17 February 2012

Sabkhat Al Fasl

As mentioned previously when we went to Sabkhat Al Fasl there were few birds about apart from Greater Spotted and Eastern Imperial Eagles. A few migrants were present but in very small numbers with ten Barn Swallows hawking insects over the open water area. A lot of White Wagtail were also present with much higher numbers than normal and well over 200 birds seen, so I am assuming these are a few migrant birds joining the wintering birds and swelling the numbers. A single Yellow wagtail was a new migrant and the first returning bird I have seen this year and looked very out of place amongst the White Wagtails. Wintering species were still present in good numbers with well over 3000 Greater Flamingos in two large flocks. Six Gadwalls and a single male Eurasian Wigeon were seen on the open water and in the scrubby area there was a single Daurian Shrike and two Siberian Stonechats. Three wintering Chiffchaffs were seen flitting about the reed beds and Clamorous Reed Warblers were calling loudly from the tall reeds, as they are early breeders and are currently setting up territories. Numbers of Water Pipit seem to have dropped slightly from the last time I was at the site.
Siberian Stonechat

Very few waders were seen apart from the very large numbers of Pied Avocets which easily exceed 500 birds. Little Stints, five Green Sandpipers, two Common Ringed Plovers, eight Common Greenshank and 155 Black-winged Stilts were the only other waders seen. Black-winged Stilt numbers are picking up at present so maybe a few migrants, or at least some local movement, is happening?
Little Stint

A few Caspian Terns flying about, plunge diving and catching fish and 11 Gull-billed Terns over the flooded Sabkha. Hundreds of Black-headed Gulls, 37 Steppe Gulls, six Caspian Gulls and two Heuglin’s Gulls were also present. Three Purple Swamphens and six Western Marsh Harriers were the only other birds of note.
Caspian Tern