Tuesday 20 May 2014

North Muhayil

After the over exertion during the heat of the day at Wadi Haly near Muhayil, South West Saudi Arabia, I chose to go out birding again on Friday only after five thirty.  

I had less than 90 minutes birding before the sunset but at least the temperatures were bearable.

Nile valley sunbird

The area I visited had changed since last time. Much of the scrub has been removed. It looks like the area will soon be developed for housing. This will mark the end of urban birding in the centre of the town.

However at the moment at least there are still possibilities. On my short evening walk one of the highlights was an extremely tame Nile valley sunbird dancing all around me. I assume it was young bird rather than adult female by its confiding nature.

second view of Nile valley sunbird

The male in breeding plumage, which they are in at the moment, is a completely different looking bird.

male Nile valley sunbird

A feature of this area is the number of doves. Whilst I didn't see a single African collared dove this time at Wadi Haly, there were plenty in the town. Likewise with Namaqua dove.

African collared dove

In contrast laughing dove were seen at both places.

Namaqua dove

White throated bee-eater were common on the wires. I couldn't get enough of this attractive east African bird.

white throated bee-eater

White spectacled bulbul is adapted to both urban and rural environments in the west of Saudi Arabia. The bird below wasn't fully fledged. It was begging for food from near by adults.

white spectacled bulbul

On all of the three occasions now I have seen a lone helmeted guineafowl in roughly the same place. It clearly isn't penned but why it lingers so close to people I don't know. The main feral population is near Abu Arish a long way south but birds have been claimed not too far from Muhayil.

helmeted guineafowl

As it started to get dark, I noticed a large number of Rueppell's weaver and house sparrow were gathering together to roost in some acacia thickets. I have seen them roosting together elsewhere in the south west. Indeed on one occasion, Arabian golden sparrow, which isn't present in Muhayil, joined them.

Rueppell's weaver

In small numbers, Dideric cuckoo is found to parasite Rueppell's weaver in the highland area of south west Saudi Arabia. I suspect the main reason it doesn't in areas like Muhayil is because it doesn't arrive in Saudi Arabia until their breeding (and most other passerines) is finished. The communal roosting was one of many signs that breeding has finished. In the highlands it's just starting.

roost of house sparrow and Rueppell's weaver

As the light was rapidly fading, one of the last birds I saw was a white browed coucal in a tall tree.

white browed coucal at dusk

On Saturday morning, I learned from Friday's mistake and birded early. I was out just past dawn and finished by ten. This time I visited a local upland which contributed some new birds for the weekend and one very interesting one. I will blog about this next.. 

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