Saturday, 12 May 2012

Are the wheels coming off my bus?

It has been a tough week birding around Abu Dhabi Island. Very hot & humid and birding in the afternoons after work, have all aided in my low numbers of variety of migrants seen! Hard work with little reward. It is the middle of May now and traditionally migration starts to slow, birds become scarce and only the hope of something really rare keeps your spirits up.
I am getting a little worried at my repeated failure to score on some of the scarcer spring migrants, so far.  There is still time, but time is running out this spring and the water rises! All too soon, it will be the depths of summer and passerines will be conspicuous by their absence! Not to start appearing again until mid August. When you attempt a year list such as mine, it is often the uncommon species which you will miss. The true rarities, often fall into your notebook, because you make that special effort to see them, because they are so rare! Make sense? These are the species which I still need and most are best seen in spring:

Eurasian Scops Owl - too late in spring now. Uncommon in the fall, I will have to be lucky.

Eurasian Scops Owl - taken at Shah Oilfield.

Wood Warbler -  scarce in both spring & autumn. But, I have a good chance later in the year.

Wood Warbler

Green Warbler - much rarer than the above species, but AD Island used to be the place to see it! A less than even chance.

Green Warbler: taken in SW India, not Abu Dhabi!

Sedge Warbler - an uncommon spring migrant, tends to come through late, so still a chance, even until the end of the month. Much scarcer in autumn. I have to get this species in the next two weeks.

Sedge Warbler: so far this spring
 only one record on AD Island & I missed it!

Thrush Nightingale - now is the time! Rare but regular in spring, harder in the fall. Make or break in the next week.

Thrush Nightingale: a young bird taken in autumn.

Red-breasted Flycatcher - I am not too worried about this one, as it is more regular in the autumn. I should see it.

Red-breasted Flycatcher: a young bird in autumn.

Common Rosefinch - uncommon & unpredictable in its occurrence. A bit of a worry, but should get it!

Common Rosefinch

All these species I need to get on the island, without seeing the vast majority of them, I won't get to my target of 330 species, for the year!

I had a quick run around the MPG's & 19th Street yesterday. (12th). I arrived mid-morning, which is not the best time, but it was productive:
a Crested Honey Buzzard is still hanging around (getting late for this species); a European Nightjar; 10 Spotted Flycatcher; 30 Marsh Warblers; 3 Willow Warblers; 2 Upchers Warblers; a Great Reed Warbler and 4 Blackcap. Not bad, but nothing new for the year list!

0 species added (288 species total): 80 kms travelled.

After a two day break, (15th),  I am back in the field. This time walking around the Emirates Palace Hotel. The weather is of course very hot, but a sea breeze is most welcome & cools me a little. The birding is once again slow, but there are a few migrants around & as I walk around a whittle them out:
a flock of c65 Saunder's Little Terns was noteworthy just offshore; a very late Pintail Snipe;

Not the best shots!

Pintail Snipe - notice the wing pattern.
European Roller; 1 Rufous Bush-Robin; 3 Spotted Flycatcher; 14 Marsh Warbler; a Willow Warbler; a Common Whitethroat & a Turkestan Shrike were the best.

0 species added (288 species total): 80 kms travelled.

It is 16th, I rush uip to Al Mamzar Park on the Dubai/Sharjah border, in ther vain hope of seeing a few migrants. An obliging European Nightjar, 1 Spotted Flycatcher & 3 Marsh Warblers were all I could find. I meet up with Khalifa & despite him playing the Sedge Warbler tape everywhere, the bird itself is nowhere to be found!

We move on to Al Warsen Lakes: 14 Grey Heron; 14 Black crowned Night Heron; 2 Purple & 3 Squacco Heron. A late Sand Martin circles over the water. A pair of both White-tailed Lapwing & Little Ringed Plovers are breeding here.
Khalifa then plays the Little Crake tape & we immediately get a response! Whow! But it is deep inside the reedbed & despite our best efforts, it is unwilling to be enticed into view. Dissapointment all round, because Khalifa has never seen one before & I can't add it to my year list! Heard's don't count!

European Nightjar sleeping on a large rock!

I am feeling a bit down at the moment - lots of effort, but nothing to show for it! I knew about Lynn Barber's Big Year in the States. Now here is the book of her year.

This book has been somewhat overshadowed of course, by that other book The Big Year, that recently was made into a film. But Lynn's book is about the nuts & bolts of big year listing, much more like the grind of everyday life. Big year listing is tough! I know!

If you want to read about Sandy Komito's epic Big Year in 1998 (he is one of the characters in the movie under a different name - Owen Wilson plays him in the movie), then click here. Talk about being driven!

0 species added (288 species total): 400 kms travelled.

It is Thursday, 17th & I have just finished work for the week. I thought I had better check the Little Crake recording just to be sure. The call we heard wasn't on my tape! I looked further & found the call we heard, an agitated Water Rail! Still a very good bird, but not one I can add to my list! Being present so late in the season, might indicate breeding at this site.

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