Saturday, 8 December 2018

Twit 2 Woo

Two Owl Lifers in 2 days...

Pharaoh Eagle Owl

Pallid Scops Owl
Gotta LOVE eBird!!!

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Egyptian Vultures

My best ever experience with this species today. SEVENTEEN birds seen together at the summit of Jebel Hafeet!!



The MOURNING WHEATEAR was also still present in the same spot, in fact I re-located it on the same boulder as yesterday...


Then it was gone...


It was a spectacular day with most things fitting into place. I had great views of Eastern Black Redstart...


...and Hume's Wheatear (Lifer)...


Both birds flew in and perched on the fence right next to me. My lucky day! I couldn't get close to a Striolated Bunting but I did see quite a few distantly. Fence again!


So, there you go. A brief taste of the Jebel Hafeet Mountain. Thoroughly recommended.

A debatable 74 species seen.

Trying for Pallid Scops Owl today at Al Jimi Oasis in Al Ain...if we can find the site!

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Al Ain area

Tried for Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse at Al Qudra... this morning, to no avail, before heading East to Al Ain. Negotiating the City proved to be troublesome but we eventually arrived at the Mercure Hotel mid-afternoon after a brief recce of the Green Mubazzarah (too hot)...nice views of Red-wattled Lapwing from the car though...


Louise was pleased with the view from the room on arrival...so was I!


I managed the last hour around the Hotel. Brilliant to observe 17 Egyptian Vultures around the masts. Distant but special. My best effort...


I also had my Life Desert Lark...


A superb spot above the Desert floor. Can't wait to have a good sesh tomorrow from dawn (6am). Time for T now though...

Monday, 3 December 2018

UAE - Half-time!

The sightseeing maelstrom is still in full flow! No problem. We're VERY grateful for the local knowledge of my son and Laura in this fast developing City.

I (finally) managed to access the viewpoint at Khor Al Beida and had excellent scope views of a dozen CRAB PLOVERS. Very impressive birds. I tried hard to find one that was close enough for a decent pic but it wasn't to be.

We move on to Al Ain tomorrow, which is the SE Emirate in the Mountains of Jebel Hafit. Today we visit the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. A visit to the Palace Gardens will also be in order to try for my life Oriental Honey Buzzard.

Time will tell...

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Al Qudra

A few more images...

cc Marsh Harrier
BW Stilt
Greenshank

 
...and a Lifer...Grey Francolin (common) in the shade...
 

 

Friday, 30 November 2018

UAE - First week impressions

More of an exploring mission than intensive Birding to be honest. A combination of having to drive and navigate (Louise doesn't fancy it and I can't say I blame her) and spending time with my lad has limited the opportunities. However, I am building up my knowledge of key sites....and access to them!

I've been impressed with the road system, if not some of the driving! The pace of development is incredible

Editing photos is difficult at the moment but I'll try and add a few when I can. My Ras Al Khor write-up will have to wait.

They have four days off now before we head for the Mountains of Al Ain for three days from Tuesday. Some intensive Birding can be done then. A visit to Abu Dhabi will be in order tomorrow and there are some decent sites in the area which I hope to "suss out". Might be difficult on this occasion though, as Rob wants me to go to the Warner Brothers World theme park. Yabba dabba doo...

Spoonbill, Al Qudra

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

RAKWR

Successful morning at Ras Al Khor Wetland Reserve. A superb site adjacent to downtown Dubai...

Reserve with a view!
More details tomorrow...

Monday, 26 November 2018

Ras Al Khor

Heard great things about this reserve in Dubai. A long morning with my son Robert tomorrow. I've asked him to bring a book. The air-conditioned hides should help!!

UAE - First Impressions

Settled in at Rob and Laura's. Mainly sightseeing so far with a recce or two. A few issues sorting out the camera and light. Had a run up the coast today to try for Crab Plover. A few access issues to solve...but I'll solve them. Family first Birding second...and there's PLENTY of time!!!

Around the house...

Common Myna...


White-eared Bulbul...


Hoopoe...



Rose-ringed Parakeet...



A few sketchy images from the Uum Al Quwain area, an hour North of Dubai...

Socotra Cormarant...


Western Reef Heron


Striated Heron...



 
 
A steady start with 18 species seen...I think!

 

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

UAE - Imminent

Just settled in at "The Mothers"! Fly at 8.45am.

Hoping to get the balance right between socializing and Birding! Time will tell...or Louise will!! Poor weather shouldn't be an issue on this trip, that's for sure. The Bird list is surprisingly extensive...well, to me anyway!

Below is a mixture of new species to me (capitals), plus some other quality...

