25 October 2012

Isabelline Wheatear - Dhahran Hills

Temperatures are finally starting to drop and the weather is becoming a little cloudy but things are far from cool at 33 degrees Celsius at 16:30 hrs. Today I did my normal routine of looking first at the wet drainage ditch and the settling pond on the way to the spray fields. I then park the car and walk around the edge of the spray fields, through some scrubby desert and around the back of the percolation pond. Then check the pond itself from the path in front of the pond and back through the spray fields to the car. Daylight is becoming short now and it is dark by 17:30 hrs and I am not back from work and out birding until 16:20 hrs at the earliest so not much time for birding. It is still better to spend an hour birding than not at all as you never know what you may find in Dhahran. A few good birds are still around with a female Western Marsh Harrier allowing close approach whilst sitting on the ground in the late evening being a nice sight and a Common Kestrel flying over the spray fields being the only other bird of prey seen. The biggest increase in number of birds has been the steady rise in numbers of White Wagtails which are arriving for the winter and 16 birds seen feeding along the edge of the settling pond being an indication of how many are now in the area. The only waders seen were four Wood Sandpipers, ten Common Snipe and a Pin-tailed Snipe on the settling pond.  Pin-tailed Snipe is a vagrant to the Eastern province with only eight records but they are regular in nearby Bahrain according to Howard King who has lived there for many years. I suspect they are probably regular in the Eastern Province to as I have seen five different birds but getting good enough views to identify them is often tricky. There were five Mallards, four males and a female on the percolation pond along with a Squacco Heron and the Great Crested Grebe. Two Daurian Shrikes were hunting from an exposed bush near to the spray fields, an Isabelline Wheatear was also in the same area and 50+ Barn Swallows were hunting insects over the settling pond and percolation pond. A few groups of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters are still passing over and a single European Bee-eater was with them. The only other bird of note was a single male Desert Wheatear which is my first returning bird of the autumn/winter.
Isabelline Wheatear