Monday 14 November 2011

The waterlogged side of a fodder field

During the last afternoon of my Eid break on Friday I visited a couple of new habitats within the wadi hanifah corridor near Al Hayer.

The one at which I spent the most time was a wet edge of a fodder field which bordered on waterlogged reeds and narrow waterways. 

male avadavat

This proved to be as different in birds as I had hoped it might be. There was a mobile flock of birds which foraged in the fodder and dived into the reeds if it felt endangered. To my joy they proved to be avadavat which are also called red munia.  This bird is naturally found in south and south east Asia but must have escaped some years ago. The feral population appears to be thriving. Where I found them is consistent with wikipedia's description of their preferred habitat in Asia.

"Red Munias are found mainly on the flat plains, mainly in places with tall grasses or crops often near water"

female avadavat

The avadavat flock wasn't mixed with other species but reminded me of a streaked weaver flock seen last week. This also darted between the protection of reeds and a fodder field. Though in that case the field margins were not as waterlogged.

juvenile avadavat

The flock did contain a healthy mix of males, females and juveniles.

female or first winter male bluethroat

The wet margins to the reeds is also ideal habitat for wintering bluethroat similar to that I have seen with them in Libya. And so I saw a bluethroat! This is my first bluethroat in Saudi Arabia.

The 200 metre long industrial "lateral move" water sprinkler was placed at the edge of the field right next to the waterlogged edge. This proved a perfect place for a white throated kingfisher to perch in the late afternoon sun. This was the bird I mentioned in the last blog which provided my first chance to photograph the kingfisher.

white throated kingfisher on the cross bar of a lateral move sprinkler

Many of the other features of the fodder field were the same as other (drier edged) fodder fields I had already visited on previous occasions. For example I saw another desert wheatear. This time it was on a track running through the middle of the field.


Once again at various times there was a stonechat on the crossbar of the sprinkler and further away a kestrel too.


The second new environment I visited on Friday (actually before I went to the fodder field) was to one of the natural wadis connecting to wadi hanifah. This doesn't benefit from the "Riyadh river" water and has the same vegetation (apart from where it intersects with wadi Hanafah) that it has always.

wadi off wadi hanifah

I was shown this wadi by Abdullah Amrou who I met for the early part of the afternoon (before birding the fodder field). He was once again a very helpful and informative guide.

unknown warbler

We didn't have time to bird the wadi but it was obvious that the trees contained many warblers. Abdullah told me he once saw and photographed a pharoah eagle owl in one of the crevices in the steep wadi side.

Finally I can say that the afternoon once again provided me with much needed practice in eagle recognition.

greater spotted eagle on a vantage point near the road

The eagle was actually quite close to the main road and was spotted by my driver! From the four photos I can confirm my field observation that it was another greater spotted eagle.

different pose of the eagle

The markings suggest it is a sub adult.

first shot of greater spotted eagle in flight

Unfortunately you can't see its seventh fingers in the shots because of the angles but I can assure you it had them. Poor photos are available to confirm this!

second shot in flight

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