17 Sep 2012

Hundreds of Grey Heron - Sabkhat Al Fasl

Sabkhat Al Fasl was surprising quite on Friday for my early morning visit. There were few birds and thankfully few hunters although a few were still present shooting at the large numbers of herons that were present. I saw over 200 Grey Heron which is a very high count and 110 were in a single group out on the flooded sabkha. There was a scattering of migrants with Southern Grey Shrike, Mauryan Grey Shrike, Turkestan Shrike and Daurian Shrike all presnet on ones and twos with the Daurian Shrike being the first returning bird I have seen this autumn. A single Ortolan Bunting sitting on top on a dead reed stem was a nice surprise with five Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters present in the same area. Three Isabelline Wheatear were on the desert area on the way into the site and Yellow Wagtails were flying over calling all day long. There are still no signs of Greater Spotted Eagles but Western Marsh Harriers are back for the winter with three different birds seen. Most birds that use the site are immature or females. A Western Osprey was seen eating a large fish out on the Sabkha and plenty on Dunlin, Common Ringed Plover, Little Stint and Kentish Plover were feeding on the wet areas. As always good views were had of Purple Swamphen as can be seen from the below photograph.

Purple Swamphen
Daurian Shrike
Western Marsh Harrier
Yellow Wagtail

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