Tuesday 10 December 2013

The lake is receding

The lake near Riyadh cricket ground used to have a very large mass of water but it is now receding despite big rains three weeks ago.

Like most water bodies outside the western mountains its existence is heavily dependent on man.

In this case the water is at the bottom of a deep gravel pit. A waste water stream came from the industrial city to a flat area to create a marsh. The water from the marsh would seep through the rocks and earth until it reached the lake. However the waste water stream was stooped about 9 months ago and the rocks have dried out. The lake will surely disappear next year after the winter rains have gone.

In the meantime, it still houses resident European coot, moorhen, little grebe, and ferruginous duck as seen on Friday by me and birding friend Bernard Bracken.

Hunters were about and ominously only one ferruginous duck was seen this time and no mallard unlike on previous occasions.


Spur winged lapwing and black winged stilt were the other water birds seen.


We spent proportionately  longer than usual looking at the hinterland rather than the lake itself because of the lack of diversity in the lake.

The was the first time that I had spotted a blackstart there.

Eastern mourning wheatear

The only wheatear was a single wintering Eastern mourning wheatear which are common around Riyadh at this time of year.

white spectacled bulbul

This was the first time I have seen a white spectacled bulbul on the east side of the city. I think it was alone as it was spending a lot of time with the local white eared bulbul.

white eared bulbul

Riyadh is still one of the few places where the range of these two species overlap though the relentless march of the white eared bulbul west will change that soon.

female type Siberian stonechat

I have learned to look closely at all wintering stonechat that I see in Saudi Arabia. The large majority in the Riyadh area are Siberian stonechat. This one at the lake appears to be one too. The hint of an eyebrow more typical of Siberian stonechat and from behind the rump looks pale and plain too.

rear of the Siberian stonechat

Two other birds of note were a pair of desert lark and a male blue rock thrush which I failed to photograph.

desert lark

Birds with an affinity for water have to be very adaptive in Saudi Arabia but for every water source which is in decline (like this lake) another one springs up somewhere else. So I am not despondent. 

After visiting the lake Bernard and I went on to Al Hayer. Al Hayer suffers from re-landscaping very regularly but  is essentially as near to a permanent water source as there is in the Riyadh area. 

No comments:

Post a Comment