Today I took the well trod path south to Ha'ir pivot fields which is my not so local patch but the nearest decent birding area to the city.
I arrived a bit late at 7.00 a.m. It's probably advisable top get there about 5.00 this time of year as by 11.00 it was about 42 c and a bit too hot to slog around the fields.
Within two minutes of arriving I found two new KSA birds for my list. A great reed warbler skulking around the tree line to the pivot field was a good find. Not overly common on passage in the UAE and I'm not really sure of the status of the species here although it's demeanor and location suggested it was a migrant.
Second new bird for the country was one of several blue-cheeked bee-eater, a locally common summer visitor in the UAE but one that I'd had trouble finding on two previous visits to Ha'ir over this summer.
The next migrant that caught my attention was a common cuckoo being mobbed by common myna as it flew along the irrigation pipes.
I then walked the length of the riverside reed beds and soon flushed an adult little bittern that had left the cover of vegetation.
A new bird for me at the site was a whiskered tern. They frequent irrigated fields throughout Arabia but it was the first tern or gull species I've seen in the Riyadh area. I saw a second bird later in the morning. Both were lazily hawking insects over the fields. Also overhead for the first couple of hours at least were large numbers of barn swallow and sand martin (the latter giving a good count of c. 150) with four collared pratincole gliding higher above them.
|Southern grey shrike|
Three species of shrike were present in the fields, several southern grey shrike, two lesser grey shrike and a single adult red backed shrike, the latter two species certainly passing through on migration.
On the sandy edges of the irrigated areas five isabelline wheatear were recent arrivals among the more common crested lark.
The fields at Ha'ir are irrigated by water pumped out of the nearby river which is a run off of waste water from Riyadh. Faulty irrigation motors can lead to areas being over watered and in one field was a large marshy area that held five wood sandpiper and single common snipe and kentish plover. Also in the damp area were the first migrant yellow wagtail of the autumn. The last pivot field still held two adult feldegg ssp. yellow wagtail which I think probably bred there. There were several young near them but no proof that they weren't migrants too.
After birding the fields I took a breather in the car and drove a mile or so west to where the river side can be accessed. There wasn't much in the way of birds except common moorhen but I did manage to photograph a couple of dragonflies perched by the waters edge.
A full list of the 39 species of bird seen can be found HERE on e-Bird.