Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Cream coloured courser and field birds at Al hayer

On Friday I visited a couple of pivot fields next to the southern lagoons near Al Hayer. Very close to where I saw the garganey (see yesterday's blog) is a very large pivot field.

This field has recently been cropped but not yet ploughed and re-seeded. It was on just this type of field that I had seen chestnut bellied sandgrouse at Kharj a month ago. I suppose I ventured onto this field with a small hope I might see some more. But at very least I thought the habitat was a little different and might provide some different birds.

cream coloured courser

I didn't see any sandgrouse but I was rewarded with my first sighting of a cream-coloured courser in Saudi Arabia. Abdullah and Clive saw some at Al Kharj previously but I had been in another part of the farm where they were seen.

part of a large flock of namaqua dove

My guess is that the seeds on the field were the reason for the flock of 40 namaqua dove by the side. This is the largest flock of them I have even seen. The two photos above and below are parts of the same flock taken at the same moment.

another part of a flock of namaqua dove

Of course some the regular birds were near-by in the trees and reeds. White-cheeked bulbul are so common I had vowed not to photograph them again but the light was perfect for this one. I succumbed to photographing it.

white cheeked bulbul

Ironically, house sparrow are not as common in this area and tend to associate with white-cheeked bulbul.

white cheeked bulbul with house sparrow

Once again little green-bee-eater were plentiful. Their colours are much brighter now as spring approaches.

little green bee-eater

I have found this is one of the best places in the wadi to guarantee streaked weaver. Even though the numbers here are not high they are frequent. The one below knew I was watching it and flew off moments later.

streaked weaver

The second and last pivot field I visited was quite different from the first. It was very wet with constant sprinkling and the crop was high. A large flock of cattle egret were very interested in it and two squacco heron were with them. There are squacco heron all year round in the wadi. There is some debate whether any cattle egret stay and breed.

squacco heron

My final observation of the day was that even though there were over a hundred white wagtail in the field I couldn't see a single yellow wagtail. Indeed I haven't seen a single yellow wagtail along the wadi all winter. This contrasts with the visit to the farm at Kharj where a small number of yellow wagtail winter with the whites. Kharj is 70 kilometres south of Al Hayer and I suppose that must make all the difference. There has to be a cut off point somewhere. 

white wagtail at Al Hayer

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