Monday, 20 April 2015

Earlier Start and a little Surprise.

On Saturday April 11th I headed back to Al Hayer for a look to see what has been happening since I was last there.  Thankfully the flooding had abated somewhat so I was able to get in to the fields a bit more, but that said the crop was pretty high and for a large part of the lower field it ran right up to the flood waters so I struggled wading through the thick foliage.  Bloody exhausting work if truth be known lol.  Anyway it was a nice day and as always I enjoyed it.

laughing dove (Stigmatopelia senegalensis)
It was an early start again arriving around 6:15 and an early morning sighting was this very handsome Laughing Dove.  Now these are by no means rare around here with literally hundreds of them all over the place but I just thought this guy was particularly nice looking with his fluffed up breast.

common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Doing its usual skip across the lake was the only Moorhen I caught sight of for the day, it was moving pretty fast when I took the photo.  There were at least a dozen about in the lake but they could really only be heard as they had spotted me long before I did them.

White-cheeked Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucogenys)
The White Cheeked Bulbul were out in force again as ever, though they are all a little preoccupied at the moment as many have young to feed.

streaked weaver (Ploceus manyar)
and as always the Streaked Weavers were all over the bushes and reeds.  this is Mr.

streaked weaver (Ploceus manyar)
And this pretty thing is Mrs.

graceful prinia (Prinia gracilis)
The Graceful Prinia were also out in good numbers with one to be seen about every 10 to 15 meters.  They are also very active at the moment and I think they also have young to raise.  Oddly enough a little further on I came across a nest in the field (well nearly stood on it in the thick grassy foliage).  This had two tiny redish brown eggs soaked from the sprayer passing over.  I have no idea what they were but in conversation with my friend Rob Tovey we came to the conclusion that they might be Graceful Prinia, but it is something I need to follow up when I get back to my research books.

desert finch (Rhodospiza obsoleta)
Ok this is what I believe is referred to as a record shot but as its all I could get on the day its all I can show.  The little flash of pink yells out Desert Finch which are clearly still around the area.  In this instance there was a pair of these, though a lot more shy than last time I saw this species a couple of weeks ago.
house sparrow (Passer domesticus)
The Sparrows were out if good numbers, either in smallish groups of the House Sparrow or
Spanish sparrow or willow sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

in fairly large flocks of the Spanish Sparrow.  This guy got his feathers a little ruffled by something,

Spanish sparrow or willow sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)
while his neighbour was very much more sleek and refined in his presentation.  These were very concentrated in the trees and formed into small foraging flocks out in the fields.

 whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
This guy watched me very closely as I waded through the long grass.  I was never able to get a clear side on shot but I think from the facial pattern and breast that it is a Windchat.

black scrub-robin (Cercotrichas podobe)
This Black Scrub Robin and his partner can be found almost on demand beside an old felled bush close by a farm hands shed on the farmhouse side of the river. The area is currently alive with large numbers of Barn Swallow, Laughing Dove, Sparrows and the odd Myna.

This was a very quick shot of one of the reed warblers but as yet I have to work out which one.

Many birds have no trouble getting food at the moment around this area as the nearby cattle pen attracts large swarms of flys which are everywhere.
barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
of course also attracts my bird of the month, the breeding Barn Swallow.  This week there were a good number of the local birds about and a few were still tending nests but there was also a mini influx of visitors perched on wires all around the area.  I thought this a little strange as I expected they would be well north by now, but what do I know eh!

Barn Swallow Update.

The surprise of the day comes here.  I knew the bird below and its partner had bred late and were probably young birds from the previous year, so finding their nest with 3 eggs and one very recently hatched chick was a delight. (by the way the pic is one of the two birds but perched on a nearby nest).  Anyway, I knew they were breeding a little behind time compared with the others.  However. another nest, which had eggs in it almost since February, and which I though had been abandoned, suddenly popped back to life and had now a healthy batch of chicks, delayed incubation in action for some reason?

barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
The real surprise came when I looked at the photos of two of the other nests which had already had a brood.  In two of these there were new eggs, meaning that they had probably had a second brood.  This is really exciting as we had been here at this time of year in 2014 and saw nothing but empty nests. Exciting times indeed.  I will be doing a full analysis of my findings from the site in a document which I will make available to anyone who wants it a little later in the year.


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