2017-04-24

Busy times

Permalink 15:51:46, Categories: Observation by Howard  

Just back from Egypt, no time to bird unfortunately just a brief visit to the Pyramids and a few walks along the Nile in Cairo however with that and the visit preparations out the way I now have time to update my web site - a factor that really does determine when and how often I can do this.


Wryneck
Wryneck

Wryneck

Wryneck

Wryneck

Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler

Whinchat
Whinchat

Waterpipit
Waterpipit

vittata a Pied Wheatear
vittata Pied Wheatear

vittata Pied Wheatear

vittata Pied Wheatear

Turnstone
Turnstone

Ringed Plover
Ringed Plover

Red-throated Pipit
Red-throated Pipit

Red-throated Pipit

Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit

Redshank
Redshank

Black-eared Kite
Black-eared Kite

Black-eared Kite

Black-eared Kite

Black-eared Kite

Socotra Cormorant
Socotra Cormorant

Pied Wheatear
Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

Alaskan or Siberian - Northern Wheatear
Alaskan or Siberian - Northern Wheatear

Masked Shrike
Masked Shrike

Isabelline Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Shrike
Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

Hoopoe
Hoopoe

Great White Egret
Great White Egret

Great Grey Shrike
Great Grey Shrike

Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear

Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt

Black-winged Stilt

Little Grebe nesting
Little Grebe nesting

Common Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper

Northern Cormorant
Northern Cormorant

Curlew Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Dunlin
Dunlin

Grey Plover
Grey Plover

Gull-billed Tern
Gull-billed Tern

Kentish Plover
Kentish Plover nest

Kentish Plover Chick

Little Tern
Little Tern

Permalink

2017-03-27

Time to finally nup date the page

Permalink 22:04:23, Categories: Observation by Howard, Admin - Howard King  

The last few weeks work and pleasure have gone into overload only now do I have time to up date the site. The weather has been the winner this month regardless - to sum up its been cold wet and worse still no change in access it remains - sticky icky on the tracks.


Durian Redstart
Durian Redstart

Durian Redstart

Durian Redstart

Durian Redstart

Durian Redstart

Black-eared Wheatear - not the best picture but interesting plumage
Black-eared Wheatear

Bluethroat
Blue-throat

Chiffchaff
Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Squacco Heron
Squacco Heron

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

Coot - only a few left now
Coot

Desert Warbler as seen in town
Desert Warbler

Palm Dove and Masked Shrike
Palm Dove and Masked Shrike

Palm Dove and Masked Shrike

Houbara Bustard
Houbara Bustard

Houbara Bustard

Hypocolius probably the last until they return in October

Hypocolius

Hypocolius

Isabelline Shrike - very high numbers this year
Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

Little Grebe
Little Grebe

Masked Shrike
Masked Shrike

Masked Shrike

Masked Shrike

Northern Wheatear
Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

Pied Wheatear
Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

Pintailed Snipe identified by the facial markings
Pintailed Snipe

Pintailed Snipe

Red-throated Pipit
Red-throated Pipit

Stonechat
Stonechat

Stonechat

Redbacked Shrike
Redbacked Shrike

Redbacked Shrike

Yellow Wagtails
Yellow Wagtails

Yellow Wagtails

Yellow Wagtails

Yellow Wagtails

Willow or Chiffchaff - my vote Willow
WARBLER

Saunders's Tern
Saunders's Tern

Saunders's Tern

Rock Thrush
Rock Thrush

Permalink

2017-03-26

The hunting technique of an Isabelline Shrike

Permalink 17:37:11, Categories: Observation by Howard  

Some days you see stuff you just cant believe actually happened worse still when you tell somebody they simply say "Oh really"? But and it is a big but, occasionally an event happens right in front of your eyes. The Gods are smiling, you have the camera already, it's pointed in the right direction. CLICK CLICK - So it was this occasion Lucky well yes maybe but the thing was I was there and given the weather I could so easily have stayed in bed. The day was the 10th of March location Buri; 14 seconds and 17 frames later is all over that was need to record what follows -



