Wednesday 11 December 2013

Birding a suburb of Madinah

There wasn't much time for birding when I visited the Taibeh suburb of Madinah for work on Saturday. Nevertheless I managed a walk out of the hotel into the surrounding area in the early morning.

I wasn't expecting anything new but wanted to add some data in the public domain because I cant find any birding records from Madinah before. 

I must add that all my walk was very close to but outside the haram line. I wouldn't expect the birding to be too much different in the centre though.

white spectacled bulbul

I only managed to see eleven species plus feral pigeon. However I did get pictures of ten of them.

My first observation was that white-spectacled bulbul was very common. Indeed this was the highest density I have found in Saudi Arabia. I usually think of it as a rural bird too.

house sparrow
Obviously house sparrow was present as well though I failed to see any Spanish sparrow.

common myna

Common myna has been introduced or spread there like most cities in Saudi Arabia.

laughing dove

Both laughing dove and European collared dove were seen.  

European collared dove

Even though the walk lasted for less than three hours, it took me to a edge of the city before looping back. The hills near looked decidedly barren.

one of the hills near Madinah

In the bushes in the wadi below, there were several blackstart.


I seem to pick out Eastern mourning wheatear where ever I go these days and there was one near the blackstart. Its supposed to be a rarer winterer on the western side of the country than in the Riyadh area. 

Eastern mourning wheatear

Earlier and almost at the start of my walk at sunrise, I had come across a desert wheatear in scrub land next to the hotel.

Desert wheatear

At the other end of the walk I came across little green bee-eater and a Menetries warbler in some bushes. The warbler was the only bird which evaded my camera despite me tracking it over several bushes. Menetries warbler is a wintering bird in Saudi Arabia most commonly in central western areas so seeing it in Madinah was no surprise. By contrast I rarely see it and only on passage in the Riyadh area. 

little green bee-eater

The final bird to make my list was white wagtail seen in the gardens of the Saudi German hospital right next to my hotel.

white wagtail

I am off north to Sakaka again this weekend. However this is a full weekend's birding unencumbered by work commitments like my last visit. I am also going as part of a birding group with Brain James from Thuwal and Lou Regenmorter from Riyadh.

The weather forecast is cold and more particularly the forecast in Jordan to the north is near freezing. Will this cold snap bring some rare birds down?

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