08 March 2012

Western Osprey - Dhahran Hills

Yesterday at the percolation pond I saw a new species for me on the 'patch'. I had just arrived at the pond and was trying to count the group of duck sitting on the water, some hiding in the reeds and others out in the open. The duck were Garganey and there were 19 of them including some really smart males. I had just confirmed my count of 19 birds when all of them took to the air and on looking up I saw a Western Osprey flying over. The bird circled around a few times and then came right overhead before flying off over the adjacent camp. Western Osprey has been seen on a number of occasions in Dhahran Hills but not in the time I have been here, so it was an excellent start to the evenings birding.

 Western Osprey

The pond held few birds, excepting the Garganey, although the Western Great Egret was still present. I had a quick look at the wet pools where the crakes had been seen yesterday and saw three Little Crakes and two Spotted Crakes in the same place as the day before. A green Sandpiper was present on its favourite pool and allowed closer than normal approach alongside two Bluethroats. The flock of Red-rumped Swallows and Pallid Swift were still present as was a single Barn Swallow, but numbers had dropped from the day before to about 25+ of each species.
 Green Sandpiper

I had arranged to meet Phil at the spray fields to try to locate the Corn Buntings that I had seen a week or so before. On the way there I saw a male Daurian Shrike sitting on top of a bush and four Tawny Pipits in the desert area. A walk through the spray fields did not turn up any Corn Buntings but we did see a flock of 25+ Yellow-wagtails flying over including a number of Black-headed Wagtails and flushed four Common Quail as well as hearing a couple of other birds calling from the long grass. Four Skylarks were still present as were a number of Stonechats of different sub-species. A Caspian Stonechat (variegatus) was showing very well alongside the more usual Siberian Stonechat (maurus) and nearby was a European Stonechat (rubicola). A male, showing plumage characteristics of maurus but the tail pattern of variegatus was an odd bird and caused confusion – something to look into later when I have more time. Other good birds seen included at least two Woodchat Shrikes, six Song Thrushes, two Isabelline Wheatears and 30+ Water Pipits.
Daurian Shrike