Thursday, 26 February 2015

Al Hayer 30115

After my little vacation to the Gambia I decided I would take a look around my little patch at Al Hayer to see what has been happening since I was away on on a cool morning on January 30th I headed down at around 6:15am.  Clearly we are entering the spring period here as the Graceful Prinia were high in the trees singing their hearts out and there was evidence of a slight increase in the number of birds as I think the passage season is slowly starting.

white-eared bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis)
My constant companion on pretty much every birding trip around the area are the White Cheeked Bulbul which are very common in the Al Hayer area along with the most of Riyadh and surrounding areas.  There are the odd White Spectacled Bulbul starting to appear but still in pretty small numbers.

purple heron (Ardea purpurea)
As always there were a good number of Purple Heron, as noted before these are generally seen at this time of the morning flying north in singles or small groups possible heading further up river.

european stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
The European Stonechat is a regular passage visitor to the area, despite what my Helm Guide says, and generally is very inquisitive.  They perch on top of low bushes and sticks and watch what the birder is up to, sometimes letting us get quite close.  Over the course of the walk I saw about 8 or 9 of these and sometimes more appear in the fields around this time of year.

graceful prinia (Prinia gracilis)
All over the area in virtually every bush were the delightful Graceful Prinia, as I mentioned above there was a definite sign of increased activity among these guys as we are entering the breeding season.  They are not normally quiet but seemed particularly noisy today with many more out in the open at the top of reeds and bushes singing loudly. Love is in the air methinks :).

white-throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
The White Throated Kingfisher was back in pride of place on the sprinklers again this week.  I had not seen them for a little while although, it is a pretty big reed bed and I can only see a small part of it.

black-winged stilt, (Himantopus himantopus)

As I progressed along my walk a small flock of 12 Black Winged Stilt flew over.  As ever I struggle with photos of birds on the wing so this is a fleeting image but I think you can still make them out, the long trailing legs are a bit of a giveaway.

Namaqua dove (Oena capensis)
At the edge of a field I came across this pair of Namaqua Dove feeding.  They noticed me coming but were not too bothered by my presence staying until well after I had passed.

common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Not far from there I spotted this Common Kestrel hunting.  It had taken up station on this bush and was making short forays down to the edge of the crop and back.  This guy is around the area quite a bit.

black scrub-robin (Cercotrichas podobe)
The Black Scrub Robin is a resident around these parts though their residence is a little patchy and even here they are sometimes plentiful while at others they are quite scarce.  A nice bird to watch though generally they have their tails up.

little egret (Egretta garzetta)

Another fairly common sight in the area is the Little Egret.  You can see these about the place pretty much any time of the day, unlike their relatives the Cattle Egret which seem to show up in largish numbers to feed and bathe when the sprinklers are working only to vanish again once they are switched off.

 crested lark (Galerida cristata)
The Crested Lark is definitely a very common bird in the area.  You will almost always see at least one but you will definitely hear many many more out in the fields where they forage around in the crop out of sight.  Every now and then something will disturb them and they fly up into the air about 20 feet before plunging back into the crop.
little green bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
As always no trip to the area would be complete without a couple of Little Green Bee Eaters appearing as the day gets warmer.  You almost never see these until mid morning, presumably because that is when the bugs start to become most active, once out they perch on a suitable spot and make periodic flights displaying their orange, kite like wings as they swoop on prey then returning to the perch to rest.

house sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Our resident flocks of Sparrows were active as ever all over the site.  We get three types here regularly, the House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow and the Arabian Golden Sparrow the latter are in fairly small numbers the other two can be seen in good sized flocks.  I understand that the Arabian Golden Sparrow may actually be escapes rather than a local population, it will be interesting to see how they do.

Daurian shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
The Daurian Shrike were out in force again today, I think I spotted about 8 or 9 of them along the walk

spotted flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
This one has me foxed a bit.  My gut feeling is a Spotted Flycatcher but I could be wrong there.

Finally an ID thanks to my friends on Bird Forum a nice Blue throat, I probably would have made a better fist of identifying it if it had turned around lol.  I also spotted a small number of Barn Swallow feeding over the fields but did not manage to catch a photo but it reminded me it was time to look back at a spot where we found some nests. Perhaps they might have decided to come back and stay a while. This lead to a very exciting discovery. Watch this space for an update.

Anyway another great day out.

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