Monday 28 April 2014

The rest of the day at East Salbukh

From 10 am until I left East Salbukh wetland, it was very hot and bird activity dropped off. 

Nevertheless even in the unrelenting heat, there were some good moments.

The trip ended well with a European roller being almost the last bird I saw as I completed the circuit round the wetland.

European roller

This bird was remarkably tame for a roller. At one stage it looked at me and still decided to stay. Normally they fly on the slightest whim.

European roller looking at me

Getting back to other birds, I was still seeing a few waders as I walked round. The most common was Kentish plover followed by little ringed plover and wood sandpiper.

little stint
A single little stint was seen.

curlew sandpiper

I got a distant view of another sandpiper. Looking at its bill with such a  broad base and with an apparent kink at the tip, my first reaction was broad billed sandpiper. However the beginnings of a purple breast cannot be disregarded. This bird was a curlew sandpiper

grey heron

The heron family was represented once again. This week though I didn't see a single squacco heron.  However grey heron were there again and so was my first purple heron at this spot.

purple heron

At one of the lakes at the northern end of wetlands, two little bittern flew across the far side from me twice. Both times they were to quick for my camera.

one of the lakes at Salbukh

In this same area were several common moorhen and a European reed warbler was briefly seen out of cover.

red throated pipit

Only two yellow wagtail were observed on Friday but their regular fellow traveller, red throated pipit numbers were still high.

Towards the end of my walk, I came across a highly mobile flock of sparrows which just would't let me any where near close, not even close enough to positively identify them.  It contained about 100 birds and was closely knit. 

It didn't contain a single adult male house sparrow. I would have been able to pick them out even at long distance.

"sparrows" at great distance

I still don't know for sure whether they were all young house sparrow or a mix of pale rock sparrow with house sparrow dropping in and out of the flock.

I have not witnessed this behaviour in house sparrow before although I have seen something similar in Spanish sparrow flocks.

sparrows on the move

Having finally lost the sparrow flock towards the end of the walk was my first Turkestan shrike of the day and my second barred warbler.

Turkestan shrike

This walk was exhausting as the temperatures rose during the day to nearly 40C. I have vowed this will be my last long walk taking in the afternoon in the Riyadh area until October. It's very early starts for the long sessions from now on.

Having said this, all these long summer walks whether starting early or not keep me as fit as a subscription at Fitnesstime Gyms in Saudi or say a Sprinters Sports Centre in the UK. 

The birds seen at East Salbokh on Firday

Little bittern
European roller
Grey heron
European bee-eater
Purple heron
Barn swallow
Turkestan shrike
Curlew sandpiper
White eared bulbul
Terek sandpiper
Desert lark
Wood sandpiper
Crested lark
Little stint
Graceful prinia
Kentish plover
Willow warbler
Little ringed plover
Barred warbler
Common snipe
Rufous tailed rock thrush
Laughing dove
House sparrow
Collared dove
Yellow wagtail
Namaqua dove
Red throated pipit

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