Monday, 29 February 2016

New kit on trial

Over the past few months I have been slowly gathering some new photography kit and trying to learn how to use it.  I think you will agree from the results below that I have a long way to go yet but had to start somewhere. 

The trip was to Al Hayer again mainly so at least the area was familiar even if he equipment was not.  So on Saturday morning (6/2/16) we headed off.  I had a coat on hand just in case it was freezing lake last week but as it happens it was a good deal warmer and indeed during the walk I even managed to pick up a little sunburn, definitely a first for this year!!

In all the fields the farm workers were busy with heavy machinery either shoring up flood defences or cutting crops so the birdlife was a little scarce but there is always something of interest.

There was still quite a bit of encroachment of water onto the surrounding areas.  There is a road under there believe it or not.  The flooding that occurred in December is taking a long time to disappear from all areas.  I think some of this is being caused by the shoring up work going on at the opposite side of the reed bed.

As always the dove family is very well represented around the area.  The most common by far is the Palm Dove or Laughing Dove.
Also there is small numbers were the Eurasian Collared Dove and a few Namaqua Dove.

The House Sparrow are busy breeding at the moment having paired up and are to be seen everywhere building nests or repairing those from last year.

These guys were nesting in the rafters of an old shed while another pair had taken up residence in a power sub station about 20m away.

Their cousins the Spanish Sparrow are also building but I don't think they have started breeding yet.

Another breeder again this year is the Barn Swallow which has been repairing nests in the farm building they used last year.  As yet only one of the nests actually has eggs.  This nest was the first to have eggs last year also but in this case there were 5 or maybe 6 compared with last years 4 eggs.  I tried to take a photo using my phone which is truly dreadful so decided against publishing but if you really want to I can let you have a copy. 

These eggs are a full week earlier than I found them last year and indeed given that the nest is full (5 eggs @ 1 day interval between laying) then they may have started laying early the week before.

There were a few Black Scrub Robin about the place today, most were hiding near the base of trees and bushes but this come came out for a look around.

As always the Cattle Egret were about in good numbers.  They feed around the spray zones in front of the irrigation sprinklers and once one is turned off they move on to the next one.

White Eared Bulbuls were plentiful again today.

There were one or two Daurian Shrike around the place but definitely not as many as previous weeks.  I think they were put off by the racket being made by the diggers.

A rather poor shot but all I managed to get of the Black Crowned Night Heron as it took off into the sun.  Not seen these about for a bit.

The March Harries were about in good numbers today with four that I saw.  I tried out getting an inflight photo and well, maybe someday lol.

Always seen about the place are the White Throated Kingfisher, thee there three in the area, this one and its partner were a few meters from one another on the sprinkler.

This Great Grey Shrike was very shy today and did not come out very much at all. I am not sure if there has been someone about taking pot shots at the birds but they all seem a little skittish today.

The Crested Lark were busy all over the place today.

And the Black Scrub Robin was in and out of the bushes a bit more often than usual this week.  There were a few more about this week than normal, but I'm not sure if they have arrived or are always here but not seen.

The only Bee Eater I saw all day.  This is unusual as they are normally about in good numbers but must have had somewhere else to be today. 

The birding today was as good as always down at Al Hayer and the weather was quite pleasant.  As I mentioned above I was messing abut with some new kit so did not get as many photos as I might have but it was still good fun.

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