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.

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