Saturday, 14 March 2009

March 11th – a fine day out

Morning began with a meeting with the Chief of the Syrian Desert Commission (more on that later) and a lot of fiddling with vehicles and our ‘shadows’. Our security was upgraded from police to military as we were going close to the Iraqi border.

Male Finsch's Wheatear

Drove south from Al-Hassakh and saw some potential Sociable Lapwing habitat, but no birds. Then visited Lake Khatouniyeh, about 5 km from Iraq. Packed with quality birds. See-see Partridge first was a tick for all, which was followed by Desert Larks and three Finsch’s Wheatears, while John and Graham also bagged a couple of Hares legging it across the wadis.

Female Finsch's Wheatear

Various Stonechats, Penduline Tit, Desert Wheatear, Cyprus Pied Wheatear, four White tailed Plover, 650 Garganey among the throngs of waterfowl, 108 Red crested Pochard, 175 Cranes over, several Eastern Moustached and a Menetries Warbler. Isabelline Wheatears were all around, but no shrikes or Red-wattled (or Sociable) Lapwings. Mustn’t grumble though!

Desert Wheatear

Met Remco Hofland and his Dutch tour group who had earlier also seen an ‘orientalis’ Curlew.

We made a further series of searches of the good looking plover habitat as we headed back north finding 26 Sociables along with 3 Cream Coloured Coursers. Game on.

Cream Coloured Courser

Bad news was there was some spent shotgun cartridges in area. Hopefully the Sociables are on the move again though and we can start to pick more birds up.

Our bodies are starting to buckle under the effects of kebabs, so we opted for home cooked pasta, tuna and tomato tonight.

Marsh harrier in flight