Saturday, 14 April 2012

On fire

The good thing about going migrant-hunting for a week and seeing very little is that (a) you become disproportionately grateful for even small mercies (Golden-backed Weaver; still feel a bit guilty about that one – probably should only count for 0.5) let along big ones (Cinereous Bunting) and (b) your internal Geiger counter becomes very sensitive to even the smallest fluctuation in background noise. Hence suddenly 6 Isabelline Wheatears and 5 Ortolans on Friday morning, after none all week and backed up by the first decent Yellow Wagtail gang of the spring (including one lutea) really piqued my interest. I was even more intrigued on getting up at 0530 on the Saturday morning to find puddles everywhere and lots of grey cloud with a fresh easterly blowing up from nowhere. An hour later a beachhead had been established on Lulu and by 0700 I had reached a total of, er, 3 migrants. However, the third was a female White-throated Robin, a species which should really should be worth two, especially the delectable creamy male at 12 feet which I had located by 0900. With my first ever April Hypocolius appearing in between, this was looking like it could turn into a good day.  Indeed it did with other good scores including 6 Rock Thrush, 10 Turkestan Shrikes, 2 Masked  Shrikes, 2 Barred Warblers and 10 wheatears of 3 species. The apogee (probably of the year…) came as I enjoyed a swarm of European Bee-eaters and Swallows circling against the skyscrapers of the corniche as they were backing up at the north-east end of the Island. They were clearly wondering what to do next  and daring one another to make the hop across the channel when a male Pallid Harrier, having no doubts, sailed straight through and showed them the way. This was an Abu Dhabi first for me and a very rare local example of a monster raptor located purposefully migrating across the island and onwards. Knowing I was in the money, I stopped at a few places on the way back, adding, amongst a fair drizzling of other stuff, a bang-on-time Common Nightingale for the year alongside my earliest ever Spotted Flycatcher (albeit by only two days; first date has been 16th-21st April for the last 5 years). The sixth stomp of the golf course in 7 days produced another island first for me, in the form of Richard’s Pipit that let me nail it just before it was booted into a touch by golf cart. A very handy comparison after the wintering Blyth’s Pipit that I saw again yesterday and a great year to choose to finally pitch up in. Yeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaa…


Total so far - 149 (85%)
Last addition – Richard’s Pipit (14th April)

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