Friday 24 February 2012

MacQueen's Bustards

A sweet-bitter day.

Cloudy with rain and a soft, out-of-focus light. I decided to go and see what Nizzana had to offer. Arrived at Kehemim sewage pools nice and early but no sandgrouse - presumably the rain is sweeter than sewage water. There were a few waders around though and this very handsome Kentish Plover was very obliging.

Lovely rufous cap.

A single Black-tailed Godwit with the Ruff.  

And a photo of an adult male Pallid Harrier, included, not because of its artistic merit but because it was taken as I scrambled for a pic. My car with me in it, in neutral with the handbrake off, gently rolled towards the edge of one of the sewage pools . . . . A salutory lesson in concentration. However, few birds are finer than an adult male Pallid Harrier.

On to the Ezuz road to look for MacQueen's Bustard. I stopped at the usual place and immediately spotted two distant displaying/dancing males. Met Kevin, a UK birder over here for solo trip, and a little later a third Bustard appeared, this one close enough to show here. Most of the bustards I've seen have been white and black fluffs obscured by heat haze.

While watching this individual a couple of superb Cream-coloured Coursers appeared, running through the scrub, and a single Desert Wheatear. A couple of Little Owls and a few Brown-necked Raven completed the list for this place.

And now for the bitter part of what was a rather sweet day's birding. A few km down the road from Nizzana to Mashabe Sade I saw a large, rufous road-kill bird on the side of the road. A male MacQueen's Bustard flying across the road and hit by a vehicle. Such a beautiful bird, and part of a declining population. A real shame.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Postscrip to the previous post . . .

Another flock of Pallid Swifts and at least one Alpine Swift just passed over my house.

Spring is here

Spring is in the air - the woodpeckers are drumming. A few days ago (04.02.2012) I visited the large reservoir near Deqel. No birds at all on the water but the air was alive with the calls of Cranes. Over to the east were about 350-400 of them. Quite a sight!

A Long-legged Buzzard and Brown-necked Raven were the only other birds of interest as the track was being heavily used by 4x4s, moto-cross bikes and quad bikes. 

The REAL sign of Spring came the following week. After a quick check of the Urim power lines (3 Eastern Imperial Eagles, Peregrine, Cranes, Skylarks) I drove Ze'elim and had a short drive down the Ha Besor route to the Besor Reservoir. Over the water were more than a dozen Pallid Swifts. Lovely birds.

Taking decent photos of Swifts demands patience, skill and some expensive kit. I lack all of these but one day, one day . . . .

NW India - 9th to 22nd February 2020 (Kosi River, Corbett NP, Haripur Dam, Pangot, Sattal, Chopta, Walterre)

If you look through the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent (Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp, 2011) you cannot help noticing the huge range of s...