Wednesday 24 April 2013

Zulfi warblers, wheatears and more

This is the fourth installment detailing Mansur Al Fahad's trip to Zulfi which was almost a month ago now. I have already reported on some of his findings such as pharaoh  eagle owl, all four harriers and an Egyptian nightjar in previous blogs.

Today I am posting some more observations of small passerines he saw.

 sedge warbler (all photos by Mansur Al Fahad)

Among the warblers, I was most taken by his observation and photograph of a sedge warbler. They are a relatively common passage bird in Saudi Arabia in places where there is water. However they are often difficult to see directly.

We have been seeing them at Hayer for the past few weeks but I have failed to get a picture.

 desert warbler

Obviously at least one desert warbler was still wintering in Zulfi in late March though they mostly move back north around then or soon after that.

 lesser whitethroat

I saw lesser whitethroat in the Riyadh area until about 10 days ago but haven't seen a single one since. A month ago they were plentiful and so there were in Zulfi too.


Chiffchaff are both wintering birds (often near water) and passage (almost everywhere) in central Arabia such as Zulfi and Riyadh.

 black eared wheatear

Black eared wheatear is on average a later migrant than pied wheatear though there is overlap. Late March is part of that overlap period.

 pied wheatear

Northern wheatear has a very extended migration period though unlike Isabelline wheatear none stay mid winter in central Arabia.

 male northern wheatear

Generally male wheatears, on average, migrant a little earlier than female ones.

Isabelline wheatear

Mansur saw another common rock thrush in Zulfi. They are most easily seen in the drier parts but next to cultivation.

 common rock thrush

March is a month of major stonechat migration though many winter.

 male stonechat

 April is the main month of whinchat migration though once again there is some overlap. Whinchat never winter here.

 female stonechat

Yellow wagtail is a common migrant in central Arabia. For some reason they can be seen most in wet fields in autumn but are not so fussy about wetness in spring. Grey wagtail is much rarer but can be found near water.

 grey wagtail

 Tawny pipit is a common migrant.

tawny pipit

Tomorrow which is a weekend day here in KSA, I will be going north west and birding in Buraiyadh. it is about 60 kilometres west of Zulfi and is an even larger farming area. Strangely I can't find any records of birding there though it must have been done in order for the distribution maps to be compiled. Either way it is certainly relatively under-birded. I put this trip down as a fact finding mission but I might get lucky. Who knows?

Finally, once again, thanks are due to Mansur Al Fahad for sharing his information and photographs

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