The hunting technique of an Isabelline Shrike

Ornithologically speaking the event that has stirred up most interest on my twitter feed these last few weeks was my photographic capture of the attempted predation of a Northern Wheatear by a Isabelline Shrike. An attempted ‘kill’ that only failed when the Shrike was momentarily distracted by the passage of a Marsh Harrier overhead and the Wheatear managed to escape, to wriggle free from the Shrikes clutches.

predatory Isabelline shrike

I was zeroing in on the Northern Wheatear when the attack happened, I should point out I was still in my car as the bird was on my side of a track in a field of okra. It was, as is usual in these encounters, staying just ahead of me, moving from bush to bush as I edged forward; distance wise, always the wrong side of too far for that classic close up photograph. Persistence and patience is as always the key, the Wheatear finally dropped to the ground to feed on some bug so I angled the car across the track to get a decent shot. Camera already out the window luckily for me, just as I had focused the Shrike struck. I had at that point not noticed the presence of the Isabelline Shrike myself; on reflection I don’t think the Wheatear had either.

predatory Isabelline shrike

The attack was incredibly fast; it came as if from nowhere. The Shrike struck from the rear landing on the Wheatears back. I just watched clicked away trying to keep the scuffling birds in focus, the car still in gear slowly angling closer by the microsecond. By the time the Wheatear had escaped and disappeared into the depths of the okra and the Shrike had moved to a distant fence line, I was left thinking ‘what the…’ not too certain what I had just witnessed however I did have a good number of usable frames on my camera in a time frame of only 14 seconds. Which on review turned out to be excluding the also-rans, 17 clear, reasonably focused images, which were much better than I dared hoped for, given the circumstance.

predatory Isabelline shrike

I only casually glanced through the images in the field too many other birds a calling to spend too long pondering what was, or what might have been. It was only when I got home and uploaded them to my big apple that the wealth of information and detail of the manner of the attempted ‘Kill” clearly visible on the images became apparent.

predatory Isabelline shrike

So how does a Shrike “Kill” or should we ask how does such a small predatory species take down another bird virtually its own size. On this occasion the key to the Shrikes’ strike was the use of its feet combined with its natural speed, stealth and strength.

predatory Isabelline shrike

To summarize – an extremely fast attack from the rear onto the victims back enabling the Shrike to grab the victim high up on both legs all in the same movement. Clamped onto the femur, the Shrike is then able to spread-eagle the legs causing the victim to collapse to the ground in an instant. With the victim pinned to the floor the Shrike is perfected placed then to attack the neck and throat as they became openly exposed as the victim instinctively turns its head to face and fend of the attacker.

predatory Isabelline shrike

Had the Marsh Harrier not passed over I am certain the outcome would have been in favour of the Shrike and my series of snaps would have run to a few but bloody dozen more.

predatory Isabelline shrike

Permalink

2017-03-04

A weekend of contrasts weather wise

Permalink 16:10:36, Categories: Observation by Howard  

Friday was a pleasant day no matter which way you look back on it, bright sunny and reasonably calm whereas Saturday was a complete opposite blustery with tremendous thunderstorms, the lightning and rain were at times spectacular.

Bird wise not a lot to report - some early Red-throated Thrush had led me last week to a personal first, a female Black-throated. This week I saw several males in the same area indicating a small influx as has been the case with this species in the past. Some close misses with the camera though had remained the story as earlier in the week - seen observed and no clicks unfortunately as well for a host of migrants and wintering species. But there were some notable exceptions as follows

Crested Honey Buzzard first static images for me of this species
Crested Honey Buzzard

Crested Honey Buzzard

Crested Honey Buzzard

Crested Honey Buzzard

Caspian Plover - turning up in same area of Buri as in past years - they just love manure heaps
Caspian Plover

