21 May 2014

A big ‘fall’ of migrants - Sabkhat Al Fasl

I was able to go birding to Sabkhat Al Fasl for the first time in a month on Friday 16 May as I was unable to ring this weekend. An early morning start got me to the site at first light and it was obvious there had been a significant ‘fall’ of birds. There where Whinchats and Willow Warblers everywhere with birds flying out from underfoot at almost every step. Red-backed Shrike numbers were similarly high and I must have seen 75-100 birds of each species which is easily the highest number of Whinchats I have seen, in fact I probably saw more Whinchats in a day than I have seen in the previous four years in the Kingdom. The other very common species seen were Common Whitethroats and Spotted Flycatchers with over 30 birds seen, again mainly in the scrubby desert area. Plenty of other migrants were also seen in good numbers with Tree Pipits and up to ten Yellow Wagtails, mainly of the subspecies thunbergi present. This is getting late for this species as most pass early in the spring. Apart from Willow Warblers the reeds were alive with the song of Caspian Reed Warblers and Clamorous Reed Warblers and I had good views of a couple of Great Reed Warblers as well. Apart from the Red-backed Shrikes I also saw a single Lesser Grey Shrike and one Masked Shrike the first time I have seen this species at the location. Out on the flooded sabkha were plenty of terns, waders and herons but I will post about these later.
Willow Warbler
Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
Common Whitethroat
Yellow Wagtail - thunbergi
Great Reed Warbler
Masked Shrike
Little Egret
Phil Roberts birded the site the weekend before and had a few good birds including a Golden Oriole in the trees along the road and a Corncrake. He also saw White-cheeked Terns and more than 10 Red-backed Shrike.  Other migrants included a couple of Barred Warblers, Spotted Flycatchers, two Whinchats and five or so European Bee-eaters.  There were also Little Bitterns in evidence and of course plenty of Indian (Clamorous) Reed Warblers and Caspian Reed Warblers.