Friday 30 March 2018

Besor updates

A really good morning at Besor reservoir today. There was quite a storm last night and the remains of it was still with us. Cold wind and dark clouds. Challenging conditions for photography but this Great Spotted Cuckoo came out ok.
Very few GSCs this year - I've only seen a handful. The storm brought several flocks of Bee-eaters and hundreds of Swallows with a few Red-rumpeds mixed in. The reservoir held a small flock of Pelicans and a single Flamingo,
a couple of Ferruginous Duck, Garganey and Pin-tail as well the usual Shoveller, Teal and Mallard. A large cloud of passerines  flew up on the far side of the water and a couple of minutes later this Merlin flew past me clutching a meal.

A single Pallid Harrier flew along the top reservoir before heading down the Besor stream. A couple of Marsh Harriers turned up, including this brown morph.
A Honey Buzzard checked out the reservoir banks and an Osprey hovered hopefully over the water as the sun finally came out.
Purple, Grey and Squacco Herons patrolled the reed fringes and I caught sight of my first Little Crake of the year.
Three Whiskered Terns were a nice surprise.

As I crossed the bridge back to the carpark I heard the croak of a Nightingale calling. So, nothing too special but a great mix of quality birds.

Checked out the composting site yesterday but a fair number of the wagtails seemed to have moved on and I couldn't relocate the Citrine x Yellow hybrid. Nice lutea though.

Thursday 29 March 2018

Citrine and Yellow wagtails

The composting site that turned up the 'xanthophrys' Yellow Wagtail last year was packed with wagtails yesterday, at least a couple of hundred. I could have spent hours there sorting through them but didn't have the time. Here're some that stood out. Pick of the bunch is this Citrine wagtail in plumage that I haven't seen before.

Yellow Wagtails included Blue-headed (Motacilla flava)
Syke's wagtail (M. f. beema)

Black-headed  (Motacilla feldegg)
M. f. dombrowski

M. f. melanogrisea I think. . . . .
The Besor reservoir was quite birdy with Grey and Purple Herons, plenty of duck (Wigeon, Gargeny, Pin-tail, Teal, Shoveller, Mallard), Short-toed Eagle and Pallid Harrier. 

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Persian Wheatear

As is usual for mega wheatears here I'm probably the last one to twitch it. I wasn't too bothered if I dipped as the bird was located on Mt Amasa. I only visit this site once or twice a year but it is always a delight. I arrived early and was joined by two bird photographers. We quickly found the bird but the views were not enough for one of the photographers who tried to get as close as possible (fair enough) using zero field skills (not fair enough). Initially the bird allowed a fairly close approach but he managed to scare it. His repeated attempts resulted in the bird flying off down the valley. Very frustrating to watch. I left them to it and spent a very pleasant hour or two on the hillside enjoying other birds - a Long Billed Pipit displaying, Woodchat Shrikes, Orphean and Spectacled Warblers, Blue Rock-thrushes and Cuckoos being the highlights. Moving round the hill I was gratified to see the photographers finally drive off. Patience rewarded with some cracking views!
Here's an awful pic (below) but it shows the red rump and pale underwings . . . .
 It then hopped down into recess in the rocks where it spent time feeding.

 Amazingly well camouflaged.


Other highlights of the day - this very photogenic Spectacled Warbler
and one of the Blue Rock-thrushes doing a display dance(???)

On the way back to Nir Oz I detoured by the Besor Reservoir. Lots of water, lots of shallow pools but very few birds. Gratifying though to see a Purple Swamphen (terrible record shot, distance and heat haze is my excuse) back on this site
as well as a Marsh Sandpiper (also with heat haze).

Eastern Imperial Eagle

Been meaning to put this on the blog for a couple of weeks now. We saw this eagle nearly every week over the winter. Mostly in the same tree and usually with a couple of hoodies attendant. Sometime in the first week of March s/he set off back to Eastern Europe. Migration is a risky time for birds, especially raptors and s/he will have to run the gauntlet of hunters, trappers, wind farms and other dangers. This is the last set of photos I have of this beautiful and majestic bird - hoping to see it again in early November.

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...