02 March 2012

Some bonus birds on a bonus day - Dhahran Hills

On the 29th February, a bonus day really as it only happens once every four years, I went to look at the spray fields to see what I could find. The weather was humid and very dusty and they were not spraying when I got there so I was able to go into the field and look to see what birds may be lurking in the long grass and weeds. As I was walking along the embankment I saw a nice male Woodchat Shrike sitting in one of the bushes and whilst scanning the spray heads and bushes in the spray fields themselves I located another two Woodchat Shrikes. These are the first Woodchat Shrikes I have seen in Dhahran Camp this year although I have seen them at Jubail and Damman previously this year.
Woodchat Shrike

I did  not see too much else along the embankment so went into the fields and quickly found four Corn Buntings in the long grass. A large warbler flew out and landed further in the weeds and on close inspection it turned out the be a Caspian Reed Warbler. I saw another four Caspian Reed Warblers as well as a single Clamorous Reed Warbler in the tall Phragmites reeds in one corner of the spray fields. Five Bluethroats were in the long grass along with six Siberian Stonechats and one variagata Caspian Stonechat showed very well in the tall scrub at the edge of the field. This is the first time I have seen this sub-species on the 'patch'. Two Meadow Pipits were feeding in the shorter grass underneath one of the spray heads and 22 Water Pipits were flushed from the field. At the edge of the fields were one Song Thrush, one Isabelline Wheatear in very worn plumage and seven Tawny Pipits. The Scrubby Desert area had three Desert Wheatears and the trees surrounding the percolation pond had 40+ Common Chiffchaffs, three Bluethroats and a Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin which is the first returning bird I have seen this year and was in the same place where they bred last year. The Western Great Egret was still present on the edge of the pond.