Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The hinterland around the Cricket club lake, Riyadh

While Bernard Bracken was studying the little grebe at the Riyadh cricket club lake for his masters degree, I eventually moved off to investigate the hinterland near-by.

This is area is very degraded and probably wouldn't be a natural choice for birding except for it being so close to the lake.

brown-necked raven

The birding wasn't great with one or two exceptions. The first exception was that this is the closest to the metropolitan Riyadh area that I have seen brown necked raven. Four of the made a prolonged visit. The second exception I will come on to later.


Two of the most common birds were blackstart and house sparrow. The former is typically a rural bird and the latter is usually urban or at least in proximity to man. Seeing them both together shown the mixed identity of the area.

another blackstart

Graceful prinia was the other fairly common bird especially where there was any cover. 

graceful prinia

White eared bulbul was present. However, the second exceptional point about this birding was the presence of white spectacled bulbul.  As noted previously on visiting the lake, this is the only place I know on the east side of Riyadh where this bird is present. Indeed it may be the most easterly population (I now believe there is more than one bird so population is right) in Saudi Arabia.

white spectacled bulbul

More predictably there were little green bee-eater although this bird is on the eastern side (but not edge) of its range too.

little green bee-eater

Rock dove as opposed to pigeons seem to find this area hospitable with its hillsides and crags.

rock dove

The spring passage was noticeable too but in minor ways. There was a northern wheatear on a flat plain. A common redstart was hopping from bush to bush on the same piece of land.

northern wheatear

Finally barn swallow were occasionally seen drifting north in ones and twos.

This weekend I am going to investigate what according to google earth looks like a large waste water treatment lake just north of the city. I dont know why its not be noticed before. I'll probably look out for larks in the plains near-by too. 

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