Wednesday 21 August 2013

Walking to work in the autumn passage

Yesterday was the hottest day of summer which officially peaked at 48C in the shade. Despite this I decided I shouldn't put off birding "this autumn" on the walk to work any longer as I had some evidence from the weekend the passage season has begun.

So this morning I made the same detour as I had during the spring on my walk to and from work. This detour takes me to the small university experimental farm.

female or immature common whitethroat

The early morning on the way out was hot. The afternoon walk on the way back was scorching. 

Luckily there were some passage birds!  The first one I saw this morning was a female or immature common whitethroat.

second view of common whitethroat

It was quite active and gave me the run around before I finally got some decent photographs.

clear view of common whitethroat

In the evening, I saw a male common whitethroat in another part of the farm's garden. He was reluctant to move at all. I put this difference in behaviour down to difference in temperature between early morning and mid-afternoon.

male common whitethroat

Also in the afternoon I managed to get a good look at the shrike I had glimpsed in the morning. It was a woodchat shrike. Well, actually I discovered there were two. Given how thin they both looked I think they have been extremely lucky to seek out this place. 

Woodchat shrike

There has been some drilling for water next to the farm during the summer. I don't know why but  some of the water at least is being pumped up occasionally into a small make-shift lake. 

green sandpiper

Today it housed a single green sandpiper both in the morning and afternoon as well as more short term visits from other grateful birds including a barn swallow. I have some hopes this may attract a wide variety of birds during the whole passage season even though there is no cover.

The common whitethroat, barn swallowgreen sandpiper and woodchat shrike were the full extent of passage birds seen today but the season is very young.


There were,of course, resident birds to see as well. Hoopoe was readily seen.

little green bee-eater

The only bee-eaters were the resident little green bee-eater though I expect to see both European bee-eater and blue cheeked bee-eater soon.

black bush robin

Black bush robin were around as usual but I didn't notice any rufous bush robin which is both a summer breeder and passage bird in the Riyadh area. In spring the black bush robin wouldn't tolerate any rufous bush robin and I suspect they were all moved on.

white eared bulbul

White eared bulbul numbers have increased over the summer yet didn't see any white spectacled bulbul. Both were seen in spring. Both are usually resident birds. I need to visit the farm again before I reach any conclusions.

collared dove

Collared dove has also obviously had a successful breeding season. They now considerably out-number laughing dove

laughing dove

Today's birding was tough due to the heat. It will get easier as the passage season progresses and I hope to be able to bird frequently on the way to walk just as I did in spring. 

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