SOCOTRA CORMORANT
PERSIAN SHEARWATER
RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD
SAND PARTRIDGE
GRAY FRANCOLIN
INDIAN POND HERON
WESTERN REEF HERON
STRIATED HERON
ORIENTAL HONEY BUZZARD
GREAT SPOTTED EAGLE
LAPPET-FACED VULTURE
STEPPE EAGLE
EASTERN IMPERIAL EAGLE
Bonelli's Eagle
Pallid Harrier
Montagu's Harrier
Egyptian Vulture
Booted Eagle
Peregrine
ST Eagle
Golden Eagle
Bonelli's Eagle
SHIKRA
Lesser Kestrel
Amur Falcon
RED-WATTLED LAPWING
WHITE-TAILED LAPWING
Sociable Plover
CRAB PLOVERLesser-Sand Plover
Greater-Sand Plover
Great Knot
PIN-TAILED SNIPE
Cream-coloured Courser
Arctic Skua
Pomarine Skua
SOOTY GULL
GREAT BLACK-HEADED GULL
Slender-billed Gull
SAUNDER'S TERN
WHITE-CHEEKED TERN
Bridled Tern
Caspian Tern
White-winged Tern
Whiskered Tern
Lesser-crested Tern
CHESTNUT-BELLIED SANDGROUSE
LICHTENSTEIN'S SANDGROUSE
PALLID SCOPS OWL
PHAROAH EAGLE OWL
EGYPTIAN NIGHTJAR
ARABIAN COLLARED KINGFISHER
Pied Kingfisher
GREATER HOOPOE LARK
Pied Kingfisher
GREEN BEE-EATER
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Roller
INDIAN ROLLER
Wryneck
ALEXANDRINE PARAKEET
RED-TAILED SHRIKE
Isabelline Shrike
Masked Shrike
HOUSE CROW
BROWN-NECKED RAVEN
Rose-coloured Starling
BAR-TAILED LARK
GREATER HOOPOE LARK
DESERT LARK
BLACK-CROWNED SPARROW LARK
Bimaculated Lark
LESSER SHORT-TOED LARK
ORIENTAL SKYLARK
PALE CRAG MARTIN
ROCK MARTIN
WHITE-SPECTACLED BULBUL
WHITE-EARED BULBUL
SCRUB WARBLER
PLAIN LEAF WARBLER
CLAMOROUS REED WARBLER
GRACEFUL PRINIA
Asian Desert Warbler
MENETRIES WARBLER
ARABIAN BABBLER
RUFOUS-TAILED SCRUB ROBIN
Rock Thrush
Blue Rock Thrush
Black-throated Thrush
HYPOCOLIUS
RED-TAILED WHEATEAR
VARIABLE WHEATEAR
Hooded Wheatear
HUME’S WHEATEAR
MOURNING WHEATEAR
VARIABLE WHEATEAR
Pied Wheatear
Desert Wheatear
Tawny Pipit
Trumpeter Finch
LONG BILLED PIPIT
Blyth's Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
Citrine Wagtail
Masked Wagtail
STRIOLATED BUNTING

Let's GO... 

Thursday, 15 November 2018

UAE

This time next week we'll be in the air and on our way to see my youngest son Robert and his wife Laura in Dubai. It's been a whirlwind twelve months for them but they're settled now, with excellent jobs (they're both Solicitors).

Most of the family have already made the trip...now it's our turn. Unsurprisingly, the timing of our visit is linked to the Birding calendar! Autumn migration coming to a close here, so time to head for sunnier climes. Temperatures will be in the mid-twenties...lovely!

I've been doing a bit of prep'. It's been great fun, especially as it's a new destination and area for me. Cyprus is as far East as I've travelled as most of my trips have been West or South. Some new birds and places.

There's an extremely well organised website...and eBird of course! The country is relatively small yet offers a nice range of habitats for a desert land including an extensive coastline.  Plenty to keep me interested anyway.

I'll be trying my best to produce a daily diary of my trip but that will depend on logistics. I don't want to be (even more) unsociable.

I have also received some excellent information from Steph Leese which will be invaluable during the trip. Thanks Steph!

Bon Voyage...

Monday, 12 November 2018

LITTLE SWIFT

Swifts are special birds. So the opportunity to see a rare one not too far away was not to be missed...even if it did mean a 4.15am start!

I've slipped up in the past, arriving late for "roost departing birds", so I was keen not to be late on this occasion. The bird had roosted on a house on Hartlepool Headland and dawn was 7.30. A pit stop at Hull McDonalds fuelled me up and I headed West on the M62. Traffic was obviously light as I headed up the A1 then onto the A19 to Teesside.

