Sunday 29 December 2013

Around Tebrak

On Friday, I went out alone along the Mecca road out of Riyadh since my regular birding partners were on annual leave.

This was speculative birding as I have only travelled 60 or 70 kilometres out west on this road before.

This time I stopped in two areas, one was around Tebrak about 110 kilometres west and again between Quwaiiyah and Ruwaidhah around 220 kiolmetres west.

The area around Tebrak was mostly sandy desert with a few farms courtesy of some advanced water engineering. The area west of Quwaiiyah was altogether different. It was rocky and hilly with several green wadis.

The birding near Tebrak was relatively poor while that west of Quwaiiyah was good.

This blog covers the Tebrak area whereas the next one will look at the much better birding further west.

black-headed gull

The only high point of the birding near Tebrak was the sight of a black -headed gull swimming in a small temporary lake caused by recent rains. This gull must be close to the furthest point in the whole Arabian peninsula away from the sea!

Spanish sparrow

Otherwise the birding was fairly predictable. Spanish sparrow were roaming the bushes and trees around the few farms.

white wagtail

White wagtail were in the fields and everywhere including service stations where there was a hint of moisture.

laughing dove

Many of the farms were date farms so it is not surprising that laughing dove was the most common dove reminding that its alternative name is palm dove

eight laughing dove

A few house sparrow were seen next to human habitation but at this time of year they were outnumbered in the general area by Spanish sparrow.

house sparrow

Three types of wheatear were seen. They were predictably Eastern mourning wheatear, Isabelline wheatear and desert wheatear

Eastern mourning wheatear

My only excitement with the wheatears was trying to identify a rather grey bird shown in the two pictures below.

Isabelline wheatear

It had hardly any supercilium but a very black tail. I narrowed it down to an immature desert wheatear or immature Isabelline wheatear despite the poor supercilium. I tentatively favour a greyer than usual Isabelline wheatear because of the obvious isolated black alula. 

second view of an Isabelline wheatear

The only other bird in the area was crested lark.

In contrast the birding another 100 kilometres west was diverse and very interesting. I will write about that in my next blog.

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