08 November 2012

Plenty of birds - Sabkhat Al Fasl

A good mornings birding was had at Sabkhat Al Fasl on Thursday as there were many species to be seen in reasonable numbers. I did not really see anything too unusual, but got the best views of Greater Spotted Eagles I have had at the site (see next post for details). The only other bird of prey that I saw, apart from the Greater Spotted Eagles were Western Marsh Harriers with numbers now in the mid-teens at least. Heron numbers are still quite impressive with plenty of Squacco Herons and three Purple Herons as well as 11 Western Great Egrets and 40+ Grey Herons. The Sabkha area is now flooded again and large numbers of duck were present with 176 Eurasian Teal, seven Mallard and five Northern Pintail. Luckily there were no hunters present and the duck could feed, undisturbed, on the wetland area. 
Greater Spotted Eagle
Squacco Heron
Mauryan (Steppe) Grey Shrike
Daurian Shrike
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Clamorous Reed Warbler
Pied Wheatear
White Wagtail - M. a. dukhunensis

A few late migrants are still passing through with Mauryan (Steppe) Grey Shrike, Daurian Shrike and Turkestan Shrike all present in ones and twos, although whether these birds are winter visitors or migrants is difficult to ascertain. Good numbers of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, including adults and juveniles, were sitting on the low bushes around the site and Pied Wheatears were about in small numbers. Birds arriving for the winter included my first Bluethroats of the autumn as well as good number of Water Pipits and plenty of White Wagtails. The adult male birds we tend to get in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia have broad whitish fringes to the greater coverts making an obvious panel in the closed wing and showing similarities to the previously assigned race of White Wagtail Motacilla alba dukhunensis. Many birds of this race, occurring to the east of Saudi Arabia, have even broader white fringes that the photographed bird shown here, making an almost complete white panel. This race has been downgraded to M. a. alba in the latest  Helm Pipits and Wagtails book, but it is a distinctive type even if no longer regarded as a distinct race. Two Siberian Stonechats were colourful additions to the day list and resident birds were also showing well in the form of Purple Gallinule and Clamorous Reed Warbler. Wader numbers were still quite good with three Green Sandpiper, eight Common Snipe, five Sanderling, 100+ Dunlin, three Common Redshank, one Ruff and 200+ Common Ringed Plover.