Showing posts with label collared pratincole. Show all posts
Showing posts with label collared pratincole. Show all posts

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Collared pratincole at East Salbukh

This blog continues my report on Friday morning's visit to East Salbukh. All the birds reported on here were seen on the north and east sides of the wetland following on from my start down the west side. 

collared pratincole

As I approached the north east corner of the wetland, I could see a camel herder and his herd in the distance heading straight for me. It was a pity as this corner has streams and is more like a marsh land than a wetland with reed beds. I have had some luck in seeing different birds there.

With a few minutes before the camels could arrive I scanned the area and picked up a collared pratincole.

second view of collared pratincole

This was the first time I had seen one at East Salbukh though of course I have only been birding there since February. 

A second collared pratincole was later seen further round the wetland.

Another late migrant was only two metres away from the site of the first collared pratincole. This was a wood sandpiper.

wood sandpiper with crested lark

To my mind it looks thin and has been lucky to finally find such a good stopping off point. 

wood sandpiper

It was so thin and slender I explored other possibilities for its identity including vagrants. However in doing so I came across the fact that those small black spots surrounding the vent area are a summer diagnostic for wood sandpiper

Little ringed plover

Near- by was the first of several sightings of little ringed plover. I had seen them on earlier visits to the wetland but not the last twice. I suppose I could have over-looked them in favour of Kentish plover. Judging by the number of young birds among the little ringed plover, they have bred here too.

They prefer marginally better drained land than Kentish plover and with some stones or pebbles. At East Salbukh this means a few places on the north and east side for little ringed plover.

back of rufous bush robin

Another bird I hadn't seen in the past two visits was rufous bush robin. A quick flash of its rufous tail in the distance alerted me to it. In bright sunlight this is very distinctive.

rufous bush robin

It wouldn't pose for me so I'm afraid the photos aren't ideal.

Overall the visit was worthwhile even though the number of species was limited. I coped with the heat better than last time by packing more water and not having to give some away.

List of species seen at East Salbukh on Friday

Little bittern
Namaqua dove
Grey heron
Eurasian collared dove
Common moorhen
Crested lark
Water rail
Barn swallow
Black winged stilt
Eurasian reed warbler
Collared pratincole
Sedge warbler
Little ringed plover
Graceful prinia
Kentish plover
Rufous bush robin
Wood sandpiper
House sparrow
Feral pigeon



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Newbie to Saudi birding shown Al Hayer and Mansouriyah

Lou Regenmorter and I were joined today by Bernard Bracken who birds in Europe but has started working in Saudi Arabia.  

He has little experience of Middle Eastern birding yet so this must have been a lot to take in!

juvenile streaked weaver

We took Bernard to Al Hayer first. 

Virtually the first bird we saw was asleep though it was way past dawn. It also allowed us such close approach we thought it might have been an escape. 

I had trouble identifying it. The main regional guide describes non-breeding male and female streaked weaver but not the juvenile. Both the adults have streaks on breast and flanks. I assumed the juvenile would too and so started to investigate other species. However pictures from India showed me that the juvenile is unstreaked and that is what this sleepy bird was.

graceful prinia

We took a tour around the fields close to the road which still had hundreds of Spanish sparrow and the exotic finch trio of streaked weaver, red avadavat and Indian silverbill. This time there was no European roller on the pivot bar though there were still some blue-cheeked bee-eater and a white throated kingfisher. At this point Bernard confessed that nearly every bird he had seen so far had been a lifer.

Graceful prinia were everywhere again. Some common whitethroat still have the ability to confuse me. The females and immatures of the main eastern sub species have little contrast between the wing and mantle.

common whitethroat

Lou and Bernard soon made their way to the field where I had seen so many collared pratincole yesterday.

collared pratincole in a field

I made myself busy by checking the underwing and other features of as many as possible to check there were no black winged pratincole among them.

collared pratincole stretching

Unlike in my trip to Buraydah last spring, this was apparently not a mixed flock though I didnt check them all.

collared pratincole taking off

There were more barn swallow and yellow wagtail in this field than even the numbers yesterday.

plenty of barn swallows

Next to the bank swallow resting on a pivot bar was a red backed shrike, a bird not seen yesterday.

red backed shrike

Further along were two brown necked raven.

brown necked raven

Another bird not seen yesterday was rufous bush robin. To be honest I hadn't seen one for over a week and was beginning to think all of them had migrated south by now.

rufous bush robin

Near the bush robin was one of several hoopoe seen today. 

hoopoe

After leaving Al Hayer and before it got too hot, we headed back towards the city. However we stopped off for half an hour or so at Mansouriyah.

bluethroat

Here fleetingly we observed the first bluethroat of the "winter". They winter in very large numbers down the Riyadh "river".

young Ruepells weaver

Mansouriyah is the only real strong hold in central Arabia for Ruepells weaver though I have observed it in one other place. It has been reported there for many years but the population remains small. We didn't have much trouble finding it today.

