12 December 2014

Lots of birds – Sabkhat Al Fasl

My trip to Sabkhat Al Fasl last weekend proved quite rewarding with lots of birds seen including a few good ones. The first bird we saw on arrival was a Mauryan (Steppe) Grey Shrike sitting on an electrical post with a Common Kestrel. It has not been a good year for this species of Shrike so far although I have seen a few in the last couple of weeks. Over my time at the site I saw about five more shrikes with all the ones I got good views of appearing to be Daurian Shrikes. As normal, Grey-headed (Purple) Swamphens were common, with a newly burnt section of reeds holding 17 birds. Although they are common at Sabkhat Al Fasl this and Khafrah Marsh nearby are the only sites for the species in the country. Quite a few winter visitors are around now including White Wagtails, Water Pipits, Bluethroats and Eastern Stonechats and a Desert Wheatear was an unusual species for the location. The flock of Spanish Sparrows and the four Eurasian Penduline Tits, already posted about earlier, were also good winter visitors. As normal Greater Spotted Eagles were seen but this time only two with one a standard juvenile and the other a slightly odd looking bird with some features of Lesser Spotted Eagle although the bird was not seen well enough to claim such a rare species. Unfortunately the fulvescens bird was not seen. Another good bird of prey seen was a Long-legged Buzzard, a resident but uncommon species in the region and one I had not seen at the location before, although I have seen them just outside the reserve. As always the majority of birds were herons and egrets with good numbers of Grey Herons, Little Egrets and six Western Great Egrets. Squacco Heron numbers are building up with well over twenty birds seen during the day. A few waders were seen but numbers were low with Green Sandpiper seen in a few places and 37 Pied Avocets also present. Greater Flamingo numbers are increasing with more than 200 birds now on the flooded sabkha and Slender-billed Gulls are also increasing in numbers with 100 or so birds seen. Otherwise a few species of tern were seen including Caspian, Gull-billed, Whiskered and White-winged.
Mauryan Grey Shrike
Daurian Shrike
Eastern Stonechat
Grey-headed Swamphen
Greater Spotted Eagle
Long-legged Buzzard
Little Egret
Western Great Egret
Squacco Heron
Green Sandpiper
Slender-billed Gull