Friday, 12 October 2012

Wadi Awsat

Yesterday I went birding with Mansur al Fahad. We started off before dawn and headed out south westward to some places he knew but which I hadn't visited before. 

The main early stop was Wadi Awsat (which can be translated as middle valley).

There are several areas with acacia groves which is where we spent most of our time.

On our first stop we came across streaked scrub warbler, the first time I have seen this bird in the Riyadh area.

desert lark drinking in a pool at Wadi Awsat.

Likewise, in the largest acacia grove, there was a flock of Arabian babbler, the closest to Riyadh that I have seen this bird.

Wadi Awsat

The city based white eared bulbul and the country based yellow vented bulbul were present in roughly equal proportions here. Indeed its the only venue I have been to where one doesn't dominate over the other.

white eared bulbul

We spent much of our time examining the acacia trees for warblers. Desert whitethroat and blackcap were the species we identified.

yellow vented bulbul

Blackstart were common in the area.


The two wheatears seen was white crowned wheatear and an Isabelline wheatear. I had hoped to see the elusive hooded wheatear which Mansur has seen here in the past but which has evaded me since I arrived in Saudi Arabia over a year ago. Even he has only seen it once though.

There were also two larks. These were desert lark and crested lark. The former was more numerous.

white crowned wheatear

After birding here we headed to al Hayer via Dirab. We had seen a few barn swallow at wadi Awsat but this farming area (Dirab) was a magnet for them hawking for insects.  

barn swallow

I have been to Dirab a few times but have always found it a bit disappointing. I find that near-by al Hayer has the same birds and more with the exception of white crowned wheatear.

The most notable bird in the area yesterday was a willow warbler on the outskirts of the town.

Isabelline wheatear hiding from the sun at Dirab

The next blog will look at what we saw at al Hayer. It includes a look at one bird I had been hoping to see all passage and also looks at the arrival of the first eagles this autumn. 

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