Friday, 17 February 2012

Birding in a sandstorm

I stopped at the new quarry lagoons area near Al Hayer when and where I saw the pied wheatear (see yesterday's blog) for no more than half an hour. The sandstorm made things very difficult and I had a late start anyway.

Nevertheless, there were one or two other birds on show despite the weather. A tame green sandpiper was feeding at the water's edge. They are present all winter but this one allowed close contact. I wonder if this one was on passage? Passage birds like the pied wheatear are often so tired on first landing that they allow closer contact. The green sandpiper was also keen to feed and drink despite everything going on weather-wise. This is another feature of passage birds.

green sandpiper

In the water and so protected from the worst wind, were three ducks oblivious to the weather.

two of three female teal

I have agonised over the identification of these three birds. I only saw them at distance and am not very good with female ducks. I have flirted with mallard but have settled on teal thanks to expert help.

one of two little grebe in the area

Having not seen little grebe for a long while until last weekend, I met up with two more on Thursday. Like the teal they were protected on the water and busily feeding. I think I have said before that some observers believed little grebe was no longer present on Wadi Hanifah. The theory was that the catfish in the river had predated all the young ones. Whereas it appears they have simply moved to a different (more downstream) location. 

white wagtail was one the few active passerines 

The other birds especially the passerines were reluctant to move unless I walked up close or flushed them by mistake. The collared dove and laughing dove were the most obvious movers when I walked near. They are so jumpy at the moment.

After visiting the lagoons, I moved further downstream which coincided with a lessening of the storm.  I'll blog about what I saw, under improved conditions, tomorrow.

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