Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Inland from Thuwal

On Friday morning after visiting the beach area at KAUST, Brian James and I headed inland (and a little north) to do some speculative birding. Actually I was quite keen to visit areas which might have larks since both thick billed lark and Dunn's lark have been sighted in the area alongside more common larks.

male Nile valley sunbird

However before reaching the more barren areas with lark potential we passed through an area of acacia groves.

These were fascinating. Just as in Jizan (also on the west coast), several of the resident birds are breeding now. These included Ruepell's weaver and Nile Valley sunbird

Namaqua dove

Judging by the bright plumage of the males, Namaqua dove may also be breeding as well.

black bush robin

Black bush robin were singing their hearts out from the top of bushes indicating they too are ready to breed.

The acacia bushes were also holding several Menetries warbler. However more surprising was the sight of a first winter willow warbler.  This was one of several signs of the first stirrings of passage.

African silverbill

Some other resident birds didn't show signs of breeding. Both African silverbill and desert lark were flocking.

cream coloured courser

For the second part of this birding session, Brian and I toured around some flat, near-desert landscape looking amongst other birds for larks. In this we were singularly unsuccessful. Indeed in a 90 minute period we hardly saw anything. The exception was interesting though. Four cream coloured courser walked across our track 15 metres in front of us. This was especially good news for Brian since it was the first time he had seen them in KSA.

It was the largest group I had seen here too.

After this we doubled back to the KAUST campus and there was more birding to come.

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