Lilith Owls On My Last Visit to Irakaya Farm

Lilith-Owl-On-My-Last-Visit-to-Irakaya-Farm

Today was my last trip to the Farm. I’ve been coming here, off and on, for months and I’m so glad I discovered it. The variety and number of birds here is unlike anything anywhere in Qatar. Today’s trip started early as I wanted one last chance to see the Lilith Owls.

Lilith Owls

I found several owls in two separate locations this morning. I’ve been in touch with Deane, who runs the Owl Pages website, a tremendous resourec for anyone interested in owls. I thought he might be interested to hear about the Lilith Owls, which he was. However, he mentioned a minor controversy I was unaware of.

As you may know, the Lilith Owlet is not recognised as a full species by the IOC yet.

I wasn’t aware that the naming of this bird was still up in the air. Certainly my Middle East Bird app is in no doubt, distinguishing it from it’s cousin the Little Owl. However, Deane is undoubtedly an expert, and I defer to his superior knowledge on this matter.

Daurian Shrike

Then I discover another naming confusion! Apparently, the Daurian Shrike is he preferred name for what unil hitherto I’ve been calling an Isabelline Shrike. To be fair, both are in use, and they are smart and neatly trimmed birds with a bandit’s mask over their eyes.

I was able to watch this bird for several minutes as it finally caught a grashopper.

On previous visits to Irakaya Farm I’ve featured Woodchat Shrikes, and Southern Grey Shrikes (and here). They have been a real highlight of my time in Qatar, as they are birds I’ve wanted to see since I first read about them in the Observer’s Book of Birds (associate link) as a child.

The Dhab, A Monitor Lizard

I first wrote about these extraordinary creatures here. They take some finding, but once you’ve worked out where to look and have their outline in your mind, they become easier to find. It’s facinating how your mind adapts to identify what you’re looking out for. I went many visits before noticiung them as I was focused on birds.

They are true desert dwellers, and once provided an important source of protein for the bedouin who once roamed these desert lands.

Bee-eaters Galore

 These are spectacular birds to see. Not only is their plumage striking and that long bill very distinctive, they are also masters of flight. I was amazed to see them plunge into the water, presumably to catch small fish or invertebrates.

Kestrels

There were a lot of kestels around, some on the ground chasing the abundant grasshoppers and many more in the air or on the power lines and irrigation booms.

Qatar has two versions of this falcon: the Lesser Kestrel and the Common Kestrel. I am in awe of people who make separating these different types apparently at ease. I think they’re very alike and I rely on examining photos when I get home. The birds have different coloured talons. The Common Kestrel’s are black and the Lesser’s are paler. Accordingly, if you click on the image and expand it, you’ll see this is a Common Kestrel

It seems that grasshoppers are on everyone’s menu, including the Kestrel.

Watch The Video

There’s so much to see on these visits and the bird life is surprisingly good. In order to tell these stories better, I’ve begun posting short videos of my trips on YouTube. My channel is called Birderlife — which should come as no surprise.

I made a video of today’s visit to the the Farm. You can watch it below.

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