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Monday, January 17, 2011

In search of Streak-Throated Swallow 14.1.11

Mark and I decided it was a good time to go look for Streak-Throated Swallow at Ras Al Khaimah Water Treatment Plant in the North of the UAE.  Three had been observed the week before.  An early start was called for as this was a 1.5 Hour drive from Dubai and we wanted to stop off at first light at Umm al Quain mangroves to see if we could pick up anything.  I wanted to find Great Knot for my UAE list.  We arrived just as day was breaking,  the area was calm, many birds roosting including 30-40 Crab Plover and equal numbers of Oystercatcher.  Whilst making our way along the shoreline we flushed a Greater Spotted Eagle from a Mangrove bush unseen by us.  The bird was no more than 20ft away,  amazing sight watching this magnificent bird take to the air !  Anyways my luck was in as we found several Knot amongst a flock of Bar-Tailed Godwit and other waders.  On the way out of the Mangroves my attention was drawn to a 'dog fight' coming closer to us,  we soon realised we were watching a Sparrow doing it's utmost to outwit a male Merlin as they both weaved around the sky eventually disappearing into the Mangrove,  the Merlin then retreated back to where it had come seemingly without it's meal.

So the day had got off to a great start,  off to Ras al Khaimah we set.  We eventally arrived at the water pits where we found huge numbers of Pallid Swift (probably more than 1000) dominating the skies along with pale Crag Martin, House Martin, Barn Swallow and Sand Martin.   I was amazed at the sheer quantity of insects in the air,  they were in my mouth , eyes, they were everywhere - not for the faint-hearted! 

How were we going to find the small number of Streak-Throated Swallow amongst these hundreds of other Hirundines and Swifts  ?   As luck would have it and had been suggested by other birders , many of the Swallows and Martins were resting on distant Telegraph wires including the ST Swallow !.   Because of this distance good photos were impossible,  however I have included what I could manage,  I have included some shots of Pallid Swift and Pale Crag Martin. 

I will definitely be returning as this is an amazing experience with some good photo opportunities.

Here you see two Streak-Throated Swallow (left),
a House Martin and Barn Swallow

Two Streak-Throated Swallow

 Pallid Swift
(Apus pallidus)
 Pallid Swift
(Apus pallidus)
 Pallid Swift
(Apus pallidus)
 Pale Crag Martin
(Ptyonoprogne obsoleta)
Pale Crag Martin
(Ptyonoprogne obsoleta)

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