The Northern Wheatear or Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) is a small passerine bird and is the most widespread member of the wheatear genus Oenanthe in Europe and Asia. The Northern Wheatear makes one of the longest journeys of any small bird, crossing ocean, ice, and desert. It migrates from Sub-Saharan Africa in Spring over a vast area of the northern hemisphere that includes northern and central Asia, Europe, Greenland, Alaska, and parts of Canada. In Autumn all return to Africa, where their ancestors had wintered. Arguably, some of the birds that breed in north Asia could take a shorter route and winter in south Asia; however, their inherited inclination to migrate takes them back to Africa.
Birds of the large, bright Greenland race, leucorhoa, makes one of the longest transoceanic crossings of any passerine. In spring most migrate along a route (commonly used by waders and waterfowl) from Africa via continental Europe, the British Isles, and Iceland to Greenland. However, autumn sightings from ships suggest that some birds cross the North Atlantic directly from Canada and Greenland to southwest Europe (a distance of up to 2500 km). (wikipedia)
It is this incredible migration that makes this bird quite special. Take in Abu Dhabi in UAE on its way to northern Europe.
The Ortolan, or Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana) is a bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a passerine family now separated by most modern authors from the finches, Fringillidae. The bird's common name is French, from the Latin hortulanus, the gardener bird, (from hortus, a garden).
A native of most European countries and western Asia, the Ortolan migrates in autumn to tropical Africa, returning at the end of April or beginning of May. It reaches as far north as Scandinavia and beyond the Arctic Circle, frequenting cornfields and their neighbourhoods. It is an uncommon vagrant in spring and particularly autumn to Ireland and the UK.
For centuries, a rite of passage for French gourmets has been the eating of the Ortolan. The birds were force-fed, then drowned in Armagnac, roasted whole and eaten that way, bones and all, while the diner draped his head with a linen napkin to preserve the precious aromas. Ortolan hunting was banned in France in 1999, but the law was actually poorly enforced and it is thought that up to 50,000 ortolans were killed each year. In 2007, the pressure from France's League for Protection of Birds and from the European Union resulted in the French government promising to enforce the EU directive protecting the Ortolan. (wikipedia)
This was taken recently in Aub Dhabi City Golf Course and was a new bird for me. I was delighted to have finally seen one of these beautiful buntings.
The Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus) is a lapwing or large plover, a wader in the family Charadriidae. It has characteristic loud alarm calls which are variously rendered as did he do it or pity to do it leading to colloquial names like the did-he-do-it bird. Usually seen in pairs or small groups not far from water but may form large flocks in the non-breeding season (winter).
Red-wattled Lapwings are large waders, about 35 cm long. The wings and back are light brown with a purple sheen, but head and chest and front part of neck are black. Prominently white patch runs between these two colours, from belly and tail, flanking the neck to the sides of crown. Short tail is tipped black. A red fleshy wattle in front of each eye, black-tipped red bill, and the long legs are yellow. In flight, prominent white wing bars formed by the white on the secondary coverts.
Race aigneri is slightly paler and larger than the nominate race and is found in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Indus valley. It usually keeps in pairs or trios in well-watered open country, ploughed fields, grazing land, and margins and dry beds of tanks and puddles. (wikipedia)
Taken in Abu Dhabi City Golf Course, UAE. A new species for me so I was delighted to see one. Seen in small groups of 2-4 in most areas with freshwater and grass.
The Hoopoe (Upupa epops) is a colourful bird that is found across Afro-Eurasia, notable for its distinctive 'crown' of feathers. It is the only extant species in the family Upupidae. One insular species, the Saint Helena Hoopoe, is extinct, and the Madagascar subspecies of the Hoopoe is sometimes elevated to a full species. Like the Latin name upupa, the English name is an onomatopoetic form which imitates the cry of the bird.
The Hoopoe is widespread in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar.
The Hoopoe has two basic requirements in its habitat; bare or lightly vegetated ground on which to forage and vertical surfaces with cavities (such as trees, cliffs or even walls, nestboxes, haystacks, and abandoned burrows) in which to nest. These requirements can be provided in a wide range of ecosystems and as a consequence they inhabit a wide range of habitats from heathland, wooded steppes, savannas and grasslands, as well as glades inside forests. The Madagascar subspecies also makes use of more dense primary forest. The modification of natural habitats by humans for various agricultural purposes has led to them becoming common in olive groves, orchards, vineyards, parkland and farmland, although they are less common and declining in intensively farmed areas. Hunting is of concern in southern Europe and Asia. (wikipedia)
Taken in Formal Park, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Although present in good numbers in the local parks, the birds were still very shy and jumpy. Always a joy to see. Such characters.
The Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) is a small sunbird. Like other sunbirds they feed mainly on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. They have a fast and direct flight and can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird but often perch at the base of flowers. Less than 10 cm long they have a down-curve bill with brush-tipped tubular tongues that aid in nectar feeding. The male is glossy metallic purplish black on the upper parts with the wings appearing dark brown. The breeding male has the underparts also of the same purplish black. Females are olive above and yellowish below.
The species is distributed widely from West Asia through the Indian Subcontinent and into Southeast Asia. They are resident birds in most parts of their range and do not move large distances.These birds are very vociferous and will call and will join to mob owls or other predators. The song is rapid rattle followed by ringing, metallic notes. (wikipedia)
Taken in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Very difficult to photograph as they tended to stick to the high canopy. Usually announced their presence by the beautiful song and call. Simply stunning birds. I was mesmerised by them.