Tuesday 26 April 2016

Limited passage at Dowkah

I arrived at Dowkah farm soon after 9 am on Friday and it was already too hot for comfortable birding. Nevertheless I persisted.

Warbler windfalls are unpredictable in migration and this time Dowkah missed out. I only saw one warbler at all. It was a chiffchaff in the long grass of a field.

However passage of other birds was a little better.

It is always good to look hard at the house sparrow flocks on the pivot bars on these farms. Buntings often associate with them.

Sure enough there was a single bunting among them.

female ortolan bunting

It was a female ortolan bunting. I tried very hard to make it into a young grey headed bunting (which would have been a vagrant) but failed. The bill did look more pointed than average and the culmen is not darker than the rest of the bill. The tail appeared a little long too.

ortolan bunting 2

However the throat patch is too wide and there is a yellow tinge to it. The greyness below the throat is too strong and the vent area is not pale enough either.

ortolan bunting 3

Even so, I was happy to see an ortolan bunting. They are nowhere near as common as when I birded out of Riyadh.

European roller

As at Al Beed farm there was also a single European roller.

blue-cheeked bee-eater

A dozen or so blue-cheeked bee-eater lingered at the farm to hawk for locusts. One European bee-eater was with them.

desert wheatear

Although there was no windfall of warblers, I found a windfall of wheatears instead. Wheatears were only in one small part of a single field. Five of them were desert wheatear. However there were two northern wheatear and two pied wheatear.

female northern wheatear

One of the pied wheatear was male.

male pied wheatear

While the other was female.

female pied wheatear

A small number of barn swallow were making their way through.

barn swallow

Of the larger visiting birds, the Abdim's stork was still present though looking in poor condition now. I suspect it won't last the summer.

Abdim's stork

One western reef heron and two cattle egret have not left either.

My last stop on Friday was at Qatbeet where despite the heat of midday provided the best birding of the day. I will blog about that next.

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