14th March 2023
The rain did it’s job by forcing birds down at the sewage basins, Aqaba Bird Observatory including a single White-winged, 2 Caspian and 4 whiskered Tern including this individual.
I arrived on the basins at 08.00 in anticipation with in what could prove to be a good day all round with what might come in or pass straight through in the next few hours that I’ve got before the obs closes at 15.00. Altogether there were six new species added to the patch and the first one of the day was a male Blackcap near the obs. Immediately after that, I was onto the second patch tick with 5 Glossy Ibis on the east bank and a scan across the water, 2 Caspian, 4 Whiskered and a single White-winged Black Tern. A Black-winged Kite overhead was followed by another individual and 2 vocal Short-toed Lark flew northward bound. The Black-necked Grebe was still on the west basin and by the time I had covered the basins there were 30 Little Stint, 12 Ruff, 12 Little-ringed Plover and a single Wood Sandpiper As the manager of the obs, Faes, was driving towards me on the bank between the east and central basin, the rain started getting heavier and I could hear a vocal Pacific Golden Plover above and got onto to flying through north. I jumped into his wagon to take shelter and he took me beyond the far east basin and behind were the sewage works where there were good numbers of White Wagtails. With them were Citrine, and Black-headed Wagtail, 4 Red-throated and a single Water Pipit.
The rain eased off and Faes dropped me off to where there was a birder near to the east pond. I could also see a mixed flock of Garganey and Teal swirling around and attached to them were 5 Black-tailed Godwit. The birder turned out to be Steve Daily and he told me that I had just missed out on 2 Gull-billed Tern. One species of tern I was expecting to turn up today. All morning, there had been flocks of Slender-billed and Black-headed Gull and by the time we had covered all the basins, some 200 and 150 respectively had moved out north. Also, swift and hirundines were increasing all the time and in an hour, over 200 Steppe Eagle all moved through west with the odd Steppe Eagle. While 4 Marsh Harrier continued their migration north. The 2 Oriental Honey Buzzard showed up. Halfway round the basins, Steve got us onto a high flying Hoopoe Lark heading north and as the storm was coming in with lighting, we made a hasty retreat to shelter at the obs.
Only a single Whiskered Tern remained on the basins when I left
Some 200 Slender-billed Gull moved through north
We had been in the obs for just over thirty minutes, and the heavy downpour had turned to spitting. I was eager to get back out, as there was only an hour left before the obs shuts and I knew from experience, there was goin to be more birds new in, grounded from that heavy rain. And I wasn’t wrong. In the time we had been keeping dry in the obs, over 200 waders and less numbers of ducks had dropped in. Altogether totals included, 45 Black-winged Stilt, 35 Ruff, 80 Little Stint, 5 Dunlin, 15 Ringed and 5 Kentish Plover, 9 Green Sandpiper, 24 Garganey, 19 Teal, 37 Shoveler and 7 Pintail. It felt I was back in the 1980s at Mire Lake, Allscott Sugar Factory, Shropshire, when waders and terns would drop in when there was bad weather during migration. One memorable day, for Salop, in September, when there was drizzle with SE winds, 3 Spotted Redshank, 3 Turnstone, 9 Ruff, 16 Little Stint, 6 Culew Sandpiper, 16 Greenshank, 3 Wood Sandpioper, 35 Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plover, 3 Common Tern and the highlight for twenty five minutes, because it was a county tick at the time, Red-breasted Mergenser! It don’t get better than that for an inland county. I’ll never forget that amazing day. Back at the obs, all the waders never settled and were always up and down before almost the whole lot moved out as the weather improved. There was also an increase in White Wagtails as well and with them were 3 Citrine and my first Grey Wagtail. I didn’t want to leave but 15.00 was approaching fast and as I just stepped inside the obs, it bucketed down again.
Unfortunately by mistake, I deleted all but four images and on this post is all those 4 four pics.
Ruff, Little Stint, Ringed Plover and Whiskered Tern
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