Sunday 19 May 2013

Ad Dabi and three more lifers

After visiting Sabya waste water lakes early on Thursday morning, Lou Regenmorter, Mansur Al Fahad and I moved on east (route 156) to the near-by town of Ad Dabi.

This is one of two towns where Abdim's stork in Saudi Arabia in which it is known to breed. It is particularly fond of mobile phone masts.

Abdim's stork

It didn't take us long to find some. Indeed at one stage four Abdim's stork were sharing the same mast.

two of four Abdim's stork

After some bickering, one of the storks at least left for another phone mast which didn't have an existing nest.

This stork (at least in Saudi Arabia) is often missed by visiting birders  because they assume it will be close to water such as lake Maliki.

white throated bee-eater

Finding the storks was much easier than I had expected. After some observation and photography we moved on. We headed out south towards Abu Arish on a hill side road.

The altitude of this road was over 300 metres which is important because many of the Afro-tropical summer visitors don't seem to like the low land coastal areas. 

White throated bee-eater was soon picked up. This made two lifers and additions to my Saudi list in a few minutes.

gabar goshawk

Then only a couple of minutes later, we came across a pair of playful Gabar goshawk on the same road. This had been a target bird for all three of us but was not expected here. It had previously been reported much closer to Lake Maliki.

As it happens we saw this species twice more and each time we got better views than the previous time. Here we made do with aerial views. It's easily separated in flight from other goshawks and sparrowhawks by its white ring tail.

grey headed kingfisher

Grey headed kingfisher is not found on the low land plains but we saw it on the hill side road without much difficulty. It is a common sight in summer in south west Saudi Arabia from 325 to 2700 metres (not a lower zone: 250 to 1500 as cited in the regional guide).

Nile valley sunbird

On the other hand, this hill side road only had nile valley sunbird which is lowest altitude sunbird of the three found in western Saudi Arabia.

young Arabian babbler

I noted a few other observations about other local resident birds too: for example - the density of Arabian babbler in this south west corner of the kingdom is the highest I have yet found.

African silverbill

The resident silverbill in this area is of course African silverbill not Indian silverbill as in central Arabia.

Black bush robin

However sub-species of black bush robin is the same as in central Arabia rather than the dull brown sub species found up in Abha.

Overall, Thursday morning was really about new finds rather than observations about residents. I had gained 5 lifers and additions to my list. This was quite a start to the weekend!

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