Thursday, 5 March 2015

Al Hayer Walk

I took a walk along my usual route on Saturday the 21st of February to see what was about.  I had a little more time this week so could take my time along the route.  The temperatures were low this morning, well 8 degrees C is cold for Riyadh but the birds were very active by the time I arrived at 7:15am. 

White-cheeked Bulbul ( Pycnonotus leucogenys)
As always waiting to greet me at the gate to the fields was our old friend the White Cheeked Bulbul.  There were quite a few about today but this one was showing signs of feeling the cold.

 laughing dove (Stigmatopelia senegalensis)
Another common sight all round the area was the Laughing Dove, I see these on every birding walk and everywhere else around Riyadh too but rarely show them on the blog.  I suppose being so familiar we can tend to forget how beautiful they are.

European stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
One of our visitors that has been about for the past few weeks is the Stonechat.  These guys spend most of their time in the fields and are very curious.  This fine male was in the middle of the field but there were about 8 in the field.

European stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
A little further along by the roadside a female was surveying the area with a keen eye. 

white-throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
Further down the field I came across this chap giving me a little fashion parade, front view, then...

white-throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

Rear view!  I thought this was a little unusual as you don't often see these guys on the ground, their more usual perch on the sprinklers was only 10 meters away.  Anyway he may have been showing off to the female up in the tree.

white-throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
Although to be fair these two may not have been male and female, I really did not get close enough to tell (the difference between the sexes is marginal) but over the past few weeks I have seen them on the sprinkler together too so I'm guessing they are a pair. (oh by the way one of these two is the bird from the earlier picture, he flew up to the tree a few seconds after I took the shot).

Marsh harriers (Circus aeruginosus)
A couple of Marsh Harriers were patrolling their territory as usual.

Spanish sparrow or willow sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

And there were a number of small flocks of Spanish Sparrow (4 flocks of 6 to 8 birds were seen).

little egret (Egretta garzetta)
The Little Egret was in his usual perch too, no sign of the Cattle Egret at all here this week.

green bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
The Little Green Bee Eaters were out again this week, I saw abut half a dozen of these during my walk each performing their aerobatics to catch flying insects then perching for a little rest.

common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Way off in the distance there was a lone Kestrel hunting in the fields.  I am pretty sure it was a Common Kestrel though it was too far off to get any form of detailed look.

graceful prinia (Prinia gracilis)
As always the Graceful Prinia were busy around the reed beds making their usual high pitched calls and flitting about.

bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
One of our migrant visitors was also about in fair numbers this week, the Bluethroat with its odd blue bib.  There were quite a few of these about this week I think I counted 8 or 9 in the walk, they will be continuing up north soon.

black scrub-robin (Cercotrichas podobe)
The Black Scrub Robin shows up at some point on every walk though rarely in the same place.  I am not sure if the ones I am seeing are resident, as I think some sub species are, or if the ones I see are different ones passing through.

Daurian shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
The Daurian Shrike was also about today, I saw 3 or 4 of these in my travels today, they are always about though not in huge numbers.

Oh and I guess I should mention I saw 6 or 7 Snipe in the river.  No photos, yep you guessed it they saw me first.  In fact I spotted two huddled less that 20 ft awaybut they were watching me intensively, the minute I moved the camera they were history.  Some day!!!

As ever it was a fun morning and added to that the excitement of the Barn Swallows which I have documented in a previous blog and which will take up a bit of my time over the next few weeks.  Nothing really new today but then it does not have to be new in my little birding world!  They are brilliant to watch even if I have seen them a thousand times before and there is always something interesting going on.







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