Sunday, 4 March 2012

A prolonged chat

Early March is a fab time here in Abu Dhabi. When the first wave of Pied Wheatears arrive, it is game on from now until the third week of May and you know that you may very well bump into something really neat just about anytime you go out. This was the case this weekend, despite losing the Friday to an extra day in work and the first half of the Saturday to a major emergency just off the island: Great Stone-Plover, the first national record photographed last September (and then vanished without trace) suddenly reappeared a few days ago, but remained pretty elusive. However Mark and Graham fired the starting gun at 0655 on Saturday morning; I realised it had gone off a full hour later but still managed to have scored fully by 0845, despite inevitably getting lost in Mussafah en-route. Pretty nifty work by my sluggish standards, especially for something not in the circle and hence of no relevance here… although I could just about see the edge of my circle as I scoped back towards the island. With that safely sorted out, it was back to migrant hunting in the afternoon and I rapidly added four birds for the year. Rock Thrush was colourful but predictable, but the other three were much more significant: the first Redstart of the year was, as hoped for, a glorious samamisicus, and causing me to be late getting to Emirates Palace where Andrew and Steve had already sorted out a Hume’s Warbler for me (so I can concentrate on finding a Radde’s next November) and we then followed that up with a Sib Stonechat, that, despite the gale, eventually satisfactorily exposed its tail: variegatus and no mistake! This is a real mega; there were only 3 national records until a glut last spring, including two arriving on 5 March. Until now, none have been recorded on AD island.
Doesn't look too different here:
All important tail pattern was tantalising, to say the least:

The back-up cast included a rare island record of Southern Grey Shrike (one of four shrike flavours about just now), plenty of Isabelline Wheatears and still both Buff-bellied Pipits. A few wagtails arriving next day included both a new male Citrine and feldegg Yellows, along with a Northern Wheatear, my earliest ever in 6 years, albeit only by a couple of days.

Total so far - 109 (62%)
Last addition – Northern Wheatear (4th March)

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