10/28/10

South Africa (ZA)   Late Autumn Birding  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:59:06 am

Week 43 - 23 October 2010, Pivot Fields, Jahra Pools Reserve and SAANR

A delayed posting from last weekends birding as I have been travelling this week. Some good birds had been seen again during last week, so this mornings early start held some promise. Images by Mike Pope


The Pivot Fields is the first port of call on the way to SAANR from where I live and again I was at the gates by 6:45. Indeed, the day did start off promising when the first bird seen was a Rosy Starling

Rosy Starling

A Daurian Shrike sitting among the Sparrows below the Starling was almost not noticed

Daurian Shrike

Whilst watching the Starling, a passing truck put up a Roller and knowing that Graham Whitehead had seen an Indian Roller on the 9th October I knew this might be the same bird - I wasnt wrong and another great bird for the morning

Indian Roller

A slow drive around the farm produced the first Northern Lapwings for the winter

Northern Lapwing

The large eagles have now arrived and it was fantastic to get up close to the impressive Eastern Imperial Eagles

Eastern Imperial Eagle

Eastern Imperial Eagle

Eastern Imperial Eagle

As well as the slightly smaller Greater Spotted Eagles

Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle

Pekka Fagel, Brian Foster, Mike and Sylvia Newey were also here and had seen a Crested Honey Buzzard, the 2nd for this year! Whilst catching up we had a Pallid Harrier fly by

Pallid Harrier

I continued on my patrol, picking up the White Storks which are still here

White Stork

A juvenile Black-crowned Sparrow Lark with a rather large meal

Black-crowned Sparrow Lark

White Wagtails are now here in numbers, but in between them I picked out a Citrine Wagtail (showing horse-shoe around ear coverts and white vent)

Citrine Wagtail

not far from the first, a female Citrine Wagtails showing a grey not green mantle, but not dissimilar to a juvenile Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Continuing I picked up the first Water Pipit's of the winter

Water Pipit

A Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

A Steppe Buzzard whose numbers have now decreased substantially as the bulk have migrated south

Steppe Buzzard

It was time to head to the next location and my 2nd stop was Jahra Pools where some water has again been pumped in. There were quite a few duck at the far end of the pan so difficult to identify without a scope. However, when a raptor flushed them I was able to at least confirm Pintail and Teal

Pintail and Teal

There is always a possibility of something unexpected and so it was when a Western Great Egret dropped in for a drink, I bird I havent seen for quite some time

Western Great Egret

not much else was seen and it was getting late in the morning, so I headed to SAANR. On the way I had my 3rd big eagle of the day in the form of Steppe Eagles who were getting airborne after a night on the deck, as the temperatures were rising

Steppe Eagle

Steppe Eagle

Steppe Eagle

I had arrived at a 'dead' time of the morning and no birds were seen at Tuhla or the wadi pan. The larger eagles do drop in later in the day to refuel on water, but I didnt have that time available. So, I checked the wadi on the ridge where I flushed a roosting male Kestrel (showing a few black spots on the upperparts) from the overhang of the wadi. Getting a photograph was a challenge in the strong wind blowing up the valley

Kestrel

The White-crowned Wheatear is still present and I got one chance for an image as it perched on a rock in the sun

White-crowned Wheatear

On the way to meeting my family for lunch, I stopped in Sulaibikhat as there was a favourable high tide. The Greater Flamingos were in fairly close, here a single juvenile with the adults

Greater Flamingo

A Caspian Tern flying up the coast

Caspian Tern

Small numbers of waders are still present and included - Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover

Dunlin

Dunlin

The resident Kentish Plovers

Kentish Plover

I saw my first Black-headed Gulls for the winter

Black-headed Gull

Large white-headed Gulls are still present in numbers, this I think is a taimyrensis type Hueglin's Gull (thanks to Yoav)

Heuglins Gull

A possible Caspian Gull with flat forehead and long straight bill

Caspian Gull

A possible Steppe Gull with a steeper forehead, small eye and also a long straight bill

Steppe Gull

A possible Heuglins Gull with a heavier body and slightly darker upperparts

Heuglins Gull

10/10/10

South Africa (ZA)   Quality not Quantity  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 06:28:12 pm

Week 41 - 09 October 2010, Pivot Fields, SAANR and Jahra Pools Reserve

It is very frustrating when a rarity is found mid-week by one of our active birders and you have to wait until the weekend to chase it, hoping that it is still present. Images by Mike Pope


I started off the morning at Pivot Fields where I also caught up with Graham Whitehead who was out early. Driving through the gate first bird was a Daurian Shrike

Daurian Shrike

A number of Great Reed Warblers were seen in the reeds at the Croc pond

Great Reed Warbler

I think this may be a juvenile Turkestan Shrike

Turkestan Shrike

The flock of 27 White Storks has been present for a few days now

White Stork

Greater Spotted Eagles have made a welcome return

Greater Spotted Eagle

I spent some time near one of the pivot irrigations and had a Long-legged Buzzards (ID features are the slender legs, head shape (elongated snout)and amount of white on head and body), in amongst about 32 Black Kites

