Saturday, 31 January 2015

After a picnic at Wadi Hanna

I visited Wadi Hanna on Wednesday afternoon. It is a wooded upland wadi for which I have high hopes of seeing new birds during the spring migration.

I din't see any hint of the migration yet although I had to make a double take of a female black redstart at one moment just to make sure it wasn't a (migrating) common redstart.

Otherwise it was a similar mix of resident and wintering birds as last time but with subtle changes.

One subtle change was the easy with which I saw red-breasted flycatcher. There were two in the relatively small area I surveyed. Both were first winter birds.

red-breasted flycatcher

One of them was much more confiding than usual. They are often tricky to monitor because they don't return to the same perch like so many other flycatchers.

second view

Very soon after observing this flycatcher I arrived at a very recently deserted picnic spot. Indeed I saw the picnickers leave. They didn't leave the place very clean and so the birds moved in in waves.

Abyssinian white-eye

First in was a flock of Abyssinian white-eye which are fairly omnivorous. They were joined by an African paradise flycatcher.

African paradise flycatcher

Things suddenly got very interesting when an Eastern Imperial Eagle swooped down low to see if any meat had been left behind.

Eastern Imperial Eagle

Almost out of nowhere around twenty fan-tailed raven appeared and started mobbing the eagle.

Fan-tailed raven

The mobbing moved off to another part of the valley and then presumably by co-incidence two more Eastern Imperial Eagle arrived near the original one. There was a lot of activity in the air between the eagles and the ravens.

Ruppell's weaver and Abyssinian white-eye

Meanwhile the Ruppell's weaver had discovered the remains of the picnic and joined the white-eyes.

I wonder if the Ruppell's weaver about to eat into a green pepper got a shock when it did so?

white spectacled bulbul

The last species I saw join the picnic before I moved on was white spectacled bulbul.

fan-tailed raven

It and the other birds were overlooked by a single fan-tailed raven which hadn't joined in the mobbing choosing instead to explore the picnic.


Early the scene had been much more peaceful except for the constant sounds of cinnamon-breasted bunting and blackstart.

Ruppell's weaver

Ruppell's weaver were still flocking. There is not much sign of spring breeding up here. Most breeding of this bird is in the Khareef season but some on the coast appear to also breed in early spring.

steppe buzzard

I started the blog noticing a subtle change. I will end with one. The number of steppe buzzard in the area has gently risen from one to four in the past six weeks. All of them have the grey-brown plumage of nominate common buzzard. What are the odds of that?

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