Monday, 1 October 2012

Near Riyadh cricket club

Mansur Al Fahad showed Lou Regenmorter and me a second new important birding venue last Friday.

Close to the Riyadh Cricket club where tens of south Asians were playing in the scorching sun on very dry and flat wickets is a wetland complex.

We were shown two parts of the complex but there may have been more to it. The one part was a shallow marsh land. The other was a much deeper lake.

spotted flycatcher

We spent most of our time around the marshy area. The adjacent pools held little stint, black-winged stilt, common sandpiper, green sandpiper, little ringed plover and ruff.


One of the birds caused a bit of an identification problem at the time. However it was later identified as a curlew sandpiper.

curlew sandpiper

This one's bill was not longer than the average dunlin but its all white rump, longer legs and remnants of a summer's purple belly confirmed it as a curlew sandpiper.  This is the first time I had seen one inland in Saudi Arabia.

collared dove

On and next to the main body of shallow water in the marsh were the same waders plus wood sandpiper and spur winged lapwing. There were also over 40 black winged stilt. This was  the largest flock I have seen here.  As befits a marsh land, a female marsh harrier was patrolling menacingly overhead.

Yellow wagtail were fairly numerous on the dried out sections too.

The dried out reeds were looking posts for a spotted flycatcher, Turkestan shrike and southern grey shrike. Sand martin, barn swallow, house martin, little green bee-eater and blue-cheeked bee-eater were hawking for insects over-head.

 This area will certainly be visited regularly in the future. We arrived at mid day which isn't perfect for birding at this time of year and yet the numbers diversity of birds was still good. 

"cricket" lake

In early afternoon, we moved on to the lake. This is a very large body of water for central Arabia and we don't really know why or how is there.

great white egret and coot

However the number of species was more limited (but not uninteresting) than in the neighbouring wetland.  There were a large number of coot and little grebe. Pale crag martin were flying next to the cliffs leading down.

little grebe

A white throated kingfisher was present but we are unsure whether the lake has fish. He was'nt seen fishing. The only heron was actually the rarest one of area - a great white egret. The sandy shoreline had black -winged stilt and common sandpiper. One upset was not identifying the duck that were fleetingly present when we first arrived. Well there is always next time.

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