Monday 10 December 2012

Hypocolius and the Diplomatic Quarter

Just how do you count very large numbers of birds? I had this problem when I visited the Diplomatic Quarter (DQ) of Riyadh on Friday to see a couple of friends and do some birding in the landscaped grounds.

The bird in question was hypocolius.

female hypocolius

They were all over the northern side of the Quarter. They were in two different landscaped wadis, in the palm groves and along side the waste water stream.  In fact the noise at one time next to the water was a cacophony of different birds but dominated by hypocolius.

male hypocolius

I have seen 200 or so before in the Intercontinental hotel gardens last winter. However they were returners towards a roost and late in the afternoon. These DQ birds were there all the time I was (from 8am until 1pm).

At a very conservative estimate there were 250. The trouble is I didn't see all of them in one view. There could have been more but I like to err on the side of caution.

part of the large flock of hypocolius

They particularly liked being in the thick bushes.

hypocolius on the move

Hypocolius made my day but other birds were interesting too. Not many places in the city contain yellow-vented bulbul. They can be found in a few of the larger compounds. White-eared bulbul is much more common. However both were present in the DQ.  The DQ is so well landscaped that clearly yellow vented bulbul feel at home there. 

yellow vented bulbul

Laughing dove and collared dove were abundant.

collared dove

Common myna made a noisy contribution to my birding.

common myna

The waste water stream was a lot fuller than the last time  I visited. I am told this is not all due to the recent rain.

waste water river

Six little egret were spotted along the banks.  Moorhen darted in and out of cover.

little egret

A single grey heron moved up and down, some times landing in the top of a palm tree.

grey heron

Two types of kingfisher were seen. The loud white throated kingfisher was heard more often than seen. The winter visiting common kingfisher allowed good views a couple of times.  There are fish in the stream and this helps explain the presence of herons and kingfishers.

common kingfisher

The only wader was green sandpiper which was cautious as ever.

green sandpiper

I counted four grey wagtail which is pretty uncommon in these parts. It can't find many places with running water in central Arabia.

grey wagtail

Of the other small birds, there were plenty of chiffchaff and graceful prinia. I happened upon a small flock of Indian silverbill just as I was finishing.

Indian silverbill

Perhaps surprisingly I didn't see a single bluethroat this time but the hypocolius more than made up for that!

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