Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Cricket Club January 10 2015

Decided to visit the quarry beside Riyadh Cricket Club to see how things have changed since I was last there and how things have changed!!  There is very little of the lake left as most has now evaporated away, yet surprisingly the bird numbers and range of species is only a little down on when I first visited here in September 2013.  In terms of quantity the Little Grebe and Coot take pride of place on the lake.

little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Little Grebe numbers are still around 100 despite the lake now being less that a fifth of its size.  I expect that this lake will be gone in the next 12 months unless something unexpected happens and we will see where this little population head to then.

eurasian coot (Fulica atra),
The Coots numbered about 60 which is also in or around the same number as was there a year ago.

trumpeter finch (Bucanetes githagineus)

trumpeter finch (Bucanetes githagineus)
Next on the hall of fame for numbers at least were the little Trumpeter Finch which I have not seen in this area before.  On the day there was a little flock of about 25 of these little birds, males now sporting their distinctive red bills. 

white-spectacled bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos
Along with the usual complement of White Eared Bulbul there were 5 or 6 Spectacled Bulbul on site too.  We have spotted a few of these around before but their numbers seem to be slowly increasing in the area.  Will have to keep an eye on that.

hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)
Funny enough, I had just though before I left the house that I had not seen any Hypocolius at all this year in the area.  It might have been because they are all located somewhere else around town but anyway there were a couple on site this morning.

blackstart (Cercomela melanura)

The Blackstart is fairly common about these parts and this morning they were in abundance.  I spotted 9 or 10 in a small area a little to the east of the quarry.  I have seen one or two around here before but not that many.

crested lark (Galerida cristata)
The crested Lark was reasonably well represented although these are never in huge numbers they seem to be doing fine around the quarry despite all of the heavy traffic being generated by the new road construction.  That said I suppose this area suits them very well as it is semi desert with low bushes and mounds of dirt to perch on.

little green bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
A couple of Little Green Bee Eaters were also about but here again there were not that many considering the number of bugs there are around the quarry.

 pale crag martin (Ptyonoprogne obsoleta)
The Pale Crag Martin was very active in the area today.  These guys are resident here with the high sides of the quarry providing them with roosting and nesting sites while what is left of the lake gives rise to a plentiful supply of bugs.  

white wagtail (Motacilla alba)
As always we have our visitors to the area, the White Wagtail being about in small numbers, although on this day were particularly difficult to photograph, somehow managing to get under something, behind something..... every time I pressed the shutter.  Oh well, what to do, get the best you can from a bad lot of pics :).
black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

There were a very small number of wading birds around today, I saw only 4 Black Winged Stilts and a couple of sandpipers, clearly the reducing water levels are forcing them to go elsewhere

Further up on the ridge was a small flock of Rock Pigeon which I think are resident in the area.  The crevasses in the sandstone making ideal sites for them to roost and nest.

rock pigeon (Columba livia)

A small flock of Spanish sparrows were busily foraging in the undergrowth.


spanish sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

spanish sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

In addition to the above there were a good number of Laughing Dove which are everywhere around the city and the sound of the Graceful Prinia was to be heard in among the dead reeds although I did not get a clear photo of them.  Another interesting days birding is a little sad as this used to be a good place for birding near Riyadh.

My next few blog reports will be from my visits to the Gambia in Mid January.  This is my second visit and am so looking forward to it as its a fantastic birding country.

Species List.

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