornithologist and Author of Reptiles of Europe and the Middle East, a world leading authority on raptors.
His comments: The bird is a tricky case and I can't identify it. There is nothing that rules out European Honey Buzzard, even less that excludes a hybrid. On the contrary the structure of the bird's bill and legs are in favour of apivorus, so could well be a hybrid. Female EHB often have this kind of dark moustache, which is not the same as the full gorget in most CHB.
So in the end the identity is not determinable, but either a EHB or a hybrid EHB/CHB
If that wasn't enough, I also was lucky to see and photograph six juvenile White-fronted Geese. Speaking to other birders in the Middle East it would seem that there has been an influx of juvenile birds into the region recently with sightings in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and now here in Qatar. Very sadly the geese in Kuwait were subsequently shot and killed.
Juvenile White-fronted Goose
Juvenile White-fronted Goose
Juvenile White-fronted Goose
When I was living in Kuwait in November of 2009 I was also fortunate enough to see and photograph this species in that country as well.
Qatar Bird Records Committee (QBRC) recently announced that Richard Porter has been appointed as its inaugural Honorary President.
Richard has been one of the most passionate and active advocates of bird conservation and protection in Europe and the Middle East over the last 50 years. Richard is co-author of the definitive Birds of the Middle East, the first edition of which was translated into Arabic. A founder of the Ornithological Society of Turkey and OSME, Richard has been an adviser to Nature Iraq and continues to advise Birdlife International on their Middle East programme. Currently he is involved with conservation research and education projects in Iraqi Kurdistan, the highlands of Yemen and on Socotra.
Approval of draft law proposed by the Environment Minister declaring Irkaya Farm as a protected area.
The Qatar Government's Cabinet of Ministers has formally approved the protection of Irkaya Farm as a site of exceptional biodiversity in Qatar. Once drafted into legislation this will mean that all forms of hunting will be banned on the site. Moreover an active programme of conservation, habitat development and management, as well as research and education will get underway.
Source: Neil Morris QBRC
At another stretch of the beach I came across this pale phase Western Reef Heron also trying its hand at fishing. It was stalking in slightly deeper, frothy water, and as it turned out, with less success
First the one way along the beach
Then an about turn and back to where it had just come from
A rapid but unsuccessful strike
I came across this dark phase Western Reef Heron patrolling along the coast line in search of fish.
It flew in and landed at a likely looking spot on the coastline to do some fishing
It patrolled through the surf keeping a look out for the small fish that swim into the shallows
It paused to fluff out its feathers before continuing on its mission
Unfortunately I missed the strike but at least captured the outcome
Ready for the next move