Friday, 31 May 2013

Fun with Wheatears

During recent works trips to Jordan I was lucky enough to have some fun with Wheatears both on the works site and where I was staying in Dana Village.  Only 4 species were seen (only two photographed!) and I missed out on what would have been some new species for me - colleagues also working in Jordan saw Finch's and Mourning - but despite looking in similar areas I was not that lucky.  Does mean I will have to go back though, next time may have to be a holiday though!

Have selected my best pictures from my two weeks - hope you enjoy.

Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica / melanoleuca)

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Jordan 2013 - An Introduction

Jordan 2013

Over the last 4 weeks I've been fortunate enough to be working in the south of Jordan near to the Dana World Biosphere Reserve and Important Bird Area. The reserve is managed by the Jordanian Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and I was lucky enough to stay at their Dana Guesthouse in the village of Dana. 

I was also lucky enough to meet many travellers whilst staying in Dana and the other bits of Jordan sound fantastic.  It a bit of a shame that I only saw the airport, desert highway, Dana and our works site.  Oh I did see Amman (once) but that was for a meeting so didn't really see anything to write home about (apart from some very crazy driving)!  By all accounts (and from the bits I saw) Jordan is an amazing country and well worth a visit and the birds (wider ecology and scenery) simply stunning. 

A full species list from both trips is  included at the bottom of this blog.  Total species seen  were 79 species (of high quality) including 20 species new to me (shown in red in the table). 

Best birds were -

Palestine Sunbird - this was one species I really wanted to see.  The males are little corkers - colours are truly amazing and they sound very Wren-esque (amongst other calls). 

Palestine Sunbird

Pale Rock Sparrow - this species was (according to our local expert) not regularly recorded in Jordan until about 2000 but this species is now well established.  The call is described in Collins as sounding like an insect or electric motor and once tuned in they were fairly easy to pick up.  One was finally obliging enough for a pic and was by far one of my best pictures of the trip.


Wheatears - Black-eared, Desert and Isabelline - two new and one I've seen before.  Dana was full of BE Wheatears and of both dark and pale varieties.  Lovely songsters too.  A selection of wheatear pictures will be posted shortly.

Doves - Saw both Laughing and European Turtle Dove.  Nice to see Laughing as it was a new species for me and so nice to see and hear lots of Turtles - it is just very sad that this species has all but disappeared from the UK.  Both species were in good numbers in the orchard at Dana.

Warblers - were cracking, but no pics are they were all a bit skulky (typical warblers).  Again mostly in the village in the orchards.

Raptors - the main focus of the trip.  Griffon Vultures breed in the Wadi Dana and other species were seen in the evening circling around the cliffs looking for somewhere to go and roost.  Good numbers of all species were seen with early numbers of Steppe Buzzards and eagles with 4 Bonelli's being seen  at Dana on one of the evenings in April.  Other eagles included - Imperial, Golden, Booted, Steppe, Lesser Spotted and Short-toed. 

The May trip was raptor-tastic with 3 days of fairly epic Honey Buzzard passage of over 10,000 birds over three days.

I will post a selection of other pictures soon.

Species List

Common Name

Latin Name

Common Name

Latin Name


Alectoris chukar

White Stork

Ciconia ciconia

Griffon Vulture

Gyps fulvus

Golden Eagle

Aquila cheysaetos

Imperial Eagle

Aquila heliaca

Lesser Spotted Eagle

Aquila pomarina

Steppe Eagle

Aquila nipalensis

Short-toed Eagle

Circaetus gallicus

Booted Eagle

Aquila pennata

Bonelli’s Eagle

Aquila fasciata

Black Kite

Milvus migrans

Pallid Harrier

Circus macrourus

Long-legged Buzzard

Buteo rufinus

Steppe Buzzard

Buteo buteo vulpinus

Common Buzzard

Buteo buteo

European Honey Buzzard

Pernis apivorus

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Accipiter nisus

Common Kestrel

Falco tinnunculus

Lesser Kestrel

Falcon naumanni

Sakar Falcon

Falco cherrug

Rock Dove

Columba livia

European Turtle Dove

Streptopelia turtur

Laughing Dove

Streptopelia sengalensis

Common Cuckoo

Cuculus canorus

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Bubo bubo

Eurasian Scops Owl

Otus scops

Common Swift

Apus apus

Pallid Swift

Apus pallidus

Alpine Swift

Apus melba

Eurasian Hoopoe

Upapa epops

European Bee-eater

Merops apiaster

Crested Lark

Galerida cristata

Greater Short-toed Lark

Calandrella brachydactyla

Desert Lark

Ammomanes deserti

Calandra Lark

Melanocorypha calandra

Common Sand Martin

Riparia riparia

Rock Martin

Ptyonoprogne fuligula

Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Common House Martin

Delichon urbicum

Tawny Pipit

Anthus campestris

Black Redstart

Phoenicurus ochruros

Northern Wheatear

Oenanthe oenanthe

Isabelline Wheatear

Oenanthe isabellina

Black-eared Wheatear

Oenanthe hispanica

Desert Wheatear

Oenanthe deserti


Saxicola rubetra

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush

Monticola saxatilis


Sylvia atricapilla

Common Whitethroat

Sylvia communis

Lesser Whitethroat

Sylvia curruca

Sardinian Warbler

Sylvia melanocephala

Spectacled Warbler

Sylvia conspicillata

Asian Desert Wabler

Sylvia nana

Cetti’s Warbler

Cettia cetti

European Reed Warbler

Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Upcher’s Warbler

Hippolais languida

Olivaceous Warbler

Iduna pallida

Spotted Flycatcher

Muscicapa striata

Great Tit

Parus major

Lesser  Grey Shrike

Lanius minor

Red-backed Shrike

Lanius collurio

Woodchat Shrike

Lanius senator

White-spectacled Bulbul

Pycnonotus xanthopygos

Palestine Sunbird

Cinnyris osea

Brown-necked Raven

Corvus ruficollis

House Sparrow

Passer domesticus

Common Rock Sparrow

Petronia petronia

Pale Rock Sparrow

Carpospiza brachydactyla


Carduelis cannabina

European Goldfinch

Carduelis carduelis

European Greenfinch

Carduelis chloris

Syrian Serin

Serinus syriacus

Ortolan Bunting

Emberiza hortulana



TOTAL – 79 species.  Additions to Life List - 20