Monday, 17 March 2014

Wadi Muhayil revisited

I visited my good friend Shane Nghere in Muhayil, south west Saudi Arabia last weekend. 

On Friday we travelled with some locals to Al Birk on the Red Sea coast. However before we set off, I had time to bird Wadi Muhayil near the hotel.

This was the second time I had done this. The last time was two months before. 

booted eagle

The birding was a bit rushed but worthwhile nevertheless.  

Early on, three birds of prey were flushed from their roosts on tree tops. Two were booted eagle and one was a yellow billed kite. The eagle is on passage and the kite is resident.  Each time I visit this valley there is a good and varied selection of birds of prey.

yellow billed kite

There were clear signs that this is the breeding season for several birds.  Ruepells weaver was busily building nests.

Incidentally the breeding season for Ruepells weaver is dependent on altitude. The ones in Abha, 1500 metres and more higher isn't for another two months.

male Ruepells weaver

This male weaver had clearly attracted a mate.

female Ruepells weaver

The Nile valley sunbird were in breeding plumage though I saw no nests.

male Nile valley sunbird

I am not sure whether the bird below is a female or juvenile. The bill is particularly short making me think in terms of a juvenile.

female or juvenile Nile valley sunbird

African silverbill were still roaming in flocks suggesting it isn't breeding at the moment. 

African silverbill

The density of Arabian babbler here is very high.

Arabian babbler

In contrast  little green bee-eater were n't common.

little green bee-eater

African collared dove were very numerous. They are almost certainly here all year round and probably re-enforced in the cooler months by ones who come down from the mountainous Abha and Baha areas.

Laughing dove and Namaqua dove are common too.

Namaqua dove

I saw masked shrike on my last visit and saw three in this part of the valley this time. It's a fairly common wintering bird in the south west but these could also be passage birds.

Masked shrike

The same goes with Daurian shrike.

Daurian shrike

grey wagtail

At a small artificial pool both a grey wagtail and white wagtail were observed.

Isabelline wheatear

A single Isabelline wheatear was the only wheatear seen.

male Violet backed starling

Violet backed starling is a summer visitor to the mountains and foothills which winters in Africa.  A pair was seen in the wadi on the same tree. It is one of several "intra-African migrants" which breed in south west Saudi Arabia.  

female violet backed starling

These "intra-African migrants" form a large number of my remaining target birds in the country. 

 Birds seen in Wadi Muhayil on Friday morning

Helmeted guinea fowl
Arabian babbler
Yellow billed kite
White spectacled bulbul
Booted eagle
Pale crag martin
Rock pigeon
Graceful prinia
African collared dove
Violet backed starling
Laughing dove
Black bush robin
Namaqua dove
Nile valley sunbird
White browed coucal
House sparrow
Little swift
Ruepells weaver
African silverbill
Little green bee-eater
Grey wagtail
Masked shrike
White wagtail
Daurian shrike

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