I am giving weavers a lot of attention at the moment. Historical observers have all seen Baya weaver but it has alluded me and I cant believe it has died out. I just think I haven't been careful enough searching among the hundreds of sparrows and weavers.

I hope Bernard enjoyed today and I look forward to birding with him again soon.

List of 38 species species seen today

Mallard
Little bittern
Black crowned night heron
Grey heron
Purple heron
Cattle egret
Squacco heron
Common moorhen
Collared pratincole
Rock pigeon
Namaqua dove
Laughing dove
Collared dove
Barn swallow
Sand martin
Hoopoe
White throated kingfisher
Little green bee-eater
Blue cheeked bee-eater
Woodchat shrike
Red backed shrike
Lesser grey shrike
Asian grey shrike (aucheri)
White-eared bulbul
Crested lark
Graceful prinia
Great reed warbler
Common whitethroat
Common myna
Black bush robin
Rufous bush robin
Bluethroat
Isabelline wheatear
House sparrow
Spanish sparrow
Streaked weaver

Ruepells weaver
Indian silverbill
Yellow wagtail

Friday, August 30, 2013

Lots of passage activity at Al Hayer

Lou Regenmorter and I repeated last Friday's early morning visit to Al Hayer but with different results. First, it was a couple of degrees Celsius cooler but was still over 40C when we finished. Second and more importantly, the bird cast had changed considerably because the passage is in full flow now.

two immature collared pratincole

Two recently cut fields were being watered and these are always good places to go. These types of fields attract a wide variety of birds in all seasons.

Five collared pratincole were seen in one such field and four of them alighted soon after at a near-by point on the bank of the "Riyadh River" where these photos were taken. 

 a group of four immature collared pratincole

All four of these are immature birds though eight more were seen flying high over another field which were probably adults.  

young white throated kingfisher 

In the same field as the immature collared pratincole, a young white throated kingfisher sat patiently on the bar of a pivot as it moved up the field and watered.

immature squacco heron

Again in the same field were several squacco heron including the immature one shown. Squacco heron have been regularly seen in this same field since April.

spur winged lapwing 

Spur winged lapwing are very common in the farming area of Kharj some 40 kilometres south but have been rarely seen at Al Hayer. Four is the most I have ever observed there. Today they spent their time in the same field. Their range is expanding and Al Hayer could soon be colonised.

Several yellow wagtail followed the pivot arm as it went up the field spraying water.

 common moorhen making a run for it

There and elsewhere, common moorhen were grazing on the edges of fields before dashing to the water at the slightest sign of disturbance. There were many in the water and in reeds too as usual.

great reed warbler on the ground  

Warbler observations were restricted to the resident graceful prinia, a single common whitethroat but at least four great reed warbler with three in the same place. Ironically they were coming out of the same bushes that housed Eastern olivaceous warbler the week before yet we saw none of that species today.

two great reed warbler

They kept darting out of the bushes, feeding at the edge of the field and returning at leisure.

great reed warbler flying back to the bush

We spent a wonderful 20 minutes, stopped and watching them. At first we did it to make sure we had ruled out other reed warblers and then for enjoyment.

young spotted flycatcher

The only small passage bird today (apart from the common whitethroat) was a young spotted flycatcher right next to where the car was parked.

two male red avadavat

Among the other small birds, I spotted my first Arabian golden sparrow at Al Hayer among the many tens of streaked weaver and Spanish sparrow having been alerted to its presence there by Ahmed Alkassim. All these small birds and also red avadavat and Indian silverbill must have had a good breeding season this year judging by their numbers now.

ruff

For a second week running there was a variety of (mostly) passage waders in likely spots.  A nice tame ruff was in a large pool next to the road.

ruddy turnstone

In a different area further south, three other waders were observed. The most interesting one was a non-breeding (immature?) ruddy turnstone. Like the broad-billed sandpiper seen last week they are rare this far inland but not unheard of in central Arabia.

two little stint

The ruddy turnstone was in the same area as two little stint and two little ringed plover

two little ringed plover

Little ringed plover is a local summer breeder and passage bird. It should be gone for the winter soon.

All-in-all, it was a satisfying session this morning. 

List of all the species seen (42):

Little bittern
Black crowned night heron
Grey heron
Purple heron
Cattle egret
Squacco heron
Common moorhen
Spur-winged lapwing
Little ringed plover
Green sandpiper
Common sandpiper
Little stint
Ruff
Collared pratincole
Rock pigeon
Namaqua dove
Laughing dove
Collared dove
Barn swallow
Sand martin
European roller
Hoopoe
White throated kingfisher
Little green bee-eater
European bee-eater (heard but not seen)
Woodchat shrike
White-eared bulbul
Crested lark
Graceful prinia
Great reed warbler
Common whitethroat
Common myna
Rufous bush robin
Black bush robin
Isabelline wheatear
Spotted flycatcher
House sparrow
Spanish sparrow sparrow
Arabian golden sparrow
Streaked weaver
Indian silverbill
Red Avadavat
Yellow wagtail

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lake Shabla and steppe

On Thursday, Andrew Bailey and I had a fuller day's birding than earlier in the week. We headed straight out to Lake Shabla and then took a leisurely journey back along the coastal steppe.

