10 October 2013

Western Marsh Harriers returning for the winter – Sabkhat Al Fasl

An early morning trip to Sabkhat Al Fasl arriving at first light showed me that many Western Marsh Harriers had returned for the winter. At one point eight birds were in the air together and a minimum of twenty birds were seen during the day. As normal most birds were juveniles or adult females with only one adult male seen. A fine adult male Pallid Harrier was located hunting over the largest reed bed and two Western Ospreys were also around, one on the main flooded sabkha eating a fish and the other in flight by the concrete bunded area.
Western Marsh Harrier
Western Osprey

The weather was not very good with very strong northerly winds creating dust storms and as a result only a few migrant passerines were seen. This included three Spotted Flycatchers, my first returning male Common Redstart of the autumn and three Daurian Shrikes including a smart looking adult male. A single Greater Short-toed Lark, tens of Yellow Wagtails and several Barn Swallows made up the remaining migrants.
Barn Swallow
Yellow Wagtail
The wet areas, as always, held several Purple Swamphens and plenty of Common Moorhens with numerous Herons. Three Purple Herons were seen along with 50+ Grey Herons, 100+ Little Egrets and 25+Squacco Herons. Plenty of terns were enjoying the strong winds with Little Terns, Gull-billed Terns, Caspian Terns and White-winged Terns all present.  The only other birds of note were a few waders with 200+ Kentish Plovers, 50+ Little Stints, 50+ Black-winged Stilts, 30+ Dunlin, five Ruff, one Marsh Sandpiper and one Common Greenshank. The best bird of the day was a White-throated Kingfisher in almost the same place as I had seen one two months ago, unfortunately I again failed to get any photographs of the bird. Two Common Kingfishers were also in the same area as the White-throated Kingfisher.
Common Moorhen
Squacco Heron
Kentish Plover
Little Stint
Caspian Tern