13 September 2013

Migration really picking up – Sabkhat Al Fasl

My weekly trip to Sabkhat Al Fasl produced a good selection of migrants although in small numbers. Whilst driving down the track into the site a Pied Wheatear was located in the small shrubs along the track and close by was an unusually marked Spotted Flycatcher with a reddish tail and rufous on the breast under the wings. A grey shrike briefly chased the flycatcher but identification was not confirmed as it was seen too briefly and not relocated. A Purple heron was also seen in flight but again we failed to relocate the bird.
Spotted Flycatcher
Driving around it was apparent waders were still about in good numbers with Terek Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Little Stint and Common Sandpiper all see in a small area. Four Temminck’s Stints were a good count and a couple of Common Snipe were also seen in the pools by the reeds. Plenty of Yellow Wagtails were seen including Yellow-headed lutea and Sykes’s Wagtail bema and a single well marked juvenile Citrine Wagtail, in almost the same place as last week’s bird but not the same bird as this one was better marked. The scrape had a good number of waders including a juvenile Collared Pratincole that allowed reasonable views and was my first sighting of the species this autumn although many others have been seen by other birders.
Collared Pratincole - juvenile

Other good birds seen included Tree Pipits and Red-throated Pipits in small numbers and smart male Siberian Stonechat. Several Eurasian Hoopoes, Daurian Shrike, a single European Bee-eater and two Ortolan Buntings were also present. Purple Swamphen were also plentiful with one bird giving particularly good views and was so close I could not fit it in the viewfinder of my camera.
Purple Swamphen
Finally we went to the sabkha area which had a lot more water than in recent trips to the site. As a result it was full of waders and terns with thousands of birds present. Most birds were Kentish Plovers and Little Stints with well over a thousand of each species. Dunlins were also plentiful with 500+ birds as were Black-winged Stilts with a similar number of birds. Ruff, Broad-billed Sandpipers, Curlew Sandpipers, Grey Plovers, Common Redshanks, Marsh Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, Lesser Sand Plovers, Greater Sand Plovers and Whimbrel were all present in small numbers but Common Greenshank numbers were higher than I have ever seen at the site and were well over 50. Tern numbers were also large with over 200 Caspian Terns, 50+ Gull-billed Terns and possibly 1000 Little Terns.
Broad-billed Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
Lesser Sand Plover