Over a three day period during my walk to and from work I have seen a sudden explosion in the number and type of passage birds at the small experimental university farm en route. Instead of me spending 10 minutes there each morning and afternoon, I am staying for at least an hour each session. I have to do this just to see everything. This means starting the walk to work just after sunrise. It's excellent exercise though.
common rock thrush
One of the best sightings in this urban environment was a rock thrush in the city!
A casual non-birding visitor wouldn't fail to notice the large numbers of European bee-eater which have chosen to break their passage with a one or two hour stop over at the farm. And the reason is obvious.
lots of bee hives here
The bee research centre is based there and the bees are taking a hammering while the European bee-eater are getting fat before the second half of their journey.
resting European bee-eaters
The trees and bushes in this very small farm are thronging with warblers.
Willow warbler and chiffchaff are the most common as one would expect but lesser whitethroat isn't far behind.
willow warbler with white eared bulbul
However I have been pleased to see a couple of blackcap.
The one day there was a male blackcap and the next day, there was a female. Both afforded very good and prolonged views.
In a very low hedge one of the mornings I spied a barred warbler which again was not too shy.
As I said in a previous blog, the waves of pied wheatear seem to be over and true to form the smaller wave of black eared wheatear is happening now.
(pale throated) black eared wheatear
Both morphs of black eared wheatear have been present on the farm.
(dark throated) black eared wheatear
The thrush family has been represented on my walk too. Every day for the past few days I have seen at least 2 or 3 common redstart which seem to prefer the more shaded areas.
There have also been several rufous bush robin. Interestingly the resident black bush robin don't like them there and try to chase them away. I haven't noticed them being so protective with any other species.
rufous bush robin
Yesterday morning and evening I even saw a white throated robin. I can't believe all these birds are so close to work.
white throated robin
I managed to see another whinchat which I am beginning to believe isn't so rare in central Arabia after all.
You may recall I had observed and photographed a wryneck on my walk a couple of weeks ago. This evening I saw three. It seems this little green enclave has a good supply not only of bees but also ants.
wryneck with black bush robin
They allow me quite close access compared with any wryneck I have met on passage before.
As well as steady number of Daurian shrike passing through, a very late woodchat shrike made a brief appearance 3 days ago. This is the first shrike through central Arabia normally.
The shade and trees have attracted two types of pipit.
These are tree pipit and red throated pipit. The latter are more jumpy than the former.
red throated pipit
Finally I am still seeing more hoopoe than I believe the terrain can sustain so some must be passage birds.
In the next blog I will return to Mansur Al Fahad's trip to Zulfi and highlight two more lifers he found.