Long-legged Buzzard

A couple of Common Kestrels were hunting from the top of the irrigation system

Common Kestrel

Two Cuckoos were also using the pivot as an observation platform in search of green caterpillars

Cuckoo

Cuckoo

Still present was a lone Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

A single male Lesser Kestrel was an unexpected surprise

Lesser Kestrel

Lesser Kestrel

A Corn Bunting perched on the irrigation after being disturbed in the fields

Corn Bunting

White Wagtails have now arrived and will slowly start replacing the Yellow Wagtails whose numbers are diminishing

White Wagtail

A few juvenile Collared Pratincoles were seen in small pools on the way out, as it was time to head to SAANR

Collared Pratincole

Once through the gates at SAANR, I headed straight to the wadi on the ridge where the juvenile White-crowned Wheatear (13th record) had been seen earlier this week. I had just started walking along the ridge of the wadi, when this Arabian Red Fox bolted across the base

Arabian Red Fox

Fortunately, it stopped briefly for a proper photograph

Arabian Red Fox

Luck was on my side and the first bird I saw a little further on in the wadi was the juvenile White-crowned Wheatear (a lifer for me) found on 3rd October by Hamoud Al-Shayji. There is a tiny hint of white starting to appear through the crown. The bird stayed low in the wadi and was not easy to photograph, but was still satisfying to twitch

White-crowned Wheatear

White-crowned Wheatear

White-crowned Wheatear

With the pressure off, I also found Mourning Wheatear on the way back to the car

Mourning Wheatear

I headed to Tuhla where the White-throated Kingfisher was still present

White-throated Kingfisher

I saw an Accipiter fly into a tree and then drop down to drink at the base, I slowly drove forward careful not to disturb it and was really surprised to see another already drinking. Luck was with me as they were two different species, the first an female Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

and the second with its yellow eyes and central throat stripe, a stunning Shikra

Shikra

after a few tentative moments I was rewarded with the two birds drinking together, truly a treat as both birds are not normally this confiding

Sparrowhawk and Shikra

Sparrowhawk and Shikra

after they departed, a male Pallid Harrier dropped in for a drink

Pallid Harrier

Pallid Harrier

a stop at the wadi pan on the way to Jahra Pools produced the usual Larks and two juvenile Ringed Plovers

Ringed Plover

I only had another 45-minutes birding time left and stopped at Jahra Pool to look for a possible Jack Snipe and got what was the bird of the day for me and my 2nd lifer - a Sooty Falcon! It flew up from one of the pools after a drink, got onto a thermal and disappeared out of the reserve. Of interest is that the last confirmed record of this species was seen by Brian Foster and George Gregory on 08 October 2004 at Jahra Farm - so 6-years ago, almost to the day!

Sooty Falcon

Sooty Falcon

Sooty Falcon

after all that excitement, the other birds seen were a bit pedestrian, a small flock of Garganey

Garganey

Garganey

out of my way pip squeak

Little Stint and Moorhen

White-tailed Lapwing is still present

White-tailed Lapwing

a Tawny Pipit was the last bird seen for the morning for this very satisfied birder

Tawny Pipit

South Africa (ZA)   A Gluttony of Gulls  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 05:56:22 pm

Week 41 - 07 October 2010, Sharq Harbour

30-minutes spent at Sharq Harbour before work was quite entertaining, as I watched a variety of large white-headed gulls contesting for discarded fish from one of the fishing boats. Images by Mike Pope


I won't try and identify the gulls in the action shots, needless to say some picked up their booty and flew off to consume in peace away from the masses

Feeding Gull

One juvenile harrassing another unsuccessfully

Feeding Gull

Plucked from the surface

Feeding Gull

and swallowed on the wing

Feeding Gull

This one struggled to get what seemed too big a fish down it's gullet

Feeding Gull

another snatched off the surface

Feeding Gull

and devoured before it could be hijacked

Feeding Gull

here are a few other gulls patrolling the harbour before the fresh free meal, Armenian Gull I think?

Armenian Gull?

same Gull, different angle

Armenian Gull?

Not sure of this one

Gull

Possible Heuglins Gull?

Heuglins Gull?

Heuglins Gull?

Heuglins Gull?

10/03/10

South Africa (ZA)   Winds of Change  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 05:14:48 pm

Week 40 - 28 September 2010, Green Island

In the past week and this weekend the winds have shifted 180 degrees from NW to SE, bringing hot conditions with some humidity. This led to a very quiet migration this past weekend. Images by Mike Pope


I stopped at Green Island early one morning for 30-minutes and had very little signs of the autumn migration. A Pied Wheatear was seen near the entrance

Pied Wheatear

A few Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were feeding overhead

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

A handful of Lesser Whitethroats were seen and that wrapped up the activity within the man-made Island complex, pretty disappointing

Lesser Whitethroat


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