Tuesday 29 April 2014

April walks from work

My walks home from work aren't as good birding as in previous seasons now that the university farm on my route has been mostly dismantled.

However I still visit the remaining gardens once or twice a week.

On Sunday afternoon, I was there when a flock of European bee-eater rested for half an hour. 
European bee-eater 

The Riyadh area including this site is odd because I see more blue-cheeked blue-eater in autumn and more European bee-eater there in spring. In my opinion their routes must be different depending on the season. 

three bee-eater

Until Sunday evening I had thought that passage birds had been really thin on my walk this spring because of the diminished size of the green area.

resident little green bee-eater

The number of sightings of the resident little green bee-eater in the area have decreased too.


During the month I have seen a pair of hoopoe on one occasion and a single on another. There used to be resident hoopoe but I haven't seen any for months until this passage month.

Turkestan shrike

Telling apart the two red tailed shrikes can be difficult. A bird seen at the university farm a week ago was particularly tricky. I believe it is a male Turkestan shrike but its underparts are not as white as average and its supercilium is weaker. Nevertheless its upper parts are quite dark and its crown is distinctly browner than its mantle. Also foxy-red as opposed to orange-red tails are more common in Turkestan shrike. Of course it could easily be an intergrade which is not rare.

willow warbler

Only a solitary warbler has been seen in my visits to the old farm since the beginning of April. This was a willow warbler. The number of warblers is possibly the biggest single difference from previous passage seasons.

The only other passage bird seen on the remnants of the farm was a common quail which I accidentally flushed and failed to relocate.  

white spectacled bulbul

Both white spectacled bulbul and white eared bulbul are hanging on in the more confined apace.

Indian silverbill

The Indian silverbill are roaming and found on the farm only occasionally now. All the silverbills I see in any location near Riyadh look worse for wear at the moment. I am not sure whether this is just moulting or whether it is the heat taking its toil.

crested lark

Spare a thought for the urban crested lark in the area which is now a major building site. Surely they can't take much more and will relocate.

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