Thursday, 29 December 2011

Al Monsor Dairy Farm, Saudi Arabia

Today I visited another site outside Riyadh with Rob Tovey. Our Saudi friend Abdullah had kindly got permission for us to visit Al Mansoor Dairy Farm. It is a private farm occupying approximately 400 ha. 100 kms. SE of Riyadh. As is common practice in the middle east the cows are kept in pens all year round and fed with fodder grown on site in irrigated fields.

From the air

The cattle sheds

The pivot fields
We stayed the night at the farmhouse and were up and ready to go at dawn after a breakfast that included some of the farms own milk.

The first birds of interest were the noisy spur-winged plover that were found among the cows in their pens together with several little ringed plover. Then as we stood planning our method of attack a sparrowhawk flashed past chasing a flock of house sparrow into a large barn. It fled 'empty handed'.

The farm has its own long established water collection ponds scattered around the property and these proved to attract a variety of waders including ringed ploverwood sandpiper, little stint and a lone redshank. Rob found a large flock of chestnut-bellied sandgrouse which flew in to feed on one of the ploughed fields. A damp fringe to one of the pivot fields held plenty of white wagtail, a couple of citrine wagtail and my first saudi yellow wagtail. But of more interest was a small flock of desert finch, my 6th lifer in KSA in under a month but a bird I'm bound to see a lot more of. Also among the spoil heaps at the side of the field were several desert wheatear, a common bird at the farm.

Desert wheatear
Next I explored some of the drier areas. A flock of lesser short-toed lark flew over with their characteristic call. The chestnut-bellied sandgrouse flock was now mobile and three cream-coloured courser scurried across the gravel escarpment near the farms boundary fence. Abdullah then found and showed me a wryneck, this is the second I've seen this month so they may be wintering in the KSA in healthy numbers.

At the very moment I commented to Abdullah that raptor numbers seemed low we saw an eagle we hadn't noticed before take off from a ploughed area, soon followed by three more eagles. We dashed across in the car kicking up dust all the way to find two eastern imperial eagle together with two steppe eagle.

Steppe eagle
We left after a great day in the field but the raptor action wasn't over. Just outside the farm we came across another steppe eagle resting on a pylon, then two battling eastern imperial eagle and finally another two steppe eagles.

Steppe eagle
The whole Kharj area is proving to be extremely productive and now we have a base we'll be returning very soon.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ FULL LIST _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

100 Cattle egret
1 Sparrowhawk
6 Steppe eagle
3 Imperial eagle
3 Kestrel
1 Moorhen
25 Spur-winged plover
1 Kentish plover
10 Ringed plover
2 Little ringed plover
2 Black-winged stilt
1 Common sandpiper
8 Green sandpiper
12 Wood sandpiper
1 Redshank
10 Little stint
2 Temminck's stint
25 Snipe
3 Cream-coloured courser
63 Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse
20 Rock dove
300 Collared dove
100 Laughing dove
70 Namaqua dove
2 Green bee-eater
2 Hoopoe
1 Wryneck
2 Daurian shrike
1 Southern grey shrike
1 Steppe grey shrike
6 Lesser short-toed lark
70 Crested lark
3 Skylark
6 White-cheeked bulbul
2 Graceful prinia
5 Desert warbler
1 Black bush-chat
5 Bluethroat
1 Stonechat
2 Mourning wheatear
40 Desert wheatear
30 Isabelline wheatear
4 Yellow wagtail
3 Citrine wagtail
200 White wagtail
20 tawny pipit
8 Desert finch
250 House sparrow
180 Spanish sparrow
2 Indian silverbill

1 comment:

  1. subhanallah...its really great,,cz i've just known right now that desert can be used for plant production...