Today I did the same trip as yesterday with the hope of a few different birds.
The raptor roost at the KATSC Fish Project today held 98 black kite, another Saudi record count and a blackstart put in an appearance at Ha'ir rubbish tip.
Ha'ir pivot fields were much the same except a juvenile imperial eagle soared overhead. And for the first time since I arrived here in December I failed to add any new birds to by Saudi list, but I did get some nice photos especially of an obliging bluethroat.
This morning I took a drive along the wadi between Dirab and Ha'ir and finished with a long walk around the Ha'ir pivot fields.
The two rubbish dumps in the wadi didn't hold much of note except a hoopoe, a couple of desert lark and a single adult white-crowned black wheatear. But trees and irrigation equipment around the KATC Fish Farm were teeming with 87 black kite still roosting in the early dawn light plus a juvenile eastern imperial eagle for good measure. The black kite count is the highest I've seen for Saudi Arabia.
Part of the black kite roost
As usual the pivots fields were hard work but I hiked across several of them and was rewarded with an almost adult male pallid harrier, two adult male marsh harrier, several desert wheatear, another juvenile eastern imperial eagle and a good count of 22 squacco heron by the pools.
I had another visit to Ha'ir via the wadi from Dirab and visited the rubbish dumps again and checked the trees by the fish farm for raptors.
The first dump held the juvenile white-crowned black wheatear but no sign of the parent birds. There were also two blackstart and a pair of brown-necked raven flew over. The fish farm trees again held black kite, this time three individuals. The second dump (nearer Old Ha'ir village) held two adult white-crowned black wheatear and a couple of desert lark.
I spent several hours hiking around Ha'ir pivot fields where the best bird was a common quail that I kicked up from the alfalfa. Raptors were accounted for by five common kestrel and two adult male marsh harrier. A single flock of 193 northern lapwing may be the highest count yet for central Saudi Arabia.
Southern grey shrike
Dirab rubbish tip
1 White-crowned black wheatear
2 Brown-necked raven
Ha'ir rubbish tip
2 White-crowned black wheatear
2 Desert lark
2 Crested lark
5 African rock martin
Najran didn't prove to be the mountain birding hotspot I had hoped. It was more of a dusty high desert plateau and birding was hard work in the fields around the town and at the dam which was almost totally devoid of birdlife. Ah well, Saudi Arabia is so underwatched that it takes some exploring to sort out the decent areas.
I arrived on Wednesday afternoon and had a short walk in the fields behind the Crown Hotel where I was staying and soon caught up with a male Ruppells weaver and a couple of African silverbill.
The next day I had a driver who took me up to the dam some 30 kms west of town on the Yemeni border. The area around the dam itself was practically devoid of birds save for a few african rock martin and some feral pigeon. There was no water behind the dam and only a small stream in front of it which held several blackstart and a single house bunting. Not long after arriving we were sent on our way by the police even though we had already been waved through a check point further down the road.
We stopped for a walk along the river as it wound its way under the first bridge back into town and picked up a few green sandpiper and two fan-tailed raven.
The next day I explored the fields behind the Crown Hotel in more depth and found nile valley sunbird, shining sunbird and african collared dove.