29 January 2014

A few flyovers & Stonechats – Sabkhat Al Fasl

A trip to Sabkhat Al Fasl was relatively quiet but still good birding was had. The winter has had and extended period of cool weather with temperatures on arrival at first light being only 10 degrees Celsius. Plenty of birds were seen flying over with 20+ Western Marsh Harriers along with a Greater Spotted Eagle and a Western Osprey. The Western Osprey was seen later on in a different area where it was seen trying to catch fish but without luck. Other birds seen flying over in good numbers included Black-headed Gulls, LWH Gulls and Great Cormorants. A few terns were also flying about all of which were Caspian Terns.
Western Osprey
Great Cormorant
Caspian Tern

The main reed beds and lagoons were lacking birds but 20+ Purple Swamphens were seen and the reeds were alive with the calls of Graceful Prinias and Clamorous Reed Warblers, two species that breed early in Saudi Arabia. Three Daurian Shrikes and both European Stonechat and NCT Stonechats were present in small numbers. Heron numbers are increasing with 30+ Squacco Herons, several Grey Herons, 17 Western Cattle Egrets a scarce bird at Sabkhat Al Fasl, and 50+ Indian Reef Herons.
Purple Swamphen
Common Stonechat
North Caspian Taxon Stonechat
North Caspian Taxon Stonechat
Squacco Heron

The flooded Sabkhat is very extensive this year due to all the rain we have had and thousands (3000+) Greater Flamingos are enjoying the area. There were only four duck present, all Eurasian Teal with no sign of the regular Common Shelduck. Thousands of Black-headed Gulls with a few Slender-billed Gulls mixed in were also in this are with small numbers of the common waders.