Sunday, 15 April 2012

Latest passage wave at al Hayer

On last Thursday's bumper day for passage migrants at al Hayer, one of the best sights was a loose flock of about 80 ortolan bunting in, on and around one of the newly cropped fodder fields.

ortolan bunting

I suppose they shouldn't have come as any surprise. Both the main historical recorders in the area report them as regular passage migrants and such large flocks have been reported by them before. Nevertheless it was still good to see!

second ortolan bunting

There have been a steady stream of osprey in the area, on and off all winter and spring. Last Thursday was no exception.


The part of al Hayer I visited on Thursday isn't the best stretch for waders. However there was a flock of 8 common sandpiper (5 shown in the picture). 

small flock of common sandpiper

They were tired birds which allowed close approach. I took it from that that they were also recently arrived passage birds. 

common sandpiper takes off

The one above shows the distinctive white stripe on its wing which helps easy separation in flight from some other sandpipers.

male Turkestan shrike

The number of red-tailed shrike is reducing from its peak of about 3 weeks ago when wintering birds were greatly supplemented by passage arrivals. The bird above was very dark even allowing that it was photographed before 7am. All thoughts that it might be a rare brown shrike as dispelled by the strong white wing patch. Instead it is an attractive male Turkestan shrike.

Isabelline shrike

On Thursday I also saw a masked shrike and a woodchat shrike. However no red-backed shrike have been seen yet. Historically they have been recorded in big numbers from April 16th onward. So I suspect will be able to add this species to my Saudi list next weekend. There is an outside chance of lesser grey shrike too. Let's see.

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