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Last years 2012 best birding moment
I had the pleasure of some great company from a temporary visitor to Bahrain John Walker over the course of several weekends this autumn - its always a pleasure to show off some of our local specialities particularly the Hypocolius of which we have huge flocks of hundreds this year. The delight of seeing someone get not one but half a dozen or so "Lifers" in a day is always magic but it was none of those moments that made it to the top of my 2012 birding moments list. That spot is reserved for an encounter along with John of a Black-necked Grebe at the race course lake.
Normally I don't visit the lake on a Friday since during the morning there is too much disturbance as people prepare the tracks for the regular Friday afternoons racing card. However since John only had an occasional Friday off, I decided if we went early enough we could get in some good duck counts before too many people were up and about. The weather was calm but still a little hot well over 30c so I was not surprised that the ducks turned out to be somewhat disappointing in the number of species available. As we walked around the small lake at the far end amongst some reeds John caught a glimpse of a Little Bittern. Simply waiting quietly is normally a good strategy for these so we sat down on the bank to see if it would reappear. It didn't matter for our attention was soon caught by a sleeping Black-necked Grebe that was slowly floating about on the lake close at hand more to the point it was drifting in the light breeze, our way. Resting the camera on my knees i started clicking away with my camera, first at fifty or so feet, then closer and closer. Open your eyes please I kept thinking as it drifted slowly nearer. It finally did as I wished just a few feet away from us on the water. It looked up and stared us squarely in the face with its blood red eyes, not bothered at all by our presence, my frame count was already at around two hundred. I thought to myself I can now throw away the hundreds of .... distant images I have of Black-necked Grebes as it slowly and I mean slowly paddled away along the shore. Totally unexpected, totally mesmerising it was one of those moments that make all the years of chasing shadows worth while.
Pallid Harrier my favourite 2012 phtopgraph