The Google Maps app was spot on as usual and I arrived at the Headland at 7.20...just to observe the dispersing crowd of Twitchers. The bird had just left its roost. Will I never learn?

I found a parking spot and took a break hoping the bird would linger. The forecast was excellent, so maybe the Swift would continue to feed in the area before departing? I'd seen my British tick at Hunstanton, Norfolk on 13/11/2005. On that occasion I DID make it before it left its cliff face roost but the bird departed immediately and wasn't seen again.

Fortunately on this occasion the bird DID linger and was re-located a short distance away...on the "Prom". Over the next couple of hours the bird performed brilliantly for the admiring crowd. At times shooting low over the crowd at high speed. It was either too fast or too close to photograph...at least for me! No matter, I had fantastic views through my bins and "naked eye". I did manage a few images...so, for the record...





The bird departed late morning...and so did I.

I got back around 3 and took Bud up to Out Newton. Maybe the LS would fly by?! It didn't but an excellent consolation came in the form of a Short-eared Owl (H.130). The bird performed superbly in the fading light. I let Richard know and he joined me to enjoy the bird...





An excellent day with excellent weather. I'll finish with a LITTLE SWIFT jizz image...

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Autumnal Sunshine

Late start today on yet another wonderful late Autumn day...


Once I'd got my brain in gear I decided to make the walk South through the stubble to see if I could find any Snow Buntings. The walk down produced nothing of note, which was hardly surprising as the sun was in my eyes!

As I started back I started to flush Skylarks. The stubble field is enormous and is now starting to get muddy with the drop in temperatures and increased rainfall. As I reached the brow of Mill Hill I saw 4 birds fly a short distance. There was plenty of white in evidence. Amazingly elusive in the stubble but great views possible with patience.

The next 30 minutes were spent in the company of these four little cuties...




Lovely birds...


Saw a nice Remembrance tribute in With'

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Snow Bunting

A medical day today which had a happy ending...thankfully!

I needed some air after a long morning in Hull so I took Bud down to Old Hive to look for Richard's Snow Buntings. A few judicious throws into the enormous stubble field produced the desired effect, when eventually, I saw a flash of white from a small bird in flight. Fortunately it landed again, a short distance away. I approached the area slowly with Bud in sit mode! It was difficult to see through the stubble but eventually I saw a movement around 30 yds away. It was a/the Snow Bunting...


During the next half hour or so I enjoyed stunning views of this little jewel, even if the light was "Novemberish".In fact the bird made its way TOWARDS me as I stood in the same spot next to my friend...


I have some more photographs of the RLB. A bird of this quality deserves a second showing. I'll sort a few out over the weekend.

Monday, 5 November 2018

RLB

I started at dawn in Easington. A super-optimistic attempt to connect with yesterdays DUSKY THRUSH. I was at one end of the site and Steve Exley was at the other. Plenty of Blackbirds appeared in the next hour...but no DT. I was joined around 8.15 by another Birder. We were chatting about the recent WTE when a message came through over the radio informing us a Rough-legged Buzzard (P.178, S.129) was showing at Kilnsea Wetlands. Always been a personal favourite! We made our way to our cars and headed down Easington straight. The bird was perched in a small bush by the hump-backed bridge...


It was till quite dull but the bird looked stunning even in the poor light. It sat there for around 15 minutes...


...before flying low along Long Bank towards Kilnsea Wetlands...


A nice hover in the mist before I left...


I left the admiring crowd and headed for Easington "boatyard" to try for the Shorelarks (P.179, S.130) that had been reported on Easington Lagoons. As I was walking down the beach I bumped into a Birder who told me he couldn't find any. He asked me if they had been reported today. I checked and told him they had but he'd had enough and carried on. As I approached 4 birds flew low across the sand infront of me...yep...Shorelarks! My lucky day.

I could see them down the seaward side of the lagoon but the sun was in my eyes to the South...


They then flew to the other side of the lagoon. Better light but further away. The four of them fed happily by the waters edge...

One of them
After lunch I returned to Kilnsea as the RLB was still present. I was hoping for better light but the afternoon turned into a typical November one with diffuse light due to thickening mist and cloud. It was mild though!

At one stage the bird made a short flight onto Beacon Ponds. I made my way up there bumping into John Grist on the way. Nice to see him after quite a while! We both enjoyed a surprise Black Redstart (P.180, S.131)...


I also sneaked a Yellowhammer (S.132) in the adjacent hedge...


I could see the RLB perched on a concrete slab some 50 yds away. It took off and flew directly towards me...


The light had "gone" by now, so I made my way back towards the car. fortunately the RLB was back on a post opposite the hide, allowing me to get one further image that came out remarkably well, considering the conditions...


A truly stunning bird!