Monday, 12 November 2012

Last weekend's eagles

I want to show more about Mansur Al Fahad visit to south west Saudi Arabia but that will have to wait a few days. 

First I can report that Mansur, Lou Regensmorter and I went birding to several places just south of Riyadh on Thursday and saw 66 species. This is the largest number I have seen in one day in central Arabia since arriving over a year ago. There is no doubt that three sets of eyes are better than one.

sub adult steppe eagle

Six of those species were birds of prey, all seen in the al Hair area. There were the regular kestrel, an osprey and a long legged buzzard.

However the most action was over the pivot fields where a total of 6 eagles were seen and they were three different species.

The one stepped eagle that I concentrated on was a sub adult which had a characteristic pale band stretching all across the under-wing but unlike the juvenile the band has begun to break up..

second view of sub adult steppe eagle

Thursday was great practice at separating different types of eagle. An Eastern imperial eagle looked superficially similar to the steppe eagle. however there is streaking on the breast, no real sign of a pale band and a distinct pale wedge on the inner primaries.

Eastern imperial eagle

Seeing one of each species flying with each other at one stage over one field made us notice that the flight style is quite different too. I'm not sure I have got the vocabulary for this but the steppe would arch its wings like a falcon or sparrowhawk in contrast to the open wing flight of the eastern imperial eagle.

Greater spotted eagle

The third species around was greater spotted eagle. One stopped on the ground for some while on the edge of a pivot field.

All three species are both passage and wintering birds in the area. They are a sure sign that the winter birding season has begun. Its a lot more pleasant weather too.

1 comment:

  1. Nice stuff, just the sort of practice i could do with! - never mind, off to Maroc for a couple of weeks on the 20th - ca'nt come a day too soon.

    Laurie -