16 Mar 2013

Shrikes – Sabkhat Al Fasl


A midweek trip to Sabkhat Al Fasl before a nearby meeting was the first time I have birded the site outside of the weekend. It was very quiet with respect to hunters and fishermen, which was a nice surprise. There were, however, plenty of shrikes about with one of the first birds seen a Mauryan (Steppe) Grey Shrike. The bird was using the small shrubs on the way into the site as a lookout for prey and was being quite successful in catching flying moths in the very early morning light. A little further into the site I found a second bird, this one slightly more marked on the lores with a darker bill making it look superficially like an Arabian (Southern) Grey Shrike. This area has been the best place to see the newly arrived Woodchat Shrikes, but today there were none present that I could see. Further down in the main birding areas near the reeds there were literally tens of both Turkestan and Daurian Shrikes. Turkestan Shrike numbers were greater by a factor of at least two with a minimum of 40 birds seen. Some birds allowed very close approach and on one occasion I got so close to a Daurian Shrike I was unable to focus the camera lens. It was a pity the weather was a bit overcast as otherwise I would have been able to get some excellent photographs of the birds. Sabkhat Al Fasl is a very good location for shrikes in the spring with only Masked Shrike uncommon, although Lesser Grey Shrike is also less numerous than the others and will, hopefully, be arriving in a month or so.
Mauryan Grey Shrike
Mauryan Grey Shrike
Mauryan Grey Shrike
Turkestan Shrike
Daurian Shrike
Daurian Shrike

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