Monday, 19 May 2014

Wadi Haly revisited

Over last weekend, I was in Muhayil, south west Saudi Arabia again to visit my friend Shane Ngahere.

On Friday a group of four of us went to Wadi Haly to walk and to in my case to bird watch too.

We were in the wadi from 7.30 am until 2 pm. It was even hotter than we expected. One colleague left for home at 9.30 am and all three of the rest of us suffered some degree of heat stroke before a car came at the appointed time to collect us.

I had not expected these extreme conditions. Nevertheless the birding was good but mostly until about 10 am. After that the heat affected bird activity too.


Wadi Haly was the first place I saw hamerkop in Saudi Arabia and there were several seen again on Friday with ease.

Squacco heron

Squacco heron were also seen again. I noticed that none of them were in breeding plumage unlike the passage and resident birds seen in the Riyadh area and east coast recently.

white throated bee-eater

Some of the summer breeders from Africa have now arrived in the south west.

One of these is white throated bee-eater.

little green bee-eater taking off

They have joined the resident little green bee-eater at Wadi Haly.

little green bee-eater perched

In a shaded dip running parallel with the main wadi I came across another African migrant, a grey headed kingfisher

grey headed kingfisher

The wadi had less water than during my last visit in February. It was dry in places but mostly held water and in some places this was still quite wide.

Wadi Haly water course

No waders were seen this time. The water was still deep enough in one place to attract a lone little grebe, a bird which requires metre deep water.

local baboons

The availability  of water in this heat made the wadi attractive to baboons. I believe there were at least 150 present in several troops. This made birding a little more hazardous.

sand partridge

In one area, sand partridge were abundant but very difficult to photograph as usual.

laughing dove

I don't recall seeing any African collared dove but there were plenty of laughing dove around.

desert lark

The only lark observed this time was desert lark but they were very common. 

No buntings were seen.  In February both cinnamon breasted bunting and striolated bunting were observed. 

This is the opposite of my observations on my visits to Abha (at high altitude) where no buntings were seen in winter there but they were common in May.

It is fairly clear the these two buntings descent in winter and move up for summer.  

black crowned night heron

One of the last birds I saw before the end of the trip was black crowned night heron. Four landed near the water course. However my slow reactions due to exhaustion meant I only photographed them leaving.

The rest of the birding over the weekend was carried out towards dusk and early morning. I'll blog about them next.

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