25 April 2012

Lesser Grey Shrike - Dhahran Hills

A few new birds are still trickling into Dhahran with a new species for the year being virtually the last bird I saw late in the evening. This bird was an adult Lesser Grey Shrike and looked slightly out of place amongst the many Daurian and Turkestan Shrikes. There appeared to be at least ‘karelini’ type hybrid shrikes present around the spray fields as well making it a good day for shrikes in general. I am still, however, awaiting my first Red-backed Shrike of the year, which did not turn up until the 1st May last year. The few small trees at one end of the spray fields had a Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin feeding around out in the open which gave great views and allowed time to study the odd behavior of these birds with wings and tail being flicked in a regular manner.
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

The area around the spray fields also held seven Ortolan Buntings, one Northern Wheatear, six Red-throated Pipits, four Willow Warblers but not much else excepting the Turkestan and Daurian Shrikes. The Black-winged Kite appears to have left the area as I have not seen it on my last two trips to the area. Large numbers of Sand Martins and Barn Swallows, totaling over 75 of each species were hawking insects over the fields and 30+ Pallid Swift were also flying over.
Turkestan Shrike
 The percolation pond is still relatively quiet, although a superb adult White-winged Tern was present for its second day on the pond. A Squacco Heron was feeding along one of the edges but apart from Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhen and Little Grebe there was little on the pond itself. The trees surrounding the pond had Eastern Olivaceous Warblers getting ready to start breeding as well as two Spotted Flycatchers, one female Common Redstart and a group of seven European Bee-eaters perched on the fence and flying about over the water. Waders included three Black-winged Stilts, one Green Sandpiper and 13 Wood Sandpipers feeding on the pools outside the fence of the pond itself.
European Bee-eater

Squacco Heron

Wood Sandpipers