Sunday, 1 April 2012

Some local birds

While migrants get most attention at this time of year, the resident birds carry on their business regardless.

This blog looks at some of the local species which stay the summer and concentrates on those which I saw on last Wednesday.

little green bee-eater

For some reason the migrant blue-cheeked bee-eater and European bee-eater do not seem to be landing in al Hayer as they did in the autumn.  So far they seem to be flying straight through. I don't know why. Maybe its because of the weather. It has been cooler and wetter than the seasonal norm.  This means the bee-eaters on the wires are very likely still to be the resident little green bee-eater (like this one from Mansouriyah on Wednesday).

white throated kingfisher

Another colourful local bird is white throated kingfisher. On Wednesday I observed four of them in one place. They were chasing other birds away and there were two sets of holes in a sandy bank on the river side. If this is their chosen nesting sites it is not as wise a choice as last year. I have been shown last year's site by local photographers (who incidentally got photos of young birds being fed last year at the entrance to a hole). I won't disclose the place I saw the four birds on Wednesday but it looks much more precarious.

cattle egret

As far as I can tell no one is sure whether cattle egret are local breeders or not. Whereas colonies have been found for squacco heron,  purple heron and black crowned night heron. Young of little bittern have also regularly been seen over the years but a cattle egret colony hasn't. That doesn't mean there hasn't been one. Actually the birds look comfortable enough and many are approaching breeding plumage.

graceful prinia

Graceful prinia are everywhere and often in exposed positions at the moment. European reed warbler are singing and very occasionally I can catch a glimpse. I saw both on Wednesday near al Hayer.

As far as I know the only other warblers that regularly breed in central Arabia are scrub warbler and eastern olivaceous warbler. I must admit I haven't fully consulted Mike Jenning's book on Arabian breeding birds to see if I have missed any.


I am also interested to see which other birds of prey are present in the summer other than common kestrel. The one above was seen at Mansouriyah on Wednesday. Others were also seen at the pivot fields.

namaqua dove

Three doves are extremely plentiful all year round: namaqua dove, collared dove and laughing dove.

crested lark

I really do get too casual about seeing crested lark. Short toed lark is a rare local breeder in a couple of oases north of the city. Other wise there are four or so species of desert loving lark which breed in central Arabia. Two I haven't seen yet.

common myna

Finally I must not forget the common myna. It's not as common as you might think in the Riyadh area and there is no sight of it dominating. The two above including one young was taken at Mansouriyah on Wednesday.

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