Wednesday 30 November 2011

The changing cast back in September (and later)

Tonight's blog looks at some birds found at Al Hayer in September but excludes waders which were shown yesterday. The pictures have been released to me by Abdullah Amrou and once again I am very grateful for his generosity.

European reed warbler

Wadi Hanifah is one of the most southerly places in the world for breeding European reed warbler. I understand there a few breeding birds further south, on the Gulf coast of UAE. The local breeders in the wadi have been recorded as being of the sub species fuscus. This is the sub species normally found in the Middle East. However, Abdullah's bird looks like scirpaceus (nominate) to me.  

The local European reed warbler migrates to an uncertain destination but probably East Africa in late September. There are doubtless some passage birds heading through Wadi Hanifah at the same time. Maybe Abdullah's bird is a passage bird considering its look.

Indian silverbill

By contrast Indian silverbill are ever present there.

northern wheatear

During September, the first northern wheatear arrive on passage. I am not convinced any of them stay all winter but I will keep an eye out.

Isabelline wheatear

Isabelline wheatear arrive at the same time. Actually a few of these do stay all winter. The situation with these two birds is similar to what I found in Eastern Libya where a few Isabelline wheatear wintered north of the Sahara but I never saw a northern wheatear do the same. 

citrine wagtail

Citrine wagtail, white wagtail, and yellow wagtail all arrive in Wadi hanifah in September. White wagtail winters in large numbers here. However I have seen no evidence of any yellow wagtail wintering here (yet!). Citrine wagtail numbers are lower than the other two so any wintering birds might easily be missed. 

Turkestan shrike

The first Turkestan shrike arrive in September too.  I have seen that fair proportion stay at least until now (end of November)


Resident hoopoe are supplemented by wintering birds.


Mallard is also resident and is supplemented by wintering birds. However while wintering hoopoe start to arrive in September, extra wintering mallard don't seem to appear until mid November.

black crowned night heron in September

Both black crowned night heron and little bittern are local breeders and the former is supplemented by more birds in the autumn. The latter may also be supplemented.

little bittern

It is seriously below the seasonal average temperature in Riyadh at moment and is forecasted to remain so for the next week or so. I wonder whether these two birds will stay or make a late bid to go further south this year.

Marsh harrier

Finally I am self confessed to be poor at identifying some birds of prey without multiple pictures and views! Abdullah gave me this one picture from September and I presume it's a marsh harrier

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