Sunday, 1 December 2013

A taste of Wadi Dawasar

Lou Regenmoter and I went to Wadi Dawasar and Sulayyail over the weekend. These two communities are some of the most remote in Saudi Arabia. 

They are part of a massive oasis with over 100 square kilometres of farms and which are 300 kilometres from the next nearest towns in any direction. They are also next to a major escarpment. 

I have only found one set of records for Sulayyil (from the 1980s) and none at all from Wadi Dawasar itself.

The birding prospects were unknown but I was very pleased with the results. 

Several species were seen well outside their known Saudi range. In particular some birds were wintering there which might be more expected further south and west or in east Africa. 

Most pleasing of all was an addition to my Saudi list which was totally unexpectedly  found in the area. I'll write about that in my  next blog.

song thrush

In order to get something out today, this blog  concentrates on one small set of observations in the oasis giving me time to prepare more substantial write-ups for future blogs.

Today, I'm blogging about the most southerly place we birded. It was a small service station 60 kilometres south of Wadi Dawasar town on the Najran Road. It was also where the fields stop and the almost endless desert starts.

The service station had several trees and two small waste water streams round the back as well as plenty of rubbish.

It also had at least 3 song thrush! This observation was one of many of birds seen at the weekend which were outside their mapped ranges. I have seen song thrush in Bahah further west in winter before but wasn't expecting them inland.

map showing Wadi Dawasar

In among the rubbish round the back was a common redstart. It may even spend all winter there after all it was the very end of November.

common redstart

Black bush robin was the third thrush family member seen and  was the most likely in advance.

The fourth (and more distant) family member was a single desert  wheatear.

Namaqua dove

The service station had several laughing dove and more interestingly there were Namaqua dove present too.

House sparrow was the most numerous bird of all.

white wagtail

White wagtail is not as numerous as in the Riyadh area but was not uncommon in the Wadi Dawasar area nor at this service station.

brown-necked raven

To remind us that we were on the edge of the desert two brown-necked raven flew over head.

In the next blog, I'll write about the southern farms of Wadi Dawasar which will include pictures on the addition to my Saudi list.

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