06 May 2013

Egyptian Nightjar and more – Sabkhat Al Fasl

An early morning trip to Sabkhat Al Fasl last Thursday produced an unusual record of an Egyptian Nightjar. The bird was flushed from below a Tamarisk bush and flew a short distance allowing identification in flight as an Egyptian Nightjar. It was then located out in the open and a couple of photos taken to confirm its identification. Egyptian Nightjar is a regular visitor to the site and can been seen most years, but these record are from the summer months of June and July. As far as I know there are no spring records, but I am sure they must pass through each spring. It would be interesting to know if the birds breed in this area. There are no confirmed breeding records for Arabia, but the regular occurrence of birds in summer in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait lead to the suspicion they may breed in the region.
Egyptian Nightjar
The drive into the site produced 20 Red-backed Shrikes and a stunning European Roller sitting in a bush. European Roller is not a common sight at Sabkaht Al Fasl but this is the third record of the spring for me this year. Other good birds seen included a flock of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters catching insects and allowing me to try to photograph them in flight, not an easy job. A few European Bee-eaters were also flying about. Turkestan Shrikes were seen in reasonable numbers but only two Daurian Shrikes were noted amongst them.
Red-backed Shrike - adult male
European Roller
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
European Bee-eater
Turkestan Shrike
Other migrants included four Upcher’s Warblers, continuing the good spring for this species and many Willow Warblers. Several Red-throated and Tree Pipits were still present but more surprisingly a late Tawny Pipit. Good numbers of the late arriving Spotted Flycatcher are now in and more than ten were seen during the day. Whinchat numbers still remain high with again about ten birds seen. A juvenile Purple Heron was flushed from the reeds and landed briefly in the open before flying off again back into the reed beds. Other herons included a few Little Egrets and 20+ Squacco Herons.
Upcher's Wabler
Spotted Flycatcher
Purple Heron - juvenile
Squacco Heron
The large amount of rain that has occurred in recent days made the water levels high and plenty of wet pools had been created that were to the liking of the migrating waders. Three Temminck’s Stints were quite unusual for this time of year but Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers were not. There were at least 500 Curlew Sandpipers and 300+ Little Stints but only a handful of Wood Sandpiper.
Temminck's Stint
Curlew Sandpiper