Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Al Hayer 1-1-16

First trip out to the old patch in the new year proved to be an interesting outing.  As ever I was accompanied by a few White Cheeked Bulbul for most of the walk along the reeds.  In many places the river is still pretty high so some largish detours were needed at times but it did bring in some interesting birds.

As always the White Cheeked Bulbul were everywhere to be seen.  In reality there were not that many of them but they seem to follow you as you walk along.

A slightly more unusual sighting this week is the Masked Shrike, even more unusual was the sighting of a second one close by.  This is the 3rd or 4th time I have seen these in the same bush this winter, I am beginning to wonder if maybe they might like to pair up.  Of course I am assuming they are a pair, did not get a good look at the second one so not sure of its sex.  You can be sure I will be spending a lot more time there in the next few weeks just in case.

Close by the Laughing Dove above landed.  Not sure if it was the angle of the sun or a camera trick but looking a bit flushed lol.

This is not a brilliant shot but as I rounded the corner and entered the field there was a patch of marshy ground.  I spotted 25 or more Black Winged Stilt feeding in the mud, plus one Squacco heron sneaking away into the background.  I did try to get closer but they spotted me and departed.

In the same piece of marsh were a collection of 22 Snipe also feeding. They did their little hiding in the grass tricks before also flying off.  Later when I was further down the road I saw some come back, one of these days I'll get a portable hide and wait for them.

One bird which bizarrely did stay put a lot longer is this Little Egret.  It could clearly see me yet let me get quite close.  Its a lot of fun when a bird lets you get close.  Feels like its trusting you... which of course its not!!  Flew off moments later!

I had to return to the road to get around a flooded area and there was a familiar racket above my head.  There were 25 to 30 Common Myna flying to and from the power cables overhead.

A very distant shot this one but all I could get of the Osprey.  I was down here a couple of weeks ago and there were two of these feeding in the swollen river, today only one that I saw and he was very wary.

Out in the field taking advantage of a fast growing flower was a Stonechat.  He used this flower as a base to scan the surrounding area of low grass, making the odd dart into the sky to catch prey before returning.

While standing by the sprinkler I observed a Grey Heron fly past and then take a broad gliding circle around me before landing in the swollen river.  He stopped there for a few moments before spotting me and flying off again.  Was great to watch mastery of flight though, on his approach to this spot he glides about half a meter off the surface of the water for about 10 or 15 meters before pulling up to make a perfect landing.

While watching the Grey Heron I heard a familiar cry behind me and turned to see the White Throated Kingfisher perched on the arm of the sprinkler.

Then on the clay bank behind where the Grey Heron had been was a very big Little Egret.  It was a little difficult to judge the height but looked as big as the Grey.  

Crossing over the road that runs between the lower field and the upper ones I spotted a small flock of 10 to 12 Spur Winged Lapwing.  A flock of about 20 of these had flown over some time earlier so I expect the others had found somewhere else to land.

All over, as always, were the Graceful Prinia.  Probably the noisiest of all the birds in the area, certainly relative to their size.  They are only slightly larger than a Wren but have the voice of a giant.  

On the other side of the pond a small flock of 10 to 15 Desert Finch were happily feeding on some seeds that were scattered about on the ground.  I have never seen this many of these guys around before, they normally show up in 1's or 2's.

A tiny bit further along this Common Kingfisher was perched above the pond ready to pounce on an unsuspecting fish.

On the opposite side of the fields by the roadside there is a piece of waste ground and almost every time I walk over that far there is a Grey Shrike.  I am pretty sure this was a relatively young one which is always a good sign.

About half way through my walk I began to think that there were no Little Green Bee Eaters about at all, but as I got to the far side of the field I found 6 perched feeding by launching themselves off the power cables  by the roadside.  Always a joy to see these gorgeous little birds.

I saw about 5 or 6 Crested Lark along the trail but there were far more that I could hear out in the grass.  They sing and call to each other as you walk along but are very adept at hiding in the relatively short grass.

Finally perched on the sprinkler was a Common Kestrel.  I almost missed him as initially he looked like a part of the device but a bit of movement soon revealed which piece was not the sprinkler.  I watched him for quite a while but could not get to the other side of him to get a better photo so I'm afraid your stuck with this semi profile.

All in all a very nice morning out, plus the cool wind made it a lot more comfortable than usual in this area.

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