Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Birds of prey near Riyadh

Early spring is a good time to look hard at the birds of prey in the Riyadh area. 

The wintering eagles gather and seem to be reinforced by others on passage before moving on.

Fulvescens greater spotted eagle at Al Hayer

Different types of other birds of prey pass through too.

Last weekend saw some of these events.

For example a fulvescens greater spotted eagle remained  near the pivot fields at Al Hayer on both Thursday and Friday even though I had been seeing one near Dirab at various times in the winter, quite possibly the same one.

Second shot of fulvescens greater spotted eagle

On Friday he was standing on the ground in a pivot field, with his head barely above the crop height, where 6 other eagles were aggregated.

Eastern Imperial eagle at Al Hayer

The eagles were four other greater spotted eagle and two Eastern imperial eagleThere were no steppe eagle even though they are the most common eagle in winter.

undershot of eastern Imperial eagle

It looks like they were meeting up for a reason and I can only imagine they were preparing to move off but I am not an expert on eagle behaviour.

Greater spotted eagle at Al Hayer

Near-by a lesser kestrel was perched over one of the largest trees in the area (and central Arabia!). Inside the branches were many tens of Spanish sparrow and a few collared dove.

Lesser kestrel at Al Hayer

Lesser kestrel are passage birds only in central Arabia. They can be in small groups or singularly.

Meanwhile the regular kestrel were hawking over some of the fields and marsh harrier were present over the reed beds. Unfortunately there was no sign of other harriers on passage. I am still looking for my first Montagu's harrier in Saudi Arabia which is much rarer than Pallid harrier.

two steppe eagle at Sulay

Following a tip off from bird photographer, Tholightz Quindara, Lou ande mad a short visit to the main city waste dump at Sulay on Thursday to check out the eagles that had been reported massing there in the afternoons.

steppe eagle in flight at Sulay

We arrived in the early afternoon but still counted 14 eagles. Four of them were perched on electricity pylons from time to time.

As far as I could tell all the ones we saw were steppe eagle.

steppe eagle in flight at Sulay

And we were on the look out for any exceptions.

remaining perched steppe eagle

I knew very little about eagle identification before I came to Saudi Arabia but I am certainly getting a lot of practice in the winters.

1 comment:

  1. Nice stuff Rob, i remember seeing Tawnies a bit like that fulvescens. I did enlarge the Kes looking for pale-claws but i'll go with yr ID.

    On a different not and on the subject of migration. I have uploaded 'Birders - The Central Park Effect' to my Youtube. I don't know with the King allows YT in 'the kingdom' but it's worth a watch. Below are links to it and reviews....

    I am posting the link to this here as it does contain lots of birds considered rare over here and if you are, like me, only used to seeing the drab Autumn jobs on the Scillies then break out the Raybans......

    It is a one hour documentary (in 4 x 15 minute parts) hosted on my Youtube channel. It covers the seasons in Central Park as used by the resident and migratory birds and the eclectic birders that watch and chronicle them.

    For those that have been fortunate to visit in the Spring it might bring a few memories back and for people like me it's still on the 'bucket list'.

    Here is the link to Part 1 and the others are there as well.


    ATB Laurie -

    Below is the link to the IMDB review and info.