Saturday, 24 December 2011

Larking about in the Arabian desert

Yesterday was a very full birding day and thanks are especially due to Abdullah Amrou. 

Abdullah showed and drove Clive Temple and me round several excellent birding spots in the Kharj and Al Hayer areas. We birded from 8am until dusk. There is a lot to write about over the next few days.

In the meantime, here is a short blog about one of the places we visited yesterday. It was the flat desert area south of Kharj.

hoopoe lark, south of Kharj

First impression is that the flat desert is lifeless but in the few areas with even the slightest vegetation there are both hoopoe lark and bar tailed lark.  If there is any garbage thrown away there are white wagtail near-by too.

We saw both larks within 200 metres of each other at the side of the road 20 kilometres south of Kharj. Kharj itself is a small farming city, 80 kilometres south of Riyadh.

Hoopoe lark is relatively easy to watch. It is a large lark which runs away from you rather than fly but it doesn't spook easily. We saw four or so together which gave excellent views.

bar tailed lark

By contrast, bar tailed lark is restless. We saw four of them too but viewing is a tiring job. There are continually on the move, mostly by running but they will fly more readily than hoopoe lark.

The area was ideal for them, flat as a pancake.

desert wheatear

There was only one other bird near-by. It was a lone desert wheatear

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