Monday, 19 March 2012

The migrant trap

I don't know what the "Birds (sic) ringing Centre" is used for any more. I am told there is no ringing taking place.  However, this Centre which is next to the Riyadh river, south of Hayer is still fenced off and well maintained.

The gardener does a good job. Just enough water is applied to keep the trees in good condition and the ground is shaded enough for some vegetation but not so much to make it look like hotel grounds. In short it looks like a Turkish wood transported to central Arabia.

male common redstart

When Lou and I looked over the wire fences into it on Thursday we saw migrants who must also think its a little bit of Turkey. Two common redstart, a pied wheatear and a masked shrike were seen. All of these may well spend the summer in Turkey.

second view of common redstart

I returned on Friday to give the place a closer look albeit from the wrong side of the fence. the good news is that all the birds we saw the day before were still there. Indeed the common redstart became increasing tame with me as I stood watching them. Hence I managed to get close photos.

view of the Centre

Since the common redstart were both males I started scanning the area for females. I failed. Instead I picked up on a better find. Right in the middle of the Centre was a nightingale foraging on the ground. This is a rare sight in central Arabia (though not on the coasts apparently). It is, of course, a passage bird.


There were also two hoopoe in the Centre when I visited on Friday.  I caught one on camera who had just raised his crest. I have since researched what this means. Apparently it is done for three reasons. One is when it just lands. A second is to show alertness and the third when it is displaying. 


There was a pied wheatear there on both Thursday and Friday. It was probably the same bird.

pied wheatear

To add to the more northerly feel even the less common (for Riyadh) northern wheatear had sought the place out and looked very relaxed.

northern wheatear

By contrast to the migrants,the density of local birds seemed reduced inside the fence. House sparrow jumped from tree to tree and black bush robin were seen hopping back and forth over the outer fence. 

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