It was one of those days when you don't expect anything to happen. A bit windy, but still rather hot and humid, our expectations were not high for the morning. AJ was already at Badaan Farm when I arrived at 6.30 parked up next to a flooded area where the irrigation system leaks into one small corner of the fields. It is a favourite corner of many species; since besides providing a handy drinking hole without having to descend into one of the drainage ditches, the fields of sorghum and millet have recently been cut. A lot of the crop remains as cut to dry out on the ground. The area also has some stands of grass around where the water accumulates with some barren furrows edged with the remaining taller stalks of millet, the perfect perch from which to hunt insects. It is a hot spot at the farm, heaven on earth if you are a sparrow, an exotic seed eater or a wagtail or just looking for a drink. Most species at the farm drop in on the area at some time during the day – particularly on Fridays when all other sprinklers and irrigation systems are off.
After exchanging our usual morning cryptic greeting an Ortolan Bunting was the first to put in a show. It didn’t stay long. So we both set out to tour the farm looking for anything new, not a lot was seen so I returned to the water hole first and found a distant Black-headed Bunting. AJ soon arrived but the Bunting disappeared in amongst the sparrows, (plague proportions of these) but with the Yellow Wagtails, a Stone Chat, several exotics, Pipits, Larks and Spanish Sparrows to entertain, he settled down to capture anything that came near the watering hole. I continued to tour the farm but had to pop out to get some petrol. When I returned AJ called me over and showed me some pictures he had just taken. I had thought it was going to be another escape but low and behold a Bunting stared out at me from the back of his camera what’s more it was a new species of Bunting one neither of us knew. Out came the book, Collins Field guide to Britain and Europe; we soon had it pegged as a House Bunting, as keeper of the list I knew it was a new record for Bahrain. I then had to clock it myself which I eventually did but the bird proved fairly elusive and rather timid when found in among the thousands of sparrows. I got good views of it from about 50m but it never came close enough for any further pictures. Satisfied ourselves however with the ID, we decided to put the pictures up on the Bird Forum for an independent confirmation. This was soon done and so we returned in the afternoon for another session but failed to locate the bird again although AJ was fairly certain he had glimpsed it the day before and it seemed likely it would stay around. Add to this the other good birds seen, it was a good day and the cold beer from my fridge after lunch to celebrate went down rather well. As did right at the end of the day the Caspian Plovers I spotted - a new species for Adrian who managed at a distance of 100m and in fast failing light to get a few pretty good pictures - It was hard enough to make out through the Bins.
The excepted name is now Mountain Bunting or Striolated Bunting not House for the species in the Middle East - Mountain Bunting Emberiza striolata
pictures by AJ See O&B with AJ for other images.
Other species that I photographed today follow but UNLIKE THE ABOVE of the more photogenic species - missed were Golden Oriole and Great Reed Warbler.
Stonechat a Female
What a day five Harriers at the same time at Badaan including two female Montagu's only our forth record for this species the first since 1992 - AJ had another Marsh Harrier this afternoon - an Adult
First up a Male Pallid Harrier
Next a 2cy male Marsh Harrier
A 2cy possibly 3cy male Marsh Harrier
The Montagu's Harrier's both female - first a badly lit flight picture note the second bird in the distance
My thanks to "skbirder" on the bird forum for ID pointers as follows
This bird - The underparts have streaking concentrated to upper breast. But the dark trailing edge to the primaries is rather sharply defined and together with regular primary barring - usually more irregular on Pallid - suggestive of Monty's/Hen
This was the same bird comments were
female (face pattern with lots of white around eye and cheek patch not reaching lores)conclusion - Female Montagu's
Montagu's female (face and underwing pattern)
White Western Reef Heron
Dark Western Reef Heron
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