Friday 23 August 2013

Early morning at Al Hayer

Lou Regenmorter and I met up for the first time since the summer break to go birding at Al Hayer. We went fairly early and birded from 6 to 10 am. It was noticeably cooler than last weekend's birding in the afternoon though by 10 am it was probably pushing 40C.

eastern olivaceous warbler

One of the features of today's birding was finding a small zone of bushes close to both water and fodder fields which had a lot of warbler activity. Being there early almost certainly helped us.

Both graceful prinia and Eastern olivaceous warbler were very numerous and both are breeding birds. Graceful prinia is resident and some of the Eastern olivaceous warbler probably stay too.

I was surprised to see Eastern olivaceous warbler make forays into the fodder field in the same manner as graceful prinia

eastern olivaceous warbler in a fodder field

In the early morning sun, Eastern olivaceous warbler can look very warm coloured and could be mistaken for other warblers without care. Having said this, one definite of each of common whitethroat, marsh warbler and willow warbler were seen in the same area. Later at the edge of a different field, we saw a great reed warbler too.

warm-looking eastern olivaceous warbler

Finches and weavers were very active too. Many streaked weaver and Spanish sparrow were observed and this time Indian silverbill, red avadavat and house sparrow were easily seen as well.

Indian silverbill

Two of the less common members of the heron family were seen.

Red avadavat

Grey heron and squacco heron are usually seen on any prolonged visit to the area irrespective of the time of year. This morning was no exception. Two cattle egret were also observed. However its not often that little bittern is viewed in three separate places. 

Little bittern

Black crowned night heron flew overhead too. 

Black crowned night heron

Only one shrike was observed all morning. It was a young woodchat shrike.

young woodchat shrike

At the end of our visit we moved on to a place a little north of the fodder fields which has some muddy flats to the "river". We were rewarded by the sight of a mixed flock of waders. Most were little ringed plover (which breeds here) and little stint. There was also at least one Kentish plover.

Little ringed plover and little stint

Lou was first to notice that two were slightly larger and different. Having rejected dunlin as a possibility, it became clearer and clearer that Lou's first idea that they were broad-billed sandpiper was right.

Broad billed sandpiper

Note the broad bill which droops at the end.

second view of broad billed sandpiper

A double supercilium is another distinguishing feature and it is apparent on the above photograph.

Broad billed sandpiper does venture inland on passage here but it is very uncommon and it was my first time seeing them away from the coast. It was a great end to the morning. 

List of 38 species seen at Al Hayer today
Little bittern
Black crowned night heron
Cattle egret
Squacco heron
Grey heron
Little ringed plover
Kentish plover
Little stint
Broad billed sandpiper
Rock pigeon
Eurasian collared dove
Laughing dove
Little green bee-eater
Woodchat shrike
White eared bulbul
Crested lark
Barn swallow
Graceful prinia
Great reed warbler
Marsh warbler
Eastern olivaceous warbler
Willow warbler
Common whitethroat
Rufous bush robin
Black bush robin
Isabelline wheatear
Spanish sparrow
House sparrow
Streaked weaver
Indian silverbill
Red avadavat
Grey wagtail

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