Friday, 20 July 2012

Another trip to Ha'ir

The extreme heat in Saudi at this time of year doesn't lend itself to exploring pastures new so I spent Friday morning at Ha'ir pivot fields again south east of Riyadh. A good find was the osprey that over wintered on the river but apart from that there wasn't much about. It shouldn't be too long until autumn migrants start passing through though.

Male namaqua dove

Carmine darter

A full list of the 21 species of bird seen is HERE on e-Bird

Thursday, 19 July 2012


Still slow on the bird front, summer visitors to this part of the world are understandably few. But I did see a couple of pallid swift at Ha'ir pivot fields which could be early migrants. Barn swallow were hawking over the cut grass in good numbers with plenty of locally fledged young sporting their short tail streamers.

One thing this part of the world isn't short of is dragonflies. The run off pools around the edges of the fields provide good hunting grounds for these aerial masters. The commonest of the odonata species is the slender skimmer but more easy to see with their bright scarlet bodies is the carmine darter.

Carmine darter

Slender skimmer

A full list of the 19 species of birds seen is HERE on e-Bird.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Braving the heat in Saudi

As the thermometer is creeping up to the high forties here in Riyadh it takes extra effort to get out birding and being summer there are fewer birds around anyway. But I dragged myself out of bed at 4 a.m. to see what was around the Ha'ir pivot fields south east of the city equipped with my newly serviced and returned camera and long lens.

The haze kept a lot of the heat off but the reeds were fairly quiet although but I soon added eastern olivaceous warbler to my KSA list, a bird that's a fairly common summer visitor to these parts. The reeds also held a small party of red avadavat still mostly in their striking summer plumage together with a couple of drabber juvenile birds and a few (caspian) reed warbler. From the fields a single common quail was heard with it's distinctive 'wet my lips' call.

Caspian reed warbler

Waders were few and far between but I did boot a green sandpiper from what remains of the winter run off pools at the edge of the fields which also held about 50 moorhen.

In the last field I visited I soon found a pair (?) of feldegg yellow wagtail indicating they had at least tried to breed. As far as I know yellow wagtails breeding was only confirmed in KSA about ten years ago so that was a good find. But most interesting was a group of five plovers darting about a dry patch in the middle of the field. They suggested little ringed plover but I only got the briefest of views before they flew off in a tight flock never to be seen again. They gave a distinctive p'choo call, unlike little ringed plover. It's possible they were Kittlitz plover and I will have a good look for them next week.

A full day list is on e-bird HERE

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Blakeney seals

On a recent (and increasingly rare) trip back to England I visited some good friends at Blakeney on the North Norfolk coast. The whole coast is a birding paradise with Cley, Holme and Titchwell all close. I took a trip out on my friends boat to the tip of Blakeney Point where there is a colony of both grey seal and common seal.

It was a fairly choppy day and on the way out we saw sandwich tern, common tern and little tern together with common seabirds such as common gull and cormorant.

there were a good number of seals at the point basking in the sun and several of the more inquisitive individuals came out to have a look at our boat giving plenty of photo opportunities.

Common seal

Grey seal

Grey seal

Common seals

Common gull

Common tern

Grey seal

Grey seal

The seal colony