Saturday, 14 March 2015

Al Hayer in March

Took a walk along my usual route on March 7th and had some interesting encounters along the way.
 I did make one small adjustment though, before I entered the lower field I went a bit further down the road and found a small lake just off the road a bit,  Surrounded by some bushes and trees it was a perfect site for birding.  I spotted about 5 or 6 Little Grebe and a couple of Mallard on the lake

common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

and 4 Moorhen, one with some very young chicks which she was clucking away at as I walked by. 

white-throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
A little further along I heard the tell tale squawk of a White Throated Kingfisher but where was he?  Eventually I spotted him high in a tree living up to his family traits as one of the Tree Kingfishers and singing his early morning song to all who would listen.

house sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Another group of early risers were the House Sparrows of which there were a goodly number about.

grey heron (Ardea cinerea),

And overhead flew a lone Grey Heron.  Thee were surprisingly few herons about today, but a nice selection as you will see shortly.

greater spotted eagle (Clanga clanga)
The Greater Spotted Eagle was also up fairly early but then I suppose the temperatures are rising now so they are not having to fly quite as much.  Every now and then they just sail through the air checking out whats going on below.  The local Marsh Harriers were about too but I could not get a good view of them over the reeds

Namaqua dove (Oena capensis)
Namaqua doves and Laughing doves were about in large numbers this week, I think thee were more Namaqua Doves than usual but it may be because I was in a newish area for part of the walk.

little green bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
Our old friends the Little Green Bee Eaters were out in good numbers too, I think this was a fairly young one or had just fluffed up its feathers for preening or whatever.

graceful prinia (Prinia gracilis)
And apologies for the slightly fuzzy picture but got sight of this Graceful Prinia with lunch jumping from branch to branch in the undergrowth.  This is the best photo I could capture on the day.

In addition to our regulars thee were a good number of migrant visitors about the place;

bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
There were a good number of Bluethroat about the area both males and females, this one photo I picked out as he was particularly well dressed for his visit to our beautiful site.

grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Another particularly well dressed visitor to the site was this male Grey Wagtail, I'm not sure if I have see one quite so brightly marked before.  Only one was spotted today but what a spot eh!

white wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Another common visitor to the area is the White Wagtail.  there were a few about this week but not as many as a couple of weeks back.

hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Then as I rounded the corner of my walk entering the fields of my usual trail I spotted a little chap I had not seen about these parts for quite some time.  The Hoopoe is a gorgeous bird with its long bill and crest and black and while markings.  There were actually quite a few about today as others were spotted further along the walk.

Now for a couple of warblers I spotted.  I will tell you honestly that my heart almost sinks these days when I get photos of many of these as I really cannot get to grips with identifying them, its even worse when you go on birdforum and someone just whacks in an id making it sound obvious. Anyway moan over, here goes, do feel free to correct my efforts.

common chiffchaff, (Phylloscopus collybita)

A Chiffchaff I believe, heading north for the summer.

This one we believe is a Reed Warbler but not too sure which one.  Maybe some clever person out there can be a bit more precise.

Turkestan Shrike, (Lanius isabellinus phoenicuroides)
Turkestan Shrike striking a pose, his sleek form and light brown head differentiate him from his close cousin the Daurian.  There were a good few of both birds about today but I think that may be due to my adding a new element to my walk.

Daurian shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
Daurian Shrike with his slightly dumpier appearance and grey head.  I did try to get a better picture of this guy but he was having none of it.

Siberian stonechat (Saxicola maurus)
I am opting for a Siberian Stonechat female here.  I find it difficult to tell these apart and am going on the warm sandy breast and underparts with a slight twinge of a supercilium.  But this one is not making life easy, well for me anyhow.  Corrections or advice from the floor gratefully received!!

Siberian stonechat (Saxicola maurus)
A more mature female Siberian, I think.
Siberian stonechat (Saxicola maurus)
Siberian Stonechat male, I think i am on slightly safer ground with this one.

streaked weaver (Ploceus manyar)
Streaked Weaver Male and oh yes they are really in the mood for love.  There were dozens about and this was a very quick one off shot as they are tearing about the place right now chasing off other males.  Honestly the bushes are a hive of activity.
streaked weaver (Ploceus manyar)
Streaked Weaver Female, watching the action with interest!!

squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides)
A Squacco Heron feeding at the edge of the crop, I only saw one of these today and its a little unsual for them to come out into the open when feeding in fields like this,  either way the photo is a longish range one as between me and him was nothing but open ground.  Nice to see though.
 cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Cattle Egret were here in small numbers today, there had been a little rain overnight so the sprinklers were not on today.  I expect I would have seen more had the sprinkler been operating.

little egret (Egretta garzetta)
Our old friend the Little Egret was also perched in his favourite place watching the world go by.  I only saw one of these at a bit of a distance today.

Barn Swallow Update

As you may be aware I have been monitoring a small community of Barn Swallows which have set up nests in an old farm building about 20km south of Riyadh. 

Over the past two weeks there have been more eggs laid and the number of nests has increased by 2 there are now 9, 2 of which are not being used.  5 have eggs and sitting parents and from what I can see each have 4 eggs.  Fingers crossed for some chicks appearing over the next few weeks.

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