The birds on the lake themselves were quite interesting to me although our main viewing emphasis was on the birds on the fringes. 

a flock of common shelduck

At the closest end to the land was a group of black winged stilt. However much further away at the seaward end were two species which more interesting to me for different reasons. The first was common shelduck. It was good to see them again. This is one of the species I have yet to see in Saudi Arabia although its apparently not uncommon in a couple of the larger wetlands in winter.

mute swan

The other species was mute swan. Lake Shabla is one of the most southernly breeding places in the world for this bird.

common tern

The terns all appeared to be common tern.

collared pratincole

As I stated earlier we actaully spent more time viewing the fringes of the lake. Unfortunately we didn't definitely see a paddyfield warbler. However several marsh warbler were observed along with at least two sightings of great reed warbler.

It was real bonus to get several and prolonged good views of a collared pratincole which flew around us a few times while we were standing on a rickerty viewing platform.

a second picture of a collared pratincole

Reed bunting and yellow wagtail were also easily seen at the edges of the lake.

reed bunting

Goldfinch was the only finch seen there.

goldfinch

In the fields near-by were both black headed gull and yellow legged gull. Both red backed shrike and lesser grey shrike were also obseverd. The latter in a family unit of foutr birds. A single great cormorant flew across the bay on the near-by coast.

lesser grey shrike

On the way back, we took time out to eat lucnh and miss the highest heat of the day. 

The narrow strip of coastal steppe provided some expected birds such as black headed bunting.

black headed bunting

Calandra lark is only common here and no where else in Bulgaria. More surprising was the observation of four woodlark altough we were close at that point to a small woodland encroaching on the steppe. Tawny pipit was also regularly seen but hoped for stone curlew alluded us. 

woodlark

Almost the last bird we saw a European roller, a colourful end to a day's birding.

European roller

My next blog will almost certainly be chronicling some of my birding on a trip I am making to south east Asia. Its not an area I know much about so the learning curve will be steep.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fields at Mithnab, Buraidah

The second part of my exploratory visit to Buraidah was to farmland.  I chose the Mithnab (variant spelling of Muznib) simply because it is the closest farming district in the Buraidah area to Riyadh (albeit 325 kilometres away!)

The corridor from Buraidah to Hail has the highest concentration of farms in the country and must be good birding because of that. And yet it is rarely visited.

I chose a farm almost at random near Mithnab and started birding. It had several fodder and wheat fields.

collared pratincole

I had a very successful and enjoyable time near and in two wheat fields, one of which had recently been harvested. I could see at a glance that it had attracted lots of birds but I was shocked to find out that 55 pratincoles were either on the field or next to it.

several pratincoles

I didn't have too much time as this was day trip but I soon realised that this was a mixed flock of pratincoles with both collared pratincole and black winged pratincole. Indeed I had not seen collared pratincole on such dry terrain on passage before. Maybe the black winged pratincole had some influence on selection.

the field with the most pratincoles

At least 5 of the birds were black winged pratincole. They had no white trailing edge, smaller tails and fully black under-wings. Though it has to be said that the dark red in the under-wings of some collared pratincole weren't always discernible to my naked eye from a distance (the camera did better on this).

black winged pratincole

Black winged pratincole is the 281st bird on my Saudi list.

ortolan bunting

These wheat fields held more surprises. Though there were many tens of ortolan bunting gorging on the seed spillage, I had'nt expected to see another cinereous bunting again so soon.

cinereous bunting

It was alone as most reported cinerous bunting on passage have been. Only one report I know of this year in the Saudi Arabia has involved two birds. I only saw my first one two weeks ago at the small farm on the way to work. 

European bee-eater, ortolan bunting and red backed shrike

Near the cinereous bunting were many birds of different species resting on a pivot cross bar. Indeed another theme of this farm was the number of resting birds more usually seen on the wing.

resting blue-cheeked bee-eater

As well as resting European bee-eater the dirt areas around the fields were littered with resting blue-cheeked bee-eater and barn swallow.

resting barn swallow

Once again I saw a whinchat, now viewed as a common migrant in my opinion.

whinchat

However, its nowhere near as common as both red throated pipit and yellow wagtail which are often found together and were present in numbers in the harvested wheat field.

red throated pipit

As I said in the last blog, woodchat shrike are still commonly seen in central Arabia despite being among an early migrants. Lingering in central and northern Saudi Arabia seems to be the only logically conclusion as to what is going on.

woodchat shrike

The most common shrike in Buraidah over the whole day was actually red backed shrike. I can't remember seeing a single Daurian shrike or Turkestan shrike. This is in stark contrast to the Riyadh area and to Jubail (on the east coast) last weekend.

red-backed shrike

On top of two types of pratincole and a near threatened bunting, the birds of prey were a little bit more interesting than average too. Along with a marsh harrier and pallid harrier, a group of three lesser kestrel were hawking over the fields.

My conclusion about birding Buraidah is very positive. Why haven't I been there before?