nd March 2023
With in the first of birding the obs, I had already seen up to 3 Oriental Honey Buzzard and was told later on that there are four individuals wintering in the area
I booked a flight to Jordan, twelve hours before I was out of Thailand and less than twenty hours later, I touched down at Aqaba Airport, Jordan. The plane that I was on out of Bangkok, it was only some three hours later, that I discovered that I was sitting in the same row, two seats from me, one of my daughters friends from Scilly!!! That’s crazy! On top of that, her friend and herself were also flying to Jordan on the same flight as me!!! This is the second time this has happened to me. While transferring in Toronto, Canada, I bumped into a family also from Scilly!! It ask the question, how many times do we almost have close contact, without knowing they are in close range, with folks/friends we know when traveling?? And sitting almost next to you on the same flight!?
The idea of coming to Jordan was for the migrants moving through and see what the crack is in the area with the folks and town. However, my mission was to see/twitch or find a Black Scrub Robin. I ain’t leaving until this mega, with less than five records for Jordan., shows itself for me. It’s a species that I’ve always wanted to see since first seeing a picture of it some twenty year ago. With all the megas I’m finding in countries I’m visiting in the last five years, it really wouldn’t surprise me if I turn more than a single bird up.
Anyways, at 08.00 this morning, I cycledon one of the bikes from the amazing digs I’m staying at, Mango House, into the entrance gates at Aqaba Bird Observatory. It wasn’t easy getting here with a checkpoint in the way where the Jordanian soldiers took my passport and said ‘Where is the Jordan stamp in your passport?’ Oh shite I thought. I grabbed the passport off him and frantically went through the pages until, to my relief, I found it. I handed it back to him and told him that you need glasses mate. He laughed and said no bikes beyond this point. Oh shite again and I started making my way back to my digs. There was a shout and he smiled and said ‘Go!’ Between the checkpoint and the Observatory you can’t stop as it’s military property. I signed in at the obs, payed the 7 diner and a few minutes later had reached the sewage ponds. Immediately the first bird I see of note is a low flying pale Oriental Honey Buzzard. I thought I wouldn’t see another one until maybe next winter but this was quickly followed by a darker individual! I guess maybe they regularly move through the area. There were over 200 White Wagtail and searching through them turned up 2 Citrine and a single Black-headed Wagtail and Water Pipit. 2 White-winged Black Tern were over the water and there were 4 Greater Sand Plover on the bank. Other waders included a single Snipe, 18 Little Stint, Green and Redshank, Marsh and Common Sandpiper and all over the shop, Green Sandpiper with a flock of 70 birds when they took the air. Ducks were also in good number, 250 Shoveler, 8 Pintail, 4 Mallard, 15 Teal and a single Wigeon. It was less than hour of being there that a trickle of Pallid Swift were arriving in off from the south. With less numbers of Swallow and Sand Martin, by 10.00 there were over 130 Pallid Swift in the air. Another Oriental Honey Buzzard flew through and was number three for the morning, with a Long-legged Buzzard. The heat was now intense by mid-day and as I was returning back to the headquarters for some shade, the Marsh Harrier tha’st been present all morning, made another pass and 2 Sparrowhawk moved through.
Felt like being back in Thailand seeing up to 3 Oriental Honey Buzzard
There were 2 White-winged Black Tern
4 Greater Sand Plover
Over 130 Pallid Swift moved through north
An hour later after a rest, I birded the bushes out of the sun nearby and there were single Sardinian Warbler, Bluethroat and over 40 Chiffchaff. Returning to the pool, more hirundines had arrived in and with them were single Red-rumped Swallow and House Martin and 8 Rock Martin. In the distance to the west, I got onto 4 Steppe Eagle with a single Marsh Harrier all on the same thermals. While at the Observatory, I was told that there are up to 4 Oriental Honey Buzzard wintering in the area and there’s a Pygmy Cormorant that’s been hanging around for awhile. Of the latter species, I was keen to find as I’ve never seen one before. From the hide looking over the east pond I spotted it on the edge of the reeds with a single Coot. Just as I got on it, two cars came up the middle and flushed everything, including the cormorant. As a result I got some crackin flight views. At last, I had finally caught up with one. The time whizzed by and I had to move on as they closde at 16.00. Leaving the gates for the golf course nearby, I flushed an Isabelline Wheatear.
Out of the 50 Swallow moving through, only this Red-rumped Swallow was with them
In the scub were up to 40 Chiffchaff
At last I finally caught up with a Pygmy Cormorant
At the latter sight, I cycled around and came across a single Squacco Heron, more Green sandpiper and it or another Pygmy Cormorant. On a larger pool there were a single Greater Sand Plover, 3 Grey Plover with a handful of Ringed Plover. On my way out, a Siberian Stonechat flew across in front of me. My first days birding in Jordian proved to be as I exspected and ticked off two new species, Rock Martin and Pygmy cormorant.
Oriental Honey Buzzard heading west towards occupied Palestine, Eilat.