30 August 2013

Plenty of migrants – Sabkhat Al Fasl

An early morning trip to Sabkhat Al Fasl had us arriving in the hope of seeing Egyptian Nightjar. August is the best month for seeing this species at the site and one was seen last weekend apparently, but alas we failed. We did, however, have a very good mornings birding before it became too hot to continue. The first bird we saw was an early Spotted Flycatcher in the trees along the entrance track. After moving to the back of the site we found plenty of Purple Swamphens that are now seen more regularly that the disturbance has reduced. A single Eurasian Curlew was out of place at the reed edge and a few Squacco Herons were present. A Lesser Grey Shrike was seen along the reeds, which was joined by three more birds, with a total of ten seen during the day. Other shrikes seen were a single very worn Turkestan/Daurian Shrike and a single Southern Grey Shrike. Barn Swallows and Sand Martins were plentiful but the next surprise was an adult European Roller. European Rollers can be seen in August but they are almost invariably juveniles so seeing an adult was a surprise. Late on we saw another juvenile bird and probably a second adult making three birds in total. A few terns were flying around including White-cheeked and Little Terns but not much else.
European Roller
Moving around the site we located a few Isabelline Wheatears, some hiding under the bushes out of the hot sun. Plenty of Yellow Wagtails in various plumages were seen and heard and four Rufous-tailed Scrub Robins were along the reed edges. European Hoopoe is a migrant to the site and up to ten were seen during the day. A walk along the scrubby reed edges produced no Egyptian Nightjars but we did see an odd warbler in the scrub that turned out to be a European Reed Warbler. Groups of Green Sandpipers including one of sixteen together were seen and several Black-winged Stilts. Other waders were six Little Stints, two Temminck’s Stints, two Little Ringed Plovers and a Wood Sandpiper.
Isabelline Wheatear
Temminck's Stint

Going to the flooded Sabkhat area produced a huge number of waders. Thousands of birds were seen here, mainly Dunlin, Little Stint, Kentish Plover and Lesser Sand Plover with several thousand of each. Plenty of Greater Sand Plover, Terek Sandpipers and hundreds of Common Ringed Plovers were seen with eleven Broad-billed Sandpipers feeding along the muddy margins. Two juvenile Collared Pratincoles were seen by another local birder but not by me. Large numbers of terns were also seen including hundreds of Little Terns and Gull-billed Terns, one White-winged Tern and three Caspian Terns. Ten Pied Avocets, 11 Garganey, 50+ Greater Flamingos and several Ruddy Turnstones made up the remainder of the good birds seen. All in all this turned out to be a good mornings birding and we left for home happy with our efforts.
White-winged Tern