Monday, 28 October 2013

Circular route north of Yanbu.

After visiting Yanbu dump and waste water lakes on Friday morning, Brian James and I travelled east and then completed a circular route up to Umluj and down the coast (but not birding there) back to Yanbu. 


male shining sunbird

The route was speculative birding since I couldn't find any previous records. It was also probably a little too ambitious. In the end we only had time to bird in the three areas with red circles in the map below. And although the birding was all above 1000 metres we didn't find a way up into the higher areas. We failed to find a route up Jebel Jar (marked A on the map).

One of the most remarkable features was that we only saw three bird of prey throughout this trip though one was a lesser kestrel. Another was common kestrel.

We did pick up some more highland species. For example shining sunbird is only found at altitude in Saudi Arabia. It was seen at the northern most point of our journey.


circular route from Yanbu round Jebel Jar to Umluj

Probably the most common bird seen and certainly the most widespread was white spectacled bulbul.

white spectacled bulbul

In the drier areas blackstart were common too.

blackstart

Another bird of altitude is Tristram's starling. We found this most often close to human occupation.

Tristram's starling

Of course house sparrow were near human occupation too.

house sparrow

In the  large, greener wadis especially in a plateau area the bird life was most diverse. 

Arabian babbler

In one of these we saw our only Arabian babbler and hoopoe of the trip.

hoopoe

In the remoter areas and in the small bushes there were many warblers but nearly all were of two species.


unidentified warbler

All those identified  were either willow warbler (on passage) and Menetries warbler (wintering).

The dropped wings and cocked tail is typical of a Menetries warbler as in the picture above. However as I write this blog I am unhappy with the colour of the tail. It's the same bird in both pictures. I would expect to see a dark tail in a Menetries warbler of all ages.

unidentified warbler

I will review my pictures and post to BirdForum. If anyone reading this blog can identify the bird, please say in the comments. The breast is a buff-rufous wash and so sub-alpine warbler must be a possibility. Interesting.....

A few little green bee-eater and black bush robin were sharing the bushes with the warblers.

Relatively few wheatear were seen and all were northern wheatear (passage) or desert wheatear (wintering) except one wintering eastern mourning wheatear which allowed close approach.

Eastern mourning wheatear

Other notable birds included a third bird of prey which was a steppe buzzard.


steppe buzzard

An Asian desert warbler was of interest too. Though this one was not in the company of a desert wheatear as is so often the case.


Asian desert warbler

In summary, this trip was useful for providing new data points for ebird database and so improve collective knowledge on species distribution. Next time it could be improved by making a full day out of it and by picking out a more minor route which takes in higher land and short cuts the journey (see the map at the start of the blog for that route). 

In the next blog, I'll write about our Saturday journey doing coastal birding.

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