Monday, September 23, 2013

My First Watch.....

It's been 5 months since I did serious birdwatching.  Since my arrival here in Doha, it's been purely work, work, work and more work. I only get to see birds when I go to public parks and gardens. Days and months have passed and seeing the same birds again and again, I started to itch for more.

With the arrival of the early migrants, the time is right for a quick getaway in the nearby industrial ponds. The industrial pond or Abu Nahkla Wetland is a treated wastewater pond that was established in 1982. The wetland is located approximately 12 kilometers in the outskirts of the city of Doha, Qatar.  It lies along the southern borders of Abu Nahkla Village.

The Industrial Pond or the Abu Nahkla Pond. It is the body of water in the lower left corner of the photo.

I invited two of my friends here in Doha to join me in this birdwatching activity. Cecille, my flatmate, is a newbie birder and had long wanted to join me in my trips.  Eric, a marine biologist and a high school buddy, completed the trio. Since the pond was just minutes away, we decided to leave at 6:00 am. A decision we would regret later.

Off we went on a 4x4 vehicle as suggested by a frequent birder in the area. Approaching the area we flushed a raptor from a nearby perch. No ID here as we were all surprised.  We drove all the way up the embankment and upon reaching the top a huge body of water presented itself to us. We parked near a lone tree and prepped up for the trek. Camera, Bins, Guidebook...Check! Good to go!

The pond!

The Perimeter road of the pond. It would have been nice to walk
around the whole length but the heat was just unbearable.

First bird we saw was a lifer for all of us. Great-crested Grebe. I think this was the species with the most number at that time, 38 in all. Other species were Squacco Heron, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Common Moorhen and a lot more we could not identify.  We also saw a couple of ducks but had a hard time identifying it. We suspect they were Ferruginous Ducks. On the road there were Laughing Doves, Collared Doves and a few waterbirds that cross from time to time.

Great-crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

On the other side of the road, in the reed ponds, we could hear lots of bird calls but we could not find them. Sometimes a bird would perch on top of the reeds but the moment you raise your bins they're gone. It is so frustrating to bird in a foreign land when you hear a call but can't see it and can't find it.

Mercury levels were already rising so we had to cut short our trip. (We were there for only 45 mins). Even before we boarded our vehicle we already planned to come back in a couple of weeks time. Hoping to see more birds deeper into the migration season.

Just as we cleared the embankment, I saw three birds crossing the road. They flew and landed just a few meters away from us giving us good views. LIFER! Common Quail!

....and this my friends is the start of my birdwatching life here in the land of Arabia.