Saturday, 21 April 2012

A "lifer" among the waders

On Thursday, I spent more than half of the birding day at my new venue near al Hayer. It's the far south of the Riyadh river where the water runs slowly and forms many sandy lagoons. It's ideal for passage waders.

The good news is there were four to five times as many waders there as there were the previous Friday. it must be peak time for them. The only bad news is that the temperature reached 34C and the going on foot was arduous but worth it!

curlew sandpiper, bottom right 

As well as numbers there was a few more species diversity too. Although there were no common snipe to be seen this week. I expect that they have all finally moved on up north.

One of the species present this week but not last week was curlew sandpiper. I counted at least five. Most were in winter plumage but the one above was changing into summer plumage. 


A second species new from last week was Terek sandpiper. There was a solitary one among tens of other types of sandpiper.  I had hoped I might see one but never dared to believe it. Terek sandpiper is common in winter on the east coast of Saudi Arabia. It is less common on the west coast and I failed to see one when I visited Jizan or on an earlier visit to Jeddah.

On the other hand it is really rare to see one inland though not without precedent. It's ironic that where I saw it. It is a lifer for me too.

Terek sandpiper

The shear numbers of waders were a big surprise. Some were in single species flocks  but many were wading in mixed groups.

wood sandpiper

Wood sandpiper varied from being single birds to being in a flock of about fifteen birds.

mostly wood sandpipers

Green sandpiper numbers were similar but the group sizes were on average smaller.

green sandpiper

Again common sandpiper numbers were similar to both and it flock size was intermediate  between those of green sandpiper and wood sandpiper.

little stint with a wood sandpiper

Possibly the most abundant wader on the day was little stint.

mixed waders

I can count five wader species in the mixed group above.

black winged stilt

I counted eight black winged stilt which is the largest group I have seen in the al Hayer area. They were more flighty than the other waders. 

pied wheatear

I didn't pay much attention to the land birds in the area this time. However I did notice a late pied wheatear. The bulk of this species moved on two weeks or more ago.

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