Monday 22 April 2013

New wave on the walk to work

Waves of migrants on my walk to and from work are still generating good birding. I am still spending an hour or so each morning and early evening at the university farm.

The report and pictures in this blog all come from Saturday and Sunday (both work days here).

blue-cheeked bee-eater

The bee research unit in the farm continues to attract large numbers of passage bee-eaters. The big news is that they are mostly now blue-cheeked bee-eater rather than European bee-eater.

three blue-cheeked bee-eater 

Obviously it is generally a later spring migrant than its cousin.

male barred warbler

Warblers are present in numbers too though the numbers of chiffchaff, willow warbler and lesser whitethroat seem to be dropping. Indeed I didn't see one of the latter at all over the past two days.

second view of male barred warbler

However, a handsome male barred warbler was visible over both days.

common whitethroat

Common whitethroat continue to be plentiful in the trees and bushes.

Upcher's warbler

I saw an additional three Upcher's warbler in the lower level scrub too.

spotted flycatcher

Two common but late migrants are spotted flycatcher and red-backed shrike. Their presence seems to be peaking at the moment.

red-backed shrike

We have both Turkestan shrike and Daurian shrike in central Arabia all winter and many passage birds all through spring. They still haven't stopped coming. Indeed it is only really May, June, July and early August when we dont see them here. The farm is no exception.

male Turkestan shrike

The bird above is a Turkestan shrike. Note the wide supercilium, white underparts and chestnut tail grading to red.

Daurian shrike

The second bird is a female Daurian shrike with deep coloured underparts and no contrast between head and mantle colour, and a buff, weak supercilium.

black eared wheatear

I was surprised to see two late black-eared wheatear on Saturday.

male redstart

Common redstart starting appearing in the farm a month ago and have been coming (and going) continually ever since. This is an extremely common migrant in spring.

female redstart

Hoopoe are very common too but there is clearly a resident population at the farm which confuses my observations. Incidentally I have noticed fighting between them and the resident white eared-bulbul which clearly don't like them around.

three hoopoe

Last evening I saw yellow wagtail for the first time on the walk.  This one was a flava male.

yellow wagtail

There is some ambiguity whether the rufous bush robin I am seeing are passage or summer breeders here. Both are probably on the farm.

Two of the bush robin's relatives which are definitely migrants have also been seen. A single nightingale and a single thrush nightingale have successfully dodged my camera on both days.

rufous bush robin

Although I aim primarily to blog about migrants today, two local birds also caught my eye over the past two days.


On Saturday, there was a common kestrel present in the morning. This is another first for me at the farm.

rose ringed parakeet

And finally there is no doubt, rose ringed parakeet is increasingly there. I am now seeing a couple almost every day.

In the next blog, I'll be reporting on some African species seen in the deep south west including one of the goshawks which is rarely seen in Saudi Arabia.

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