02 April 2012

Two new 'Patch' species in a day - Dhahran Hills

The ‘patch’ has again turned up a really good bird in the form of the Black-winged Kite, a first for the Eastern Province and this followed by a White-spectacled Bulbul at Sabkhat Al Fasl, a second for the Eastern Province, made the weekends birding one to remember. Spring looks like it has really started now but birds are still thin on the ground. When you compare this to the fantastic news coming out of Israel on the amount and number of migrants they have it shows we have to work hard for our good birds but adds spice to the mix when one is found. I did, however, have two new species on the patch on 31st March. These were a Common Grasshopper Warbler in the tall grass alongside the perimeter fence of the percolation pond. The bird flew a short distance and then ran under the undergrowth of bushes and tried to hide. Even though it was well concealed I got really good views of it as it felt safe under the dense cover. Eventually it came back out and went back to the tall grass area where it was almost impossible to see. The second new bird was a European Wryneck which was seen in the trees around the Spray Fields. This is an unusual species in Dhahran but is seen annually, although I failed to see any last year, Phil saw one. The bird was very difficult to get good views of and kept hidden for the majority of the time and this combined with the dusty and overcast conditions made it difficult to photograph well. I managed some poor shots but as I have not photographed the species before I have enclosed here.

There was an Adult summer plumaged Great-black-headed Gull on the percolation pond on 29th March and a male Northern Shoveller was present on the same pond the next day. The Western Great Egret that has been around for more than a month flew in to roost in the late evening and a white phase Indian Reef Heron was sitting on one of the floating platforms. The spray fields had a very early Ortolan Bunting (for us at least) on 29th March and a Corn Bunting was present in the same area a day before. An adult male Lesser Kestrel was over the spray fields in the dusty conditions of the 30th March with a Hen Harrier over the same area the next day and both male and female Menetries’s Warblers were in the trees around the spray fields along with three Lesser Whitethroat and a Common Whitethroat. There Woodchat Shrikes, four Turkestan Shrikes and six Daurian Shrikes were around the spray fields giving good views at times and Red-throated, Tree, Tawny and Water Pipits are all still present in small numbers. Small groups of Wuropean Bee-eaters have been passing over for the last three days with the largest group totalling eleven birds. An adult male White-throated Robin was skulking around the undergrowth near the pond and several Tree Pipits were in the same area. Ten Common Swift were over the pond late in the evening of the 31st March and an adult male Little Crake was feeding along the reed fringed edge of the pond.

Turkestan Shrike (adult male)
Daurian Shrike (adult female)