Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Birds inside the town of Heet

Mansur has kindly sent me more pictures of some of his observations. This time they are all within the small town of Heet between Riyadh and Kharj. All the pictures were taken in the last 10 days.

black redstart (ochruros)

He has seen more signs of the passage including this black redstart of the sub-species ochruros (from Turkey and Iran) which doesn't winter in central Arabia though we occasionally see gibraltariensis (from Europe).


Hypocolius were clearly still around. They are more widespread in winter in northern and central Saudi Arabia than the birds of the Middle East give them credit. I saw them 6 weeks ago on the west coast north of Jeddah.

Eastern mourning wheatear

As I have said before, Eastern mourning wheatear is a winterer only in the eastern half of the country whereas in the west some are resident in the north (near Tabuk for example) and some migrant a short distance south.

Northern wheatear

Seeing hundreds of northern wheatear and Isabelline wheatear over the years doesnt seem to make distinguishing between female northern wheatear and Isabelline wheatear much easier. Its only in the passage seasons that we see both here. The one above that Mansur saw is a northern wheatear. The bird lacks the isolated black alula and the supercilium in this one is almost none existent in front of the eye.

pale crag martin

Pale crag martin is already breeding and this time last I saw barn swallow with young at Al Hayer. Indeed the local barn swallow start breeding before many of their more northerly passage relatives have flown over.

pale crag martin on a nest

Looks like Heet is one of the most eastern places in the world where yellow vented bulbul can be found. They keep mostly to the west of Riyadh (and of course all over the west coast)but Heet must be on the very edge of their range.

yellow vented bulbul

Their cousin the white eared bulbul on the other hand gets more numerous the further east you go. Both are found in Heet.

white eared bulbul

Mansur has taken some really good photos of some of the other more common residents too.

black bush robin

His picture of a black bush robin brings out the orangey tinge to the wing which the younger birds have and which feature doesn't seem to get into the field guides.

collared dove

He also sent me pictures of collared dove and laughing dove from Heet. I noticed how prominent the blood red eye of the collared dove is.

laughing dove

Sincere thanks again to Mansur for providing pictures and information for the blog.

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