Saturday 7 September 2013

Newbie to Saudi birding shown Al Hayer and Mansouriyah

Lou Regenmorter and I were joined today by Bernard Bracken who birds in Europe but has started working in Saudi Arabia.  

He has little experience of Middle Eastern birding yet so this must have been a lot to take in!

juvenile streaked weaver

We took Bernard to Al Hayer first. 

Virtually the first bird we saw was asleep though it was way past dawn. It also allowed us such close approach we thought it might have been an escape. 

I had trouble identifying it. The main regional guide describes non-breeding male and female streaked weaver but not the juvenile. Both the adults have streaks on breast and flanks. I assumed the juvenile would too and so started to investigate other species. However pictures from India showed me that the juvenile is unstreaked and that is what this sleepy bird was.

graceful prinia

We took a tour around the fields close to the road which still had hundreds of Spanish sparrow and the exotic finch trio of streaked weaver, red avadavat and Indian silverbill. This time there was no European roller on the pivot bar though there were still some blue-cheeked bee-eater and a white throated kingfisher. At this point Bernard confessed that nearly every bird he had seen so far had been a lifer.

Graceful prinia were everywhere again. Some common whitethroat still have the ability to confuse me. The females and immatures of the main eastern sub species have little contrast between the wing and mantle.

common whitethroat

Lou and Bernard soon made their way to the field where I had seen so many collared pratincole yesterday.

collared pratincole in a field

I made myself busy by checking the underwing and other features of as many as possible to check there were no black winged pratincole among them.

collared pratincole stretching

Unlike in my trip to Buraydah last spring, this was apparently not a mixed flock though I didnt check them all.

collared pratincole taking off

There were more barn swallow and yellow wagtail in this field than even the numbers yesterday.

plenty of barn swallows

Next to the bank swallow resting on a pivot bar was a red backed shrike, a bird not seen yesterday.

red backed shrike

Further along were two brown necked raven.

brown necked raven

Another bird not seen yesterday was rufous bush robin. To be honest I hadn't seen one for over a week and was beginning to think all of them had migrated south by now.

rufous bush robin

Near the bush robin was one of several hoopoe seen today. 


After leaving Al Hayer and before it got too hot, we headed back towards the city. However we stopped off for half an hour or so at Mansouriyah.


Here fleetingly we observed the first bluethroat of the "winter". They winter in very large numbers down the Riyadh "river".

young Ruepells weaver

Mansouriyah is the only real strong hold in central Arabia for Ruepells weaver though I have observed it in one other place. It has been reported there for many years but the population remains small. We didn't have much trouble finding it today.

I am giving weavers a lot of attention at the moment. Historical observers have all seen Baya weaver but it has alluded me and I cant believe it has died out. I just think I haven't been careful enough searching among the hundreds of sparrows and weavers.

I hope Bernard enjoyed today and I look forward to birding with him again soon.

List of 38 species species seen today

Little bittern
Black crowned night heron
Grey heron
Purple heron
Cattle egret
Squacco heron
Common moorhen
Collared pratincole
Rock pigeon
Namaqua dove
Laughing dove
Collared dove
Barn swallow
Sand martin
White throated kingfisher
Little green bee-eater
Blue cheeked bee-eater
Woodchat shrike
Red backed shrike
Lesser grey shrike
Asian grey shrike (aucheri)
White-eared bulbul
Crested lark
Graceful prinia
Great reed warbler
Common whitethroat
Common myna
Black bush robin
Rufous bush robin
Isabelline wheatear
House sparrow
Spanish sparrow
Streaked weaver

Ruepells weaver
Indian silverbill
Yellow wagtail

No comments:

Post a Comment