Leatherneck - Hoorah!

Birding reports from from our rep in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Lesser Spot Finder
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Leatherneck - Hoorah!

Postby Lesser Spot Finder » Sun May 27, 2012 5:32 am

The centre of gravity switched this week to Camp Leatherneck. There had been little all week with only the Omni-present Crested Larks and Tree Sparrows along with the pair of Common Myna near the 25m range. Laughing Dove numbers had increased with upwards of 10 flying around Bastion 2. Laughing Doves are a resident species in Afghanistan but only appear in any numbers in both MOBs Bastion and Price at the end of March/early April, perhaps wintering further south around the Helmand River and the compounds north in the Green Zone.

On Friday I was part of a March and Shoot Team and on the final leg of the race (we came 3rd by the way) we passed the Leatherneck Grey Water Lagoon and the team seemed unimpressed when I pointed out 18 White-winged Black Terns dipping over the lagoon. On the return an hour later from the ranges (we didn’t do so well there) they had gone.

Aching the following morning I headed back to Leatherneck and picked up one drab White-winged Black Tern and finally a male Red-necked Phalarope at the edge. Three Little Stints were also present but very flighty; I managed some good shots of the Phalarope. The terns were an Afghan lifer for me and, to be honest, a species I hadn't expected to see here. Bonus!

Today, as it was quiet, it is Sunday after all, I headed back to the Lagoon and immediately clocked three more Red-necked Phalaropes doing what they do best and spinning for food around on the lagoon and a drive around produced two Temminck’s Stints and half a dozen Little Stints. Migration is still not complete and this tour continues to surprise.

It was interesting to be interrogated by USMC MPs who clocked me with binoculars and a camera looking at an excrement filled pond with a tip as the background. I was Caucasian, wearing British Military Uniform and produced an ID Card but they were still unsure. I like the Americans, they have a can do attitude but sometimes cannot think out of the box!! Perhaps it was my accent - I don't sound like Hugh Grant or Dick Van Dyke. They have birders in the US – I have seen them and have watched ‘The Big Year’ so I should not have been unusual.

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