Monday 28 November 2011

Flashback to summer - part 2

This is the second batch of pictures of birds provided by Abdullah Amrou from Al Hayer and taken in June and July this year. I am indebted to Abdullah for allowing me to show them.

As I have said before, I am particularly interested in where his records for these months add to the collective understanding of breeding birds in the area.

The best start is to look at Michael Jennings article in Sandgrouse magazine in 2004 called "The breeding birds of central Arabia 1978-2003".

ferruginous duck

The Sandgrouse article says two ducks breed near Al Hayer and these are same two - ferruginous duck and mallard duck that Abdullah snapped this summer. 

mallard duck

The other most obvious water bird in all seasons is moorhen. This is a common breeder in the area as acknowledged in several sources.

young moorhen

I personally saw black winged stilt at Al Hayer for the first time last Thursday. The Sandgrouse article says it is a local breeder and resident.  All the evidence supports this too.

black winged stilt

White throated kingfisher is a local breeder which another bird photographer, Ahmed, has filmed in its nest (a hole in a sandbank) with young. This was not known in 2004 in the Sandgrouse article but was a correct future prediction in it. 

white throated kingfisher

An unlikely breeder in the area is green sandpiper and it is unmentioned even as a possibility in the Sandgrouse article. Tom Tarrant's observations from the early 1990s state that that he saw green sandpiper in every month except July. The best assumption is that this bird is a non-breeder but it could easily have stayed all summer.

green sandpiper

One bird which Michael Jennings was unduly pessimistic about as a local breeder is streaked weaver. He suggested it may have died out as breeder or at least gone into steep decline since the early 1990s. However I have seen many birds and tens of old nests. However the bird did have to survive a fire in one of its most densely populated areas at the end of this summer according to Abdullah. It is clearly still numerous though. 

male streaked weaver

graceful prinia

Another bird which has multiplied locally in recent years is graceful prinia. It is a recognised breeder from the late 1980s but is now very common. 

namaqua dove

Namaqua dove is also a recognised common local breeder.

barn swallow

One of the most interesting photographs for me is of a barn swallow. The Sandgrouse article doesn't look at the possibility of barn swallow breeding at Al Hayer though it acknowledges that a few red-rumped swallow do breed. I will probably have to wait until next summer to find out the truth.

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