Monday, 31 August 2015

Harvest Time At Al Hayer 29/8/15

Hi there, not been keeping up with blogs over the past while as I have been involved in other things of late which have taken quite a bit of time.  This does not mean I have not been birding, I have, just not been writing things up.  Part of this was work but a good deal of the cause was the purchase of a new camera and to be honest, that has been taking a lot longer to get used to than I planned.  I will try to catch up over time.

I went out on Saturday 29/8/15 to do a little birding around my local area at Al Hayer.  Akram and I have done some longer trips to AlKharj and Dammam recently so I thought just a local trip would be a bit of a rest from driving.   As I was to discover this was to be a really good day to do this and in the end I had the best day I have had at this site in quite some time.

We arrived at around 5:45am and I set out across slowly across the fields.  The crop in the lower field had been recently cut so there was a lot of barley seed about to attract the birds in, in addition the second field had quite recently been ploughed and was ready for sowing which also attracted other birds to the area.
I brought a monopod with me as one of the problems I have been having is keeping the camera steady for longer shots, the anti shake on this Canon is nothing like as good as the Lumix.

I watched a couple of House Sparrow in the bushes for a while;

when I noticed a Masked Shrike perched in a bush behind them.  This guy seemed quite relaxed and sat on the branch for quite some time.

As I came to the entrance of the lower field I noticed a flash of black and white wing as a Hoopoe took off over the top of the reeds, this was one of the two I saw this morning, unfortunately I was not fast enough to get a photo of either of them.

Overhead there were a small group of Barn Swallows darting across the sky in search of insects and when I reached the middle field there were about 25 of them in total feeding merrily.

As always the Laughing Dove was present is significant numbers, but on this occasion they were almost outnumbered by the Namaqua Doves which were quite literally everywhere.

There were also good numbers of Pigeons and Eurasian Collared Dove to be seen.

Overhead I spotted a coupe of Grey Heron a single Purple Heron and a small flock of 15 Cattle Egret, all making their way north for the day.

Along the field were the family of Common Moorhen I have spotted many times before.  There were a mix of adult and younger birds but all were full size, the younger ones had yet to moult.  This was a little different to Al Kharj a week or so ago where the young were only a few days old.

Another bird I spotted in the fields was the Indian Silverbill.  There were a good number of these spread over a largish area of the field.  I can't remember when I last saw this species around the area, definitely not since the very early part of this year.

The bushes were alive with the sounds of the tiny Graceful Prinia that chased each other around the bushes.

Also seen in good numbers were the Streaked Weaver which can be seen in great numbers around this place.
As I approached the first pumping station I heard the familiar song of the Red Avadavat, although initially I could not see it.  To my delight as I got close to the pump there were three brightly coloured males in the same bush.  A delight to watch and hear, although I did not get close enough for really good shots.

On passing the pump station I followed the sprinkler device up along the field.  Siting on the near end of this was three young Little Green Bee-Eaters which I attempted to photograph.

I then noticed a small flock of Sparrows flying up and down from the sprinkler to the field and back, but among them was a flash of white and black wing that was no Sparrow, I investigated further and found it was a Woodchat Shrike. 

I am not sure if the Sparrows were uncomfortable with his being there as he soon flew (or was chased) a little distance from them only to be replaced by a Lesser Grey Shrike.  I think at this point the sparrows decided to go somewhere else.

I walked across the road to the ploughed middle field and immediately noticed this small dark grey bird in the distance but could not make out what it was.  As I moved further up the field I spotted another then another finally seeing about 25 + Collared Pratincole spread out across the field.  Some were clearly quite young and came fairly close bit the darker coloured ones, which I assume were older, did not.

In addition to the Pratincole there were large number of Rock Dove, Feral Pigeon out in the field and occasional groups of House Sparrows and Silverbills. 

Out in the field along with the others were a number of Black Scrub Robin

and a good number of Crested Lark.

As always there were a number of White Eared Bulbul along the walk, although not nearly as many as usual in the area.  Maybe they had all congregated at the other side of the river.

The trees were alive with the sound of Sparrows but I could not see in to see which type they were.  Its funny how there can be so much chatter coming from a tree making you think the branches will be full to bursting with birds, yet you can't see them.

I continues my trek along the side of the field past the second pumping station towards a small lake which was between the two middle fields.  There are usually a few waders and the odd heron around there but alas today there was only a group of Philippine fishermen.  That said there were a couple of Stint feeding along the far end and another 4 or 5 Common Moorhen.

As I came around the side of the lake I spotted a Squacco Heron Standing out in the open and moments later a Spur Winged Lapwing (plover) landed nearby and headed straight for the shade.

By this time it was getting on for 9:30 and the heat was increasing rapidly, I decided to take the Lapwings advice and head back for the car.  I walked out towards the road spotting more Crested Lark, more Pratincole and Pigeons along the way.

Suddenly a bird flushed from the field about 20m ahead and flew by quickly back in the direction I had come from.  Luckily it landed about 50m away, so I shot back to get as close as I could.  I noticed it was not a bird I recognised at all and had a completely different Jizz.  As luck would have it I managed to get some reasonable photos of the bird and was able to tidy these up enough to see that it was a Cream Coloured Courser, a new species for me. 

A good day made brilliant is probably the best description I can use for the days birding and all from our little home patch!

Happy Days :)