Tuesday 9 April 2013

Many migrants at Al Hayer

On Friday I visited Al Hayer a second time for the weekend. I had made up my mind to concentrate on finding warblers. This meant a lot of "bush bashing". Its hard work partly because warblers don't keep still. There are other reasons too.

lesser whitethroat

I spent a great deal of time checking out the tamarisk bushes near the water's edge. I could hear plenty of "reed warbler" sounds but not quite the same as those of European reed warbler. And also our breeding European reed warbler mostly frequent the reeds not the tamarisk.

I know there were plenty of birds inside the bushes but few would show themselves even for a moment. In the end I got clear views of clamorous reed warbler and of a marsh warbler. I also know there was at least one other "reed warbler" in there but I can't definitively claim Basra reed warbler.

From glimpses I am pretty sure that some locustella warblers such as Savi's warbler and river warbler were there too. Again I want a better sighting and ideally photos. I am not claiming these either.

The waters-edge tamarisks proved enticing without giving me great results. I will not be put off and I intend to have a go again this coming weekend. Its intensive work though with no guarantee of results.

By the way it was delving into these bushes that I saw a little bittern sheltering out of the limelight.

I had more success on drier land looking at the trees and bushes. Plenty of lesser whitethroat were around and a smaller number common whitethroat.

willow warbler

Lots of blackcap were seen and finally I had a long enough view to verify the sighting of an eastern orphean warbler. This was a lifer for me and number 278 on my Saudi list.  Willow warbler were just as common as chiffchaff now.


The resident graceful prinia have plenty of warbler company at the moment.

graceful prinia

All the pied wheatear seem to have gone through now. They are the first wave of passage wheatears to complete their way through. A small number of northern wheatear and Isabelline wheatear were seen. Two of the northern wheatear were almost unrecognisable in their their bold breeding colours.

northern wheatear

In the bushes were several members of the thrush family.

common redstart

One particular female common redstart was very tame and allowed close approach. Though I saw more male birds I could get anywhere near as close. I have meet this phenomenon before.

second view of common redstart

A white throated robin was in the same cluster of bushes as the eastern orphean warbler and several willow warbler. Indeed if it weren't for the robin I would have missed the warbler. I was tracking the white throated robin for good pictures when the eastern orphean warbler appeared briefly out of  cover. However it was long enough for me to see its whit eye and bright white front helping separate it from blackcap.

white throated robin

Rufous bush robin is a summer breeder and passage bird. It was easily seen on Friday in several places.

rufous bush robin

After bush bashing for three or more hours, I eventually decided to take a more general look at water and the pivot fields.

red throated pipit

There are no more white wagtail to be seen. They seem to have all moved on. However their place has temporarily been taken by red throated pipit and yellow wagtail. Most of the yellow wagtail were feldegg.

yellow wagtail (feldegg)

Last year I noted that I didn't see as many yellow wagtail in spring as in the autumn. This spring is different and I don't really know why.

ortolan bunting

One of the drier and recently cut pivot fields contained several ortolan bunting which was seen in the adjacent field 12 months before.

marsh harrier

Kestrel and marsh harrier were the only birds of prey observed. I am still hopeful of seeing my Saudi nemesis bird- Montagu's harrier this spring at al Hayer.

squacco heron

It was not all migrants. Squacco heron is a migrant and a local breeder. Desert finch seem to be getting increasingly common here all year round. Indeed others have reported its range expansion into central Arabia which is manifesting itself on the micro level by their increased visibility at al Hayer.

desert finch

Mallard is a local breeder too.


Many of the resident birds have already breed including moorhen for example.

young moorhen

However it is still the migrants that keep my attention and I'll be going to al Hayer next weekend to look for more.

Birds seen at Al Hayer over the weekend

Clamorous reed warbler
Little grebe
European reed warbler
Little bittern
Marsh warbler
Squacco heron
Willow warbler
Grey heron
Purple heron
Marsh harrier
Eastern orphean warbler
Greater spotted eagle
Lesser whitethroat
Common whitethroat
Common myna
Common snipe
Rock pigeon
Rufous bush robin
Namaqua dove
Black bush robin
Collared dove
White throated robin
Laughing dove
Common redstart
Isabelline wheatear
White throated kingfisher
Northern wheatear
Little green bee-eater
House sparrow
European bee-eater
Spanish sparrow
Daurian shrike
Indian silverbill
Turkestan shrike
Streaked weaver
Lesser grey shrike
Yellow wagtail
Crested lark
Red throated pipit
Pale crag martin
Desert finch
Barn swallow
Ortolan bunting
Sand martin
Red avadavat
Graceful prinia

No comments:

Post a Comment