Sunday 28 April 2013

Riyadh round up

I got a message from accomplished photographer Tholightz Quindara who is increasingly a good bird watcher too that he saw nine glossy ibis at the wetland near Riyadh cricket ground on Friday.

Unfortunately he wasn't carrying his photographic kit at the time but managed to record their presence with a canon powershot camera. I am pleased he did. They aren't very common in the Riyadh area and I have only seen them in the south west of the country.

glossy ibis near the cricket ground

Riyadh is currently experiencing its wettest week since at least the early 1980s and it could turn out to be the wettest spell since records began. Tholightz reports that the wetland there was filling up and likely to attract more water birds.

However the place has got competition. All lowlands in the area are filling up at the moment.

three of nine glossy ibis

Its a remarkable spell of weather across much of country and its been raining heavily even in the desert including that between Riyadh and Taif and also the empty quarter which could cause some strange bird movements. 

rain-filled sky

Meanwhile the farm on my walk to work had had poor migrant birding in the past week or so until the rain. So yesterday afternoon in a lull in the rain I lingered at the farm and saw more migrants again. I noticed some of them were more in the open than usual.

common whitethroat on the ground

A mini flock of three common whitethroat were feeding off the ground like sparrows. I presumed this was related in some way to the weather. Likewise a female blackcap was doing the same. 

female blackcap on the ground

One warbler I couldn't entice into the open was a barred warbler which kept strictly to cover.

barred warbler

Common redstart, European bee-eater (not blue cheeked-bee-eater despite the flurry the week before), willow warbler and red backed shrike were the only migrants I had been seeing in Riyadh in the past week before the rain. For example I saw no other warblers in the couple of days before the weekend.

young red backed shrike

Above is a wet looking young red backed shrike from yesterday afternoon and below is and adult one during the dry period.

red backed shrike

The only other two migrants of note before the rain were a single late tree pipit which stayed one day and a single whinchat which also seems to have left after one day.

tree pipit

I am fairly confident about counting the time stayed for the tree pipit because all the previous ones this spring have stayed close to the same small group of trees as that one. I have been able to do a head count of pipits by just standing still by these trees and waiting.  


Although I have been n the look out mostly for migrants, it hard not to notice all the newly fledged white-eared bulbul that have suddenly appeared.

newly fledged white eared bulbul

Next weekend I am going to Abha for the first time. It gets on average six times more rain than Riyadh but this week it is the other way round.

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