13 August 2013

Abu Arish Waste Water Treatment Ponds

This site is found by driving back towards Abu Arish from Malaki Dam Lake and before you get to the Malaki Dam Lake turn on the right you turn left to the Waste Water Treatment Ponds. It is best to look for all the water tankers turning and follow one of these, as there are hundreds of tankers using this facility every day. We spent the late afternoon of 3 July, until after dusk birding the Waste Water Treatment Ponds with the best area the bushy hinterland and basalt plain area near the last and cleanest lake and the small stream runoff areas. There is extensive vegetation in these areas and many bird species can be found.
Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse - male

The pools had one Northern Shoveller, two Glossy Ibis, five Western Cattle Egret and 20+ Squacco Herons, 20+ Black-winged Stilts, one Common Sandpiper, one Green Sandpiper and 20+ Eurasian Coots whilst the well vegetated areas held two Violet-backed Starlings, White-browed Coucal, 15+ Ruppell’s Weaver, ten Arabian Babblers, three White-spectacled Bulbuls, two White-throated Bee-eaters and a Black Bush Robins. The basalt areas had four Desert Larks and Blackstart.
Violet-backed Starling - male
Violet-backed Starling - female
Whilst searching the tall vegetation I flushed six sandgrouse that appeared to be Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse but they disappeared before positive identification could be made. After calling Phil we walked to the area where they had appeared to land, but before we got close to them they flew again and were lost. After much looking we sat down on some basalt rocks and looked down at the well vegetated area and after a few minutes several Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse flew in and landed. Over the next hour we saw three different groups of birds making a minimum of 18 birds in total and eventually found some on the ground that we were able to photograph.
Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse - female
Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse - male (centre) & females (right & left)
Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse - male
Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse - male
We stayed at the site until dusk in the hope we would see Nubian Nightjar and as soon as dusk approached we had Nubian Nightjars flying around and another group of ten Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse flew past. The best area for the Nubian Nightjars was just back up the road from the barrier to the crushing plant and next to the last lake. Here birds could be seen flying from the basalt area to the scrub by the side of the pond with two other birds also seen on the road in the torchlight. We saw a minimum of six Nubian Nightjars at this location and reasonable views could be had. The best period for locating the species is during full moon periods when the birds are most active and they can often be seen sitting on the roads and tracks just as dusk is approaching and for approximately one hour afterwards.