South Africa (ZA)   A Raptor Festival amongst diminished Passerines  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 05:19:51 pm

Week 40, 06 October 07 - Al Abraq and Tuhla, SAANR

Brian Foster and I visited Al Abraq in the far west of Kuwait and then the pool at Tuhla in SAANR. The passerine numbers have definitely diminished, but today belonged to the Raptors - not great numbers, but fantastic variety - 10 species for a mornings birding and Al Abraq delivering yet again! Images by Mike Pope

The first raptors were some Steppe Eagles still roosting on the desert on route to the oasis. At Al Abraq the second raptor, was a magnificent pale phase Booted Eagle, our first for the autumn

Booted Eagle

Booted Eagle

A small passing flock of Black Kites were raptor number three. These were my first for the autumn

Black Kite

Black Kite

A lone Pallid Harrier followed after the Kites, number four

Pallid Harrier

The Spotted Eagles made their first appearance for this autumn, number five!

Spotted Eagle

Spotted Eagle

We inadvertently flushed a Common Buzzard roosting in some acacia trees, number six

Common Buzzard

There were numerous Sparrowhawks buzzing around the oasis - I managed to photograph an adult male and a juvenile, number seven!

Male Sparrowhawk

Juvenile Sparrowhawk

Suddenly a much bulkier bird flew out of an acacia where it was roosting - a Northern Goshawk, a new bird for me and raptor number eight!

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

We found a heavily streaked Sparrowhawk that has now been confirmed by Dick Forsman as a juvenile Levants Sparrowhawk (narrow wing tip with 4 fingers, dark eye, bold dark spots on breast and bold barring on flanks), a second new bird for me and raptor number nine!

Juvenile Levants Sparrowhawk

Juvenile Levants Sparrowhawk

We flushed a Teal that had made a stopover in the raised resovoir on the farm, I was lucky enough to get a half decent grab shot (to assist with ID) before it disappeared over the horizon


We did find some passerines that were still around, this male Stonechat is a first for the autimn and they now replace the Winchats seen earlier in the migration

Male Stonechat

The small flock of Rosefinches were present in the patch where they were previously found by Pekka and Brian


A Willow Warbler departing to gleen the next acacia

Willow Warbler

We found this Snipe hiding in the grass next to one of the irrigation ponds, only to discover it had been wounded by the local shooters


Brian and I had by now exhausted the oasis and quickly headed to the pool at Tuhla in SAANR, where our first bird was a Kestrel drinking from the pool - Raptor number ten for the morning


The numbers of Crested Larks around the pool have diminished substantially - probably due to the temperatures cooling down

Crested Lark

A large swift briefly joined the Barn Swallows and Sand Martins overhead, this Pallid Swift had a particulary large white throat patch that threw us for awhile

Pallid Swift

This skulking male Blackcap proved quite challenging to photograph

Male Blackcap

A dragonfly we have not previously seen - it certainly perches differently to any of the other similar coloured dragonflies


A juvenile Isabelline Shrike despatching a dragonfly, that looks very similar to the one that was earlier seen for the first time - stand out and be eaten?

Juvenile Isabelline Shrike


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