Saturday, 7 April 2012

Birds in Jizan city

The next few blogs will cover my trip to Jizan in the far south west of Saudi Arabia. It was a fulfilling trip with at least 6 lifers. The number keeps going up as I try to identify birds I haven't seen before!

The identification process is making blogging difficult. I don't like blogging without naming the birds. I may have to blog outside of the chronological order to accommodate the identifications.

There is one area I can safely blog about and that is the birds we saw in the city of Jizan itself. This wasn't actually a birding venue but we did see birds incidentally. All were seen within 300 metres of the Corniche in the centre of the city.

There were some serious surprises.

black crowned sparrow lark by the corniche

There was probably no surprise bigger than walking into a flock of black-crowned sparrow lark in the city on a side road. My helms bird guide says I can find them in the desert not in the city centre.  This was the first of several lifers during the weekend.

desert wheatear

Almost as strangely I observed a desert wheatear. The ones near Riyadh moved north about 3 or 4 weeks ago. 

Isabelline wheatear

An Isabelline wheatear was less of a surprise.

black kite

The city has many black kite and it that way and in many other ways the birding felt straight out of Africa.

Ruppell's weaver

Other common birds in the city include house sparrow, house crow and Ruppell's weaver. There are also flocks of African silverbillYellow vented bulbul is not as common as in Jeddah.   

pink-backed pelican

In the final half an hour in the city before preparing to leave I saw a flock of 15 pink-backed pelican fly overhead. They are a well known sight in the city. Indeed they breed no far away on the Farasan Islands.

However the prize for the last new bird of the trip goes to a lone willow warbler which was hopping from bush to bush as we walked through some waste land towards my weekend's accommodation.

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