Took a short walk around Al Hayer the week before I headed off for the Christmas break. As it turned out there were a few surprises in store.
This Masked Shrike was a bit of a distance away and the other side of what was a raging river so could not get closer. Its interesting that every time I see these birds here they are at this same tree. When the water levels drop I will certainly take a closer look at what it is may be attracting them.
Meanwhile out in the fields were a small flock of Northern Lapwing on stopover for refuelling on their way north.
Our little friend the Graceful Prinia was out and about in great numbers again today. Always a little camera shy though, you really do have to grab shots when you can with these guys.
There were also a couple of Daurian Shrike about. This one was merrily preening in a tree by the roadside.
The Brown Necked Raven arrived for the feast in the fields. In all I counted about a dozen around the fields. Always nice to see, well for me anyhow, I'm not sure the other birds are overly keen on them.
A white Throated Kingfisher in the bushes by the road. There were three or four of these guys about today spread over the length of my walk (about 4km I think)
The Stonechat was in his usual place. This is the third year that I found these guys in the same small area of the lower field. I think they like the little perch this plant provides.
The Common Kestrel was in the lower field this week.
Another bird that has a favourite perch is the Purple Heron. Unfortunately the area for 100m or so in front of where he was is flooded so I could not get a lot closer. Not, mind you, that I get that much closer even when its dry.
Not a great shot but there were a small group of five Common Snipe in the grass but the edge of the river. It always a thrill to see these birds as they can be a bugger to spot at times.
An Green Sandpiper found feeding near to where the Snipe were spotted. Need to check these out further.
A group of eight Squacco Heron were spotted in the field feeding in the grass.
and by the waters edge was a young Greater Spotted Eagle. It seemed ok with my approaching but then another birder got out of his car and walked towards it, end of approach! I must say I was surprised today by the number of birders around Al Hayer. I saw five cars while I was there. I was the only one on foot but was nice to see interest growing.
A few meters away from the Eagle was a flock of about ten Black Winged Stilt. They were pretty wary and did not hang around long, not sure if it was me or the large bird of prey a few meters away.
My Spotted Eagle again with a fairly regular annual visitor, the Osprey. Its partner was sitting on the sprinkler arm about 40m away watching proceedings
Osprey on the Sprinkler.
Meanwhile a Grey Heron, glided gently by. I am not sure where it landed as I did not see it again after this.
OKOK rubbish shot of the week by far, but definitely a record shot so I am loading it. This Pied Kingfisher was one of three that flew immediately overhead as I walked down along the reed line in the lower field. I was not quick enough to catch them as they passed but thankfully this one perched on the sprinkler arm. There were four of these I spotted at Jubail a few weeks ago and I understand from friends up there that there are ten or more in the area, but seeing more than one in Riyadh is quite unusual. I also note that a birder photographed one at Al Kharj about 60k further south about a week later. But then, I think this year is different.
A bit of a distant shot of some Common Moorhen. These are fairly common in the reeds and around the river, although you more often hear them than see them. They suffer quite a bit from hunters so in this area are very wary of humans. In the marsh areas of the lower field there appears to be a small family of them that are out and about each time I visit.
The White (Pied) Wagtail are about in good numbers today. This one was in the lower field along with one or two others. but when I got up to the middle field which had recently been ploughed there were dozens of them about.
The Spur Winged Lapwing (Plover) was also about in reasonable numbers. This one and 4 or 5 others were feeding in the lower field but I spotted about thirty flying overhead and many more when I got to the upper fields. They usually hang about for a couple of weeks before setting off on their journey north.
This is a much less common little guy, the Meadow Pipit (I think). You see these occasionally around the area but never in and great numbers.
The Common Myna were about in reasonable numbers today. These three were also feeding alongside the Lapwing and the Moorhen in the lower field marsh. Also in this Pic is a lone Collared Dove. There were about 40 of these in the upper fields but I could not get close to them at all.
There were about 12 to 14 of the Myna in a little flock that appear from time to time throughout the year around the fields. Much larger numbers can be seen further up river around the bridge at Al Hayer.
Just thought I would end todays report with a young Shrike. No particular reason other than it was just sitting there looking cute lol.
A great days birding what with the Pipit, the Pied Kingfishers and Ospreys, to mention just a few. I know some folk see home patch birding as a bit boring but in a place like Al Hayer it rarely is. There are a couple of birds I have left un-named for a bit, I am still checking these out and will get back to you.