Monday, 28 October 2013

August 2013 round up

After Carol's funeral, I had an overwhelming urge to get away, so I hired a car & went north. First I went to Thorne, for a night in the pub with old friends, followed by a day out on Thorne Moors (my old stomping ground, when I was a kid). The weather and the company of Bryan & Gary were superb. We saw Marsh Harrier and Peregrine as well as 2 Common Buzzards. But I really didn't go for the birding, I just wanted to experience an old familiar place again among friends. I really enjoyed the day, it brought me back, closer to nature.

 The wide expanse of Thorne Moors.

 It is pretty flat around here, 
so an kind of height advantage is readily used!

 Edge of the Will Pits area.

 Bryan & me.

Gary, looking very similar 
to one of the Gnomes of Dulwich!

From Thorne I drove a short distance up the motorway to Beverley. Here I spent the night with Martin & Amanda. It was good to see them again, but under such sad circumstances all of us were a bit subdued.

 Amanda, with a friend!



I then quickly moved on to Spurn & met up with a host of old friends. Some I hadn't seen for quite a while! I had a great three days here just mooching around & doing a little birding, but nothing too serious.

Roe Deer at Kilnsea, near Spurn.

Finally I went to see Jim & Ange & we had a long chat in the garden. I knew something was wrong when I saw Ange at Carol' funeral. But that was not the time to pry. Ange has cancer, she was diagnosed a year ago. She looked thin & ill, but her spirits seemed OK. I was later to find out that appearances can be very deceptive. I had a day out at Flamborough Head & nearby Bempton Cliffs. Most of the seabirds had moved on by now but many Gannets were still breeding. There are over 2,000 pairs here these days!

 Looking north from Flamborough Head.

The famous seabird cliffs at Bempton.

Heavily cropped.

I arrived back in Abu Dhabi on 11th August, alone. It feels very strange!

Back home in my kitchen, 
with the fridge magnet that Antonia
 had made for me!

My first birding trip is with Simon on 16th. We do the night drive across to Dibba & work the FNDF at dawn. The weather is surprisingly OK for this time of year. Hot yes, but not unbearably humid. 41 Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters are feeding above the fields; a Common Swift arrows overhead. We work the bushes & the fields, not a lot around, but we do find early Turkestan & Woodchat Shrikes. We take breakfast on the Goat Farm Track & are rewarded with first a Crested Honey Buzzard  over a distant field & then a European Honey Buzzard soaring above our heads. Simon gets some decent shots. I had my camera on a funny setting (my mistake) so all my shots were overexposed.

 European Honey Buzzard

All photos courtesy of Simon.

 The afternoon is spent on a pelagic off Kalba. It is nice to have a cool wind blowing by. It is a bit quiet, but 183 Persian Shearwaters; 17 Wilson’s Storm Petrel; a Brown Noddy and two fantastic adult Lesser Noddies were the pick.

Wilson's Petrels.

On 23rd I am in the Hamraniyah Fields. One small area is very wet & provides a good feeding area for a variety of waders, the best being 2 Collared Pratincoles; an amazing 52 Little Ringed Plovers; 6 Little & 10 Temminck’s Stints. The FNDF holds a Crested Honey Buzzard; 3 Wood Sandpipers; 2 Common Swift; 6 European Rollers; 5 Citrine Wagtails & a Rose-coloured Starling. I stay on after dark looking for Egyptian Nightjars but have no luck. However, on the way out I flush a very nice Pallid Scops Owl from the track & it perches in a bush very nicely.

The next morning I am again back at the dairy farm. Mostly the same birds but 10 Citrine; a Black-headed Wagtail; 2 newly arrived Variable Wheatears & 2 Rose-coloured Starlings. I check out Dibba Harbour & find an Arctic Skua & an adult Brown Noddy.
I am working in Jebel Dhanna midweek so the evening of 27th sees me teaming up with Khalifa & looking for migrants around the hotel & marsh: 6 Lesser Grey Shrikes were all adults in full summer plumage at the marsh. There was a Marsh Warbler in trees near the hotel. We then moved on to the Ruwais Water Treatment Plant. Birding was quite good with a Purple Heron; 2 Black-crowned Night Herons; an early Shoveler; a Marsh Harrier; 15 European Turtle Doves and a Namaqua Dove.

On the 30th we were offshore from Kalba again: 35 Wilson’s Storm Petrels; 172 Red-necked Phalaropes; 8 brown Noddy and 2 first summer/immature Lesser Noddies.The next morning on 31st I was working the FNDF again: a Pin-tailed Snipe; 2 Common Swifts; 2 European Rollers; 2 Grey & 11 Citrine Wagtails; 2 Common Whitethroat & 18 Rose-coloured Starlings. However Jacky & I had a late breakfast on the Goat Farm Track & it paid dividends big time, with an adult Red-headed Bunting (coming into full winter plumage) & a Black-headed Bunting. A great way to finish off the month!
Red headed Bunting. 
Photo courtesy of Mark Smiles, 
who photographed it the next day.

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