Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Wheatear Bonanza!

It is Thursday morning and I am in Robin’s office. We are chatting about Khalifa’s great find, of a male Finch’s Wheatear at Jebel Dhanna, the first for many years. We had planned to go birding locally on the island, but what if we could get to JD this afternoon? It is a long way, but we decided to risk it.

It is 3.30 pm & I am all revved up & Robin arrives. The first bit of road is slow, but then we eat up the miles. Khalifa is there waiting for us. After a couple of anxious minutes, we spot the bird, sat atop the perimeter fence. For the next few minutes we enjoy good views of it flitting around. I stomp around the field looking for other migrants while Khalifa & Robin report the bird flew onto nearby rocks. It must have gone to roost early, as it was never seen again!

A fine male Finch's Wheatear

 Photos courtesy of Khalifa.

A fine male Lesser Kestrel surveys the grass from his lofty perch. 50+ Eurasian Skylarks + Pied, Red-tailed, Black-eared, Northern and Isabelline Wheatears are the other migrants present.
It is getting dark & I am anxious to return home, as Carol had just finished work & was now on holiday for the next two weeks. She has plans! Khalifa drives ahead, to attend to formalities at the gate. It is now quite dark; I put my binoculars away, in readiness for the long drive home. Then Robin asks innocently, what is that bird on the rock over there? I ask for his binoculars, I fumble with the focussing, and then I see it! A male Kurdistan Wheatear! I jump out of the car, wave frantically to Khalifa but he is now on the open highway! A rapid phone call & he turns around, but as all rare things do, it had vanished! The search begins & looked hopeless, as it is now really dark. Khalifa spots something in the trees & it is the bird. Camera’s click & we put out the news. We smile all the way home!
A male Kurdistan Wheatear. Nice!
Photo courtesy of Khalifa.
I really can’t believe our good fortune. We go for one rare bird and come away with two. I am now ready for the weekend!

3 species added (total 242 species): 490kms travelled.

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