Monday, 12 March 2012

The Ides of March

The Ides of March is strictly speaking, the middle of the month but here, I use it in a slighlty broader sense. The middle of March is typically a time, when new migrants are flooding in, on their way to get to their northern breeding grounds. Birds appear & disappear fast, few staying for longer than a day. It can prove a trying time for the year lister, as you often have to be in more than one place at once, with migrants being scattered over a wide area. There are some uncommon but key species to record, which are often easier to see in spring, than any other time of year. So, it is a busy time for all. This is how I got on.
The natural desert, south-west of Madinat Zayed.

Sunday saw me in the central desert, looking into a sandstorm! A retreat into the green areas of Madinat Zayed produced a few migrants: Hoopoes; Woodchat & Turkestan Shrikes, 2 Tree Pipits, various species of wheatears etc.
Hoopoe, with an ant!

Woodchat Shrike

Turkestan Shrikes are pouring north,
in good numbers at the moment.

After work, I visited Sadiyat Island Golf Course looking for the Cinereous Bunting but without success. By now it was a roaring gale and both myself and the migrants were struggling against the strong wind. A good selction of species were again recorded, best being 60 Pale Rockfinch.
As a side show, I saw two new birds for my garden list here in Mohammed Bin Zayed City. When I arrived home, both Black-eared & Northern Wheatear were sat, side by side on my wall.

0 species added (238 total): 520 kms travelled.

I managed to get a couple of hours birding around Mushrif Palace Gardens on Monday afternoon.  It was excellent, with a wide variety of migrants recorded:
Crested Honey Buzzard; Wryneck; Masked Shrike; Caspian Stonechat; 2 Orphean Warblers; Lesser Whitethroat; 9 Menetries Warblers and new for the year, Blackcap.

1 species added (239 total): 340 kms travelled.

Tuesday afternoon after work, was a quick trip to the Emirates Palace Hotel. Searching for migrants in the company of Oscar & Robin. It was still very windy, with a lot of dust in the air, which made visibilty quite poor at first. But then the wind stopped blowing & it was suddenly quite hot & very pleasant, walking around the grounds. Good numbers of migrants included 5 Steppe Grey Shrikes; 5 Woodchat Shrikes; 12 Turkestan & 4 Daurian Shrikes; a Rufous-tailed Rockthrush; amazingly 5 Back-eared Wheatears; 2 Pale Rockfinches and pride of place, went to an adult Rose-coloured Starling cavourting on the lawn.

A female Rufous-tailed Rockthrush.
Pale Rockfinch, a nomadic species,
 which visits us in varying numbers
 every spring and sometimes in the fall.
Rose-coloured Starling was a welcome surprise.

0 species added (239 total): 80 kms travelled.

Saturday saw me travelling to Lulu Island in search of Grey Hypocolius. We were not to be disappointed, with several flocks totalling at least 85+ birds. The flocks were flighty, but eventually everyone got good views down the telescope. 4 Blue Rock Thrush & a Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush were the other highlights.

A fine male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush.

In the afternoon a quick trip to the Emirates Palace Hotel revealed 3 Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush; a Blue Rock Thrush; 4 Black-eared Wheatears & 6 Woodchat Shrike. Nice birding but nothing new for my year list.

0 species added (239 total): 80 kms travelled.

Monday saw me birding Mushrif Palace Gardens, the AD Racecourse & the Officer's Club. Migrants were much fewer in number, than in the previous week, but several quality species were seen well: 2 Crested Honey Buzzards; 2 Masked Shrikes and a superb adult male Peregrine were the highlights.

0 species added (239 total): 80 kms travelled.

The soothsayer speaking to Caesar, beware the Ides of March. Is equally applicable to the year lister!

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