Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Al Hayer desert November 22nd

On Saturday 22/11/14 I went back to the Al Hayer area I usually frequent but decided on this occasion to take a walk on the desert side of the river which is on the western side.  We arrived around 6am and I headed on the roadway up by the farmyard and immediately noticed the racket being generated by an unusual number of White Cheeked Bulbul.  They are not rare in the region by any means but I do not remember ever seeing this many congregating in the same area.  I decided to spend a little time and count them.  In the little stretch of reeds between the road and the field (about 150 meters) I counted 142 birds.

white-eared bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis)

Among these, and an unusual visitor was a single White Spectacled Bulbul.  These are much more common in the south west and as far as I can remember it is only the second or third I have seen in the Riyadh area.

white spectacled bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmos)

white spectacled bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmos)

There were a number of Streaked Weavers about but nothing like the numbers I had seen earlier in the month.  This could, of course, be because they do not like this side of the river as there is little food on the desert side.
streaked weaver (Ploceus manyar)

As always there was a little contingent of Little Green Bee Eaters.  There is no shortage of bugs about at the moment so they are very active.

green bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
green bee-eater (Merops orientalis)

Further along in the river where it opens up a little breaking free of the strangling reeds there was a small number of Coots.  We get to see these here from time to time but its difficult to know how many there are as there could easily be many more in among the inaccessible area of the reeds. Today I spotted two.

Eurasian coot (Fulica atra)

Much more common in the area are the Moorhen which definitely breed in the area, on this side I only saw 5 but I know that there are a considerable number in the reeds and a small family which stays mostly on the opposite side of the river.

common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

There were not very many waders about on the river on this visit, in fact these two XXX are all I saw.  It may be that they were all on the other side. (need to check on these)

The resident Marsh Harriers were patrolling the reeds as usual, this one stopped for a break

Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
A couple of curious White Wagtails popped by to see what I was up to. they ran about a bit looking for bits on the ground before flying off again

white wagtail (Motacilla alba)

A single Turkestan Shrike sat for a while watching the goings on by the river

Turkestan Shrike (Lanius isabellinus phoenicuroides)

As did a few members of the dove family, the Feral Pigeon showing up in all its finery, its funny how we can overlook these really stunning birds just because they are so common.

Feral pigeons (Columba livia domestica),
And of course the Laughing dove, a regular around these parts, although in the context of this walk they are more correctly titled the Palm Dove as these ones spend most of their time feeding among the palm groves which were close by.
laughing dove (Stigmatopelia senegalensis)
Also seen but not photographed was a single Common Kingfisher, a Grey Heron and a Purple Heron.

Species List 
White Eared Bulbul
Turkestan Shrike
Spectacled Bulbul
Feral Pigeon
Little Green Bee Eater
Laughing Dove
Eurasian Coot
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Marsh Harrier
 Streaked Weaver
White Wagtail

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