Sunday, September 09, 2007


A four-day business trip to India included an 8-hour stopover in Dubai, so the group and I went on a short tour of Dubai to see the place. We waited for the tour to collect us at the Le Meridien Hotel on the airport perimeter. While waiting I had a quick look in the courtyard in the middle of the hotel buildings.

Searching for food on the lawn was this Common Hoopoe:

It didn't fully raise it's crest, which is a shame, but you get a good idea anyway. Perched on a window ledge was this Common Myna:

As you can tell from the picture, it was very hot in Dubai, 45 centigrade, so all the birds were periodically trying to cool themselves, with their beaks open. Myna's appeared to be the most common bird in the city.

One stop-off on the tour was by the main water way, where I spotted this Laughing Dove:

And here the view across the waterway showing both the old Dubai - the wood fishing boats - and the new - in the form of the 'towers'. Dubai is in fact the largest building site on the planet, with literally hundreds of towers, either hotels or residential, under construction. It's amazing really as it is so hot that it's uncomfortable, really uncomfortable and it gets hotter. Why would people want to live in city plonked in a desert where summer temperatures exceed 50 centigrade?

The last sighting is what I believe to a juvenile Hoopoe, judging by it's beak shape and crest, but if you know what it is, please do let me know!

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Stanwick Lakes

Reports of a Wood Sandpiper (never seen one!) drew us over to Stanwick Lakes, which is a surprisingly large SSSI, part of the Nene River Valley and the network of birding hotspots in the county. There's a £2 levy to pay to exit car park in summer, £1 in winter, a large children's adventure playground and some well laid out walks around the large lake (formerly gravel pits) , or an annual £20 pass. It has the feel of a habitat that birds will expand into.

Heading towards Rushden & Diamonds Football ground, this Greater Spotted Woodpecker, flew to land on the post, for a few short seconds, and then took off for a tree much further back:

At the end of the lakes area, by and old style bridge there's a large collection of teasels and berry bearing bushes, feeding probably the largest flock of Goldfinch we've ever seen or heard. Heading back we spotted this chap, which I presume is a juvenile Reed Bunting:

The lakes are host to a large number of Mute Swans, Coots, Moorhens, Cormorants, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls together with Teal, Wigeon, Greylag and Canada Geese, a large flock of Lapwings and a single Black-tailed Godwit. Above we spotted a Peregrine Falcon and a Hobby.

We stopped briefly in the main hide and I was lucky enough to spy this dragonfly hovering outside one of the openings, a pleasing photograph as I haven't managed a good dragonfly snap before, any identification much appreciated:

(click on the picture to see a much more detailed version)

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