Friday, 9 December 2011

Introductions to Al Hayer

I introduced Saudi newcomers, Dennis and Brenda Cox, and Clive Temple to Wadi Hanifah south of Al Hayer this morning. 

Those who read this blog regularly will know this is my most common haunt in the Riyadh area. 

It was a relatively quick tour of some of the better spots on a beautiful sunny day.  

In the area we have named "the quarry ponds", there was a typical mix of moorhen in the waterwhite wagtail , black bush robin on the grounddurian shrike,  house sparrow, collared dove, laughing dove in the trees, chiffchaff, bluethroat in the reeds and bushes and little green bee-eater and marsh harrier in the air.  

A snipe was flushed accidentally near the water which may have been a jack snipe although we couldn't say authoritatively.

common kingfisher at Al Hayer

Also near "the quarry ponds" there were two birds which were new for me in Saudi Arabia. One was teal seen flying overhead with mallard. The other was a common kingfisher which allowed us a very close view from within the car. This was unlike a white throated kingfisher in the neighbourhood who kept his distance today.

Although Abdullah Amrou and other bird photographers have taken several pictures of the bird in the past, this was my first encounter here and first picture of this wintering bird.

tawny pipit

A walk beside three fodder fields showed that the large flock of northern lapwing were still present in the area. A few cattle egret and one great white egret were also seen. A couple of kestrel were once again near-by.

Three types of wheatear were seen around the fields- desert wheatear, Isabelline wheatear and in a rocky place near-by was a Persian wheatear.  A lone stonechat was also perched next to a field. 

Clive suggested I look more closely at the birds on the ground in the fodder fields. From his experience in Dubai, he couldn't believe that there were no tawny pipit around.  It didn't take us more than two minutes looking to find them along with the usual white wagtail! Tawny pipit was the third bird added to my Saudi Arabia list today.

back of tawny pipit

I have learned to take shots of the backs of pipits to help with identification!  I am hopeful we will find a Richard's pipit in the area using Clive's expertise with fodder fields. It should be here.

steppe grey shrike

Once again we saw a steppe grey shrike near fodder fields. This bird is a probable local breeder (note: not southern grey shrike as some books suggest). I  photographed this one just after he had taken off. His wings haven't even opened yet after he has just launched himself.

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