Returned from a washed out Christmas and New Year break in the UK to the much warmer climate of Bahrain even if at times it is a little breezy. Not a lot new around species wise but a few rarities did brighten things up.
While I was away a Linnet was found and photographed in Jid Ali by several people will put those in December obs while a male Chaffinch turned up at Hamalah to keep the female first seen there in December company.
Ist winter Red-throated Pipit
Corn Bunting one of many
Skylarks are everywhere
Siberian Stonechat female
Siberian Stonechat male
Last post of the year shall be away through Christmas
Strong winds and last months rain showers made access for observations difficult at times, there is nothing worse than being stuck in the mud. Even the desert is treacherous at this time; soft sand gains a hard crust, break through that at your peril if you want to get a nasty sinking feeling.
The month was interesting to say the least as the hunt for winter rarities turned up a Chaffinch, a sporadic winter visitor at Hamalah. Mind you it took me two weeks to finally get a photograph, otherwise standard winter fair other than to report the two Pied Kingfishers at Adhari grew to three with two more found in residence at Buhair ponds.A steppe Buzzard was really the only other notable species recored during the last two weeks.
Chaffinch at Hamalah
Steppe Buzzard at Hamalah
Black-necked Grebe at Buhair others now wintering Tubli and at the race course
Keeping company with little Grebes
Corn Bunting over twenty wintering at Hamalah
Blue-throat now numerous and wide spread
Marsh Harrier this one over Ras Sanad
Red-tailed Wheatear around a dozen on the Jebel Dakhan
Curlew only one on the fields whereas hundred along the shore
Hypocolius - took Willi Firbas from birdlife Internation Austria visiting his family here to view, over 300 seen that morning
Rose-ringed Parakeet and Mynah squabble over landing rights
Scally Breasted Munia
A Bishop possibly Yellow-crowned Bishop (juvenile)
The migration remains slow but among the birds seen were three rarities that make last few week outstanding
First up was a Yellow-browed Warbler (5th record)that had found its way ito a breeding avairy in Jidhafs on the 15th, the owner removed, photographed and released the bird.
In Buri seen for the briefest of moments allowing but a single shot this Siskin was found on the 20th. A first for me and the 8th record for Bahrain
Next was this WoodLark at Adhari - a first for me and only the 4th record for Bahrain on the 21st
Stonechats are everywhere here both male and female together at Buri
Squacco Heron numbers increasing now a successful resident breeder
Night Heron moving from juvenile to adult plumage
Littern Bittern a male
Great Reed Warbler
Great Grey Shrike
Curlew the birds that occupy the fields are different from those that occure solely on the shore
Graceful Warbler - Prinia
Hypocolius at the morning collectioon point in Jasra now over 300 present
Better late than never this weekend saw an increase in activity with the arrival of pipits and larks but warblers remain hard to find. A visit to the morning collection point in Jasra for the Hypocolius however proved fruitfal with more birds passing through than previously seen, over 200 this time.
Clamourous Reed Warbler now an established local vocal breeding species
Desert Wheatear good numbers now
Moorhen - juvenile
Great Northern Cormorant over flying the island - something Socotra would never do
Without a doubt land birds have been seriously affected by the hotter than usual temperatures in Bahrain this year with observation of the numbers of migrant species declining dramatically. The variety has gone - warblers are almost totally lacking, as are many lark and pipit species. Thrush Rollers and Oriels and many shrikes species either missing entirely from the record or only briefly glimpsed. With heavy rains and more irrigated areas in parts of Arabia making for larger green patches there and given the decreasing green spaces and open water here - are species changing their routes ignoring Bahrain - the lack of variety and numbers certainly makes me wonder. Even those that make it here now run the risk of being trapped the fate of many Wheatears and Kestrels or shot if you are a duck and water birds despite legislation banning hunting. A complete lack of environmental enforcement is to blame on this count - little point passing laws and having great legislation without application. This year I have seen an increase of trapping from Maharraq to the southern desert. It has to stop as does the rampant destruction of water courses, the grubbing up of thorn and other native trees plus the continual dumping of building waste on every bit of open ground. Is anybody actually managing the environment is a question I ask myself continuously every time I go out. Take a look at the litter now already visible around Sakir camping grounds to answer that question.
To start with a Pied Kingfisher in the ditches behind Adhari Park - an area that environmentally needs minimal improvement yet is earmarked for so-called accessibility preplanning - a prelude to development if you ask me - its time planners and those green finger consultants started going out and actually observing what is there in the way of endangered species - terrapins, frogs, fish, birds etc. they might then reconsider the nature of their so called improvement plans.
So back to what I did see thankfully we still have the shore and waders despite the best efforts of developers and planners to destroy much of the intertidal zone with new reclaimation however thanks to settlement time some good habitat still exists which compensated in a small way.
Extreme high tides this week brought a lot of waders to the shore
In with curlew Sandpipers
Common Sandpiper taking up wintering quarters
Curlew hundred in several flocks seen
Dunlin thousand the most numerous wader
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