2017-04-29

April the hottest since 1902 weather records show

Permalink 17:57:28, Categories: Observation by Howard  

The weather this last month has got its own back with unseasonable highs after the extremely wet and cool spring; I recorded 48c plus once this month according to my own personal weather sensor (my telephone) - mid 30c are normal for this time of the year. However surprisingly there are still quite a few migrants passing at local green wet spots while in contrast the shore has become bit of a ghost town other than for the odd lone wader and the locally breeding Terns, Herons and Egrets. For these local breeders it is more a place of refuge away from tending active nests. Things will start to get interesting on the shore again once fledged young join these adults. Surprisingly also some waders will also by then have started to return.

However in the meantime .......... Inland it is permanent water that is currently the key to finding birds be it from a simple drip line on a vegetable plot, a drainage ditch or to the environs of one of our ponds in our limited and decreasing wetland areas.

As a consequence on my last few field trips out I have ignored many of our better known wintering hot spots instead favoring those with water that I know will produce locally breeding or late migrant birds. Have I missed stuff as a consequence, probably yes.

Starting with a species that I have not seen since 1992

Black-winged Pratincole
Black-winged  Pratincole

Collared Pratincole the most frequently seen
Collared Pratincole

Having seen the two species in quick succession it was possible to make a photo composite for comparative purposes always useful in these circumstance as it becomes immediately clear just how much the two species vary in structure alone. Relative scale had to be guessed but was based on maintaining the eye level alignments and that of the bottom of the breast and junction of the leg.

Black-winged left and Collared Pratincole right
Black-winged and Collared Pratincoles

Cream-coloured Couser
Cream-coloured Couser

Cream-coloured Couser

Cream-coloured Couser

Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Wood Sandpiper in fact one of many seen - a species that has been extremely common this year
Wood Sandpiper

Upchers Warbler
Upchers Warbler

Turtle Dove
Turtle Dove

Temminck's Stint
Temminck's Stint

Temminck's Stint

Roller
Roller

Rufous Tailed Rock Thrush
Rock Thrush

Northern Wheatear
Northern Wheatear

Northern Cormorant
Northern Cormorant

Permalink

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

A Thrush SEEN feeding on a road side verge at Amwaj Islands resort but is it Song or is it Thistle
Mistle Thrush

Mistle Thrush

Mistle 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

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