Wednesday 18 September 2013

Bee-eaters and cranes

I left the small university farm walking to work early this morning in a slightly downcast mood because the passage birds were few in number and seemingly not changing. Suddenly I heard the distant but familiar and pleasant sound of European bee-eater

Moments later and straight out of the sun, 30 arrived and headed west directly towards the farm's gardens which I had just vacated. 

resting European bee-eater at the farm

I made a quick about turn and followed them. Luckily they lingered. Some perched on the same tall tree they had favoured in spring.

I haven't seen many this season in contrast to blue-cheeked bee-eater. It's fairly obvious that in general that they migrate sooner than blue-cheeked bee-eater in spring and later in autumn. Though there is over-lap.

incoming European bee-eater

They only stayed about 10 minutes before moving on but I hadn't missed them.

some green sandpiper

As a bonus, I glanced at the near-by pool which had been empty as I left first time round to find nine green sandpiper.

two white spectacled bulbul

Until these moments this morning, I had made do with resident birds such as white spectacled bulbul, and the seemingly ever present migrant spotted flycatcher and common whitethroat

two young ortolan bunting

At least the evening before a couple of young ortolan bunting had varied the cast.

spotted flycatcher

This evening I had to dash home but not without a march through the gardens. In my hurry, I managed to flush a wryneck which shot up a tree. 

Wryneck really seem to love this place on passage. They have been nearly as often present as spotted flycatcher and common whitethroat.

wryneck and house sparrow in the shadows

Also today, I received an email mid morning from my friend Brian James who I am visiting at Thuwal north of Jeddah this weekend. It appears that at the same time as I was watching the bee-eaters this morning, a group of demoiselle crane were grazing on some lawns. Those lawns are just 350 metres from his house on the university campus over there on the Red Sea coast.

demoiselle crane at Thuwal (courtesy of Brian James)

Brian saw 60 common crane fly over last week. Today a few demoiselle crane actually landed. Both cranes were already in my top target species for Saudi Arabia and for this coming weekend. 

Will I be two days too late?

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