Some of the pictures in future blogs will be very special! because they are proof of birds being here that have few records. Indeed some may even be the first record in the area. He has kindly allowed me to post them and I will do so over the next few days. I hope I can add some useful analysis.
The quality of his pictures is exceptional so please remember that the pictures are copyright and cannot be re-used without his permission.
The first picture today is of a young greater spotted eagle taken on 3rd December 2010. Greater spotted eagle is almost certainly the most common eagle found over Wadi Hanifah and the Al Hayer area during the winter. Both Abdullah and I agree that they become more common in November although some are around in October. I had always thought that they migrant directly to their wintering quarters in late September and early October so where are the extra birds coming from in early November?
greater spotted eagle
From one of the largest birds to one of the smallest: Graceful Prinia is a common resident all along the Wadi valley and yet it was virtually unreported until the early 1990s. This surge is probably natural range expansion. The picture below was taken on 10 Nov 2010.
Ferruginous duck has been known to be resident in small numbers since the 1990s. There have been some fears it may have disappeared since the "river" narrowed in the dam area but newer wider patches of river further south have evolved into lagoons and lakes which obviously help provide suitable habitat. The picture was taken on 15 August 2011.
In contrast, a bird which has been resident in the Riyadh area throughout the years even before the greening caused by the growing city is Arabian babbler. I haven't seen it myself in this area (I saw it last week near Taif, western Saudi Arabia). Abdullah took the picture below on 21 Jan 2011 .
Finally one of the most common birds in all of Saudi Arabia is crested lark. This one was taken on 19 Nov 2010.