Sunday, 14 June 2015

The furnace at Al Hayer

Finally getting back out birding after a few weeks of turmoil with messed up travel plans and cancelled flights. 

I decided on the title for today for two reasons, the first being the fierce temperatures we are having at the moment which are running between 42 and 46°C.  The second reason is that on my walk I noticed that the entire lower half of the reed bed beyond the lower field, almost for half a mile to the south had been burned out over the past few weeks.  You may notice there are one or two more photos of warblers than usual and it is mainly due to this fire that this is so, y0u normally can't see them in the dense reeds.

black scrub-robin (Cercotrichas podobe)
The Black Scrub Robins were out to play today, there being about 8 or ten of them around the area today.

white-eared bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis)

As always my route was monitored by the ever present White Eared Bulbul which were everywhere and along with the Laughing Dove, announced my arrival in the area to the rest of the population.  I think the Bulbuls are just naturally curious birds, the Laughing Doves are naturally very wary around the area as they are constantly being shot at by trigger happy locals.

mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

A small flock of 12 Mallard were around the area today and made a number of short flights while I was there.  I was not able to get close to where they were on the river so some slightly fuzzy shots is all I got of them in the air.
purple heron (Ardea purpurea)

There were also a good number of Purple Heron about today, I spotted 6 or 7 but again never got a shot of one on the ground.

grey heron (Ardea cinerea),
grey heron (Ardea cinerea),

I spotted two Grey Heron today at different ends of my walk, as it happens these photos are of the second one as the other was in the reeds and I could not get a good photo.  Its nice to see these guys again as I have not seen them for the last few visits.

streaked weaver (Ploceus manyar)

The Streaked Weavers were out in force also with this fine male making lots of noise.  These are among the loudest of the birds around along with the Graceful Prinia who are constantly calling in the bushes.

Eurasian collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

There were quite a few Laughing Dove around and about 7 or 8 Namaqua Dove flew over while I was there but the Eurasian Collared Dove shown above was the only one of these guys I saw all day, I am sure there were more about in the fields.
crested lark (Galerida cristata)
The Crested Lark were about in quite large numbers today, I really can't remember seeing quite so many of these before.  They are a constant around the area but usually spread quite evenly around, today there were probably over 25 of them and were just about everywhere.

spur-winged lapwing or spur-winged plover (Vanellus spinosus)
The Spur Winged Lapwing (or Plover) was busy in the recently tilled fields today gathering bugs.  There are usually a couple about at this time of year but I only saw this one today.

 little green bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
The Little Green Bee Eaters were all looking a little drab today, missing most of their usual iridescent colouring, I expect they were all juvenile.


There were quite a few warblers about today, although, as I mentioned in my introduction, it may have just been that they were more visible than usual due to the loss of cover caused by the fire.  My ID skills fall down badly with this group so will be seeking help but show the pictures for now.




Barn Swallow News

I spotted a couple of Barn Swallow feeding out in the fields but then when I was returning to the car I spotted about 15 others feeding in a small area along the river.  They were swooping along a short stretch of the river by the bridge and managed to sweep under the bridge with great ease.  I returned to the nest site where I spent a good deal of time over the past few months and found that it was all but abandoned by the Swallows.  However, there was evidence that House Sparrows and at least one other Laughing dove had taken up residence in the Swallow nests adding twigs to the top to make the nest more to their liking.  The one nest which I had witnessed being built from scratch earlier in the year and which was used is basic cup form to raise a brood had now been added to significantly with the sides being built up quite a lot.  I wonder if it is being used by some other bird or if this is something the Swallows do.  The nest itself was empty.

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