Monday, 6 June 2016

Look for one thing find another

Decided to see if I could follow up on last weeks Kingfisher nest site at Al Hayer, I wanted to see if I could get some better photos and maybe a bit more information about the number of young birds etc.  I headed down before dawn to get set up for a vigil at the site and set up my stall at a closer viewing spot. Then I waited....
Well several hours later it was becoming clear that they had left so I went for a walk along the lake.  For some reason I have never made it down this far before and it turns out that there is some interesting habitat down there.  A flooded quarry on one side and the lake on the other left lots of new viewing areas to explore.  As I walked along the top edge of the quarry I hears a fairly loud bark which was repeated several times.  I assumed it was the feral dog that had been around earlier
when this large bird took off from a ledge and flew over the flooded area.
Desert (Pharaoh) Eagle Owl
 I struggled to get a photo and was kicking myself at my slowness when another bark lead to another flypast, this time landing in view on the other side of the quarry.  I got a good few photos but at a bit of a distance.  Having watched for a while I started to move off then another bark and a third bird flew off landing along the wall of the quarry not too far away. 
This turned out to be a juvenile, probably only just fledged and still had much of the down in its plumage.
I left that area for a while but as I passed there again on the way back there was yet another bark.  This guy stood on the cliff ledge and just started at me.  So I grabbed a few shots and left him in peace.  These are definitely breeding in the area.  Apparently they are not especially rare but seeing them made my day.
As I walked along 6 Chestnut Bellied Sandgrouse landed within yards of me.  needless to say I reached for my camera when sent them running off, thus the tail views.  I had seen a few of these before at AlKarj but not around this area.  My birding guides do not show these as being anywhere near this area.  A second nice spot in 30 minutes.
Over at the far side of the lake was a pair of Squacco herons which stayed for a little while
before flying off to greener pastures further up river.
On the shore was a couple of Little Ringed Plover.  These are breeding in a pond a few hundred yards away but I spotted a dead bird on a rock in the middle of the pond so I think it may be one of those I saw last week.
Very noisy neighbours as ever the Black Winged Stilt are still nesting and making sure you know to keep away.
A shot of some Mallard that circled a few times but ultimately decided to land in the river rather than the pond.
A small flock of Coot were busy around the lake and some of their young were still in evidence around the place too.
While the White Throated Kingfisher were not around the nest there were in the area.  This one was on the opposite side of the lake and another landed beside me while I was setting up just after dawn.
The Little Grebe is a bird we saw a lot of in previous years when we visited the Cricket Club, but I had seen very few at Al Hayer.  Clearly I have been looking in the wrong place as there were a couple of dozen on the lake, though well spread out.
There were a good few Bulbuls about this place despite there being little tall vegetation for them to rest on at this side of the lake.  Still they made use of what was there and I noted 6 in one small bush.
These next two photos were at a long distance so are not great but still you can see two groups of
Grey Heron sunning themselves on some boulders.  In all I counted 18 within about 100 square meters, but I think there were more in the trees behind.
Also in large numbers were the Crested Lark, at one point I was looking at 8 to 10 in the air in front of me.
The Rock Dove were also out in good numbers, I counted 35 in two flocks this were circling the area I was in over and over. 

Kentish Plovers were also quite plentiful around the lake, in all I think I spotted 16 to 18 birds in small groups.  There were also 8 Spur Winged Lapwing

As ever the Little Green Bee Eaters were busy around the area and I also spotted 5 or 6 Barn Swallows, a few Purple Heron and I think a pair of Black Crowned Night Heron.  Common Moorhen were all over the lake and the flooded quarry, though I did not get any good photos of these.
Finally the spot I spent a good while looking at this morning, boring huh?  Still I console myself that if they had been there I would have seen them :)
I left the area buzzing, not only from the Owls which were fantastic to watch but also the Sandgrouse which were delightful in addition to my more usual friends from around the area.  I am back to UK for a few weeks now but will update on whatever I see there in due course.

© Bernard Bracken