Saturday, 5 May 2012

Outside Thumamah

Yesterday I birded in the Thumamah area north west of Riyadh for the first time. 

Past birders in the central region have gained permission to bird inside the King Khalid wildlife centre and farm, often called "Thumamah" for short. However, I have seen information (actually second hand from one of the past birders) that part of Thumamah had been turned into a theme park.

So I choose to do a recognisance of the area to see what the situation actually is.

I discovered that the wildlife centre and farm is still fully operational and that none of it has been converted into a theme park for families. The confusion is the road to the wild life centre has several new theme parks in the Thumamah area but the development has no effect on the wild life centre which is a further 25 kilometres out of the city.  

black crowned sparrow lark

So I have made a mental note to find out how to get permission to bird the wild life centre. It certainly looks inviting from the other side of the fence. With no camel or goat herds inside the centre, even the areas which aren't artificially watered look like steppe rather than desert.

Meanwhile I had to make do with bird next to the centre. It was extremely hot. Temperatures reached 42C at about 1.30 pm. Nevertheless I found a couple of pools which attracted a small selection of the birds which I suspect are far more common on the other side of the fence!  

The pools attracted house sparrow and crested lark in greatest numbers. However I was a little surprised to see four black crowned sparrow lark also drinking there.

I also spotted a pale rock sparrow. I am beginning to think I have been missing this bird until recently especially when it has been near house sparrow. This was my second sighting in two days in very different areas.

crested lark

This is the first time I have seen this bird in central Arabia. My only other experience with it was in Jizan in the south west of the country last month. I was a little disappointed to see crested lark as the only other lark. 

Namaqua dove

The pools also attracted both laughing dove and namaqua dove but no collared dove.  One little green bee-eater was seen too.

red backed shrike

There were very few trees or bushes outside the fences. On one of these was a red-backed shrike resting in the welcome shade. This was the only passage bird I saw.

A word of warning, the area south of the wild life centre (and north west of the city) is out of bounds for birding with the presence of family theme parks, a royal farm, the national festival centre  and two airport zones. On the positive side though these make excellent refuges for birds. Taken together with the wild life centre the area of green to the north west of the city is very large indeed.

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