Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Rawdhat Khuraim's parkland

Lou had checked with google earth before we set off for Rawdhat Khuraim on Friday. He had researched an even greener place than the area we visited on first arriving at the oasis.

This required a 4 by 4 (SUV) to reach.  There were two surprises when we got there. First it was even greener than expected and second how many picnickers were present despite the difficulty for cars in reaching it. Luckily for us most of the picnickers stayed within a short walk of their cars. Ironically though we found some of our best birds close to the people anyway.

tree pipit

In this second venue at Rawdhat Khuraim, there were two basic terrains, one is rich meadowland with trees and bushes (and a very European/Turkish feel) and the other is flat, low grassland. The second reminded me of Azeri steppe just after it had rained.  

Both types of habitat had plenty of birds. In the meadowland, there were literally hundreds of house sparrows but it was the other birds which caught the eye. One such bird was tree pipit. We met a small flock of these which incidentally must be on passage. They were the first I have seen in Saudi Arabia.

a green part of the park

The bushes were obviously a migrant trap. For example there were warblers in quite a few of them. We didn't really do them justice as we could have spent all day on them. Nevertheless we looked hard at a couple of bushes where we had a chance of a prolonged view of some warblers.

common whitethroat in flight

In one small bush there was a common whitethroat. Once again this was the first time I have seen this bird in Saudi Arabia. He was quite showy and made life easy for us.

back view of the common whitethroat

The back view allows you to see the rusty wing panels. This was an easy identification!

There were rattling sounds of sylvia warblers in several other bushes as we walked past but the bushes in many cases were very thick.


The most common warbler was still chiffchaff. I suppose the cooler than normal weather has kept them back longer this year. There were a smaller number of willow warbler about too.

common redstart

Common redstart is clearly more common than the historical recorders had lead me to believe, I seem to be picking them up with impunity at the moment.

view of flat low grassland at the park

The flat grassland was popular with larks. 

crested lark

Crested lark was here but the main lark we saw was short-toed lark (just like in the part of Rawdhat Khuraim visited earlier).

two short-toed lark

There were Isabelline wheatear, northern wheatear and pied wheatear in the meadowland but there were more numerous in the short grassland.

female pied wheatear

A full list of the birds seen at Rawdhat Khuraim and complied by Lou Regenmorter is shown below. If you look at the list you will notice pallid harrier. Its worth a comment. There were lots of small birds of prey but the highlight for me was a beautiful and pristine male pallid harrier. It was seen several times during our walkabout but I only have two blurred shots to show for him.

The full species list at Rawadhat Khuraim

Arabian babbler
European bee-eater
White cheeked bulbul
Collared dove
Laughing dove
Namaqua dove
Crested lark
Short-toed lark
Rock pigeon 
Red-throated pipit 
Tawny pipit 
Tree pipit 
Lesser kestrel
Pallid harrier
Isabelline shrike (Daurian)
Isabelline shrike(Turkestan)
Southern gray shrike
Woodchat shrike
House sparrow
Pale rock sparrow
Barn swallow 
Common swift 
Black bush robin
Common redstart
Rufous bush robin
Common whitethroat
Willow warbler
Isabelline wheatear
Northern wheatear
Pied wheatear

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