Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The farm on the way to work

Since I moved to Nakheel district 5 months ago, I have been able to walk work and that's what I do. The route is pleasant enough particularly outside the summer.

black bush robin at the experimental farm

However recent construction work has blocked my old route. Instead those of us who do this walk have been experimenting with detours. It was only three or four days ago that one of neighbours told me that there is an urban farm next to an alternative way.

What is more it only adds  three or four minutes on to the walk time. The farm was there all the time but I had missed it because of an obscured view.

the farm next door

Late yesterday afternoon, I popped in on my way home for a closer look.

a shaded area in the farm

Its a very small farm but with some experimental horticulture and a few signs of experiment fruit growing. Then there are rows of bee hives.

It clearly has birding potential.

black bush robin looking at me

The presence of black bush robin was a good start.

white eared bulbul

However the place was thronging with bulbuls. The largest contingent were white eared bulbul.

yellow vented bulbul

I knew Nakheel district also had yellow vented bulbul as I have seen the odd one in my district before. Their numbers on the farm were quite significant.

red vented bulbul

The surprise was the presence of a third bulbul species, red-vented bulbul.

I was alerted to their presence by a loud commotion in one of the fruit trees. The noise was caused by several alarmed white eared bulbul. Looking into the tree I could see two red vented bulbul (unfortunately keeping in the dark hence the poor picture) and they were unwelcome.

red vented bulbul with yellow vented bulbul

I don't know what they were doing to deserve this. The yellow vented bulbul and white eared bulbul seemed to be coexisting well. Likewise I saw a red vented bulbul which may well even be paired off with a yellow vented bulbul. It was just the red-vented/white eared combination that had a disagreement at that moment.

After a little bit of research I have found that hybrids of red vented with white eared and with yellow vented have occurred in near-by Oman.

Incidentally this is only the fourth place in Riyadh where I have observed red-vented bulbul

collared dove

The farm was also heaving with doves - both collared dove and laughing dove including many young birds.

little green bee-eater

It was nice to see little green bee-eater in an urban environment.

The big test of how good the birding is will come over the next three months of the spring passage. I am keen to see what passage birds drop in. I would have thought the shade, fruit, seeds and berries would be a signifcant attraction.

I'll keep you posted.

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