Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Wadi Haly, Muhayil

A few kilometres west of Muhayil and north of the main road is Wadi Haly. This is a wadi with running fresh water and an excellent birding venue.   

There were many wadis in the south west like this in the past but the call on water for the growing population and farming needs has made them quite rare. They are especially rare at this low altitude.

Thanks are due to Shane Naghere's friend Mark who pointed me to it. Without the local knowledge of these people I would never have found it.

Shane joined me to bird the area. It may have been his first ever birding experience and it was a good one! We started at the upper end of the wadi where the water is very shallow and moved slowly downstream as the stream became stronger and stronger.

first hamerkop

One of the first birds we saw was a Hamerkop

Hamerkop was my number one nemesis bird in Saudi Arabia. I have spent so much time looking for it at water bodies in the south west with no success. Yet here it was standing out in the open.

Hamerkop is the 318th bird on my Saudi list.

another hamerkop

In fact this was the first of eight hamerkop seen along the stream. There are probably more but the stream was so long we never managed to see how and where it ends. This will make a very exciting birding trip for the future. I shall certainly return.

the upper end of the valley

One of the main features of the birding was the variety of water liking birds.

cattle egret and cattle

A large flock of cattle egret were spending time with a herd of cattle.

little egret

Three little egret were in the same general area though they were detached most of the time from the cattle egret flock.

squacco heron

There was a single squacco heron and at least two grey heron.

grey heron

There were plenty of waders present. At the upper end of the stream nearly all were green sandpiper.

common sandpiper

However as we moved down stream there was more variety. First we started seeing common sandpiper as well as green sandpiper. Then  there were also two wood sandpiper.

wood sandpiper

In the more rocky areas there were a small number of little ringed plover and a Temminck's stint.

little ringed plover and Temminck's stint

Any water in Saudi Arabia in winter attracts white wagtail.

white wagtail

However citrine wagtail are much less commonly seen. There were two at Wadi Haly. 

citrine wagtail

The wadi lacked bushes next to the stream probably because of grazing. However the area above the low valley was sandy with scattered bushes. This meant that non-water birds were present too.

a rocky stage of the stream

African collared dove descended to drink.

African collared dove

Namaqua dove was equally as common here.

Namaqua dove

Daurian shrike made use of any bushes that did exist.

Daurian shrike

Some birds don't need vegetative cover.

desert lark

Desert lark was the only lark seen.

Striolated bunting was heard among the rocky sides to the valley a long time before it was seen. A single cinnamon breasted bunting was observed at the top of a side slope too.

I would like to return to this wadi in other seasons and also to go further down stream to see what the end looks like be it lake or marshland.

In the next blog, I will write about some birding on the edge of Muhayil. 

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