Monday, 1 February 2016

Hometown patch in the freezing cold!

Al Hayer again but this time in the freezing cold.  Temperatures about 2 or 3 degrees and did not rise much all the time I was there.  I suppose I should call this Kingfisher week as we had three species in the area today but more on that anon.

As ever the White Eared Bulbul were about in good numbers and kept me company for most of the walk.  These guys have a sweet voice and are singing almost all the time.  This is in contrast to the other songster of the bushes, the Graceful Prinia which has a coarser rasping song.

A few Cattle Egret disappearing off into the distance.  The farmer had not turned on the sprinklers in the fields at Al Hayer this morning so I think the majority of these were at another farm.

The little house sparrows were about if reasonable numbers but not terribly active.  It was pretty cold for them so I think most were waiting until the sun got up a bit and started to warm things before they sprung into action.

There was a flock of about 10 or 12 Mynah about the place but unusually they were being very shy and would not get me approach close enough to get a decent photo.  

The Common Moorhen were to be seen in just about every body of water I passed.  There were quite a number which could be heard in the reeds too.  I know there are a number of large open areas of water inside the reed bed which are pretty inaccessible to me and many of these guys hang out in there.

Another distant shot of a couple of Common Snipe and a Green Sandpiper.  These Snipe have been around here for a few weeks although I expect they will head off once the temperatures begin to rise.

As luck would have it a short while after spotting the Snipe I came across the Green Sandpiper asleep, he woke as I took this photo but stayed put and just watched me walk by.  Another unusual experience really as they normally shoot off as soon as they spot you.

Right beside the sandpiper was this little guy.  I say about half a dozen of these White (pied) Wagtails, not as many as a month or so ago but still present.

Ok spot the birdie lol.  The Crested Lark excels at blending into the background in the fields and very often all you have to know they are there is their incessant singing.  Always a pleasure to see though.

Grey Heron and Purple Heron were both around in good numbers today, although I did not manage to get a good photo of the Purple this week.
I thought I might call this report Kingfisher Week as I saw three species around the fields, the Common Kingfisher above was sitting in a bush and allowed me to approach quite close to take my photograph.  I think I could have gone closer too but I did not want to disturb his rest.  To be honest I have never before got this close to one of these and can only put it down to the fact that is was so cold that he could not be bothered to fly away.

There were a couple of White Throated Kingfishers about the place today and this one was peeking out from between the bars of the sprinkler.  A little later I spotted a Pied Kingfisher fishing in the ponds by the middle field.  It was doing its little hover before plunging into the pond.  Unfortunately I could not get a photo.

I am pretty sure this is the Greater Spotted Eagle that I noticed on the sprinklers earlier in the day.  This bird has been about for a few weeks joining the Marsh Harriers that can be seen almost every visit.

A pair of Little Egret were feeding by the side of the pond for a few moments as I crossed the road.  I stopped to have a chat with another birder, Mohammed Al Kharje who was patiently watching from his car.  When I returned to birding these guys had moved deep into the fields and I did not get close again.

As I walked further along the side of the fields I a bird flushed from close by but did not go far before settling again.  This Daurian Shrike is one of a number that reside in the area but today I only spotted this one.

The Grey Shrike was a bit more common about the place today and I spotted at least two at opposite ends of the fields.

They are never particularly eager to let you get close but at least you get to see them.
The Dove/Pigeon family were well represented with a good number of Namaqua Doves seen and the usual throng of Laughing Dove and Feral or Rock Pigeon.  There were also a small number of Collared Dove feeding in the fields.

This is not a great shot but at least it gives an idea of the number of Little Green Bee Eaters about today.  This group were on one bush with a few more a little higher

I could not get close to this Bluethroat at all as every time I tried he disappeared into the bush and stayed there.  Anyway I hope you can see him reasonably well, even if he is hiding.

I have not seen very many Silverbills about at all this year yet and this one was part of a small flock of 8 or 10.  I am not sure if its because I am in the wrong place or they just are not about much this year.

The Spanish Sparrow was about again today though not in great numbers.  This in a way surprises me as they are generally one of the most common birds about the place. 

Anyway another great mornings birding.  The Barn Swallows were spotted in the fields feeding again however I did not make it over to the other side of the river on this occasion to see how their nests were coming along.

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