Thursday, 10 October 2013

October Round Up

October turned out to be a brilliant month! This round up doesn't do it justice. It is only the highlights of what was an exceptional month for birding in the UAE.
The 5th saw me driving the long straight road to Al Qua Fodder Field on the edge of the Empty Quarter. There were a few migrants around: 2 Pallid Harriers; 1 Lesser Kestrel; an unexpected Rufous Turtle Dove and 2 Steppe Grey Shrikes were the pick of the migrants.
The next day I was driving again, this time to Sila. A scattering of common migrants were on the headland: 1 Pallid Harrier; 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk; 3 Namqua Dove and a European Nightjar. But it was the Wheatears which stole the show: 65 Pieds & 12 Isabelline hopped around. A walk around Sila Park produced an unexpected surprise in the form of a Shikra. There was also a nice Hobby and 4 Barred Warblers showing nicely.
I was working at Dabbiyah again on 10th. Plenty of commoner migrants around, but a superb immature Steppe Eagle was in the plantation with the much commoner Greater Spotted Eagle. A great bird to get on my year list.
On 13th I had arranged a trip into the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve & what a day it turned out to be! 

The boys & girls are looking hard!

Arabian Oryx

Arabian (Mountain) Gazelle

Introduced Macqueens Bustards

5 Eurasian Griffon Vultures sat on a sand dune were fantastic, but one of them looked slightly odd! I made a mental note to check the identification features for Himalayan Griffon when I got home. I did, then looked at my photos & bingo! The first Himalayan Griffon Vulture for the UAE and possibly for the whole of Arabia! A fine Lappet-faced Vulture was also present.

 Himalayan Griffon Vulture with 
2 Eurasian Griffon Vultures

 Himalayan Griffon Vulture

I was working at Jebel Dhanna on 14th and among the commoner migrants I found a Common Rosefinch. Always a welcome bird.
Two days later I was at Dabbiyah again. The place was awash with migrants: a Blyth’s Reed Warbler called loudly from some phragmites scrub & eventually showed really nicely. 2 Red breasted Flycatchers were also new for my year list. But the best was yet to come, a wonderfully colourful Yellow-browed Warbler in the canopy in the plantation. A Common Rosefinch was near the accommodation block.What a bonus and what a great day’s birding!
On the 19th I was back at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve looking for you know what! No joy.

Neil - looking for Vultures!

 The 4 Eurasian Griffon Vultures were still there, but not their much rarer brethren. A fantastic 19 Lappet-faced Vultures were floating around and I also had great views of a pair of Desert Eagle Owls sat in a large tree. A really good day out.

 Lappet-faced Vulture

 Eurasian Griffon Vulture

Desert Eagle Owl

I was in BAB oilfiled on the 22nd and found yet another Common Rosefinch for the year.
26th saw me back in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and yet another surprise awaited me! A Cinerous (Black) Vulture with 13 Lappet-faced Vultures. The first confirmed record of a wild bird for the country.
 Cinerous Vulture - heavily cropped

Greater Hoopoe - Lark, quite common here.

I found yet another great raptor at Zakher Pools the next day: an adult female Amur Falcon. There was also a Hobby and a Barbary Falcon around as well.
Fujairah Port Beach held a Pomarine and 4 Arctic Skuas on the 28th and on the same day at the FNDF were 2 Crested Honey Buzzards; a Hobby; a Barbary Falcon; the first Oriental Skylark of the autumn and yet another Common Rosefinch!

What a great month!

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