Wednesday 20 November 2013

Mithnab revisited

Last Friday, Bernard Brachen and I visited a farm in the Mithnab area after finishing at Wadi Rummah in Buraidah.

Mithnab is about 30 kilometres directly south.

I went there in late April when it was full of interesting passage birds including black winged pratincole.  

This time the fields weren't very exciting with crested lark and collared dove being the main occupants.

The scrub between fields was a little more interesting.

We both saw a stonechat.

I have a big problem with the "Birds of the Middle East" guide when it comes to stonechats. Arguably the distribution map is the most wrong for these species than any others.

Neither Siberian stonechat or European stonechat is shown in Saudi Arabia at all except down the east coast.

European stonechat from the front

Yet they are frequent in Riyadh in winter where the vast majority are Siberian stonechat.  Likewise in Tabuk in the north west they are a common sight in winter. There the vast majority are European stonechat

European stonechat from the rear

What was interesting about the Buraidah area was that I saw one at Al Ghat and one at Mithnab and there was one of each species. Buraidah is is in the overlap area where both are found.

The rump pattern on the bird above is typical of a European stonechat.

desert wheatear

Most of the other birds were as expected. All the wheatears were either wintering desert wheatear or wintering Eastern mourning wheatear.

tawny pipit

A mobile flock of little brown birds turned out to be tawny pipit. The one above needs a good feed.


A typical sight in central Arabia at all times of year is hoopoe.


And in any major cluster of Tamarisk bushes or trees you will find chiffchaff.

The last two weekends have seen my birding curtailed somewhat by having to work in Riyadh on Saturdays.

The coming weekend it will be shortened again. This time I am working Saturday in Al Jouf in the north of the country. However Friday should be free up there for birding. I am looking forward to it. 

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