Wednesday 22 May 2013

Wadi Jewa and Lake Maliki

Last weekend, Lou Regenmorter, Mansur Al Fahad and I spent less time on the banks of Lake Maliki than our previous visits. We wanted to explore more widely in the Jizan area this time.

However we did visit the banks three times for short periods and made a visit to the near-by Wadi Jewa.

Gabar goshawk

Having not seen gabar goshawk on our previous trips to the south west, we met it three times. The first encounter was reported in an earlier blog but the second and third encounters were closer and more prolonged. 

We had just entered Wadi Jewa when a single young gabar goshawk was spotted raiding a Ruepell's weaver colony. It was hopping from nest to nest looking for food inside.

As far as we know it failed to find anything, at least while we were there.

second view of Gabar goshawk

After a couple of minutes it flew on to a near-by lamp post and gave us good views.

Like shikra and dark chanting goshawk but unlike other goshawks and sparrowhawks it has a dark throat stripe. The juvenile's neck is brown also like a shikra.

However it is easily separated from shikra by the white ring tail in flight and the much stronger barring on the breast.

Gabar goshawk at Lake Maliki

Only an hour before we had seen a pair of gabar goshawk playing near Lake Maliki.

glossy ibis

As usual, Lake Maliki held a wide array of heron: glossy ibis, cattle egret, grey heron and squacco heron were seen in great numbers this time.

Other noticeable larger birds included spur winged lapwing and white browed coucal.

I accidentally flushed a greater painted snipe which Brian James had also seen on a previous visit. This means Lake Maliki is the second place in Saudi Arabia where this species can be seen.

black crowned sparrow lark

On one of our visits to the lake, we spent some time patrolling the rocky northern hinterland looking for spotted thick-knee but failed to see any.

desert lark

The smaller birds included sedge warbler, zitting cisticola and Arabian waxbill.The three larks seen were crested lark, black crowned sparrowlark and desert lark. The desert lark was the local dark sub species.

zitting cisticola

Surprisingly only two bird of prey species were observed over all of our visits to the lake. These were gabar goshawk and yellow billed kite. This is quite a contrast to visits made in winter.

yellow vented bulbul at Lake Maliki

At Wadi Jewa, Lou and Mansur found helmeted guineafowl again. This Wadi is the best place in KSA to find it. Meanwhile I spent a fruitless time looking for Black-crowned tchagra.

Abyssinian roller

However Wadi Jewa put on a spectacular display of colourful Afro-tropical birds. I have found it the best place to guarantee seeing Abyssinian roller (even without getting out of the car on the main road).

male violet backed starling

Violet backed starling was also plentiful.

female violet backed starling

This bird has a wide sexual dimorphism in terms of colour.

male violet backed starling from rear

White throated bee-eater was more common here than at Lake Maliki too.

white throated bee-eater

As well as being disappointed in not seeing black crowned tchagra, no dark chanting goshawk was observed either. Both have been reported in this valley. Nevertheless the rest of the birding including the close view of gabar goshawk were fair compensation.

In the next blog, I'll report on our excursion up the foothills to the Bani Malik area and I'll list all the birds seen on the trip as a whole.

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