A banner.full


WEATHER; light breeze, plenty of sunshine.

The wind had dropped to zero, hooray!! As we met on the main terrace a group of nine or ten Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters flew over the hotel and landed on the far side.

The Ringing group were up early and had their nets hanging by 6am. We saw them process a few species: Subalpine and Bonelli’s Warblers and a Woodchat Shrike (whilst we were away, they also caught: Eurasian Hoopoe, Saharan Olivaceous Warbler and two Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters (dam and blast! I would have really liked to see the B C Bee-eater in the hand!).

a Bonelli's Warbler 'in the hand'  -  Tony Moore

Whilst the Ringers were ‘a-ringing’ we Birders were out ‘a-birding’ in the desolate desert searching for several target species, the first of which was a sandgrouse. In fact we found at least 100 of them, of two species: Spotted and Crowned. They were delightful to watch, colourful and noisy and very gregarious. We had great views of them in flight and walking to a watering hole.


Spotted Sandgrouse 

Crowned Sandgrouse in flight 

After the sandgrouse we went looking for the Desert Sparrow, we drove to an isolated dwelling where a woman feeds the birds, when we arrived at least 6 Desert Sparrows were feeding on seed with two Hoopoe Larks and a White-crowned Wheatear.

ther Male Desert Sparrow 

This was going exceedingly well, what could possibly go wrong………nothing! We stopped at a wadi and began walking in search of the Desert Warbler that we missed yesterday. It took about 30 minutes, but we eventually found a pair of them, we all got reasonable views of them but not exceptional.

White-crowned Wheatear

During our search of the wadi we also saw a small group of Greater Short-toed Larks, a pair of Desert Wheatears, Hoopoe Larks and Barn Swallows. During our desert excursion we had several views of Brown-necked Ravens, White-crowned Wheatears, one of the three 4x4 vehicles stopped so that the passengers could watch a Booted Eagle.

this was a difficult bird to photograph - but Tony managed to get a decent shot of it - Desert Warbler

Our last venue was a little further afield, we picked up a local Nomad (who had lived in the same house for 20 years!!  Nomad??) he directed us to a spot in a nearby wadi where he pointed out a roosting Egyptian Nightjar, wowzah!! It had such a cryptic plumage pattern that it was very hard to see even when you knew where it sat!

can you spot the roostinmg Egyptian Nightjar?

Margarita's Fringed-toed Lizard seen near the nightjar roost site

Other seen during our desert-dash were: Bar-tailed Larks, Trumpeter Finches, Brown-necked Ravens at their nests, Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, Desert Wheatears and a few more Barn Swallows.

We had the afternoon to ourselves, most people took lunch in the hotel and then had an hour’s rest  before birding around the tamarisk scrub. The ringers dropped the nets around 4pm in the hope of catching a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater or the Saharan Olivaceous Warbler so that our group could appreciate them in the hand. It never happened!