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Jordan Day 6 Aqaba Bird Observatory

7th March 2023

After the warden, Feras, telling me that there are Arabian Babbler in the area of the obs, I’ve been searching high and low without success util today when I bumped into a gang of 7 on the way to the ponds and was my second new species of the trip so far.

After taking a break yesterday, spending time snorkelling off South Beach, this morning I was back on the road and was feeling a little cold while cycling into a stiff NNE cold wind with a patchy cloudy sky. I arrived at the observatory just after 08.00, signed in and headed straight to the ponds, as it felt like it was goin to be a good day ahead with the weather. As it was, it turned out to be the most productive day so far. However, I was rudely interrupted by a gang of 7 Arabian Babbler on my way there. At last I had finally connected with them after Feras, the warden of the obs, telling me that they are in the area throughout. Again, the ponds looked empty of life with nothin in view, standing at the north end, until I started walking along the centre bank. White Wagtail were down to over 200 but there were 3 Water Pipit, a single Citrine and now 15 Black-headed Wagtail. Just before 09.00, the swifts started arriving from the south and it wasn’t long until there were some mix of 800 Common and Pallid Swift with over 300 Swallow and 150 Sand Martin but just a single Red-rumped Swallow. Then the first raptors started moving through north and in five minutes, 4 Marsh Harrier flew in the same line to the east of the pools including the only male I’ve seen so far. This was followed by the 3 Oriental Honey Buzzard rising together on the same terminals and up to 6 Steppe Eagle joined 8 Steppe Buzzard. The hirundines moved out after half an hour of arriving and it wasn’t long until the next wave came through. The sky was black with at least 1200 hirundines and an equal number of swifts. Now it was like, almost every hirundine you tried to get a pic of above was a Red-rumped Swallow or House Martin. While on the water, with a single White-winged Black Tern, were over 500 Swallow and smaller numbers of Sand Martins. All the time I was hoping for an Alpine Swift and it wasn’t long until I picked out the highest flying swift, a spec, that turned out to be of the latter species. Distantly, I picked up what I thought was a small falcon in from the south until I put my bins up and identified it a Peregrine Falcon. Because of the size, I was thinking maybe a Barbary Falcon. I immediately took some record shots before it continued off north. A vocal Wood Sandpiper arrived from the south and touched down next to 2 Ruff and a patch tick, Little Egret. Except for two birds, the Green Sandpiper had cleared out.

So pleased to finally catch up with the resident Arabian Babbler at the observatory

Water Pipit

Picked out this very high flying Alpine Swift very briefly with my naked eye before it drifted off east

Pallid Swift

Large number of Red-rumped Swallow moving through and while cycling home, I was still counting them

Unfortunately, this small Peregrine Falcon was distant and straight through north but looks very good for Barbary Falcon.

This White-winged Black Tern was new in

Along with this Wood Sandpiper that arrived in from the south

The buzzards were still trickling north with the odd Marsh Harrier throughout the day and out of the blue, a single Black Kite was the only one I’ve seen in the week that I’ve been in Jordan. While continueing to pan the skies, I picked up two distant buzzards arriving together from the south. As they came closer, I could see that one was a Steppe and the other, Oriental Honey Buzzard. Was the latter species, one of the wintering individuals or a migrant moving north? From the south, a sad sight was a Spoonbill flying straight through with a dangling leg from where it had probably been shot on route. 7 large distant gulls passed on and included a single Baltic, 3 Steppe and the rest were immatures making it difficult to say which species they were. On the centre bank was a Northern Wheatear hanging out with the wagtails and the Pygmy Cormant was back on it’s favoured pool with some 30 Little Grebe and now, 3 Coot Unfortunately, because the obs is on military ground, it shuts at 15.00 every day. How much I wanted to stay but the day was not finished. When I left the obs, at the entrance, were single Isabelline Wheatear, Tawny Pipit, Hoopoe and my only one so far of the trip, Great Grey Shrike.

I was expecting more that just single Black Kite today but that was it. Just this one!

It appears, by the dangling leg, that this Spoonbill that flew from south straight through north has been shot at

Northern Wheatear on the central bank

Oriental Honey and Steppe Buzzard arriving together in off from the south straight through out north with a Common Swift photobombing.

At least 11 Marsh Harrier moved out north including an adult male

Some 44 Steppe Buzzard also

And up to 16 Steppe Eagle

This Oriental Honey Buzzard gave superb views perched near to the obs.

Altogether totals included 11 Marsh Harrier, 44 Steppe Buzzard, 4 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 16 Steppe Eagle and a single Peregrine Falcon, possibly Barbary and 1 Black Kite. All, except the OHB and a few buzzards, moved straight north.

It’so difficult to count the hirundines and swift but a rough estimate was probably 50 Red-rumped Swallow, 40 House Martin, 800 Swallow and 250 Sand Martin. Over 200 Swift and 1000 Pallid Swift.

Altogether I had eight patch ticks including Wood Sandpiper, Little Egret, Northern Wheatear, Alpine Swift, Great Grey Shrike and Arabian Babbler.,

In the city, I had a large hummus with nuts before checking out the sea front allotments. To cover the allotments, I cycle slowly, scanning the gardens with my eyes. Coming around the corner, I bumped into 4 Hoopoe in the middle of the road together! It soon became apparent that there had been a small influx of the species with at least 8 birds in the area. Normally I only see one. A single Red-throated Pipit, White-throated Kingfisher, small movement of Swallow and Red-rumped Swallow still and for it’s fifth day, the Masked Shrike. However, the highlight was right at the east end and just before dark, a came across a stonking male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. It don’t get better than that to finish off a great day.

Crackin day finished of with this very smart male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear in the seafront alloments.

Tory Hooligan Jonathan Gullis Gets Roasted On Issue Of Small Boats!

House of Commons hooligan Jonathan Gullis had his feet held to the fire when he was interviewed by journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy on the issue of small boats and asylum seekers. The Tory MP got so flustered that he ended up attacking Kier Starmer and how Jeremy Corbyn was treated.

Maximilien Robespierr

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Author: Kris Webb 10

I love to throw sticks at trees! I also can’t get enough of music! I also blog about my observations on Scilly and wherever I go around the world and what’s sometimes on my mind. I’ve visited over 30 countries and some more times than once. I’ve worked and volunteered in Nepal, USA, Peru, Gambia, Costa Rica, 3x Australia, and refugee camps in Palestine The profile image is one I took while in Palestine of a brave Israeli holding high the Palestinian flag in front of the Israeli Offensive Forces during protests in Belin

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