Sociable Plover a chance encounter while driving between Jasra and Hamalah
Sociable Plover

Hypocolius still a lot around here taking cover from the rain but wont be long now however before their departure
Hypocolius

Isabelline but a very Brown looking shrike - the white patches are not however consistent with Brown so is it a hybrid ?? or just a dark individual
Isabelline or brown shrike

Isabelline Wheatear taking in and enjoying the early morning rays
Isabelline Wheatear

Great Black-headed Gull an unexpected overhead visitor while en route to Jarada Island
Great Black-headed Gull

Channel Marker for entrance to Bahrain deep water sea port with Lesser Created Terns and a pale looking large Gull
Channel Marker

Jarada Island a disappointing Friday afternoon trip bird wise it was full of people
Jerada

Jerada

Lesser White-throat most probably Desert
Lesser White-throat

Lesser White-throat

Lesser White-throat

Meneteries Warbler this one turned up in my garden in Manama
Meneteries Warbler

Nightingale
Nightingale

Pied Wheatear now the most frequently seen Wheatear
Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

Prina or Graceful Warbler
Prina Graceful Warbler

Red-tailed Wheatear - extremely territorial seems to be only tolerant of Mournings
Red-tailed Wheatear

Red-tailed Wheatear

Red-tailed Wheatear

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush enjoying the scenery as the desert blooms after these spring rains
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush

Song Thrush feeding on a road side verge at Amwaj Islands resort
Song Thrush

Song Thrush

Song Thrush

Starling another obs from the garden this last week
Starling

Tawny Pipit
Tawny Pipit

Woodchat Shrike - a sizable passage again this year
Woodchat Shrike

Woodchat Shrike

Woodchat Shrike

Woodchat Shrike

Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper

Redshank - just a high tide huddle off
Redshank

Kingfisher enjoying the sea side in front of Arad Fort
Kingfisher

Dunlin
Dunlin

Permalink

2017-02-25

Windy but now dry but the good thing is migrants are on the move

Permalink 18:05:18, Categories: Observation by Howard  

This weekend was really frustrating, the weather although drafty was OK and there was at least plenty to photograph with the migration really beginning to take hold but and it was a big but, nothing really wanted to play ball. If it could move before the final click it did. Working around driving hazards, wet and waterlogged ground and access ways brought the usually results a sticky end as expected but it was the nature of many an encounter that was odd. It appeared that the birds had other things on there minds unfortunately having a snapshot taken wasn't one of them.

Black-eared Wheatear - female, a rather odd encounter just kept the same aspect to me all the time
Black-eared Wheatear

Blue Rock Thrush remain just the wrong side of close for a good picture
Blue Rock Thrush

Chiffchaff - fast feeders that wiz through a bush or tree approach not the problem - find focus and click speeds were
Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

\Chiffchaff

Great Grey Shrike
Great Grey Shrike

Great Grey Shrike

Hypocolius found a nice sized flock close to two hundred in a totally inaccessible site so I didnt spend much time watching after the generally bins count was done
Hypocolius

Ruff
Ruff

Stonechat as confiding as ever but about to depart after wintering
Stonechat

Stonechat

Thrush large numbers around but always elusive
Thrush

NOT a Red Throated Robin as I had guessed given its odd appearance turns out this is Black-throated Thrush female It was really hard work to get anywhere close to this bird but not upset I then got the ID wrong - IN FACT QUITE THE CONTRARY I'm really happy with the mistake as this turns out to be first for me
My thanks to people on my Twitter feed and to Gavin Farnell over in Qatar still there are over a dozens real Red throated around in Buri hopefully they will remain til next w/e
White-throated Robin

White-throated Robin

White-throated Robin

White-throated Robin

The frustrates - included Corn and Ortalan Bunting, Red-throated, meadow and tree Pipits, Greater and Lesser Larks plus many warblers seen rather often glimpsed

Permalink

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