Thursday, January 20, 2005

Yesterday, I had the use of a vehicle for the first time in almost a month. Most of our vehicles got shipped south, leaving me to hoof it.

I spent some time driving around to the good birding spots on base, including a few I hadn't visited in a while that are too far to walk to.

The laundry pond was filled with hundreds of birds, most of the ducks were Northern Shovelers. There were also a good number of Common Teal and Coots and a few Mallards. No Ferruginous ducks, however I saw a small flock the day before at the same location. Two female Marsh Harriers were cruising the edge of the pond. A huge transport plane flew over taking off and put all the Shovelers to flight. They wheeled around the pond a few times and then came back for a landing on the water.

Out over the pond I saw the first Barn Swallow of the year, flying back and forth. Spring must be around the bend here. In the second week of February last year, in the middle of the desert in Kuwait, migrating Barn Swallows were some of the first birds I saw in the Middle East.

Among the scrubby dead Syrian Mesquite bushes near the pond about 25 red-wattled plovers were congregated. They were there the day before also, just standing around, some of them sleeping.

As I walked along the fence two Magpies flew in and landed near the water, flushing up some type of snipe which flew away too fast for me to ID.

At another drainage pond I found several Black-winged Stilts and a Common Redshank feeding in the shallow water.

Later in the day I took along another Sergeant who was interested in birding. We spent time at a third drainage pond and found more Shovelers, some Coot and a couple Moorhens. We also found a Purple Swamphen preening itself at the end of the reeds.

I made an abortive attempt to go down to the bushes near the pond to examine some large round nests. I think they might be from Dead Sea Sparrows, which are common in the summer. Instead of getting to the nests I sunk in the mud and got myself filthy. Each boot probably weighed 5 pounds with all the mud.

Down near the waters edge we saw a little chestnut bird with a dark cap and eyeline skulking around like a wren. It actually reminded me a little of a Marsh Wren back home. It turned out to be a Moustached Warbler, a lifer for me.

19 January 2005

Little Egret - 1
Common Teal - 20
Mallard - 8
Northern Shoveler - 200
Marsh Harrier - 2
Eurasian Kestrel - 3
Moorhen - 3
Purple Swamphen - 1
Coot - 35
Black-winged Stilt - 4
Red-wattled Plover - 25
Snipe sp. - 1
Common Redshank - 1
Black-headed Gull - 100
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 4
Rock Dove - 15
Wood Pigeon - 10
Collared Dove - 35
Barn Swallow - 1
White Wagtail - 6
White-cheeked Bulbul - 3
Black Redstart - 2
Stonechat - 1
Moustached Warbler - 1
Magpie - 2
Rook - 150
Hooded Crow - 3

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