27 March 2012

Daurian, Turkestan & Mauryan Grey Shrikes - Sabkhat Al Fasl

An early arrival at Sabkhat Al Fasl was rewarded by good views of numerous migrants on the way into the site. The bushes and desert scrub areas were full of shrikes of three different species. The most common were Daurian Shrikes of which at least 35 different birds were seen at various locations around the site. Turkestan Shrike was also fairly numerous with seven birds seen and three Mauryan Grey Shrikes (Steppe Grey Shrike) were also located. Some of the birds allowed close approach and some good photographs were taken. I am assuming this was due to the birds being tiered after their migration and they were busy feeding up ready for their onward passage. Surprisingly I saw no Woodchat Shrikes, although I did see two birds the next day at the site. The majority of birds were adult males but there were a few second calendar year birds and females around as well. Below are a selection of the best photographs I took of the shrikes during the days birding showing how they vary in plumage. The large number of birds seen were the most I have seen at a single site in Saudi Arabia but I was not birding Sabkhat Al Fasl in the spring last years as I was concentrating on the ‘patch’ to see what I could find there. As a result I do not know if this is a good number for the site or not.
 Turkestan Shrike - adult male
 Turkestan Shrike - adult male
 Turkestan Shrike - female
 Daurian Shrike - adult male
 Daurian Shrike - female
Mauryan Grey Shrike
Mauryan Grey Shrike in flight