Saturday, 3 May 2014

South of the bridge, Al Hayer

Yesterday I visited Al Hayer with Bernard Bracken. We switched to summer birding hours and that meant a very early start finishing at 10.30 am.

We were in a pivot field south of the small bridge there at 5.30 am. The temperatures were pleasant and the birds were immediately obviously more numerous than our last visit.  During the session we saw nearly 50 species which will be listed in the next blog.

The field we chose has a wide stream as its southern border with tall reeds on the far side and some cover on the field side.

As soon as we entered the field we saw several busy streaked weaver moving to and from the field into the reeds.

However our attention was drawn to further down the stream in the field where we were straining to see five purple heron and several other species including moorhen and yellow wagtail

very young black crowned night heron

We were edging towards them but they were still 100 metres way when we flushed a very young black crowned night heron. This bird was so young it had no fear of us at all. In the end we just had to walk away since it didn't seem inclined to move from us.

second view of very young black crowned night heron

This is pretty conclusive evidence that black crowned night heron still breed at Al Hayer.

distant mallard

We turned our attention back to the birds in the distance. I got a record shot of the mallard. As we moved round the purple heron flushed from great distance and moorhen and a common snipe flushed much closer to us.

barn swallow

Even this early in the morning, plenty of barn swallow were hawking for insects over the field. One of them landed. At the time I thought it was to drink. However from the photo he has a big locust in his mouth which might have been difficult to eat in the air. I wonder if it was a case of greed made it land.

white eared bulbul

Meanwhile in the reeds we caught glimpses of Eurasian reed warbler and much longer views of white eared bulbul and red backed shrike. Indeed the latter bird was very common in a variety of habitat all morning.

red-backed shrike

For example they joined the crested lark, streaked weaver and house sparrow in the field itself.

red-backed shrike

The streaked weaver are now all in breeding plumage.

male streaked weaver

As we moved round the field towards the bridge, we saw a couple of adult black crowned night heron. The pink legs are only found in their breeding season.

adult black crowned night heron

No European bee-eater were seen but some were heard. The resident little green bee-eater was in evidence as usual though.

little green bee-eater

As we left the field to walk over the other side of the road to north of the bridge, we spotted the first rufous bush robin of the day. Bernard managed a photo but I didn't before it rapidly moved off. Thanks to him for allowing me to use it and apologies to him for cropping it so much.

rufous bush robin

We spent the next two hours or so on the north side in and around other fields. However as we set off to leave the area at the end, a European roller was seen which moved off into the distance on the southern side so it rightfully belongs in this blog.

distant roller

Other birds seen on the south side but not mentioned earlier in the text were collared dove, laughing dove and graceful prinia.

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