Wednesday 25 April 2012

The miserable and the good at al Hayer

As I said in yesterday's blog, the weather last Friday was truly awful. There was a dust storm all day and I had to wear a surgical mask to go birding.

However there were some very interesting side effects of the bad weather.  The most important one was that those passage birds which fly during the day started to land at al Hayer.

blue-cheeked bee-eater

As the day went on, more and more bee-eaters seemed to be making an emergency landing.  One or two of the fodder fields started to fill with blue-cheeked bee-eater hawking for insects or just resting on the ground.

Eurasian bee-eater

The European bee-eater seemed to prefer resting on the wires. Their numbers also increased progressively as the afternoon wore on.

barn swallow

There was an inundation of barn swallow. Most rested in trees though some were flying over the water and fields for insects. None seemed to be on a move north.

Spanish sparrow

I hadn't realised how many Spanish sparrow still haven't headed north. Those still here seemed to be grouping though there are far fewer than the very large flock seen three weeks ago. 

bushes with warblers and flycatcher

I was on the look out for spotted flycatcher which is apparently a common passage bird but which has evaded me all spring. I did see one. It was in the bushes above and wouldn't come out.  I don't know whether it was the weather or if spotted flycatcher stay inside bushes more on passage than their characteristic open perch, catch, return routine.

The same set of bushes also gave me glimpses of two male blackcap and some graceful prinia. Anyway I decided to watch these bushes for about 20 minutes to see what would come out.

lesser whitethroat

In the end it wasn't blackcap,  graceful prinia or spotted flycatcher which gave me the best views from the these bushes but a very tired looking lesser whitethroat.  

red-throated pipit

After finishing with the bushes I saw several yellow wagtail which like the bee-eaters is normally a day time flyer and also it distinct cousin red-throated pipit.  

male rock thrush

Finally as the light began to fade, even though it wasn't that late, I made one last stop at a pivot field where the water had come on. This situation often brings rewards. This time I saw only a couple of squacco heron and a few house sparrow attracted to water.

However on  a sand bank next to the field I spied an unusual bird out of the corner of my eye.  It was a second rock thrush of the day and this time it was male. It was also the last bird of the day too. A great ending.


  1. Good photos showing a glimpse of what happens in KSA when the weather is poor during migration. They seem to capture well how the birds feel during these periods.

  2. Jem,

    Thanks for the compliments. It was hard work getting those pictures!

    Lets see if I am so lucky with Hofuf marshes which I am visiting this weekend.