Saturday, 29 October 2011

Finding new birds in the lagoons of Al Hayer

On Thursday, after visiting the area around the dam at Al Hayer, Tony and I moved on a few kilometres south east to a regular haunt. This was near the bird ringing project sign in the wadi hanifah valley.This is the only area I have found yet in the southern part of the valley which doesn't have total coverage by reed beds next to the water channels. There are several lagoons around here.

great white egret

As we approached the first lagoon (where I had seen a dunlin last week) we saw a great white egret on the water bank. This is the first time I have seen one here and it has previously been recorded as quite rare here.  Time will tell whether this is still the case.

little egret

Near-by, offering a good comparison, was a single little egret.

common sandpiper

The ever present moorhen scurried into the undergrowth but the lagoon kept up its record of providing me with a wader every time I visit. This time we saw a common sandpiper.

cattle egret with camel

A few metres away the local flock of cattle egret had found a herd of camel to associate with. Since there are no cattle in this area then clearly camels will do nicely.

adult night heron

Two or three weeks ago I had seen twenty or so juvenile black crowned night heron on a northern stretch of the river near the city outskirts. Here some 20 or 30 kilometres south we stumbled upon a dozen or so adults with a couple of first winter birds accompanying them. I think we may have woken them up as we searched a gully.

masked shrike

Shrikes were among the most prominent of the land birds in the area. I saw my first and later my second ever masked shrike. This is a bird  I failed to see during trips from my house in north east Bulgaria to southern Bulgaria where it spends the summer. This was my fourth lifer of the day.

Isabelline (durian) shrike

Both Isabelline shrike and Turkestan shrike are looking more common  than masked shrike at this time of year . Isabelline shrike  is probably the most common.  I am still waiting to see any lesser grey shrike or steppe grey shrike which have been reported from here in winter.

marsh harrier

Finally I can't leave writing about the lagoon area without mentioning the birds of prey. There were a small number of greater spotted eagle and possibly one other type. I thought one marsh harrier was very brave to try to mob one of the spotted eagle all on his own.

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