Monday, 2 January 2012

The rest of mid- week

Finished work, on 2nd, a quick dash to the Hilton Hotel here in AD, for the only known colony of Golden backed Weavers. Construction work has surrounded the site and despite several nests seen, not a weaver in sight! Have to start looking elsewhere.

A scan through the fence at the Emirates Palace Hotel produced 2 Song Thrush + a plethora of common species. Arrived at the breakwater, where I usually seawatch from, to find I was approximately a kilometre inland from the sea! Reclamation again! Had to maneovre around, but scored with Socotra Cormorants; Caspian, Lesser crested & Saunder’s Little Terns. Not bad for winter.

Socotra Cormorant, an Arabian endemic.

A small pod of four Indo-Pacific Humbacked Dolphins
 were a welcome sight, just off the breakwater.

Western Lagoon was surprisingly productive with 31 Grey Herons & 13 Great White Egrets. Both high numbers for the island. 9 Caspian Terns were also noteworthy for the island. But the star, was a lone Eurasian Coot, swimming on the sea! A rare visitor to the island, it might be my first record.

Caspian Terns are regular in winter on AD island.

A young Heuglin's Gull. Lumped within the
 greater (pun) Lesser Black-backed Gull complex.

The view towards Mussafah Channel from the Officier’s Club was great, producing a wide range of estuarine species including 310 Greater Flamingo, a lone Sooty Gull and a welcome Great Black headed Gull among their commoner brethren. Best of the bunch was a Black-eared Kite feeding on a Black-headed Gull on a sandbank. A nice addition to the year list.

Great black-headed or Pallas's Gull

Black-eared Kite

24 species added (total 113) and 75 kms travelled.

It's the 3rd, and I have joined the commuting madness between AD & Dubai. My intention was to visit the Pivots, but after one & half hours on the road, I pulled off at Ghantoot. My main bird was of course, Grey Hypocolius. However, Ghantoot, is not the site it was a few years ago. Turning off the irrigation water has had a massive effect on the trees & they don't seem to fruit anymore, hence no Hypos!
A quick look through the wall of the Polo club produced 11 Pacific Golden Plovers & 4 Cream Coloured Coursers. Nice.

A great photo, courtesy of Shah. 

 On the way to the sea, on a relict patch of native vegetation, 6 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse gave excellent views.

Getting rarer along the coast in AD Emirate,
due to habitat loss.

The sea's gone! Yet again, another huge project, obliterating the natural coastline. No terns here then!
A quick look around the hotel grounds produced 2 Hoopoes & 2 Daurian Shrikes, but little else.

You can tell I live in AD, it took me
 three days to see one of these!

Time to walk the plantation, but quiet: 7 Desert Lesser Whitethroat & 4 Plain Leaf Warblers being the best. Plain Leaf's seem to have recently discovered these coastal plantations as a wintering ground, they are increasing in this habitat all the time. As dusk got a firmer hold a lone Song Thrush called, as it flew to roost.

Plain Leaf Warbler - a much sought after species,
 by visiting birders.

Ghantoot still holds a healthy population of
Southern Grey Shrikes in the plantation.

5 species added (total 118) and 210 kms travelled.

Wednesday the 4th, saw me wandering around my old haunt of Mushrif Palace Gardens. 3 Crested Honey Buzzards mobbed a passing Great Spotted Eagle & plenty of Alexandrine Parakeets were feeding in the tree tops.
Two of the three birds present.

A closer view of an immature Crested Honey Buzzard.

MPG's is one of the best places
to see Alexandrine Parakeet.

They all count as one on a year list!
2 Eastern Black Redstarts were in the back wood. The resident Eastern Olivaceous Warblers also put in an appearance. But, the bird of the afternoon was a Eastern Orphean Warbler on The Strip.

A walk around the racecourse produced very little, a pair of Common Kestrels performing well and a Glossy Ibis flyover was unusual here.

6 species added (total 124) and 70kms travelled.

A quick dash to Al Wathba Lake after work on 5th with my friend Robin, was quite productive. 57 species seen, best bird being Eastern Grey Lag Goose.

Robin, a new convert to birding?

The spectacle of 1,600 Greater Flamingos was impressive, especially when a Great Spotted Eagle started hunting them! Robin could be a recent convert to birding! With a name like that, he is half way there!

Eastern Grey-lag Goose,
a rare winter visitor to the UAE.

5 species added (total 129) and 30kms travelled.

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