Irakaya Farm 7-3-20


Somedays you get lucky. I have to confess to feeling a little bleary eyed this morning, so when I arrived at the farm and could see no raptors in the air I thought it was going to be a quiet day. I needn’t have worried. I’ve got a route that I usually follow but today I veered off and spent sometime quietly in the shade of some thorn trees. As so often happens, patience is rewarded. I’ve written before of my childhood fascination with Shrikes and today was an exciting one from that point of view. But first, the Hoopoes. 


The first time I ever saw a Hoopoe was as a boy, in Gibraltar. I was looking out of window at the tennis court (we lived on a RAF base) and noticed a bird fluttering onto a nearby branch. It had a striking wing pattern (black and white) that seem to flicker as it beat its wings. I looked more closely and was astonished to see a brightly coloured bird with a flamboyant crest. Since then I’ve seen several Hoopoes in Qatar — the Museum of Islamic Art gardens is a good place to see them as are the new Katara gardens. I’d not seen a pair before and these two birds put on a very pleasing show for me.


This pair were so intent on feeding that they essentially ignored me. I could hear their feet on the ground and could watch at close quarters as they probed the ground for food.

I sat watching them for about fifteen minutes as they slowly walked through the scratchy bushes, pausing every now and again as if listening. After a while they strolled out of view and I was left grateful for the few minutes we had spent together.

Isabelline or Daurian Shrike

I found this beautiful bird sitting quietly low down in a tree. It was close to a large colony of Spanish Sparrows, so was easy to miss.

I knew this was a Shrike, but the question is, which one? It’s obviously a female and there are a number of candidates. I wondered whether to call it a female Woodchat Shrike because a few minutes later I found a male (below). I decided to pop the image into the Merlin app by CornellLab. This came back with the Isabelline Shrike, otherwise known as Daurian Shrike.

Male Woodchat Shrike

So, there he is, a smart male Woodchat Shrike. I still haven’t managed to catch one feeding, but this bird does have a grub of some kind in its bill.

I would dearly love to see a Red Backed Shrike before the migration season is over. But for now I’m elated at having now got three Shrikes on my list.

I’m so pleased to have bagged these shrikes. They’ve been on my radar for years.

Pied Wheatear

There are lots of Wheatears around at the moment, and identifying some of them can be tricky. I’m tentatively going with Pied Wheatear for this one.

I think it looks like it’s heading out for the night, with a smart tuxedo on. There are lots of them about too and this one is pictured in typical pose on a prickly bush.

Wheatears are among the smartest birds around — their plumage always looks neat and tidy.

Isabelline Wheatear

As I mentioned, there are a lot of Wheatears around at the moment. The Isabelline Wheatear is a delicately coloured Wheatear which you see everywhere. This is a typical pose.

These Wheatears like to stay close to the ground and are present in large numbers on the tracks and open spaces between the fields.

These birds are now vying with Crested Larks as the most numerous (excluding the sparrows).

Graceful Prynia

I spotted this little mite in a bank of long grass. It sounds a bit like a Grasshopper Warbler, a long mechanical turrring noise.

The Graceful Prynia has a long tail which it tends to cock which makes it very distinctive. The bird was quite busy, calling constantly which made me wonder whether it might be thinking about nesting.

I was reminded of my favourite UK haunt, the Newport Wetlands which in April and May are alive with the buzzing and trilling of visiting warblers.

Western Marsh Harrier

For some reason, most of the Harriers I see are female birds. So it was amazing to catch a glimpse of a male Marsh Harrier shortly before I was leaving.

These birds are amazing to watch, their slow, lazy flying motion makes it seem unlikely that they will stay airborne. This bird was quartering a field, sweeping slowly one way and then the other.

All the harriers I’ve seen this year have demonstrated their odd, slightly unlikely flying style. You do wonder how they stay airborne at times.

Cattle Egrets

After a happy three hours on the farm, I was making my way to the exit when I noticed what I first thought were strips of plastic in the field. Curious I approached more closely to find a flock of Cattle Egrets.

I’d seen Little and Great Western Egrets, but until now I’d not found any of this species. They were busy feeding in a scrape that had filled with water.

I last saw a Cattle Egret in 1977 in Gibraltar. I think they’re now making a comeback on the Somerset Levels, in the UK.

Bird List 7-2-20

Woodchat Shrike, Cattle Egret, Southern Grey Shrike, Isabelline Wheatear, Graceful Prynia, Spanish Sparrow, Pied Wheatear,  Marsh Harrier, Hoopoe, Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike.

New and Updated Alternate Common Names Available – eBird

New and Updated Alternate Common Names Available – eBird

25/09/2020 Birding, eBird, News

Whether you know Podiceps cristatus as Great Crested Grebe, Bahri, or Somormujo lavanco, your eBird experience can display bird names in your preferred language. With 9 new options, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology now offers bird common names in 78 languages and regional dialects – including 15 variations of Spanish and 6 for French!
Recent additions to common names include Arabic, Asturian, Azerbaijani, Catalan, Gallegan, and Slovak as well as two new regional versions of Spanish (Peru and Paraguay) and one additional version of French customized for French Guiana.  We also now have complete global namesets for German, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Slovak, Spanish (Spain), and Turkish. Dutch, Icelandic, Polish, Russian, Serbian, and Swedish have names for 30-90% of eBird’s taxonomy.
There are regional versions of English too, so you can report Great Northern Divers and Grey Partridges instead of Common Loons and Gray Partridges. See the full list of available languages and learn more about bird common names in eBird.
Setting your preferred language for common names
Select your preferred language for common names on the web in your eBird Preferences: These will apply to, Macaulay Library, and Birds of the World. Within the eBird Mobile and Merlin Bird ID apps, set your common name preference under Settings and Account. Please note that settings for common names are separate from the language display on the mobile and web interfaces.
Become a volunteer translator
Volunteer translators provide these names and are critical to the success of eBird and other Cornell Lab projects. Many thanks to our network of partners around the world for making more common name options available!
Do you want to help us translate Cornell Lab projects? Please fill out this form: Join the eBird translators team.

House sparrow © Christoph Moning / Macaulay Library

A sparrow by any other name… 
To demonstrate the diversity of common names, here are 59 different options for Passer domesticus available in eBird, Merlin, the Macaulay Library, and Birds of the World:

Common name

دوري منزلي

Pardal común

Dam sərçəsi

Домашно врабче

Pardal comú

Chinese – Mandarin (traditional)

Chinese, Simple

Creole, Haiti
Mwano kay


vrabec domácí



English, Kenya
House Sparrow

English, United States
House Sparrow




Moineau domestique

Pardal común


דרור הבית

Házi veréb


Burung-gereja Rumah

Passera oltremontana



Mājas zvirbulis

Naminis žvirblis


Оронгийн бор шувуу



Portuguese, Brazil

Portuguese, Portugal

Vrabie de casă

Домовый воробей

Vrabac pokućar

vrabec domový

Domači vrabec

Gorrión común

Spanish, Argentina

Spanish, Chile

Spanish, Costa Rica
Gorrión Común

Spanish, Cuba

Spanish, Dominican Republic
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Ecuador
Gorrión Europeo

Spanish, Mexico
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Panama
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Paraguay

Spanish, Peru
Gorrión Casero

Spanish, Puerto Rico
Gorrión Doméstico

Spanish, Spain
Gorrión común

Spanish, Uruguay

Spanish, Venezuela
Gorrión Común




Горобець хатній

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