Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Central Wadi Dawasar

The area immediately south of Wadi Dawasar town consists of yet more farms leading to an escarpment in the east. Lou Regenmorter and I birded this area on Saturday. 

Despite the superficial similarity with the southerly farms already blogged about,  there was a noticeable difference in the birding. 

Before writing more generally about the differences, I can tell you the last minutes of the birding weekend were spent there and they produced one of the highlights. Its always good to finish on a high.

Egyptian nightjar

At the end of the trip we decided to spend the last hour of daylight at the bottom of the escarpment. We started walking the last two hundred metres without much excitement when suddenly a nightjar flushed. We then spent several minutes before it flushed twice more and then finally settled in a place we saw.

This time it didn't move and even appeared to fall asleep. We moved slowly closer as the sun got lower and lower. 

Egyptian nightjar from the other side

In flight we saw no white patches towards the ends of upper wings. The under-wing was also almost white and so we were leaning towards it being an Egyptian nightjar. On closer inspection on the ground this was confirmed.

I was pleased to leave it without it flushing again. I don't like to keep hassling birds.

little green bee-eater

There were some noticeable differences from the farms further south which can't be easily explained. I don't understand why there were little green bee-eater here but not 20 kilometres further south. Likewise European collared dove was extremely common here but hardly seen in the southern farms.

European collared dove

At least the larks were the same. Once again there was an abundance of crested lark and flocks of greater short toed lark.

Turkestan  shrike

As well as Asian grey shrike (aucheri), a Turkestan shrike was sighted in some scrub next to a field. Many winter in Sudan and East Africa while a few winter in central Arabia near Riyadh so seeing one in between these two places was actually expected.

European roller

However, the sighting of European roller was more surprising. I know it winters in Yemen and Oman directly to the south but this was the first place in Saudi Arabia where I have seen one at this time of year. 

It was not the only one seen over the weekend either. I write about this and an equally interesting wintering bird in Sulayyail in the next blog.

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