Saturday 8 November 2014

Wryneck at Ayn Hamran

I was at Ayn Hamran just after dawn until about 8 am yesterday. My plan was the same as it has been for the last two weeks. I did general birding but was looking especially for migrant passerines and for Palestine sunbird which I have designed a Nemesis bird for me. I should have seen it by now given the time spent looking for it.

I found new migrant passerine for my country list. It was a Eurasian wryneck. It was on the edge of the thick woodland at the top of the spring. 

Eurasian wryneck

Though it was close it remained in partial cover so the photos are partial too. 

second view of Eurasian wryneck

I spent virtually no time in the picnic areas and the lower part of the Ayn this time. A pied cuckoo was found in a group of trees at the top end but in a different area from the Eurasian wryneck. Talking to other birders it appears it is not uncommon for a restricted period of time as it passing through from India to Africa.

Pied cuckoo

I chose to scramble up the hill into the thinner woodland and bush. However this time it was not rewarding. The main bird was cinnamon-breasted bunting with lots of blackstart too.


In some places there were also white spectacled bulbul.

white spectacled bulbul

On returning to the spring (Ayn) I found a small group of trees with several sunbirds in them.

male shining sunbird

The most obvious bird was a male shining sunbird. However the rest were either females or juveniles.

female Nile valley sunbird

To my surprise some of them were Nile Valley sunbird. I had taken a 300 kilometre round trip to see this bird in a remote oasis! This is because it is more guaranteed there.

second view of Nile Valley Sunbird

The identification of the other females was more problematic.

probably female shining sunbird

The underside looks pale indicating a Palestine sunbird but, as has been pointed out tome,  the greater coverts are too dark for a typical Palestine sunbird. The bill is arguably too long too but I find overlap in bill sizes between these two species.

The underside paleness could be a trick of the light in full sunlight. So on balance it is probably a Shining sunbird.

I didn't visit East Khawr before travelling on to Ayn Hamran as I usually do. This is because I went there just before dusk the day before.

mostly wood sandpiper and little stint 

The birding is very varied and the number of birds is high but the change but I look for any change in cast and there hasn't been anything new for me in the past few days.

The crowding in the picture above isn't typical but the density in places are high. The birds above are wood sandpiper, little stint, Temminck's stint and common sandpiper.

Ruepells weaver

This time I spent the last half hour of daylight walking all round the Khawr looking for any passerine migrants in the acacia. My reward was a single Siberian stonechat. The most common birds were Ruepell's weaver and graceful prinia.

Purple heron

Unfortunately if you walk round the khawr, the herons are very jumpy and it is difficult not to flush them.

Marsh harrier

There are over half a dozen marsh harrier and three greater spotted eagle which have been seen every time I visit over the past two weeks. They roost in the near-by field and as the sun was setting there were off there.

Male northern pintail

My last view as the sun set was a male northern pintail in eclipse plumage at the side of the khawr.

In my next blog my search for Palestine sunbird continued along with more general birding up at Tawi Atair.

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