Thursday 17 November 2011

Identifying birds from Al Hayer

The wildlife photographer, Abdullah Amrou asked me to confirm the identify of a few birds he has photographed from the Al Hayer area. Although he knows most birds, some are more difficult than others to identify simply because there are not common! 

This blog looks at Abdullah's "unidentified" birds with one exception. For that exception, I couldn't resist showing another picture of a white throated kingfisher simply because Abdullah has captured a very interesting moment.

white throated kingfisher with fish at Al Hayer

The first of the birds who identity was confirmed was actually a common starling. It is anything but common in the Riyadh area. Abdullah has only ever seen a single bird, once and that was last winter. 

common starling near Al Hayer

Rock thrush is described in the Helms guide to birds of the Middle East as "passage throughout the region but not common. Winter records from Arabian Gulf coast, Oman and Yemen".   

Rock thrush

Abdullah photographed one near Al Hayer in the autumn presumably on passage as it prefers higher ground than Al Hayer for a prolonged stay.

common cuckoo

Common cuckoo is passage bird throughout the region with no winter records. It invariably winters in tropical Africa so the bird that Abdullah photographed near Al Hayer was almost certainly on passage.

young citrine wagtail

Finally there is the most difficult identification of all in the sense that I got it wrong in the first edition of this blog. The bird is actually a citrine wagtail. I misidentified it as a yellow wagtail. However, I am very pleased with this mistake because citrine wagtail is a much more significant bird to see here. Thanks to Fabian for noticing within 10 minutes of the blog going up.

Citrine wagtail normally winters in India or south east Asia though a few winter in the Middle East. This may have been one of them.


  1. Hi!

    The wagtail on the bottom photo is a Citrine Wagtail instead of a Yellow Wagtail!


  2. Thanks Fabian. I'll change the text! One of my problems with blogging so fast is I make mistakes occasionally with ID.