Tuesday 21 February 2012

The other birds on Friday at Al Hayer

It wasn't just the wintering birds that caught my eye on Friday.  The others were very interesting too.  One of which turned out to be a lifer but more about that later.

One of the main features of Friday's birding was the presence of large numbers of hirundines hawking for insects over the pivot fields.  Last week I noticed the first barn swallow of the year. This Friday there were many more of them. There were also at least two red-rumped swallow and although its not strictly a hirundine there was also an alpine swift

local barn swallow

Not all of these birds were on passage either. Red-rumped swallow have been recorded to breed in the area and I have first hand evidence that barn swallow breed here.  I saw a barn swallow fly into a farm workers building.  Inside were several barn swallow nests being built. The four barn swallow in the picture above were barn swallow waiting patiently to re-enter the building once I left!  

barn swallow nest in making

Hirundines are often early passage birds. Another one in this region which can start early is lesser whitethroat.

lesser whitethroat

I saw my first lesser whitethroat in the area on Friday. According to previous records this could be the first of many.

common myna

Near-by on a pivot was a small flock of common myna. Although I have got several photos of common myna in the area before, I felt the need to take more shots. I am pleased I did.

bank myna

It was only when I got back home and started sorting out the photos for this blog that I realised at least one of the mynas in the flock was a bank myna. What an unexpected lifer. In the back of my mind, I knew it was meant to be in the area. Indeed Per Anders Bertilsson reported seeing it several times during his stay in Riyadh around the year 2000. Bank myna becomes the 136th species I have seen in Saudi Arabia since arriving in late September last year. This is well behind Pers who has set the benchmark with 336. I wonder how many I will add during the passage season which has just begun?

Indian silverbill

Given that Riyadh is officially in the Afrotopical zone, its amazing how its been colonised with so many birds from the Indo-Malay region. Both mynas comes from there as does, for example, the Indian silverbill which is common in the area and apparently in the city.

black bush robin

Of course Afro-tropical birds are here too! The black bush robin in the picture above was standing on the top of a bush rather than under it. You don't see that very often and yet it takes me back to my first ever sighting of one in Senegal, Africa where one was doing exactly the same thing.

crested lark

Finally lets not forget crested lark which I have seen in all the countries I have lived in during the past 5 years - Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Libya and Saudi Arabia. In fact I can't escape it! It was there again on Friday.

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