Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Golden Patch

Returned to my usual walk around the fields at Al Hayer starting at 6:30am on Saturday 24th of October.  The weather was cool at around 28 degrees C and there was a heavy mist.  I have chosen the title to this blog because for the past 3 or 4 visits I have had new birds each time.  Its my home patch here in Saudi Arabia but generally never fails to turn up something new or interesting.

Almost the first shot of the day revealed that you can get two or three birds with one..... Two Blue Cheeked Bee Eaters, a Collard Dove and three Little Green Bee Eaters all in a row.  Light was not great but fun to watch.

white-eared bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis)

And as always on a birding visit anywhere around Riyadh, the White Eared Bulbul were all around watching closely.

red avadavat, red munia or strawberry finch (Amandava amandava)

The Red Avadavat were around in good numbers today, as far as I know this is close to their breeding time back in their homeland in India and it might explain why there were so many about and they all seemed extremely busy.

European stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
A regular visitor to the area during passage season is the Stonechat which usually appears in reasonably large numbers this time of year.  Today I only saw two, this gent and a female at the opposite end of the field.

European stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
And the female of the species I believe.

Namaqua dove (Oena capensis)

Namaqua Doves were around in good numbers again today and as ever they are a joy to watch. They were not a common as their cousins the Laughing Dove which were quite literally everywhere but in good numbers nonetheless.

white-throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

The White Throated Kingfisher is a local around these parts and can be seen most days somewhere in the area.

common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
It was nice to see a fairly regular visitor to the area, the Kestrel was happily sitting on the sprinkler arm watching the world go by.

marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Further along there was a March Harrier.  The photo is not great as it was a quite a distance, I can never seem to get close to these guys.

Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus)

However there were a couple of raptors about the place which did not look like the same old bunch, not least because these guys were quite happy to land close to me and start having lunch.  Young birds often need a little time to get sense when it comes to how they behave around human and these two young Montagu's Harriers were no exception.  I only hope they get wary before some clown with a gun gets to them.  Anyhow they are this weeks new bird for me which was very pleasing.

black-winged kite (Elanus caeruleus)
A new old friend from last week was still about the place.  The White Winged Kite was still here, although I only saw one on this occasion and not for very long.

blue-cheeked bee-eater (Merops persicus) plus laughing dove (Stigmatopelia senegalensis)
A couple of Blue Cheeked Bee Eaters and a Laughing Dove checking each other out on the sprinkler arm.  Actually I think they are all keeping an eye on the Kite which was just behind them on the wire!!  This really was a day for the Blue Cheeked Bee-Eater as I saw at least 30 on the road in and around the fields.  It truly is the passage season.

"Isabelline (or Red-tailed) Shrike" Lanius

This Turkestan Shrike was eyeing up his next victim when I caught this photo.  Thee were not quite as many Shrikes about today but still managed to see this guy, a Daurian and a Masked Shrike, although the photos were not great. 
barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)

The Barn Swallow were about in even larger numbers this week with virtually no area of the sky not occupied by at least one.  They were mostly all frantically feeding on the rich bounty of insects around the place, or at least on the ones who had not decided to swarm all over me as I moved along.

barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
They are still lining up on the wires ready for their trip, although I guess that these are a different lot to those that passed through last week.  It is passage season after all.

purple heron (Ardea purpurea)

The Purple Heron was about in reasonable numbers today with this one posing on top of a tree watching me very carefully indeed.

squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides)

His cousin the Squacco Heron was much less accommodating only allowing this quick shot before taking off into the distance.  There were not quite so many of these guys around this week but then the sprinklers were off so they may have gone somewhere else.  The Cattle Egret on the other hand were still about in very large numbers, well over a hundred were counted this week on the sprinkler arm, however due to the misty conditions I could not get a clear photograph.

Another day another new bird!  The temperatures getting down to acceptable levels, blue skies, lots of birds....What's not to like.

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