Monday, 30 September 2013

Still " non residents" on the university farm

It's been tough finding migrants on my walk to work in the past week. No common whitethroat or any other warbler has been seen. The last wryneck was observed a week ago today and no recent spotted flycatcher either. These three bird species had been almost ever present this autumn on the small experimental university farm.  

There have some high points though. Top of these was when a female golden oriole landed very briefly early in the morning on Wednesday.

masked shrike

Today was a bit better. This afternoon, I saw my first shrike on the farm for 10 days. It was a masked shrike almost certainly on passage. I say "almost certainly on passage" because I have records of two in mid winter two years ago when it was much milder than last winter.  

young northern wheatear

And in the very early morning and in poor light, I came across a very flighty young northern wheatear. The light didn't help its identification but I got enough views including one of its tail pattern to be sure.

northern wheatear from behind

A single tree pipit has been around all week as the only other definite passage bird that has lingered. The picture below was taken on Thursday but it was still there this evening.

tree pipit

Two small waves of European bee-eater have occurred. Neither group stopped more than a few minutes. There was a bee research centre here but it looks like it closed down over the summer. When it was running, the bee-eaters used to stay for hours gorging themselves!

European bee-eater resting briefly on the farm

Other non residents have also been present but they might not necessarily be passage birds. They might also be staying the winter (in case of a grey wagtail and green sandpiper) or local movements in the case of  a couple of black winged stilt. I can't tell.  

grey wagtail with dropped wings

This grey wagtail was behaving quite oddly. I have never seen one drop its wings and cock its tail in the manner of a thrush family member before. It was also unusually away from water too.

grey wagtail with cocked tail

This went on for a couple of minutes before it did some heavy preening. Finally it reverted to its normal form.

grey wagtail preening

A grey wagtail was present at the near-by pool this afternoon. It could easily be the same bird reverting to type.

finally grey wagtail in normal pose

The pool has been the focus of other "non residents" during the past week.

black winged stilt at the pool

A couple of black winged stilt have turned up to the pool from a southerly direction most days around 6.30 or 6.45 am. They did so again this morning. I often see them in the afternoon too.

black winged stilt

green sandpiper on the other hand has usually been there first thing in the morning and as I leave in the late afternoon. 

green sandpiper

I wonder just how much more of the passage is left. Its certainly lower key in central Arabia than in spring. Even when it is over I think I will continue the walk. Who knows, there may be some interesting or rare wintering bird(s) there.  

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