Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Highs & Lows of Listing!

It has been a funny week. It started out with a load of old rubbish, ie birding at Mafraq Rubbish Tip! And why would anyone, want to visit this particularly unlovely spot? Well, to see a bird of course! Not any old bird, but an adult Mediterranean Gull, that had been found the day before, by Mark & Oscar. This is a rare winter visitor to these lands, and if you want to break records, you need to see it.
So, after work, I was there, among the rubbish, looking through around 4,000 Black -headed Gulls. I managed after twenty minutes or so of searching, to pick it out, circling within the flock. I was really happy, but my family less so, when I arrived home. They kept asking What's that smell? Where have you been? The car stinks! Don't you realise that I have to go to work in this, in the morning? With this acclaim ringing in my ears, I retired to bed!

1 species added (218 total) 45 kms travelled.

A couple of days later, I was birding the Al Wathba Camel Racetrack with Robin. Today, this spot, is a far cry from its former era. It is changed from a green oasis, to a brown barren, saltbush dominated plain.

The modern day Al Wathba.
Almost unrecognisable from the olden days.

Looking for birds, but not finding any!

Birds were thin on the ground, but just before dark, a Peregrine shot by. We toured the area after dark, but no Nightjars, or Owls tonight, despite the perfect conditions.

1 species added (219 total) 50kms travelled.

It is 10.30 am and I am at work in the office. The phone rings and my formerly organised day, is in tatters! A Dunn's Lark has been reported from some fodder drying fields, just south of Al Ain. Now, I have been done by Dunn's Lark before, infact, on quite a few occasions! This little desert nomad, has eluded me many times. If I saw it, it would be a world tick!

Notice, no Dunn's Lark to be seen!

Khalifa, trying very hard not to be seen!
Who can blame him wearing that?

I jump into my Ferrari (aka Toyota Yaris) and growl my way through the Abu Dhabi traffic, then I am on the open road and the Yaris shows its true nature! I arrive in just over an hour. Three hours before dark and I commence my search. I know where to look and find all the birds which should be there, bar one! Derrick, Huw & Khalifa are there as well. The light starts to fail - we are once again done by a Dunn's! It is a long drive home!

0 species added (219 total) 360kms travelled.
It's the weekend and Carol & I are off for two nights away, in the Fujairah Hilton Hotel. We are meeting up with our friends Robin & Anne. Of course, we are there to chill out & unwind from our hectic week. But, I thought I might get a bit of birding in as well! I hope Carol remembered to bring her knitting!

The lush oasis, bordered by the coast & mountains.

This is the reason the grass is here!

Robin & I arrive at Fujairah National Dairy Farm just after dawn. A Grey Wagtail is new for my year list. Birds are plentiful, but there seems to be nothing new in. A fine male Hen Harrier; 5 Pintail Snipe; 5 Blyth's Pipits; both European & Siberian Stonechats, 3 Oriental Skylarks; 7 Rose-coloured Starlings & 12 Corn Buntings were the pick of the bunch.

Blyth's Pipit - digiscoped by me.
I am not very good at this!

After a lazy time at the hotel, we all went for a quick excursion to Khor Kalba. Two Green Turtles were seen from the bridge.

The only patch of mangrove on the east coast.

Carol, Robin & Anne.

Several Arabian Kingfishers darted out from the mangroves, catching small hermit crabs from the mud.

The recently re-named, Arabian Kingfisher.

Khor Kalba is the only location in the UAE
 for this rare & endangered species.

The next day, a morning sea-watch, produced little, apart from a fine adult Pomarine Skua, with half-grown spoons! We the moved on, to look at some archeological sites near Maleha.

One of the excavated burial tombs.

Several archeological sites,
 lay at the base of Jebel Faiya.
 A closer look, at this isolated mountain.

A Red Fox den, dug in at the base of the mountain.
Carol & I, then moved on to Qarn Nazwa, and Carol managed to pull in, a male Desert Eagle Owl, with a little help from technology!

Carol, doing her bit to help my year list along!

A nice end, to a very pleasant weekend.

4 species added (223 total) 560kms travelled, over two days.

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