Sunday 13 November 2011

Another kingfisher in central Arabia?

White throated kingfisher now breeds along Wadi hanifah near Al Hayer even though the literature is a bit behind with the news. Common kingfisher is a regular winter visitor.  However, pied kingfisher is described as only a vagrant to central Arabia in the Helms guide to the birds of Middle East.

perching pied kingfisher at Kharj fish farm

Pied kingfisher is a common bird along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Iraq to the north and it is a bird which can wander in winter.

pied kingfisher diving for food

So I wasn't totally surprised in a conversation about kingfishers with Abdullah Amrou when he told me he had photographed a pied kingfisher in central Arabia on January 21st this year.

He found it at Al Kharj special fish farm. This farm is 45 kilometres south of Al Hayer and about 65 kilometres south of Riyadh. 

pied kingfisher flying

We don't know whether this bird was a "vagrant" or just as likely the start of more regular winter visits which may eventually lead to colonisation. It will be interesting to see over the next decade.

pied kingfisher taking off at the fish farm

It appears to me that the habitat around wadi Hanifah would suit the bird.

pied kingfisher perching again

Incidentally I got my own first picture of a white throated kingfisher near Al Hayer on Friday. I was told it was notoriously difficult to see it settle but it behaved very well for me. It sat for minutes on a cross beam of one of the industrial water sprinklers on the edge of a fodder field. 

white throated kingfisher

There were some other very interesting (and attractive) birds near-by which I will blog about soon.

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