Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Flooded area south of Pivots, Al Hayer

Having finished at the main block of pivot fields, Bernard Bracken and I ventured south along the "Riyadh River" on Friday.

There is one final and extremely large pivot field next to the river in this direction.  

With the sprinklers on, this had attracted a large flock of cattle egret.

a flock of cattle egret

A white throated kingfisher was also seen there on one of the pivot bars and again on our return on a wire.

white throated kingfisher

At the edge of the field were several tawny pipit and namaqua dove.

Tawny pipit

In the near-by palm plantation were plenty of laughing dove and white eared bulbul. Some of the bulbuls had almost certainly been displaced from the uprooted bushes in the pivot fields lost in the recent flood.

The swollen Riyadh River

As we walked further downstream, the shear scale of the increase in water flow became apparent. Not only had there been a tidal wave but the current water flow is still huge.We couldn't reach the far side of the river to the vegetated areas. 

In summer the area in the photo often has virtually no water at all.


The river now flows through areas with poor cover in many places and birds were scarce there. The only wader we saw was a solitary green sandpiper.

purple heron

In places where the water was still following its normal course, birding was a lot better.  There were moorhen darting out of the reeds and at least three purple heron resting. They made a lot of noise when displaced.

grey heron

On the other hand, two grey heron flew silently over-head.

common kingfisher

A wintering common kingfisher was seen in a lake which had survived the increased flow of water. It was in the same place as one seen in November and may well be the same bird.

great cormorant

Overhead a large flock of pallid swift were moving slowly north. This species is always one of the very first spring migrates. A few barn swallow were also seen. Among them were two local breeders who had started nest building in a shed.

Also overhead were four great cormorant and a greater spotted eagle.

greater spotted eagle

Cormorants can be seen here in small numbers every winter. 

The huge increase in water meant the river must now go much further south than before. It can only be followed easily on foot because the roads to it are all private. Unfortunately we ran out of time to walk further. However the new end should be very interesting.

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