Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Spotted crake at al Hayer

Before meeting up with Mansur Al Fahad last Friday, Lou and I spent the early morning at al Hayer. We also returned briefly towards the end of the afternoon.

Our first sighting was a field full of cattle egret which on closer inspection also had plenty of yellow wagtail. A male pallid harrier was a menacing presence although while we were there it seemed to be spending its time close to a pool formed by the spray water.

little egret

As we walked into the next field we saw little egret flying over-head and inadvertently flushed a couple of common quail and a common snipe. This was the first snipe seen this season. Common quail can be seen in small numbers all year round but are definitely much more common in the passage times.

cattle egret

Like last week barn swallow and sand martin were hawking for insects. It was no surprise to see a marsh harrier this week as well.

marsh harrier

Among the smaller birds we failed to see many warblers unlike near the town of  Heet (during the same day). Actually we were restricted here to graceful prinia and great reed warbler. The latter bird is being picked up with some regularity at Al Hayer this autumn.

graceful prinia

On the day we also picked up three red avadavat. This was the first time I had seen them since November. I was beginning to fear this introduced species may have died out like some of the others which originated from small starting populations. 

red avadavat

Our star find on Friday at al Hayer was a wryneck but it looks like we should have come the day before. Mansur al Fahad told us he had seen golden oriole, European roller  and spotted crake. It made us feel just a bit jealous that we had missed them by choosing to bird one day late!

He has kindly allowed me to reproduce one of his pictures of spotted crake.

spotted crake. A screen capture from video by Mansur Al Fahad

Overall though, Friday turned out to be a good day's birding. We visited two new places (Riyadh cricket club wetlands and a wadi at Heet) as well as al Hayer. These places are not far apart and can easily been done together again. 

55 species were seen. Lou Regenmorter has produced the list below.

Red Avadavat

Western marsh harrier
Blue Cheeked Bee-eater
Southern grey shrike
Little Green Bee-eater
Indian silverbill
White-eared Bulbul
Common snipe
Ortolan Bunting
House sparrow
European or Common Coot
Spanish sparrow
Eurasian Collared Dove
Black bush robin
Laughing Dove
Blue rock thrush
Namaqua Dove
Black winged stilt
Common sandpiper
Spotted Flycatcher
Curlew sandpiper
Little Grebe
Green sandpiper
Cattle Egret
Little stint
Great white  Egret
Grey Heron
Wood sandpiper
Little Egret
Yellow wagtail
Barred warbler
White throated Kingfisher
Spur-winged Lapwing
Graceful prinia
Common House Martin
Great reed warbler
Sand Martin
Lesser whitethroat
Upcher's warbler
Common Myna
Streaked weaver
Rock Pigeon
Isabelline wheatear
Kentish Plover
Northern wheatear
Little Ringed Plover
Common Quail
Barn swallow
Pallid Harrier

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