Thursday, 10 March 2016

Mazyunah in early March

Unlike previous desert trips towards Yemen, Mazyunah was not the main event. This time it was Tudho en route. So Jolynn Van Duffelen and I spent time there than I have previously done.

On quick inspection, the bird cast at the old sewage ponds had changed little since my previous visit.

There were four types of duck swimming on this out-of-place water mass in the middle of the desert.

There were pintail, garganey and teal (see picture below) and two male mallard (not pictured).

three types of duck by Jolynn Van Duffelen

Just as on my last visit, there was an eastern imperial eagle wading in the water. Actually last time there were two. You have to be careful and deliberate when you first arrive not to displace it. Once gone, it does not return easily.

Eastern imperial eagle by Jolynn Van Duffelen

Jolynn captured it on video.

wood sandpiper by Jolynn Van Duffelen

Once again there were plenty of waders. These included ruff, wood sandpiper, black winged stilt and little stint. The most numerous bird however is still common moorhen.

little stint by Jolynn Van Duffelen

Two common snipe were also seen.

common snipe by Jolynn Van Duffelen

Passerines in the reeds were citrine wagtail and bluethroat. There were no collared dove of either type this time. They aggregate around the pool in late afternoon and we left before that.

I still believe this site ought to be a migrant trap but we were there a week or two early to test my theory.

Just we were travelling out of the town on its eastern edge, a bird of prey flew close to the road. We turned the car round and tried to follow the bird.

We discovered it had landed at the side of a new large pool. We had to approach it on foot as my car couldn't cope with the very sandy surrounding ground.

The pool is fed with cleaned water from the factory by pipe. It is obviously very new but now makes a third water-based site around the town worth exploring.

lappet-faced vulture over the pool by Jolynn Van Duffelen

As we got close, it became apparent that there were twelve lappet-faced vulture there. There was no carcass so drink was almost certainly the reason.

four lappet faced vulture by Jolynn Van Duffelen

Unfortunately having no cover we eventually disturbed them. Heat haze also had photography difficult for the grounded birds though it was better in flight.

lappet faced vulture returning by Jolynn Van Duffelen

As we headed back to the car we noticed one lappet-faced vulture had returned. It is obviously a strong magnet for them.

spiny-tailed lizard by Jolynn Van Duffelen

Sometimes we come across other wildlife that simply cannot be ignored. This spiny tailed lizard at Qafa outside Mazyunah was a full grown adult.

I am grateful to Jolynn Van Duffelen for permission to reproduce her photos and video.

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